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.

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Holiday Salad with Pecan and California Raisin-Crusted Goat Cheese {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

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

The holidays are certainly upon us. I’m not sure about you all, but we have holiday parties/festivities for the next several weekends (not that I’m complaining). That means lots of food, and most of it not very healthful.

My general plan of attack for myself (and what I recommend to clients) is to bring a couple dishes that you have prepared and feel good about eating. That way, when you’re surrounded by marshmallow and sugar-laden sweet potato casseroles, creamy vegetable sides and indulgent desserts galore, you at least can at least eat/feel good about eating the dishes you brought (and maybe skip some of those disgusting creamy casseroles).

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For the holidays, my go-to dish is a salad. It’s the dish I volunteer to make for all my holiday parties, partially because I don’t trust others to make a good salad — I’m a control freak and I’ve never denied that — and partially because I make a damn good salad.

So when the folks at California Raisins tasked us with creating recipes that are “naturally sweet for the holidays,” my mind went to salad.

When making a salad, I love taking seasonal vegetables and adding just a touch of sweetness, whether that’s a honey-infused vinaigrette, raisins, or both, as I’ve done here. California Raisins add natural sweetness with zero fat, no cholesterol and no added sugar. Plus, they offer 9% your daily fiber and potassium, and 6% of your daily iron.

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They’re a great choice for wholesome at-home or on-the-go snacking, plus they lend themselves well to both savory and sweet applications, where they provide natural sweetness.

They are seriously amazing for snacking, though, as evidenced by the fact that my roommate and I snacked on a pretty portion of the bag of California Raisins before I even started to create my recipes, to the point where I had to go back to the store to get several more bags. No biggie though, because California Raisins are the most economical dried fruit, according to the USDA.

As a sidenote, I love to pop a few raisins with peanut or almond butter — ants-on-a-log sans the celery, if you will — and also add them to my plain Greek yogurt to add extra nutrition and a little natural sweetness.

They also were d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. in my Vegan Moroccan Stew, which I made for another ReDux a few months ago.

Recipe: Raw Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pecan and California Raisin-Crusted Goat Cheese

This salad is perfect for the holidays and because the Brussels sprouts don’t wilt like other greens, you can actually prep and dress the salad up to 1-2 days ahead of time. California Raisins add a great sweet note to the salad and the goat cheese brings just the right amount of tang.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3/4 cup California Raisins, divided (1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup)
  • 8 oz. log Chevre goat cheese, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Peel butternut squash using a sharp knife then cut in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds from the middle. Dice into small (~1/4″) cubes. Toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and lay on a baking sheet. Roast at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until the squash is soft.
  2. While the squash is cooking, cut/shred Brussels sprouts, then wash and thoroughly dry them (or use a salad spinner).
  3. Mix 1/4 cup California Raisins, pecans and rosemary and gently press mixture into both sides of the goat cheese slices.raisins_pecan_rosemary_goatcheese
  4. In a large bowl, add balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, honey, pepper and salt. Use a whisk to mix.honey_balsamic_dressing
  5. Add shredded Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, and remaining 1/2 cup California Raisins and toss with dressing.          brussels_butternutsquash_honey_balsamic
  6. Top with pecan and California Raisin-crusted goat cheese.

To make it a meal, try adding grilled chicken, turkey or fried eggs, as I did for breakfast yesterday.

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See how other Recipe ReDuxers are using California Raisins by clicking the link below.