Grilled Spinach Pesto Chicken

I’ve recently discovered that my entire family loves pesto. My husband has always liked it. I’m a bit late to the pesto game, only discovering how good it was a few years ago. My super picky 7-year-old just started liking it, and my almost 4-year-old has always liked it. Well, she used to love it, then she stopped loving most things. Now we are trying to get her back into her “eat anything” mode. 
 

One time, I made her pasta with pesto and I told her to just try it. She took a bite and I said, “See, that’s not bad at all!” She agreed with me and now she often requests that I make her “the pasta that’s not bad at all” :0)

What I love so much about this pesto is that it is mostly spinach. I also use walnuts (you can use any nut), which adds another layer of nutrition. I’ve made it before, but I’ll post the recipe again.

Spinach Pesto

In a blender, add the following (all eyeballed):

½ bag of prewashed baby spinach (about 3 oz or so)

1 big bunch of fresh basil

½ cup of walnuts

3-4 cloves garlic

½ cup parmesan cheese

Hefty pinch of salt & a sprinkling of pepper

Olive oil

Put everything in the blender. Start with about ½ cup olive oil and then you can add more as needed based on the consistency you want. 

 

Let the blender do its thing and ta-da! Pesto! Isn’t that green color gorgeous?!


You can use this in so many ways. For this meal, I cut two chicken breasts in half lengthwise to get four thinner pieces. Then I coated each piece in some of the pesto and let it marinade for about 20 minutes. You can do this longer, even overnight. You could also do this in a freezer bag and freeze the whole kit-n-caboodle. Then you’ll have premade pesto chicken ready whenever you want it.

 

When I was ready, I just grilled the chicken for about 7 minutes per side over medium-high heat.   

 

Serve with more pesto on top.

If I had mozzarella on hand, I think this would be delish with a couple tomato slices on top of the chicken, then place some sliced mozzarella and put the chicken under the broiler for a couple minutes until the cheese melts. Maybe even add a drizzle of balsamic glaze! Oh my mouth is watering already…

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Thai Peanut Chicken Stir Fry 

So, here’s my thing about Thai food: it makes me nervous. For some reason, I never think I’m going to like it, but I always do. It’s weird, but it’s just one of those things.My first ever experience with Thai flavors was the Thai Chicken Pizza at California Pizza Kitchen. I know that is in no way actual Thai food, hence why I referred to it as Thai Flavors. For some reason, my senior year AP Biology teacher got us CPK for the class. Maybe it was after the AP test? I don’t really remember, but what I do remember is my friend Joey ordered the Thai Chicken Pizza and let me have some. It was so yummy and to this day, that’s what I get whenever I go to CPK.

Fast forward many years later, when my friend Bon took my husband and me to a place called Wild Thai. That was the only time I’d ever had actual Thai food. He ordered us chicken penang curry (I think I spelled that right) and it was absolutely delicious. We went back a few times after that.

I don’t eat Thai or make it often (though I did a really delicious shrimp dish on this very blog), but I do love the flavor combinations. The sweet and spicy, salty and citrusy. Thai cuisine really does have a great flavor profile.

I found this recipe in my Vitamix cookbook. Have I not sung the praises of Vitamix enough? I love it almost as much as my slow cooker…

Anyway, it is very easy to throw together, is actually quite healthy, and can be altered to your liking. I used chicken, but you could probably use shrimp, and you could put all different kinds of veggies in it. You could probably put only veggies in it and it would be delicious as a vegetarian option as well.

I added more vegetables than the recipe calls for. Also, according to my husband, it could have used more spice, but he has an unnatural tolerance for spice. I thought it was perfect, but you could probably add more jalapeno or even hot sauce at the end if you want. I even had my kids give it a try and they liked it, so who’s going to say no to that?

The recipe also says to serve over rice, but I served it over those spinach noodles I made. To each his own.

Recipe from the Vitamix Cookbook

16 oz can coconut milk
2 Tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed
1 cup cocktail peanuts
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in small cubes
1 bell pepper, cut into small pieces
Any other veggies you want
cooked rice or pasta for serving

In a blender (I forgot to take pictures of the blender, but I’m sure you’ll get it just fine), add the coconut milk, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, jalapeno, and peanuts. Blend until smooth. (If using the Vitamix, set to Smoothie program and let finish).

Chop your veggies and chicken.

Put the vegetable oil in a hot skillet and add the chicken. When almost cooked through, add the veggies and saute until soft.

Add about a cup of sauce to the pan and let simmer to warm through.

Serve with rice or noodles. You can add more sauce and chopped peanuts to the top.


This is really, really good!  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to heat up some leftovers!

Go-To Tomato Sauce

So a few posts back I made a tomato sauce which I mentioned I don’t normally make. I promised I show you the way I usually make it so here we go.

This is a very simple sauce that can be used for pretty much anything you want. There is no need to buy jarred sauce anymore! Unless you want to, of course. And it freezes beautifully, so you can make a bunch and freeze it batches to keep for use later.

All you need are crushed tomatoes, diced onions, chopped garlic, olive oil, salt, oregano, and basil (fresh or dried. If I have fresh, I’ll use it, but I always have dried in my pantry so it makes it easy).

In pot over medium heat, saute your onions and garlic in a tablespoon or so of olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add about 1 teaspoon each of oregano and basil and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir together. Add cans crushed tomatoes and stir. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.

It is technically ready at this point. You can add other seasonings it might need or you might prefer. I usually add more basil (about 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons) and a pinch or two of salt, depending on my taste preferences that day. Mix well and serve with your favorite pasta or chicken parm or lasagna or…. the list is endless! It is very versatile.

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