Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pesto and Cream Cheese-Stuffed Chicken

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you may have noticed that if I'm cooking a meat item, chances are it will be chicken. 

But sometimes I get a little bored with the stuff.  

And when I do, that means it's time to stuff it. 

The chicken, that is.  

(Although when the receptionist at the dermatology office looked at my driver's license photo yesterday and gave me a smile that smacked of faux pity and remarked that it's a good thing my license will expire soon so I can get a new photo...that we "all have bad photos sometimes", I really wanted to tell her to "stuff it".) 

(But bad manners aside, it is a terrible photo.  What else can come from exposure to such a stressful environment?  After you wait approximately 250 years in the hard little plastic chair at the Department of Motor Vehicles with your kids and are then backed up to a cinder block wall to have a photo snapped? With the merciless lady behind the computer camera, promptly extinguishing any hope for a redo (......"Next!"....)?  Knowing you're going to be stuck with it for five years?  The pressure, the presssssurrrrrre!)

Here I am at the DMV in 2009 with my hungry baby crying in the background and my two-year-old screeching at my knees:
There's my best fake smile.  For Heaven's sake, my eyes aren't even looking in the same direction!  The left one is about to pop out in frustration.  I'm like a Pekinese that way.  

This situation makes me wonder, what's your worst driver's license photo story?  (And no, this is not my worst pic by far.)  Don't worry - there won't be any meanness here...only empathetic head nods and cyber hugs of bad-license-photo consolation.)

Anyway, back to the "stuff it, lady" recipe. 

(If you're having trouble staying afloat on my stream of consciousness, I am making Pesto and Cream Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts.)

Here's a photo, just to visually clear things up:

You'll want to mix together the cream cheese and pesto,

slice open the side of the chicken breast (make a pocket)...

stuff it with the pesto/cheese mixture, "bread" it, saute it,
and then bake it.  

Pesto and Cream Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (approx. 1 pound total weight)
1 egg
1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Pesto and Cream Cheese Filling
4 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons basil pesto
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray).  

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and the pesto.  Add pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Using a very sharp knife, cut a horizontal slit along the edge of each chicken breast, nearly through to the other side.  Fill each "pocket" with one-fourth of the cream cheese mixture.  Press the edges of each breast together firmly to "seal" the pocket. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  

Using a fork, lightly beat the egg in a bowl.  Place the breadcrumbs on a plate.  Hold each chicken breast together and dip it in the egg, then coat it with the breadcrumbs.  

Add "breaded" chicken breasts to hot skillet; increase heat to medium-high.  Saute until browned on each side, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer to baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.  (Test one breast to ensure center is no longer pink.)

Here's the printable recipe. 
      Recipe slightly adapted from here.

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        Mary said...

        OH! OH! OH! I really cannot wait to try this recipe. I've been growing basil this year and making my own pesto!!! LOVE IT!!

        DL PHOTO moment: Quite a few years ago, my photo had that "eyes half-closed, drunken smile". It was embarrassing!! So I cut the photo from my old Bella Vista Activity Card and glued it over the drunk photo. Well, that was all well and good, until I was stopped at a checkpoint. (You know, one of those Holiday things where they set up policemen at the state line and pull every one over and check for insurance, registration, drunk driving, etc.) So, I handed the nice officer my license. Quite a few minutes later, he returned holding the glued-photo in one hand and my license in the other. "Which one of these photos is really you?" he asked. I went into a frenzied, high-pitched explanation about the photo. For a while I thought I was headed "down town in the paddy wagon", but the nice officer kept grinning and I think maybe he thought the story was too original to be false. Who else but me? Sheesh!

        Ginny said...

        MARY!!!! I love it!!! That is the best bad photo story I have ever heard!!
        I'm sure the officer could tell that you were much too sweet and innocent to ever need a ride in the "paddy wagon".

        And yum! Your homemade pesto would really rock this recipe! :)


        Caneel said...

        Oh, Ginny, I can relate! (And I love this recipe, btw!)

        How rude of that woman! And I don't think that's a bad photo of you!

        And that story @Mary is hilarious!

        My bad DL photo story: The last time I renewed my license, S was a year old. I had just dropped C off at school, and it was my birthday so I (even though I generally don't like my birthday) had made an extra effort to look nice that day. S and I went over to the department to renew and I strapped her into an umbrella stroller. The person going in the door before me had seen me coming, but let the door slam closed anyway. So I was trying to open the door and get the stroller in, so I had to use my foot to help out. I had flip flops on, and the heavy door ended up coming back onto my big toe and peeling the toenail back. I was bleeding, and fighting back tears, a scream and cursing all at the same time. I didn't have any bandages on me - a surprise since they are usually in purse and car - so my toe was just bleeding it was getting on my shoes. There ended up being about a 20 minute wait, during which time I was still fighting the tears with a horribly painful throb in my toe, and S started crying. I was trying to console her when they called my name and I had to put her back in the stroller, only to have her start crying again. So she was crying and I was trying hard not to as I plastered that fake smile. It's actually not as bad a photo as it could be considering, but it's not the best. I was definitely holding back the tears and biting back some remarks to the woman handling everything. She wouldn't be quiet and just let me get out of there, which was all I wanted to do!

        Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

        First, love the recipe and the photos are wonderful (even the DMV photo).

        And next time, come to Kansas... very polite her, the ladies would have rocked the baby and let you take three or four photos until you get one you like.

        Anne Conery said...

        I love your blog!

        SEO Los Angeles said...

        This sounds delicious! I might have to try it out for dinner tonight!

        Starsricha said...

        Wow, this is pretty delicious! How i love to try this one!