Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Candid Cook - Fajita Stuffed Chicken

Some things just look so delicious you have to try them at least once. That's what happened with me when my friend, Terri, posted a video of how to make these babies on Facebook.

If you want to see the original video (and to give credit where credit is due, here's the link to the video on Buzzfeed). However, I tweaked a number of things from the given recipe to reflect our family's tastes. I felt like the amount of seasoning the recipe called for was way over the top, so I reduced them to a reasonable amount. Also, I cut back on the cheeses a bit as well. I wanted them to be cheesy, but I didn't want the cheese to overpower all of those yummy peppers and onions. These babies are so full of flavor that I recommend my version over theirs any day. 

Fajita Stuffed Chicken Breasts
(Each stuffed breast is actually 2 servings, so keep that in mind when deciding how many to prepare for your family meal.)

3 chicken breasts, trimmed
garlic powder
chili powder

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. sliced onions
2 cups chopped bell peppers (I used mixed colors)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 oz. cream cheese
2 oz. colby jack cheese (grated or cut into small cubes)
2 oz. pepper jack cheese (grated or cut into small cubes)

Before you start cooking, you're going to want to do as much prep as possible. Chop your veggies, shred/cube your cheeses, and trim your chicken. Then take each chicken breast and slit it down the side so you have a place to stuff that delicious filling. 

Next we're going to gently flatten the chicken breasts just a little bit. This helps make it easier to stuff, and will also help ensure that the chicken is completely cooked through without having to burn the outside. To do this open the chicken along the slit, and lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top.

Then, with a meat mallet, firmly (but not too hard!!) flatten the chicken until  it's the same thickness throughout. The final thickness will depend on how big your chicken breasts are, but mine are usually about 3/4 inch thick. 

Finally, remove the plastic and flip the chicken over. It's time to season the outside of the chicken, Sprinkle with garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, and a little bit of salt. Rub it in gently and set the chicken aside.

Now it's time to get cooking! Heat your olive oil in a non-stick frying pan (one that has a lid, preferably), Add your onion and saute' over medium-high heat until your onions start to lightly brown on some of the edges.

Add your chopped peppers. Isn't that beautiful??

Season with salt and pepper and cook until peppers start to get tender. (Keep in mind that the pepper will continue to soften while the chicken is cooking, so don't overcook the veggies in this step!)

Transfer veggies to a medium mixing bowl and set the pan aside (off the heat) to use again in a minute. (Do not wash the pan!!) 
Add cheeses to the pepper mixture while it's still hot. 
Stir together until well blended. Not all of the cheeses will be melted, but that's okay. It'll all melt together while you're cooking the chicken.

Now it's time to stuff the chicken! With the seasoned side down, place 1/3 of the filling in the center.

Fold over and repeat the process with the other two chicken breasts.

Look at the pan you cooked the peppers in. It should  have traces of olive oil and seasoning in the bottom,. That's excellent. Place it over medium heat and it get nice and hot again. Add an extra drizzle of oil and swirl it around if you think you need it to keep the chicken from sticking. Then, carefully place the stuffed chicken into pan. (I find it easiest to transfer the chicken with a large flat spatula and a fork holding it together.)

Cover and cook for 3 minutes,

Uncover and cook another 2 minutes. 
See how some of the "guts" are falling out a cooking in the pan? 
That's totally fine. It's amazing, actually.

Once it has cooked for a total of five minutes on one side, it's time to flip it - carefully. You might lose a little more filling, but try to keep as much of it in as you can. Now it's time to repeat the pattern: 
Cook covered for 3 minutes
Uncover and cook 2 more minutes

Remove the pan from the heat and let the chicken sit in the pan till you're ready to plate it. 
Once you take out your stuffed breasts, you'll see some leftover peppers and cheese in the pan. Whatever you do... do NOT throw it away. 
It's Delicious. 
(And yes, that's with a capital D.)

Now you have two choices: 
1) You can reward yourself for all of your hard work cooking dinner and eat it straight out of the pan. I won't judge you.
2) You can share with your family by putting a little on each plate. 

As you can see here, I was nice to my family and shared the joy. 

These are soooooo addictive! It's one of those meals you'll be remembering for days...

Friday, April 29, 2016

Preview for Old Man's Cave

One of the things I have been looking forward to the most was taking Dorothy and her family to visit Old Man's Cave in the Hocking Hills area. Figuring we could drive 2 cars and I could drive back early instead of going on a lengthy hike, we decided to make the trip down this past Wednesday despite the fact I was still sick. I just downed some ibuprofen and prayed for stamina. It was worth it.

Maddox is such a poser. He's so adorable, and he knows it!

I loved looking up at the bridges from down in the gorge.

Lots of fun overhanging rocks!

K-Lynn and Gwennie taking a quick rest on a boulder with a view.

Unfortunately, this is really just a preview of The Old Man's Cave for me. I never saw the actual "Old Man's Cave" (assuming there is one) and never actually got to hike the trails, but my mom and I did take a small introductory tour to whet my appetite for our next visit.

It can't come soon enough!

They Make Me Happy

We had a great visit this past week from Dorothy's family and my mom. Unfortunately, I came down sick on Monday and I spent a good chunk of their visit sleeping on the couch. On the bright side, Dorothy took Maddox out for some fun on Tuesday while my mom stayed with me. She helped with laundry, did the shopping, and got me flowers.

And every day they make me smile.

Thanks, Mom!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Maddox in the Morning

Maddox has always been a super early riser. After months of suffering through 5 or 5:30 a.m. wakeups, we finally put a digital clock in the boys' room and told them they weren't allowed to get up until a specific time (depending on the day). I came across the clock unpacking boxes today, and had this conversation with Maddox.

Me: C'mon, Maddox, let's go put the clock up in your room.

Maddox: No, I don't need it.

Me: You don't?

Maddox: No, I can wake up whenever I want to now.