Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

It looks as though bacon will always rule as king of the breakfast meats. Interesting enough, we don’t reach for bacon near enough to add great flavor and fat to other meals, like lunch or dinner. The addition of bacon to other dishes can be a good way to enjoy its smoked flavor.

Charcuterie - The Craft of Salting, Smoking & CuringDo you know the process of smoking bacon?

Chef Jeff Raycroft explains that homemade smoked bacon is a simple process. Jeff says the bacon should be hot smoked in a smoker that has reached an internal temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the smoker is ready, the bacon should be hung or placed on racks and smoked until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterward being smoked, the meat needs to be cooled and sliced.

If using charcoal in your smoker, add soaked wood chips directly on top of the charcoal then a water bath added above that to keep humidity up in the smoker which stops the meat from being dried out.

Chef Raycroft recommends the book, “Charcuterie – The Craft of Salting, Smoking & Curing” buy Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. Link here to have a look inside the book.

Our featured recipe is Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and here is what you will need.

stuffing ingredients for chicken breasts2 tablespoons olive oil
4 6-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons crumbled cooked smoked bacon – 1 slice of bacon = 1 tablespoon crumbled, cooked bacon
6 basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

butterfly cut chicken breast seasoned Butterfly the chicken by running a sharp knife horizontally through the thickest part of each breast. Place one hand on top of the breast to stabilize while holding the knife parallel to the work surface while cutting. Do not cut all the way through.

preparing stuffed chicken breastsOpen the breast so both halves can lie flat. Season the exposed surface with salt and pepper, then add 1/4 of the ricotta cheese, crumbled smoked bacon, and sliced basil leaves to each breast.

Fold the breasts in half so the cheese mixture is surrounded by chicken breast on the bottom, back and top. Secure with long wooden toothpicks, if desired.

pan searing stuffed chicken breastsHeat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-safe skillet. Once hot, add the stuffed chicken breasts to the pan to sear.

Once browned on the bottom, carefully turn each breast over and repeat on the other side. Season top and bottom with salt and pepper, if desired, during this process.

Place skillet in preheated oven and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted, approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover until ready to serve.

Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts - close upA few minutes before removing the chicken from the oven, start making the balsamic glaze. Heat balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat.

Stir while heating until the vinegar is reduced to about 1/3 of its original volume. It will form a thick, syrupy consistency when it is ready.

To serve, place a stuffed chicken breast on each plate and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Pairs well with a mixed green salad or roasted vegetables.

Here are some ideas for roasted vegetables:

  1. Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs
  2. Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables
  3. Excite Your Palate with Spice Roasted Vegetables

What Others Are Reading:

The Best Tomato Varieties For Your Container Gardening

The Best Tomato Varieties For Your Container Gardening

A great alternative for the tomato gardener with limited garden space is to use buckets, pots or containers to grow tomato plants.

Container gardening offers many advantages, such as growing a few plants in containers is a lot less intimidating to beginning gardeners than trying to plan and care for a large vegetable garden. Without a doubt, it is much easier to care for and maintain a small container garden than a large outdoor area.

Planting your tomatoes in a portable set up allows you to move your tomato plants around so they get the necessary sunlight each day. Though growing tomatoes in the sun is necessary, but the fruit themselves do not need sunlight to ripen, as the tomato actually ripens fastest in the absence of sunlight. Tomatoes ripen because of heat and ethylene gas, not because of sunlight (Gardening Know How).

A word to the wise, not all tomato varieties are perfect for container gardening. To ensure that you receive great tasting tomatoes, and the biggest possible yield, then take a look at these three tomato varieties.

Container Gardening With The Right Tomato Plants

Japanese Black Trifele

Japanese Black Trifele TomatoAlthough the Japanese Black Trifele is considered a great container tomato, be advised that it can be found in both indeterminate and determinate varieties.

Before buying a particular plant, you’ll want to make sure the ones you are considering are the more compact variety.

The pear-shaped fruits of the Japanese Black Trifele will develop a deep mahogany color as a sign that it is ripe. This beautiful fruit is as visually appealing as it is delicious. You can expect a sweet and smoky, multi-layered taste.

Rareseeds says the plants produce loads of fruit all summer long, and has been a favorite with many seed savers.

Sungold Cherry Tomato

 Sungold Cherry TomatoThe Sungold cherry tomato is a indeterminate hybrid. These tangerine-orange cherry tomatoes are super sweet and savory.

The plant boasts as a vigorous, disease resistant plant, and as such this cherry tomato plant is very strong and requires very little care.

Also, a single Sungold plant can give you cherry tomatoes all summer long.

Brandywine

Heirloom Organics says that the Brandywine tomato is among the oldest heirloom tomato varieties, and have been grown for well over 100 years. The fruit is a large, slightly sweet, pink, beefsteak tomato that can weigh 1 ½ pounds. It is an indeterminate growing vine plant that can reach 9 feet in height with plenty of light and heat.

This tomato variety consistently wins first place in tomato taste tests not only in the United States, but throughout the world.

Some other great tomatoes to grow in your container garden include the Wapsipinicon Peach, with its delicious and fuzzy fruit or the intriguing Black Krim heirloom variety which yields large purple and red fruits.

The tomatoes we have mentioned here is far from a comprehensive list. With thousands of tomato varieties to choose from, you are sure to find great options for your container gardening.

What Others Are Reading:

National Strawberry Ice Cream Day 2015

National Strawberry Ice Cream Day 2015

Today, January 15, 2015 is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day (USA).

Ice cream is a frozen food usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavors.

Ancient civilizations have served ice for cold foods for thousands of years. Around 200 B.C the Chinese served a frozen mixture of milk and rice. During Nero’s time of ruling over the Roman Emperor (37–68 AD) he had ice brought from the mountains and had it mixed it with fruit.

Introduction of Ice Cream to Europe

In Europe the first recipe for flavored ices appears in France around 1674, and made its appearance to England in the 18th century. In 1718 in England’s capital, London, was published a book titled “Mrs. Mary Eales’s Receipts” which contained an ice cream recipe.

Ice Cream…A New Find in the New World

In the “New World” (USA) ice cream sodas was first introduced in 1874 and by the late 19th century the ice cream sundae came to be. During the American Prohibition (US outlawed the making and serving of any alcohol) the ice cream parlor to some extent replaced the outlawed bars and saloons.

In 1851, in the city Boston, the first commercial factory was built for the production of ice cream.

Eating Ice Cream To Your Hearts Delight

Americans are the number one consumers of ice cream, an average person living in the USA eats 48 pints of ice cream a year. In 2011 the total amount of ice cream consumed in the United States was 1.58 billion gallons.

To make one gallon of ice cream, it requires 192 ounces of milk. Dairy cows produce about 1024 ounces of milk in a day (about 128 8 oz. glasses of milk). That means, if we have calculated appropriately, one dairy cow makes approximately 5.5 gallons of ice cream every day.

Being Thankful for Ice Cream

Let’s give thanks to the cow for ice cream. Really without them, we would not have ice cream, nor would January 15th each year in the United States, be National Strawberry Ice cream Day.

For those of you who are adventurous and would like to make homemade ice cream, here is a recipe we found on food.com by Elizabeth Knicely.

The recipe calls for fresh strawberries. But if you are unable to find fresh ones at your local market, frozen will work as will.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

3 cups fresh ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1⁄2 cups sugar

1 1⁄2 cups whole milk

2 3⁄4 cups heavy cream

1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and stir. Allow to sit for up to 2 hours.

Strain berries and reserve the juices.

Puree half the berries.

In a medium bowl mix milk and remaining sugar until sugar is dissolved. Stir in heavy cream, leftover juice from the berry mixture, vanilla, and mashed strawberries.

Turn on Ice Cream Machine and pour mixture into the frozen freezer bowl for about 20 minutes.

Add the rest of the strawberries and mix for another 5 minutes.

A NOTE FROM Elizabeth Knicely…

The ice cream will be very soft and creamy. We transferred ours to a container and stuck it in the freezer for about an hour to thicken it up a little the way we like it.

I am looking forward to trying out some other new ice cream recipes now that I see just how easy it is to do! In fact, I have a container of blueberries in the kitchen that I think would be great in ice cream too!

What Others Are Reading About:

Best Ever Strawberry Short Cake

Strawberry Short Cake

The days are getting longer and a little warmer. It still isn’t time yet for out door barbecuing. But strawberries are in season again. I bought 4 pounds at Costco for about $6.00. The time is right for Strawberry Short Cake. The recipe is adopted from the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine (BHG).

At our place we like to top the cake with real vanilla ice cream, but you can use whipped cream as well. The BHG recipe did use real whipped cream. Yummy!!

They also gave other ingredients you could add to the batter for other great flavors, such as

  1. Strawberry Lemon-Poppy Seed Shortcake
  2. Mixed Berry or Mixed Fruit Shortcake
  3. Strawberry-Nut Shortcake

Just link here if you want the recipes for those variations: Better Homes and Gardens.

The original recipe includes real cream to whip up as part of the topping, but I omitted it, as we use real vanilla ice cream.

Here is what you will need:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup cold butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (we used plain Greek yogurt)
3 tablespoons milk
5 cups sliced fresh strawberries
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease an 8 x 1 1/2-inch round baking pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Using the back of a spoon, make a well in the center of the flour mixture. In a small bowl stir together egg, sour cream, and milk. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once, stirring with a fork just until moistened.

Spread dough evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a small metal spatula or knife, loosen sides of shortcake. Place a wire rack on top of pan; place one hand on top of rack and other hand under pan and carefully invert pan with rack (use pot holders to protect your hands). Lift pan off shortcake. Cool on wire rack until completely cool.

Meanwhile, combine 4 cups of the strawberries and the 3 tablespoons sugar and set aside.

To serve, cut shortcake into 4 to 6 individual slices. Then cut  each slice in half horizontally. Place in a bowl and top with desired amount of strawberries and 1 to 2 scoops real vanilla ice cream.

strawberry short cake (2)

What Others are Saying About Strawberries and Cake:

Enhanced by Zemanta