Baked Pesto Chicken (and more)
I went home early yesterday mentally debating whether I should clean my car or do some cooking. Obviously the kitchen had a stronger come-on than my dirty car which turned out for the better as it was drizzling again when I left for work this morning.
Actually, I have two things on my menu - pesto chicken and a blueberry cake. I already have my chicken breasts well drained and waiting for attention so all I did was remove the bones, cut them into strips and season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. The pesto sauce is from Trader Joe's which I always have in stock and after emptying a bottle in the baking dish, I arranged the poultry slices and squeezed fresh lemon juice on top for a citrus-y effect. I covered the dish with plastic wrap then to the fridge it went back while I work on my cake.
The dish is ready after thirty minutes but I added an extra five minutes for the grated mozzarella and the mini heirloom tomatoes. The lemon juice really brought a lot of difference and made the chicken so tender and succulent. The cheese is not overpowering and served with pasta- it was perfect. I wish someone's still around to taste this. She will definitely love this!
Baked Pesto Chicken
4 large chicken breasts, cut lengthwise
1 cup basil pesto
salt and pepper
juice of 1 big lemon
1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
heirloom tomatoes (optional)
Season chicken slices with salt and pepper
Spread the pesto sauce evenly on a baking dish
Arrange the chicken slices on top
Drizzle lemon juice on top
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Remove plastic wrap of the chicken and replace with aluminum foil
Bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through
Sprinkle grated mozzarella on top and arrange heirloom tomatoes (if using)
Bake for an additional five minutes uncovered
Serve hot with pasta of your choice or white rice
Blueberry Cornmeal Cake
This is a carry-over from my cornbread waffles with blueberries last week. My tongue said it is a nice combination and I wanted to explore that path again- this time in a cake. It is not far-fetched. Whatever you can make into a cake, you can make into a cookie, a waffle, a cupcake or even an ice-cream as in red velvet cake.
Whenever an idea comes to mind, I always Google for images and that takes me to different sites, different blogs and that’s where I get the inspiration. Sometimes the idea is there but you have to actually see it documented to have that extra push to delve into it.
This one recipe stood out among the many I’ve seen online. You may think it is complicated because it has a lot of ingredients in it but I think that’s what intrigued and drew me into it. I even had to take a trip to the grocery store to get plain yogurt and lemon. I normally stock up on plain yogurt but after having an untouched pint expire, I had the sense to stop doing that and just go get it as needed.
The recipe said to bake it for an hour but mine was ready in 45 minutes. I think having used a rectangular pan instead of spring form shortened the cooking time. I sprinkled Florida crystals on top prior to baking and then some more when it was done and I just love the crunchy bits of sugar. This is one cake I will make again and again. I will make some changes though because I want a little bit more density in it- just a little more, maybe an extra half a cup of all purpose flour.
Blueberry Cornmeal Cake
Adapted from Huckleberry Bakery and Café in Santa Monica
(changes are made to suit my taste)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
6 tbsp olive oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup plain yogurt
3 cups fresh blueberries sprinkled with flour to prevent sinking to the bottom of the pan
3 tbsp Florida crystals or any coarse sugar (for the top)
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Lightly grease a foil-lined 9 x 9 pan (or 10-inch diameter springform pan).
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cornmeal, and with a whisk, blend together.
Whisk together the olive oil, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and zest in a small bowl and set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the egg mixture. Add the flour mixture, just to blend. Now, lower he speed, and add the ricotta and yogurt, just until mixed in. Pour half of the batter into the pan, then add the layer of blueberries. Add the rest of the batter in dollops over the blueberries, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for one hour, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.
I guess I was a little tired last night so I feel I didn’t take nice pictures and give justice to my creation.