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.

goat cheese_dried plum_rosemary_chicken

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.

goat cheese_dried plum_chicken

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.

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Easy, Healthier Chicken “Cacciatore” with Black Beluga Lentils

Why is Chicken Cacciatore so delicious? Perhaps it’s the rich, dark meat. Or the fact that it’s cooked with liquid ingredients, yielding the most moist, juicy, delicious chicken. Well, I’ve captured the “essential” elements of Chicken Cacciatore, but in this much simplified, healthified dish.

This recipe is made with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, meaning they a) cook faster and b) are lower in fat and calories due to the lack of fatty skin. It’s also extremely easy to make — with only five minutes hands-on time.

Chicken_Cacciatore

I served the chicken, with all of the delicious, garlick-y, tomato-y juices, over black beluga lentils. If you’ve never had black lentils, they look like caviar and pack a major nutritional punch. For 1/2 cup cooked lentils, you get about 12 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. Plus, they cook in about 25 minutes. Much faster than most beans — and no pre-soaking! Just bring one part lentils and three parts water to a boil and then simmer until they are soft but not mushy (about 25 minutes total).

*Be sure to make extra black lentils and save the extra tomato sauce for my upcoming recipe for black lentil “muffins!”

Recipe: Chicken Cacciatore

No need to brown the chicken before baking it as traditional recipes call for — you still get tons of flavor here. Try adding your favorite vegetables or mushrooms to the casserole dish before baking for added nutrition.

Chicken_Cacciatore_Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1.5-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (preferably organic)
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add all ingredients, except for chicken, to a casserole dishTomato_Sauce
  3. Add chicken thighs to tomato mixture and turn chicken thighs to coatChicken_Before
  4. Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the chicken reads 165 degrees

Serving suggestion: serve 4-6 ounces of chicken over 1/2 cup cooked black lentils. Save the leftover lentils and tomato sauce mixture for my next recipe — black lentil “muffins.”

Chicken_After

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Dates and Goat Cheese

Yes, prosciutto and chicken on Good Friday…I never claimed to be a good Catholic. This recipe was inspired by a recent dinner at State in Chicago. On Fridays, every menu item is $5.99! Plus they have 100 beers on tap (or close to it). Naturally, my boyfriend Dan and I are pretty obsessed (even though it’s a total DePaul/college bar). He ordered their Stuffed Chicken
(marinated chicken breast, applewood smoked bacon, Medjool dates, goat cheese, organic grain rice, seasonal vegetables, spicy plum sauce). It was [obviously] delicious – I mean bacon and goat cheese! How could it not be delicious?

I am eternally searching for new chicken recipes, so the idea of stuffing a chicken breast got me thinking. And this entree included many of my favorite flavors. So, here’s my take on State’s entree. It’s lower in fat and calories because I used WAY less oil than State uses. Plus, thinly sliced prosciutto is lighter (and fancier) than bacon. Enjoy!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Dates and Goat Cheese

Goat_Cheese_Date_Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 oz)
  • 1 (6 oz) log goat cheese
  • 6 dates, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil for one minute in medium-sized pan. Add minced shallots and saute for 3-5 minutes, until shallots are trasnparent. In bowl, combine shallots, goat cheese and chopped dates.

Using a sharp knife, cut a one inch slit (horizontally) into the thick side of each chicken breast. Use your fingers to loosen the slit. Stuff 1/4 of the cheese/date/shallot mixture into each chicken breast. Wrap each chicken breast with one slice of prosciutto (be careful handling the prosciutto…it’s very delicate). Sprinkle with pepper and bake in preheated oven about 40 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

 

I served mine with sweet potato “hash” (cubed sweet potato sauteed with olive oil, garlic and smoked paprika) and kale chips (a favorite).