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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Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Garlic Shrimp

I have one regret about this dish, you guys. I only wish I had actually timed myself making it because I’m pretty sure the whole thing only took me maybe 20 minutes. It came together so quickly, I was genuinely curious how long it actually was. 

A ridiculously delicious 20-minute meal? That’s healthy too? This is the goal, am I right? If only my kids were as into it as my hubby and I were, but hey, I’m picking my battles today and they are fine with their chicken nuggets for today. More for me! :0)

Anyway, back to the recipe, which is even easier if you use store bought pesto. Which is totally cool. 

Or you can be super cool and use my spinach basil pesto that I love so much :0) 

This is so simple I’m not even going to write out a recipe. I’ll just give you the steps and you can make it to your tastes. 

Start with your Shrimp. In a bowl, add your peeled and deveined shrimp. I used half a pound of 16/20 count and it fed two of us. Add a couple cloves of minced garlic, a sprinkle of salt, and a sprinkle of lemon pepper. Let it sit while you prep your zucchini. 


Using a spiralizer, make your zucchini noodles. You can also use a vegetable peeler if you don’t have a spiralizer. Or you can use regular pasta. 


In a skillet over medium high heat, add a little bit of olive oil and sauté your garlic shrimp. It just takes a few minutes on each side, until pink and cooked through. Remove from the skillet.


In the same skillet, with all the yummy bits and now-flavored oil from the Shrimp, add your noodles and cook until soft, but still a bit al dente. 


When the noodles are ready, turn off the heat and add a scoop of your pesto. Toss with the zoodles until coated.


Plate your pesto zoodles with the Shrimp and enjoy! 

You could probably make this easily with chicken instead of Shrimp if you wanted. Or another kind of fish. You could also leave it as is and keep it vegetarian.

Pesto (Christmas Movie Series)

We’re all familiar with Throwback Thursday, right? The social media trend of posting old photos or whatnot that make us all nostalgic and remind us of days gone by.

Well, sometimes watching these TV holiday movies is like an extended Throwback Thursday. For those of us in my age group, anyway. I was born in 1984 so while I do remember some things from the late 80’s, I was only 5 years old when the decade ended. Most of my memories are from the 90s and it is a decade I look back on fondly.

Lots of these Christmas movies that I enjoy so much star celebrities from my childhood. A few of them could even have a category all their own. Here is just a sampling of where you can find your favorite stars of yester-year:

  • The Mistle-Tones: One half of the Sister, Sister duo, Tia Mowry, competes in a singing competition against Beverly Hills 90210’s Tori Spelling (Tori can also be found in A Carol Christmas)
  • Holiday in Handcuffs: Clarissa Explains it All’s Melissa Joan Hart kidnaps AC Slater (Mario Lopez) in an effort to trick her parents into thinking she has her life together (Sabrina would have just cast a spell, right?). Mario Lopez is also the voice of a holiday saving dog in The Dog Who Saved Christmas. MJH is also in Santa Con with Urkle himself, Jaleel White.
  • Northpole: Everyone’s favorite Bayside cheerleader, Tiffani Thiessan plays a single mom whose son teams up with an elf to save Christmas. Ah, Tiffani, we knew you before you dropped the Amber…
  • 12 Wishes of Christmas: One-time Cher Horowitz frenemy Amber, Elisa Donovan, is no longer a “full-on Monet” when she encounters what can only be described as a Christmas fairy godmother who grants her 12 Wishes. If you were to guess she will have to use some of her wishes to set right the ones she used irresponsibly, you’d be right. Elisa can also been seen alongside Mario Lopez in The Dog Who Saved Christmas.
  • 12 Dates of Christmas: AC Slater and Kelly Kapowski aren’t the only Bayside Alumni to bring the Christmas cheer. Mark Paul Gosselar stars in this “Groundhog Day” style holiday treat.
  • Hitched for the Holidays: Blossom’s daffy but sweet older brother, Joey Lawrence stars as a commitment-phobe who hires a girl to play his girlfriend for Christmas to get his parents off his case about settling down. This one is a two-fer, because she uses him as well for the same reason. The one is notable in that (as far as I know) it is the only TV holiday movie that includes Hanukkah.
  • A Christmas Melody: 90s songstress Mariah Carey plays a former high school rival of Lacey Chabert. FYI Mariah is 46 and Lacey is 33… Not sure what high school they went to, but in real life Lacey Chabert was only 12 when Mariah graced the world and every holiday season for the past 21 years with “All I Want for Christmas is You”

There are a few stars from the 90s who have been in enough Christmas movies to host their own film festivals. Since that probably won’t happen, you can just have your own little marathon at home:

  • Dean Cain: Apparently one of Superman’s powers is spreading Holiday Cheer. Dean Cain can be seen in at least 10 holiday movies (there could be more, this is what I found on his Wikipedia page): Christmas Rush, A Christmas Wedding, The Dog Who Saved Christmas, A Nanny for Christmas, The Case for Christmas, Defending Santa, A Belle for Christmas, Small Town Santa, Merry Ex-Mas, A Dog for Christmas
  • Lacey Chabert: This former Party of Five/Mean Girl apparently stopped trying to “make fetch happen” long enough to star in five Christmas movies: A Christmas Melody (with Mariah Carey too!), Matchmaker Santa, A Royal Christmas, A Holiday Heist, The Tree that Saved Christmas, Black Christmas—OK, this one was a horror film released in theaters and not a heartwarming Hallmark movie, but still. Christmas. It counts.)
  • Candace Cameron-Bure: Let’s be honest, we all wanted to be DJ Tanner when we were kids, amiright? I thought so. Well, she’s all grown up now and making her mark at Hallmark. Her Christmas movies have quickly become some of my favorites and she tends to make a new one every year: Christmas Under Wraps, Moonlight & Mistletoe, The Heart of Christmas, Let it Snow, A Christmas Detour

So far for this Christmas movie series, I’ve tried to make recipes that correlated with the specific facet of TV holiday movies that I was writing about: Gingerbread boys and girls for the relationship post, Cheesy popcorn because the movies are totally cheesy and the definition of a popcorn movie… you get the idea.

So, what to do for the post about these movies being a landing spot for the stars of the past? Bear with me on this one…. Christmas PASTa! Get it? PAST… Pasta… See what I did there? OK, moving on.

So the only thing that makes this “Christmas” is the fact that it is red, green, and white. And the bow ties. Like a present? Yes? Otherwise, this is a year-round dish.

Pesto is very easy to add to your recipe arsenal. You just throw everything in a blender and done.  You can use it for lots of things. There are also LOTS of ways to make pesto, just do a Google search and you’ll see. This is just how I make it. Feel free to substitute things to adjust the flavors to your liking.

In a blender, add the following:

1 big handful of spinach (this is not a traditional ingredient, but I love the color and it add so much nutrition. You can also do kale if you like that sort of thing)
1 big bunch of fresh basil, leaves torn (you’re going to blend it up anyway, so you don’t have to chop or anything. I used the entire package from the grocery store. Use a lot.)
3/4 cup walnuts (I don’t like pinenuts, which is the traditional pesto nut. Use what you like.)
4 cloves of garlic (I start with 4 cloves. If you want it more garlicky, you can add more later after a test-taste)
1/2 cup parmesan cheesehefty pinch of salt
olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a blender and turn it on a medium level to get it going.

   

While the blender is going, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto reaches the consistency you like.

To assemble the “Christmas PASTa” dice up some mozzerella (use what you want, but fresh mozzerella is so good! I’ve heard it’s easy to make, maybe I’ll have to try that sometime), and cut some cherry tomatoes in half.

Boil some pasta and mix in some of your pesto. It really doesn’t take much, so just add a couple spoonfuls and mix in while the pasta is still warm. You can refrigerate the leftovers.  Add the mozzerella and tomatoes, and eat up!