New Menu Monday: Italian Chicken and Stuffing Bake (a recipe with potential…)

italian-stuffing-chicken-LifeInTheLofthouse-e1410538520279Here’s a great recipe to try. It’s great because it is forgiving.
Italian Chicken and Stuffing Bake from the food site

It’s perfect for illustrating all the reasons why a recipe can go wrong… like, if someone feels like swapping ingredients and decide to not follow certain/most instructions, for instance. Experienced cooks, comfortable in the kitchen, should be able to monkey around with ingredients and directions. Experienced, comfortable cooks also get to botch things up, too. Also, someone would have liked to have posted this yesterday (New Menu Monday), but someone’s son monopolized the desktop all evening for an “I swear, I’ll be done in ten minutes, mom, it’s easy” assignment.

IMG_8058Let’s take these simple ingredients:

  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (6 oz.) package stuffing mix for Chicken
  • 1/2 cup water (or broth)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/3 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 1 cup ¬†shredded mozzarella cheese

If you decide to use four enormous whole chicken breasts, not chopped, swap a different kind of stuffing mix instead of the typical national brand, add the cheese in the wrong place and you will have to cook everything for twice as long as the directions, you might have some issues.


But, these are good flavors that go well together which stand up to Scattered Home Chef Syndrome… something I seem to suffer from. Yep.

Here’s what I did to mess up this recipe:

1. Use waaaay too much meat.
1. Use waaaay too much meat.
2. Pesto on top, no problem here.
2. Pesto on top, no problem here.
Mix tomatoes, water, stuffing... check.
3. Mix tomatoes, garlic, water, stuffing… check. (see that cheese? Yeah, forgot to put it on the chicken at this point)
Stuffing mix on chicken...
4. Stuffing mix on chicken…
...and cheese on top. Oops.
…and cheese on top. Oops.
Try to flip the stuffing and cheese... succeed in mixing them instead.
Try to flip the stuffing and cheese… succeed in mixing them instead.
Bake 375 30 minutes. JK, bake one hour.
5. Bake 375 30 minutes¬†…one hour. Worry that stuffing is too dry and chicken is under cooked.
Enjoy the flavors of tender, pesto chicken (not under baked), and cheesy stuffing even though it is in the wrong spot.
6. Enjoy the flavors of tender, pesto chicken (not under baked), and cheesy stuffing even though it is in the wrong spot. I would use more cheese next time.

Recipe- Homemade Dressing for The BEST Asian Chicken Salad

Click to link for purchasing info for Okami Chinese Chicken Salad Kit
Click to link for purchasing info for Okami Chinese Chicken Salad Kit

A couple stores around here sell a chicken salad kit by Okami with all you need for a delicious meal in one box, minus the lettuce. The sliced almonds, two kinds of crispy noodles, cooked chicken strips, (there used to be orange segments, too), and the best part- a really good salad dressing with Asian flavors. One store sells a double package that we can never finish (Costco) and the other store is out of my way.

But I love this salad…

The only solution: make my own. I figured I could do a better job on the chicken, too, and reduce some of the unnecessary junk found in the dressing, too. Lucky me, The Food Network came through with a dressing that after a few tweaks, was really close to the Okami kit. The special ingredient is tahini- the sesame paste you put in your hummus. The original recipe that inspired some of the ingredients and amount can be found here, on, my changes included the soy sauce and honey, and using a combination of toasted sesame oil and peanut oil- all sesame would be quite overpowering, if it is a toasted oil.

IMG_7652Asian Salad Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tahini paste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Whisk all ingredients together, that’s it! Drizzle about two tablespoons over 3 cups of salad greens. Suggested salad should include chopped chicken, Mandarin orange segments, toasted sliced almonds, and fried chow mein noodles or won ton strips.

And yes, the chicken was a lot better than the salad kit. I just took boneless breasts, sprinkled them with onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper, and grilled them for about four minutes per side. May take three minutes per side, don’t overcook.
KEY STEP: let the chicken rest for 15 minutes, and you will end up with the juiciest and most tender boneless white meat you’ve ever cooked.

Go make this, save money, get more real foods into your happy mouth and enjoy this soon.