When I was younger, I cooked, but it was nothing like the way I cook now. I could follow a recipe, but I really didn't cook anything without strictly following directions. I bought things like Hamburger Helper and frozen TV dinners sometimes. I considered myself a good cook but not a great one.
About 10 or 12 years ago, I started really watching Food Network. I would waste entire Saturdays watching every show that came on. I was fascinated by all of the fresh veggies, fresh herbs, cooking from scratch. I started trying more and more things. I started cooking from scratch. I still followed recipes pretty closely, but I was finally venturing out. I even started trying a few recipes that I made up and didn't use recipes. Every day I became a better and better cook. My husband, children and friends started taking notice of my cooking, and I was starting to feel very confident in the kitchen.
In 2011, my husband encouraged me to start this blog. He even got it all set up for me. He spent many hours trying to learn HTML code to implement different things on my blog. I started researching recipes and cooking things I've never tried before. I was getting good at this. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but it feels good to know that people love your food. And the confidence I gained by that is irreplaceable. I finally broke free from the cookbooks and following recipes exactly and started writing my own recipes. I put them out there in the world, and YOU, my fans and followers, actually like my recipes! Maybe I'm a great cook after all. If it weren't for those days watching Food Network, I'd probably still be opening boxes for dinner.
This chicken dish is something that is based off of a Rachel Ray recipe for Everything Crusted Chicken Rolls that are stuffed with a cream cheese and green onion mixture. I took it a few steps farther and added bacon to the filling, added a spicy element to the everything crust, and topped it with Pepper Jack cheese. I had to name it Everything Chicken since, well, it has a little bit of everything. And it was fantastic! I hope you will use my recipes to venture out and try some new things and gain your confidence in the kitchen. Enjoy!
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 green onions, chopped
2 T poppy seeds
2 T sesame seeds
2 T dried minced onion
2 T dried garlic flakes
1/2 T coarse salt
Red chili flakes, to taste
4 Pepper Jack slices
2 T butter
Mix together the poppy seeds, sesame seeds, minced onion, garlic flakes, salt, and red chili flakes. Set the mixture aside until ready to use.
Butterfly the chicken longways but don't cut all the way through. Stir together the softened cream cheese, bacon, and green onions. In a large skillet, melt the butter and drizzle in some olive oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1/4 of the cream cheese mixture down the center of each chicken breast. Close them up and use three toothpicks to secure and close up the chicken. Dip the chicken on both sides in the poppy seed mixture.
Cook the chicken and brown on both sides in the skillet until well browned. Place the chicken on a sheet pan and put the pan in the oven. Bake the chicken until it registers at 165 degrees in the center, about 15-20 more minutes. During the last few minutes, place a slice of Pepper Jack cheese over each piece of chicken and melt the cheese and slightly brown it. Remember to tell the people you're serving to remove the three toothpicks before eating.