savory sausage roll

Y’all, today’s recipe is another classic bread machine recipe.

This savory dish evokes memories of my childhood. Most Christmas Eve celebrations were spent with just the family at home. After attending Mass, my sisters/mom/myself would spend time together in the kitchen, putting together a veritable spread of tasty treats out for us to nosh on and enjoy for the rest of the evening. I can’t quite put my finger on the first year we had this, but after one bite of trying this dish, you’ll understand why it’s a frequent culinary visitor in our home.

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While I’ve veered ever so slightly from my mom’s original recipe, the foundation and flavors of this remain the same. The smoked turkey sausage holds up brilliantly to the flavors of the dried rosemary and Italian cheese we will be incorporating into the filling. Using some whole wheat flour in the dough adds a slightly warm and nutty flavor, which is perfect for this early autumn season. Its exterior is perfectly crisp and golden, making it the perfect vehicle for dipping a la fondue style, or for building an open-faced sandwich {if you’re feeling particularly adventurous!}.

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This is a great dish for entertaining with, too! It can be 100% prepared in advance, and after it has cooled, can be wrapped tightly in foil and either refrigerated or frozen until needed! Simply pop it in the oven until warm and crispy throughout, and you’ll be the hit of the party.

~~~

Savory Sausage Roll {recipe adapted from The Bread Machine Cookbook III}

Easy to prepare and insanely delicious, this dish is great for easy meals and entertaining. The filling can be tailored to suit any taste – hot or sweet Italian sausage can be used, the type and amount of cheese can be adjusted, and other flavorings/spices can be added. This one is sure to win the stomachs over of whomever tries it! 

Ingredients: for a medium-sized roll

1 cup water {you can use apple juice, if you’d like}

1-1/2 tbsp. olive oil

1-1/2 tbsp. honey

1/3 tsp. salt

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1-1/2 cups bread flour

1-1/2 tsp. yeast

Ingredients: for the filling

1 package of smoked sausage {I like to use a smoked turkey sausage}, cut into slices

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 green pepper, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup of shredded Italian blend cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare the Dough:

Add ingredients listed above into your bread machine, and cook on the prescribed manufacturer settings. As a point of reference, my dough cycle runs about 1 hour and 50 minutes, or I can opt for the quick cycle and have it done in 45 minutes.

To Prepare the Filling:

When the dough has about 40 minutes left, start to assemble the filling.

In a large non-stick skillet, drizzle in some olive oil and let it heat up to medium heat. Add in the sliced sausage, and cook until the edges begin to brown and the insides start to caramelize. Add in the diced onion, diced pepper, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook 7-10 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the peppers have softened slightly.

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Remove from heat, and transfer the mixture into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse several times, or until the sausage has been broken up slightly {you want it to look like ground meat, with the flecks of garlic and vegetables running throughout}.

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Allow to cool until the dough has run its course; we want it to be room temperature, ideally. Once cooled to room temperature, fold in the shredded cheese.

Assemble the Sausage Roll:

Preheat your over to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with either a Sil-Pat sheet or parchment paper {I like to give it a good spray, too, for good measure}.

Once the dough cycle is complete, flour a large surface where you will do your rolling. Turn the dough out onto the surface, and roll out into a large rectangle.

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Spread filling mixture evenly across the entire surface, leaving a small border around all four edges. Roll up, jelly-roll style, until completely encased in itself. Pinch all edges closed, and transfer to lined baking sheet.

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Rub the top with a little olive oil and sprinkle with additional rosemary to garnish, if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. IMG_3627

*if you find your roll taking longer than the prescribed 45 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees and allow to finish off. It is also helpful to rotate the pan halfway through the baking process. 

Let’s Discuss: what are some other fun ingredients you could imagine putting into a dish such as this? I can totally see myself making a chicken florentine style roll….complete with shredded chicken, Itlain meats, spinach and spicy peppers!

 

preparing a sunday roast, crockpot style

Turning the oven on on a steamy summer day just does not appeal to me. It never has, actually. Between the tiny space I {lovingly} call my kitchen and the fact that I have thus far refused to turn on the air conditioning results in a hot and bothered cook working in, essentially, a sauna.

So. What’s a girl to do on such a night?…

Crockpot, obviously!

We all know that I harbor a deep and profound love for said appliance {see here, for starters} and that it is, hands down, one of the hardest-working appliances in my kitchen. The hubs is probably a close second, as the dishwasher master for when I’m whipping up crazy concoctions and creations, but let’s leave that for another day, shall we?

What makes these crockpot meals so wondrous is all the prep work is done the night before. I had settled on making a roast, a venison {read: deer meat} roast, to be exact, because I was lucky enough to be gifted one by a lovely friend of mine. Living where we do, the hubs and I have several friends who are avid hunters, and that I was fortunate enough to score an almost 5-pound beauty was cause to celebrate. I kept this stowed away, wrapped tightly in my freezer, waiting for the perfect opportunity to cook this up.

The great thing about the following recipe is that it can be perfectly adapted to just about any cut of meat you prefer. I know that many people do not have the availability {or palette} for venison – I’ve done this particular dish with rump roasts, pork shoulders…really, any big cut of meat will work great. Using one that is still bone-in is even better, because as this roasts low and slow all day, the flavor from the bone is going to be released, adding an entire layer of flavor to the resulting cooking liquid produced.

Feel free to adapt the seasonings to your preference as well! I love a classic blend of herbs and red wine, but if you’re looking for something a bit lighter, use a good beef stock instead of wine. Thyme is a great, well-purposed herb to use in here, or you can go super simple {but still delicious} with a simple combination of salt and pepper, bay leaves, and just a touch of rosemary.

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And fear not, dears, if you’re cooking a roast large enough to feed a small army. The hubs and I hardly put a dent in the resulting dish, but what I love to do is shred the leftovers and freeze in snack-size bags. It makes the perfect portion for lunch…think sandwiches, folded into leftover pasta, or used taco-style.

This truly is a wondrous dish, adaptable to please, and just tasty! I hope you enjoy!

~~~

Sunday Roast, Crockpot Style

Ingredients:

1 piece of meat, roughly 3-5 lbs {or whatever will fit comfortably in your crockpot}

4 to 5 large cloves of garlic, left whole

assortment of mixed root vegetables {I chose a blend of large carrots and onions, but russet or sweet potatoes make a great addition, as does celery, parsnips…whatever you like!}

2 cups red wine {I use a good Cabernet Sauvignon}

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

4 tsp. dried herbs, more or less to suit your taste {I used a mixture of oregano and rosemary, because I like how it complements the flavor of the venison}

salt and pepper, to taste

extra virgin olive oil

1 to 2 tsp. butter {for the gravy}

1-3 tsp. flour {for gravy}

 

To Prepare:

Begin by peeling and dicing your garlic and root vegetables, being sure to leave them in larger chunks so they don’t break down and disintegrate  during the cooking process. Add into the bowl of your crockpot, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle all with olive oil, and toss to coat.

Prepare your meat – depending on the cut I am using, I like to go over the meat and trim off any excess fat {this is particularly important if using a piece of chuck roast, or something similar}. In this case, because I am using venison from a local hunter, I went and removed remaining pieces of “silver skin”…chewy pieces that don’t taste ideal. Pat dry, then season liberally with salt and pepper.

Optional step: depending on your time schedule, give the meat a good sear on all sides! I do this in a large non-stick skillet on my stovetop. Coat the bottom of the pan with a good dose of extra virgin olive oil, and once hot, add in your roast. Allow the meat to sit for several minutes on each side, flipping when brown. When we transfer this to the crockpot, you’ll want to scrape in the cooking liquid and bits up from the bottom of the pan – that’s flavor gold right there!

Once the meat is trimmed and seasoned, place atop the vegetables in your crockpot. Add in the wine and stock, making sure there is just enough liquid to almost cover the entire roast. Add in your herbs and mix well, making sure to really get that meat as close to the bottom as possible.

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Cook on low heat for about 8 hours {I set mine around 8:15-8:30am and let it cook away while I’m at work, returning at 5:15pm}. Drop the heat setting to ‘warm’ and remove most of the cooking liquid and the root vegetables, transferring into a bowl.

Make the gravy – in a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Once completely melted, whisk in the flour and cook for several minutes, making sure that the raw flour taste is removed. Slowly add in the cooking liquid and set to high heat, whisking vigorously so as to avoid any lumps forming. Cook on high until mixture thickens and begins to slowly bubble. Add in the root vegetables, and puree with an immersion blender.

Serve with roasted vegetables {I had asparagus on hand, but mashed potatoes make a fabulous accompaniment}, a good crusty French bread for dipping, and a glass of red wine on the side.

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chicken pho

Yes, yes, I know – we’re halfway through April, and I have the audacity to post yet another soup recipe.

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But friends, I just couldn’t help myself. You see, there is something about pho {pronounced ‘fuh’} that keeps me coming back, time and time again. I love it. I would go as far to say that I would eat it once a week…because, frankly, I have been doing so for at least the past two months. I never tire of it.

Some of you may be asking yourself – “What is pho?”

Dating back to the early 20th century, pho is a noodle-based soup laced with meat and herbs, a popular street food in Vietnam. Often made to eat for breakfast, it’s typically made with rare-cooked strips of beef. A lesser common version replaces lean white chicken breast for the beef, a swap that I am more than happy with. Other meaty additions you might find in pho include tripe, meatballs, pork, and…innards. To each his own, right?

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What really makes this bowl of awesome stand apart from its more traditional “chicken noodle soup” brothers and sisters is the rich and complex broth. Marrying flavors together – we’re talking charred onions and roasted ginger, star anise and coriander, fennel and cloves – is truly what makes this stand far off and superior from any other soup that I have yet to taste. Slowly cooked and steeped together for hours, the flavor is truly unmatched. Please, I beseech you, please take the time to make the broth from scratch. Even if you just do it one time, you will not regret it {if you’re really planning ahead, make the broth one day and the soup the next – I often find it helpful to batch cook and spread the workload out}.

A savory “toppings bar”, if you’ll humor me, is the crowning glory to the chicken pho. As you finalize your broth and finish cooking off the noodles, you’l want to lay out your fresh herbs, citrus wedges, sauces {both spicy and sweet!}, and your tender pieces of cooked chicken. For me, the perfect bowl is a heaping mound of ramen noodles, a generous handful of the meaty chicken, then almost gluttonous amounts of snap peas, bean sprouts, slivered onion, and two or three large wedges of ripe lime. If I’m feeling particularly edgy, I may even thrown in a squirt or two of that silly red rooster, the infamous Sriracha sauce that we all know and love.

This soup is fully customize-able, so go to town when you build your bowl! Just make sure to enjoy the aromatics when cooking and eating, because it is honestly unlike anything else you’ll ever experience. I promise.

~~~

Chicken Pho

{adapted, minimally, from Smitten Kitchen – previously adapted from Vietnamese Home Cooking}

{serves 6}

IngredientsBroth
2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
Three 1/2-inch-thick slices of unpeeled fresh ginger, smashed
4 quarts cold water
3 pounds chicken bones or chicken wings {Iused a mix of chicken legs and chicken breasts, it was what I had on hand}
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound dried ramen noodles

*I added in a large bag, probably about 1 lb., of dried shiitake mushrooms*

Additional spices include coriander, cinnamon, star anise, fennel, black cardamoms,and cloves

Garnishes
1 large scallion, thinly sliced
1 pound mung bean sprouts {my grocery store hasn’t stocked these over the winter, so I used sugar snap peas}
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, Thai basil if you can find it
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
Asian chili-garlic sauce {I set out Sriracha}
Hoisin sauce {I set out soy sauce}

Char onions and ginger:

Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the onions and ginger on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned. {If you have a gas range, just char them a bit over a flame. It would save a lot of time.}

Cook the chicken:

Fill a large stockpot with the water and bring to a boil. Add the roasted onions and ginger, dried shiitake mushrooms, and the chicken bones or wings, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to moderate and simmer until the chicken is cooked, about 30 minutes.

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Remove the chicken and finish the broth: Using tongs, transfer the chicken legs and breasts to a plate and let cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones and refrigerate. Return the skin and bones to the stockpot and simmer for 2 hours longer. Strain the chicken broth into a large soup pot and cook over high heat until reduced to 12 cups, about 15 minutes.

Prepare noodles:

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add in the noodles, then add them to the saucepan and boil over high heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Divide the noodles between 6 large bowls and sprinkle with the scallion.

Finish and serve the soup:

Add the reserved chicken to the broth and simmer until heated through. Ladle the broth and chicken over the noodles. Serve with the bean sprouts, basil, lime wedges, jalapeños, chili-garlic sauce, hoisin sauce and crispy shallots.

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* Note: Phan has you cook the noodles separately in water, so they can be drained and used as needed (this is what I did). I believe he’s concerned about them overcooking in the soup pot. Theoretically, you could of course save time by cooking the noodles in the broth pot while the chicken reheats, however, the noodles are likely to make the broth cloudy, when ideal pho usually has a pristine, clear broth.

 

Do ahead: The broth can be made ahead and refrigerated for two days, a great way to divide up this recipe.

‘not your average’ chicken & waffles

I cannot tell a lie…I may have given myself, not only a pat on the back, but a self ‘high-five’ for this recipe. It’s.That.Good.

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I mean, just take a look at that….fresh chicken coated in a double dose of flavor, perched atop a fluffy homemade waffle, all drizzled in a maple-bourbon reduction. Can life get any better? (here’s a hint: it can! Take a look at the photo again)

There’s a restaurant that we often frequent for brunch, and one of the (many) reasons that we love to go their is their appetizers. What really stands out for the both of us is their chicken and waffles appetizer – deep fried chicken pieces layered with andouille sausage gravy, pickled veggies, and of course, waffles. It comes with a dipping sauce and it is, without a doubt, totally fabulous. You can easily make it into a meal, but…it’s brunch, after all! You’ve gotta go all out and enjoy the offerings, with a cocktail, of course.

My inspiration behind this dish came from several things: the aforementioned chicken and waffles, the hub’s love of said meal, and a desire to test out my new waffle maker. When I decided that we were going to have this for dinner one night during the work week, his eyes lit up, then glazed over at the glorious thought of having chicken and waffles. At home, no less!

So! Getting back on track – these chicken and waffles are definitely ‘not your average’ ones. By now, you all know the drill. I love to take a recipe that I love and put my own little twist (sometimes healthy, sometimes not-so-healthy) on it to really make it my own. This was one of those recipes. As I’ve mentioned in my doughnut recipe, I am not always the biggest fan of deep frying. It has a time and place, certainly, but if I know I can create the same result with an alternative method, then why not? This was one of those cases.

What makes this chicken really special is how we are going to treat it. Y’all, we are going to show it some love! It’s going to get not one, but two, hefty dredges through a deeply seasoned combination of flours, herbs, and crunchiness. Yes, I said crunchiness. It’s a real thing, I promise. Running it through buttermilk beforehand helps tenderize the meat and adds a great, tangy flavor. Then we’re going to bake it, elevated on a cooling rack atop a baking sheet, to make sure that it gets crispy and crunchy all the way around. You’re still with me, right?

It would be a disservice to the waffles if I didn’t let them have their fifteen minutes of fame in today’s post. Thick and fluffy buttermilk waffles, sweetened slightly with local honey, counterbalance the slight heat we add in to the chicken. They are the bed to the blanket of chicken, then they all get wrapped up in a cozy flavor blanket of maple and bourbon. Wowzer. And the best part? You’re going to have plenty of leftover waffles, and they freeze beautifully! I simply toss them all in a gallon-sized freezer bag, then when I’m ready for one (or three!), just pop them in the toaster. As my girl Ina would say, “How easy is that?”

Let’s get our chicken and waffle on, shall we?

~~~

Oven-Fried Chicken {adapted from Not Your Mother’s Cookbook}

I halved her recipe, resulting in three large portions of oven-fried chicken. Feel free to double or triple, as needed!

1/2 C. low-fat buttermilk (a generous amount)

1 T. whole-grain mustard

Few shakes of Frank’s Hot Sauce, or your favorite

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1-1/2 C. of pretzel crumbs, plain bread crumbs, and finely ground oats*

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a shallow glass dish, add the buttermilk, mustard, and hot sauce. Whisk to combine. This will be the first bowl for preparing the chicken. In another shallow glass dish, combine the flour/oats/pretzels, paprika, herbs, salt and pepper. This will be the second bowl for preparing the chicken. Set the two bowls side by side, wet mixture on the left and dry on the right, with the prepared baking sheet/cooling rack on the far right.

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Taking your first piece of chicken, run it through the wet mixture, being sure to let excess drip off. Run it through the flour mixture, shaking off excess. Repeat again through the wet mixture, then the dry. Finally, place on the cooling rack. Use the same process on the remaining two pieces of chicken. Once complete, spray each piece with a generous amount of olive oil spray.

Bake on the center rack for 40-45 minutes, until juices run clear when poked.

*to make the dredging flour, simply combine the pretzels, bread crumbs, and quick oats into a food processor and process until a fine crumb results. The texture of the oats, paired with the pretzel and bread crumbs, results in a thick crust with great flavor.

NOW! While these beauties cook off in the oven, let’s make waffles, shall we?

Buttermilk Waffles {adapted from Alton Brown’s Basic Waffle Recipe}

Makes 12-15 waffles, depending on the size of your waffle maker

1 C. all-purpose flour

1 C. whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. honey

3 whole eggs, beaten

16 ounces low-fat buttermilk, room temperature

Vegetable spray (for waffle iron)

Preheat waffle maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl beat together the honey, eggs, and buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combine. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

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Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. close iron top and cook until the waffle is golden on both sides, and is easily removed from the iron.

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Last, but certainly not least! 

We’ll prepare a delicious syrup to ladle over the stacks of chicken and waffles.

Maple-Bourbon Drizzle

1/2 C. pure maple syrup (please, please be sure to use the real thing!)

1/8 C. your favorite bourbon

Combine the two liquids in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened.

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To build these stacks of dinner glory:

Place one waffle on the plate. Top with half of one chicken breast, then another waffle. Place the remaining half of the breast on top of the second waffle. Drizzle with desired amount of syrup. Dive in and I promise, you’ll be transported to chicken and waffle heaven.

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stuffed chicken parmesan

…has any other combination of three simple words ever sounded so glorious?

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Three simple words. A marriage of a few classic Italian staples. All of a sudden – BOOM! A glorious, Sunday-dinner worthy creation is born.

I feel as though many people are slightly intimidated by the thought of making ‘chicken parm’ from scratch! Dredging, battering, pan searing, baking….truth be told, it is a lot of steps! But when you properly lay out your ingredients and pre-form your assembly line, I promise, it’s smooth sailing from there.

My husband is a die-hard ‘chicken parm’ lover. To be more accurate, he is a lover of all classic Italian dishes, but we’ll save that for another time. We had been looking at the weather forecast, and I decided that a warm, soul-hugging dinner was on the docket. But in true Alicia form, I thought to myself – how can I dress this up? Can I put my little twist on it?

After perusing the refrigerator and snooping around my pantry, I had made my game plan. With some leftover prosciutto, fresh Italian cheeses, and arugula in hand, I made my way to my (modestly sized) countertop to start gathering the rest of my ingredients. 

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My wannabe chef mind had settled on creating a stuffed Chicken Parmesan using the above-mentioned ingredients.  Of course, I had to balance out the richer flavors of both the cheese and prosciutto, so I decided that rather than pan frying the breaded chicken, I would quickly sear it on the stovetop, then finish it out in the oven. And while we’re at it, why not cook the chicken on a bed of arugula and red sauce? Flavor and a side dish in one?

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Sign me up!

~Alicia

Stuffed Chicken Parmesan {original recipe}

{serves two generously, can easily be doubled or tripled}

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

6 pieces of very thinly sliced prosciutto 

3 C arugula, divided

1 t dried oregano

1 t dried basil

1 – 2 C of bread crumbs

1 C of all-purpose flour

1 large egg (if doubling or tripling the recipe, use 2-3 eggs)

1- 1.5 C of Italian cheeses (for mine, I used a combination of Parmesan, Romano, and Provolone – any assortment would work well)

salt & pepper, to taste

olive oil as needed

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2 – 3 C of tomato sauce* depending on saucy you like your final dish (I have no problem with using a jar of GOOD marinara. Truth be told, I often use my homemade sauce, but I had used my last jar for dinner the night before. A quick and easy marinara, and one that freezes beautifully, is my sauce of choice. But we’ll save that for another post)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8×8 or 9×9 glass baking dish, and spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom. Sprinkle 2 cups of arugula atop the sauce, and set the pan aside. If doubling or tripling the recipe, I suggest using a 9×13 glass baking dish. 

Preheat a large non-stick skillet to medium heat. Give it one or two turns of good olive oil – this will be used to sear off the chicken before baking.

Put together your assembly line for dredging and breading the chicken. In the first bowl, pour in your all-purpose flour. Season with salt & pepper to taste. The second bowl will get the beaten egg. In the third bowl, pour in the bread crumbs, seasoning with salt & pepper to taste, as well as the dried basil and oregano. Stir to combine.

Portion out the pieces of prosciutto, the arugula, and 3/4 C of your cheese – these will all be getting stuffed into the breasts, so it’s important to set out what you need (you’re going to have chicken hands!).

On a plastic cutting board (I stress using plastic when working with raw meat, because it’s easier to clean and sanitize than a wooden cutting board), lay out your two chicken breasts. We’re going to “butterfly” them; this means that we will cut each breast through the slide, starting on the left side, and working your way 3/4 of the way through. Open the flap, and voila! – it now looks like a butterfly. Ah, the wonders of culinary language.

On one side of the now butterflied chicken, layer a piece of the prosciutto, then a handful of arugula, half of the cheese, then a second piece of the prosciutto. Fold the other side of the chicken over the stuffed side, and secure both sides together with toothpicks. Repeat with the second breast. I find it helpful to count the amount of toothpicks in each breast, so when you go to remove them before serving, you know exactly how much you’re looking for.

Now, on to the assembly line! Using on hand, take the first stuffed breast, and run it through the seasoned flour mixture, coating it well, and then shaking off the excess. Place it into the egg mixture and, using your clean hand, run the breast through the egg mixture, coating both sides and letting excess drip off. Move it into the final bowl and coat both sides evenly with the seasoned bread crumb mixture (use your first hand..the flour hand…for this step). Put it into the heated skillet, then repeat the process with the second breast.

Sear both pieces of chicken, allowing a golden crust to develop on each side (depending on the size, this could take anywhere from 2-4 minutes per side). Once each side has become golden, transfer to the baking dish with sauce and arugula. Top each with one of the last two pieces the prosciutto. Divide the remaining cheese and place on top.

Cook chicken until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees (I love my instant read thermometer, complete with temperature guide, for this!). In my oven, this took about 40 minutes.  During the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, warm the marinara sauce on the stove. This will be served atop the chicken when it comes out of the oven. 

My dear husband loves a traditional spaghetti served on the side. I love spaghetti squash, but feel free to use whatever! I’d love to hear what you serve with yours; leave it in the comments below!

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