Tag Archives: chicken

Gyro inspired stuffed chicken

Well invisible internet friends, it’s good to be home. It may have just been a whirlwind overnight trip, but it made me love this place all the more. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love all the city has to offer, but it was great to roll down for a rocking show, lunch with some fabulous ladies, and a little retail therapy, and then hop back into the car, watching the houses get farther and farther apart. And to watch the traffic lighten imperceptibly with each passing mile, until there was nothing around but trees and fields and the smell of the pines floating in through the open car windows. It was also pretty rad that at the end of that three plus hour car ride, there were some loving arms, happy cats, chirpy chickens, and exciting wildlife awaiting me.

WednesdayWildlife from thePenandthePan-1

That, my friends, is what a hummingbird looks like when they finally sit still (much like I’m going to this afternoon).

Course, there are a few things that I wouldn’t find amiss if they just happened to find themselves transplanted to the woods from the cities. I mean, who can live very long without the deliciousness that is Mediterranean food? I’m telling you, gyros, dolmades, spanakopita, and falafel, these are my kryptonite. Just typing those very foods may have caused my mouth to water just a teensy bit. Who am I kidding? Typing those may have resulted in a full out tummy growl in anticipation. Sorry tum-tum, no dolmades for us today.

It’s cravings for foods like these that inspired this stuffed chicken I have for you. Adapted from my feta, olive, and artichoke chicken breasts (more Med flavors, anyone?), these taste just like a chicken gyro sans the pita. Don’t skimp on the tzatziki and tomatoes, they’re going to elevate this to the next level. Serve this bad boy on a bed of couscous with my Greek green beans and you’ll never have to leave the woods!


Gyro inspired stuffed chicken from thePenandthePan

Gyro inspired stuffed chicken

Tzatziki sauce to top
½ cup plain yogurt
Shredded cucumber, pressed to remove liquid
1 ½ tsp white wine or rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Pinch of dried oregano

Stuffed chicken
¼ cup shredded mozzarella
2 ounces goat cheese
3 tablespoons red or sweet onion sliced thinly and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon oregano
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 ¼ lbs total)
1 large egg white
½ cup bread crumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Fresh ripe tomato to top

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a shallow baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together cheeses, onion, garlic and oregano and set aside. In a shallow dish, large enough to accommodate the chicken breasts, lightly beat the egg white. In another shallow dish, mix together breadcrumbs and salt and pepper.

Cut a large pocket along the long edge of the chicken breast, being careful not to go through the chicken breast completely. Holding the chicken breast flat with the palm of one hand, carefully run the paring knife in a slight circle, following the curve of the chicken breast.

Stuff ¼ of the cheese mixture into each chicken breast. Holding the edges of the chicken breast together, dip the top of the breast in the egg white and then in the breadcrumbs. Place in baking dish.

Bake chicken at 350° for 35 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest, non-stuffed portion of the breast reads 170°.


Senegalese peanut-y chicken

Oooof, it snowed. A. Lot. On the second day of spring even. It’s gorgeous and white and clean and perfect for snowball fights, but it’s snow. It’s not so much that I mind the snow, but the day before this storm, I was wandering around outside with chickens sans coat. Basking in the sun, listening to the birds, watching the chickens fight over bread crusts, a lovely spring afternoon. And now we’re surrounded by snow. Well, ok, just excuse me a moment while I dream of warmer climes and the spring to come.

Since I’ve got spring on the brain, I decided it was time for a little blog spring cleaning. I’m cleaning and trying some new things out here. And it’s looking pretty snazzy if I do say so myself (aren’t I the modest one today?).

But let’s get back to that dream of warmer climes. This Senegalese peanut-y chicken transports me right back to my study abroad days. Similar to mafe poulet, it leaves out the sweet potatoes and cabbage. Mafe poulet was my absolute favorite dish while in Senegal, I could not get enough. But now, I (and you!) can make it right in my own kitchen. Peanuts, chicken, a little heat, and a pop of cilantro. It’s a winning combination in my book.


Senegalese peanuty chicken

Senegalese peanut-y chicken

Adapted from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas

2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
¼ -½ tsp of cayenne pepper, depending on spice preference
1 ½ – 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 chicken breasts)
1 tomato, chopped
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in chicken broth, peanut butter, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Set aside.

Trim and rinse the chicken pieces. Pat dry with paper towel. Place chicken in baking dish.

Spread the sauce evenly over chicken. Bake chicken for 45 minutes covered. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped tomato. Return, uncovered, to oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with rice or couscous.

Cheesy southwest baked pasta

Guys! I’m back. Happy, shiny, best version of Jess has returned! And I’m bringing with me the advent of SPRING! Are you as excited as me? Oh, what a silly question, of course you are! I mean just look at all the exclamation marks I’m peppering you with, how can you not be excited?

Not only am I bringing spring with me today, I’m bringing awesome news too. Guess who’s got two thumbs and an offer to do some freelance writing? No, don’t be silly, Himself isn’t the writer in this household, I am! I don’t want to jinx anything, so you’re going to have to wait until I have all the hot little details before I spill the beans. Needless to say though, it does help reaffirm that Himself and I made such a good decision to chase these crazy dreams of ours.

Moving back to our talks of spring, it’s time to make the hard decisions this week. After months of mulling over just what is going into that 500 sq ft (!) garden of mine, I’m going to have to finally commit and order those seeds. Oooooh, the pressure. And now’s the time where I tell you all about my secret weapon. The overly organized, plan and list junkie, wee bit obsessive me has found the perfect tool for gardening. Let a garden run rampant? Let greens trail and grow where they please? Not in this yard, my friends. Ok, that may not be entirely true, but control freak me absolutely loves my smart gardener website. I say my website, but what I mean is my garden plan. Now, smart gardner has no idea who I am, so you can rest assured these opinions are wholly my own. “Well, get to it,” you’re saying, “what the heck is it?!” Ok, it’s a website where all I have to do is select my plants (downside you’re limited to plants in their database) and tell them the size of my garden. The site lays everything out for me, from how far apart to plant everything to the best companion plants. All I have to do is stick my hands in the dirt. Winning! So, while my attitude has totally been adjusted, I’m still going to be over here in the corner hiding with my seed catalogs.

While I’m pouring over these magazines, making all the hard decisions, you need to be making this cheesy pasta. Think mac and cheese, but with chicken and salsa. Once upon a longish time ago, I used to work in a crisis residence where we’d get this cheesy, chicken goodness in prepackaged frozen form. There’s nothing frozen here, my friends, this is all tasty, cheesy goodness. Oh, but wait, when you look at the picture there, just image a lovely, fresh sliced avocado in that wee blank space. It was a long night in the kitchen, and I somehow managed to leave space for the avocado, but completely neglect to plate it. Le sigh. But I can rest assured that you, my lovely, invisible internet friends, will learn from my mistakes.


Cheesy southwest pasta

Cheesy southwest pasta

8 ounces pasta
4 tablespoons butter
½ sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons taco seasoning (my trusty Arizona Dreaming makes another appearance!)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 ½ cups shredded cheese, Mexican blend or Monterey Jack, divided
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies, drained
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced as desired
1 cup corn chips, coarsely crushed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and keep warm, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile in a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for three minutes or until fragrant and slightly softened. Add the flour and cook into a roux for another 3 minutes, stirring often. Slowly add the milk about ¼ cup at a time, heating between additions. Add taco seasoning and cumin. Continue stirring until sauce is slightly thickened, just before reaching a gravy consistency. As you remove the spoon from the pan, the sauce should slowly drip off. Remove from heat and add 2 cups cheese. Continue stirring until cheese is melted and incorporated.

Add all remaining ingredients except ½ cup cheese and corn chips. Stirring well. Spread pasta into shallow 2 quart casserole dish. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle corn chips on top. Return to oven, uncovered, and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Feta, artichoke, and olive stuffed chicken breasts

You guys, I have to be honest here, I really struggled with this post. It’s been a rough week, and I’ve been trying to write an engaging (and positive) post, but, it’s been a struggle. This is actually the fifth attempt my friends. So for now, I’m going to give myself a much needed attitude adjustment. You’ll find me lazing away in the hottest, steamiest bath, dog earing the pages of my gardening magazines, dreaming of the spring to come. After that comes an intense stress relieving baking session. Just me and some music and all the flour covered surfaces. I expect by the time we speak next, my Pollyanna outlook will have returned.

In the meantime, though, I do want to share something that’s been rolling around in my head this week. I had coffee with a friend of mine this past week. During the course of the conversation, where we extolled all the virtues of living up here in the woods, she mentioned that up here, she doesn’t compare herself with anyone. The thought stuck with me, and I realized that I’ve been doing the same. You know, being happy with myself, instead of finding myself lacking in comparison with someone else. For me and Laura, it took being in the woods for that to happen, but you guys, I can’t even begin to explain how freeing that is. Turns out I wasted a whole lotta time thinking I was a little bit lame. Turns out throwing all in and chasing your dreams will fix that little problem!

So, while I’m off fixing that attitude problem of mine, you should totally be making this chicken recipe. Another of those easy-peasy recipes that will really impress. I just heart these Mediterranean flavors so very much. The recipe works best with Kalamata olives, but will also work with regular black olives.


Feta olive and artichoke stuffed chicken

Feta, olive, and artichoke stuffed chicken

Adapted from Grassroots Co-op Recipe Collection

¼ cup feta cheese
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons chopped black olives
3 tablespoons chopped artichoke hearts
Freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 ¼ lbs total)
1 large egg white
½ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a shallow baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together feta, mozzarella, olives, and artichoke hearts. In a shallow dish, large enough to accommodate the chicken breasts, lightly beat the egg white. In another shallow dish, mix together breadcrumbs and dried basil.

Cut a large pocket along the long edge of the chicken breast, being careful not to go through the chicken breast completely. Holding the chicken breast flat with the palm of one hand, carefully run the paring knife in a slight circle, following the curve of the chicken breast.

Stuff ¼ of the cheese mixture into each chicken breast. Holding the edges of the chicken breast together, dip the top of the breast in the egg white and then in the breadcrumbs. Place in baking dish.

Bake chicken at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest, non-stuffed portion of the breast reads 170 degrees.

BBQ chicken pockets

You guys! Guess who went and got herself a new job?! A perfect job for her, if she does say so. That’s right, I’m going to be doing communications for one of the local school districts. Imagine that, me, getting to write All. The. Time. And, I get to start right away! So that means I am about to be one busy little bee. I had a bunch of wee projects I wanted to get done before the month was out (eeek! where has the time gone?!). So now, the mad scramble to get those done, and to get ready for a job that will actually take me out of the house!

One of those projects I’ve been working on is organizing all those recipe clippings. It isn’t pretty, but it’s getting to be pretty functional. Which is making me right happy. Number one, I hauled all these clippings during the move, so I really do need to do something with them. But number two, it’s fun to get re-inspired by the recipes again. And I could use a little inspiration, since I seem to be a little overwhelmed with my interweb inspirations. I’ve been avoiding my Pinterest boards and avoiding pinning anything new. There’s. Just. So. Much. There. Looks like one of my belated resolutions is going to have to be to cook my way through my boards. Well anyway, I’ll save that for another day. Today, I’m just happy to have made a dent in all those clippings.

Now the recipe I have for you is a tried and true favorite and is all about comfort. Similar to the chicken, spinach, and artichoke pockets, you could certainly make these with homemade biscuits. But in my mind, this comfort food should be quick, so I opted to stick with the refrigerated biscuits. You’ll note a stress on the sharp cheddar cheese there too. You’re going to want that to balance the sweet of the BBQ. Throw in the tartness of the green chilies and bite of the red onion, and you’ve got an easy meal that can’t be beat!


BBQ chicken pockets

BBQ chicken pockets

Adapted from my chicken, spinach and artichoke pockets

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
¼ cup chopped red onion
2 Tablespoons roasted green chilies
⅓ cup BBQ sauce
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 package (8 count) refrigerated biscuits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix together chicken, red onion, and green chilies. Add BBQ sauce and mix well. Mix in cheddar cheese.

Pat or roll out each biscuit until about double in size. Add filling to one half of circle and fold biscuit over. Pinch edges shut with a fork and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake pockets 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Coconut chicken curry soup

As you read this, I’m on a whirlwind road trip straight to Minneapolis and back, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Though I would love a chance to get back for a nice leisurely visit, alas, today is not the day. That’s not to say that there isn’t a little bit of awesome in store for this trip. My dad is getting ready to move (maybe to the area!!). Like all good Hendrii, he’s amassed a lot in the way of tools and gadgets. Now Himself and I have a whole lotta space, so in an effort to help out, we’ve agreed to store some stuff here. I mean, we’re really taking one for the team, finding a useful home for all the tools we don’t already have (I’m sure you’d agree).

This gal gets to choose one extra stop on the road trip, and since there isn’t time to visit more friends or family, I naturally chose something to tempt any foodie’s heart. When we lived in Anoka, we joined a rad little co-op that has amazingly fresh spices and herbs. I spent yesterday, cleaning out all kinds of jars in preparation to get one of everything (I wish!). Of course, I could get stuff here, but the opportunity to make my own spice and tea blends is something no good foodie could pass up.

And another thing you can’t pass up is this soup! (Pretty nice segue if I do say so myself) I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the things I miss about the “big city” is Thai food. But this soup, with everyday(ish) ingredients totally stems that craving. Not to mention a big bowl of warm soup is comforting on any cold day. You can kick up the heat a little with the addition of some cayenne pepper too. But taste as you go along, a little of that red pepper goes a long, long way in a soup.

And if you’re looking for a little more comfort out of your meal, serve this with some delicious breadsticks.


Coconut Chicken Curry Soup

Coconut chicken curry soup

1 Tablespoon coconut or olive oil
1 cup carrots, sliced thin
½ onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons chopped ginger
3 teaspoons green curry paste
2 14 oz cans light coconut milk
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
2 cups cooked chicken
2 cups diced, cooked potatoes
¾ cup frozen peas

In a large pot over medium heat, saute onions and carrots in oil until slightly softened. Add garlic, ginger and curry paste and stir one minute. Add coconut milk, chicken broth, brown sugar, soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce. Let simmer over medium low heat about 5 minutes. Add chicken, potatoes, and peas. Heat through.

Double cheesy chicken burritos

I think a lot of you know that I work from home. Well, this past week, I’ve had a few technical issues, which sorta means vacation, but one that keeps me near the work pc. That means lots of time at home “researching” on the interwebs and lots of baking opportunities. And that means for you, I have two new cookie recipes coming up, and a rad lesson to share.

We’re starting to get eggs already, even sooner than expected. One of the hens is laying every day. This means I’ve got eggs a plenty on my hands, since I still had commercial eggs to go through. Earlier this week, idly paging through my Mother Earth News magazine (more hippie-dippy-ness exposed), I read an article about freezing eggs. Yup, so why is this important to you? This girl hates throwing away food, so even your commercial eggs can be frozen. I just took a ziplock and used it to line a mug. Poured in one to two lightly beaten eggs, popped in the freezer for an hour, and then transferred the individual ziplocks to one big freezer bag. Freezing them upright in the mugs ensured that there was no chance of eggs leaking out all over my freezer. Now I’ve got eggs ready for all that holiday baking I’m already thinking about.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about those spicy cheesy chicken rolls I shared with you back in September. I adored the flavor. I’ve also been craving tacos lately. So one night whilst letting my mind go on a little roundabout, I came up with a way to combine the two into burritos. Now here’s the thing about burritos at my house. I love cheesy warm burritos, but I also love the crisp crunch of veggies in a taco. So I always top my burritos with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and chopped onion. You could put the onion and tomato inside the burritos, but since this burrito is so filled with cheesy goodness, you’re going to like a little crunch with it.

And while we’re at this, let’s talk hot sauce again. When I made the chicken roll-ups, I waxed eloquent about my favorite hot sauce, Cajun Sunshine. While now there’s another contender for favorite, and the best part is it’s local. I’m not just talking Minnesota local, no even better, it’s made right up the road in Grand Rapids – Steve’s Pepper Sauce. There’s a lot of flavor packed in with this heat. And it is taaaaaaaaa-sty! So, even if you don’t use this hot sauce, make sure you’ve got one with a little bit of kick and a lot of flavor.


Double cheesy chicken burrito

Double cheesy chicken burritos

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
½ teaspoon adobo seasoning
3 teaspoons hot sauce
1 can chopped green chilies
1 ¼ cup shredded cheese, divided
1 ⅓ cup (about two breasts) chicken, shredded or chopped, your call
1 8 count package tortillas – burrito size

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, taco and adobo seasonings, hot sauce and green chilies. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese and mix well. Mix in chicken.

Spread a thin layer of filling on each tortilla (you should have enough to fill all eight tortillas). Roll up and place in a baking dish with seam side down. Sprinkle with reserved ¼ cup cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Top with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, and cilantro cream.

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