Goat Cheese, Dried Plum and Rosemary-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Sautéed Hazelnut Vegetables

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Dried Plum Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Happy May, everyone! May is a beautiful month — flowers blooming, temperatures heating up, my birthday…(#justsayin).

Before the weather gets too warm to use the oven, I have been trying to cram in all the delicious roasted meats and vegetables I can. And delicious they are.

Stuffed chicken is always tasty, but for whatever reason, I find myself making my stand-by of baked chicken with BBQ or teriyaki sauce most of the time. Maybe stuffed chicken, meat, etc. just seems more complicated (even though it’s not), which also makes it look all-the-more impressive when you do break out a recipe like this one.

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I owe the inspiration for this recipe to the California Dried Plum Board, who tasked us Recipe ReDuxers with developing creative ways to use dried plums — formerly known as prunes — in everyday cooking.

Besides May being my birth month, it’s also National Osteoporosis Month, something that we all should care about. I think so many times, we forget about bone health, but it is so crucial to health, especially as we age. Strength training and other weight-bearing activities can have a huge positive impact on bone health, not to mention overall health. Food is also important — and not just dairy! Enter, dried plums.

Emerging research shows that eating dried plums may have positive effects on bone health. Previous studies discovered that eating 100 grams (two servings; about 8- 10 dried plums) of dried plums for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density (BMD) and improved indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women. Another study indicated that one serving of dried plums may be as effective in preventing bone loss in older, osteopenic postmenopausal women. You can read more about dried plums and bone health here.

BUT, as well all know, if we don’t enjoy the food being recommended, then we probably won’t eat it.

Fortunately, this is not a concern with dried plums, because they are DELICIOUS and super-verstile in the kitchen. I prefer to use mine in a savory way, as seen here.

I’ve also been trying to cut down on and eventually eliminate added sugars from my diet, so I was thrilled to know that dried plums can be pureed and used as a replacement for refined sugar in recipes. Dried plums are naturally sweet but not as cloyingly sweet as straight sugar, which is a major win in my book. No need for uber-sweet desserts here, folks.

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Goat Cheese, Dried Plum and Rosemary-Stuffed Chicken Thighs with Sautéed Hazelnut Vegetables

You can choose to make just the chicken and pair it with another side, but the combination of the vegetables with hazelnuts and this chicken is scrumptious. Feel free to change up the vegetables used if you’d like — sautéed kale and other greens would pair also pair nicely.

Ingredients:

Stuffed Chicken

  • 1.5 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, pounded
  • 3/4 cup California Dried Plums, puréed or finely mashed
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

Vegetable/Hazelnut Sauté

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil, preferably cold-pressed
  • 2 cups spinach or other leafy green
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 2 cups carrots, thinly sliced into ribbons (you can also use a peeler to get this effect)
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  2. Using a fork, mash California Dried Plums, goat cheese and rosemary together. Lay pounded chicken thighs on a baking sheet and evenly distribute goat cheese and dried plum mixture onto half of chicken thigh. Fold the other half of the chicken thigh over the mixture. If this sounds confusing, imagine the filling as a hot dog and the chicken as the bun.
  3. Brush the stuffed chicken with 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches a temperature of 165 degrees. About 30 minutes in, brush with remaining balsamic vinegar.
  4. Meanwhile, while the chicken is baking, heat olive oil in a large skillet for 1-2 minutes, then add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the carrots and saute about 10 minutes, or until desired doneness. Add in the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes, until just wilted. Turn stove off then add balsamic vinegar and sea salt and toss.
  5. Chop cooled toasted hazelnuts. Sprinkle over vegetables.

To see more ways in which Recipe ReDuxers use naturally sweet, convenient and nutrient-dense California Dried Plums, check out the link below.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Romaine Wraps with Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time.

I’ve learned throughout the years that one can never have too much cheese. Cheese adds creaminess, gooiness and deliciousness — and also can elevate a dish and make it so much more satisfying.

I should probably write a love song about cheese, but I’ll spare you for now.

Cabot Cheeses are a personal favorite. Because their cheddars are aged, they are naturally lactose-free. More importantly, they give 100% of profits back to the 1,200 dairy farm families that make up their co-op. While browsing their website, I also came across the story of Barstow’s Longview Farm, who actually use their cows’ waste to create enough energy to power their farm AND churn Cabot butter. Awesome! Truly making lemonade out of lemons (aren’t you glad I went with that analogy over others?).

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When Cabot tasked us Recipe ReDuxers with creating healthier appetizers fit for Super Bowl and awards show parties — and provided us with LOTS and LOTS of cheese samples — I came up with an infinite list of recipe ideas.

I love apples and cheese, so first I went sweet with my Loaded Apple Cheddar Nachos using Cabot’s Farmers’ Legacy Collection Alpine Cheddar. After making those, all I wanted to do was make more apple-cheddar recipes. Those nachos were seriously delicious.

I was able to control that urge, however, and come up with an equally delicious savory appetizer that combines perfectly-spicy Cabot Pepper Jack cheese with sweet potatoes, black beans, red onions and cilantro to make a fresh and healthy side dish.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Romaine Wraps with Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese

These are the perfect appetizer for game day parties or for a tasty snack. Add chicken or crumble tofu into the sweet potato and black bean mixture to create a full meal. If you like things extra spicy, chili powder would be a delicious addition.

Serves 4 (2 romaine wraps/person)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced into small cubes
  • 1 cup black beans (if using canned, go with a No Salt Added variety)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • Romaine hearts, washed with leaves separated (8 leaves total)
  • 4 oz. Cabot Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add red onion and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add diced sweet potatoes and cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add in the black beans, cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  2. While mixture is cooking, turn oven onto broil.
  3. Lay romaine leaves on a baking sheet and spoon 2-3 Tbsp. of the sweet potato and black bean mixture into each leaf. Top evenly with shredded Cabot Pepper Jack (1/2 ounce per leaf).
  4. Broil for 1-3 minutes, until cheese is melted.
  5. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve warm.

Southwestern_Romaine_Bites_Cabot_Pepper_Jack

See what other delicious Cabot cheese creations Recipe ReDuxers have created by clicking on the link below!