Friday Night Party and the Monday Blues

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January 8, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

I had a huge case of the Monday blues yesterday. I’m getting ready to go back to the US for 2 weeks (can’t wait to see some of my beloved friends and family!?!) and I think just the thought of it has started making me homesick. I’ve been stressing a lot about getting the house in order, forever facing new challenges- where do you even kennel your dog over here? Does Gertie have enough food? I’m leaving Chris here for the first week- does he have enough food? Has all the laundry been done and dry cleaning picked up? Wow, I sound like a housewife. Yikes. But what can I say, I’m a bit of a control freak. And don’t get me started about packing. We’ll be in both Atlanta and New York and I have forgotten how to dress myself in anything except rain boots and trench coats.

I’ve also been making my list of things to stock up on while I’m stateside. While I’m sure I will think of more things once I’m back, and inevitably forget a few, so far here’s my hit list of products I’ve found hard to access and have been struggling to live without over here: panko breadcrumbs; Toll House chocolate chips; jeans, boatloads of jeans- did you know that Citizens jeans, while expensive in the US, can go for £250 here!?!?; microwave kettle corn; lots of Penzey’s Spices; Tide-to-go pens; Costco-sized Dunkin’ Donuts coffee; Trader Joe’s cookie butter, Trader Joe’s peanut butter filled pretzels, Trader Joe’s almond butter, and well pretty much all things Trader Joe’s. I might need an extra suitcase.

In all this stress and homesickness, I skipped dinner last night. But lucky for you I had a mini dinner party on Friday night and have a couple of great recipes stockpiled. I was planning on starting dinner with a soup course (tomorrow’s tale), so I wanted to make an entree that was on the lighter side: Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken served with a light lemony chickpea and arugula salad.

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The reason this side dish was so great is hands down these incredible chickpeas from Spain. I discovered these at Brindisa, a Spanish vendor at Borough Market, and they are so soft and plump and lush. Tossing them with good olive oil, fresh lemon juice, arugula, and Papa Cristos’ Greek Seasoning, takes only a few minutes and makes a simple, light, but memorable side to stuffed chicken. (I did find them at http://www.tienda.com for purchase within the US.)

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I love making stuffed chicken breasts when I have guests over because you can do all of your prep in advance, then just sear the chicken and finish it in the oven. Easy as that!

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First you need to make the onions, which requires slow and low caramelization. When you think they are done, cook them for 5 more minutes. The longer and slower the better.

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Then add the balsamic and sauté another minute or two, until absorbed and the sharpness of the vinegar has cooked off.

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Be sure to pound the chicken so that it is of an even thickness, then carefully cut a pocket into each breast. Fill with the onions, goat cheese, and arugula.

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Once the chicken comes out of the oven, remove from the skillet and look at all the amazing drippings to make a pan sauce! Yum! Just add a bit more balsamic and goat cheese with some broth. Simmer and serve!

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Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Serves 4

1 ½ Tbs. olive oil, divided

1 large onion, thinly sliced

4 Tbs balsamic vinegar, divided

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 oz. goat cheese

½ cup arugula

¼ cup chicken broth or water

Begin by making the caramelized onions. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat with ½ Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion, sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 3-4. Once they are very soft and golden, add 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar and cook down for 2 minutes. Remove the onions and reserve both the onions and the skillet

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Pound each chicken breast so that it has an even thickness of about ¾ inch. Carefully slice a pocket horizontally into the center of the chicken, leaving about a ½ inch at the back.

Place ¼ of the onions evenly into each of the chicken breasts, add ½ oz of goat cheese, and a small handful of the arugula (about 1/8 cup). Fold back and press down the top of the chicken. Salt and pepper each side.

Heat the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on each side for 3 minutes. Place the entire skillet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove chicken from the skillet and keep warm. Place skillet back on the stove (DON’T forget that the skillet has been in the oven- use a hot pad) and turn onto medium heat. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar and deglaze the pan. Reduce heat to low and add 1 oz. goat cheese and the chicken broth or water. Whisk until smooth and simmering.

Serve each chicken breast topped with a spoonful of sauce.

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