Welcome to Direct Your Dining! This cooking series will introduce you to energy efficient recipes full of tips to keep your meals delicious without using every appliance in the kitchen. Preparing recipes with energy efficiency in mind at least once a week will make cooking a little easier, and may even help reduce your monthly electricity bill. Check in every week for a new recipe full of flavor and creativity that will surely impress your friends and family.
Recipes that reduce cooking time and amp up flavor while dirtying only one cooking vessel are superstars in my household, and this week’s low energy use entry fits that bill.
Prepare delicious chicken breasts stuffed with a baby kale, basil, and three-cheese filling in a single skillet with ease. And you don’t worry about side dishes because you roast baby Portobello mushrooms and cherry tomatoes right in the same dish as the chicken. Just serve with a side salad or some fresh extra baby kale for a complete dinner!
Sure, we’re using the oven a bit more than usual today, but using a cast iron skillet or any skillet that holds in heat well speeds up the cooking time. Simply sear the chicken on each side and then transfer the skillet to the oven to finish cooking the chicken so the cheese melts through and the mushrooms and tomatoes are tender.
If you just stick the skillet in the oven without heating up the chicken first, it can take nearly twice as long to bake. Those initial 4 minutes on the stove saves significant cooking time because it gets the chicken cooking and heats the pan up before it’s placed in the hot oven.
This technique keeps the chicken moist and tender because of the key ingredients tying everything together: sweet balsamic vinegar and fresh squeezed lemon juice. The acidity from these components flavors everything well and keeps the chicken tender without overpowering the dish.
One-Skillet Cheesy Kale Stuffed Chicken
- 4 Large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ¼ tsp. Fresh cracked black peppercorns
- ¼ tsp. Sea salt
- ¼ tsp. Red chili pepper flakes
- 2 c. Fresh chopped baby kale
- ½ oz. Fresh chopped basil
- 2 Garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 c. Whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 c. Shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 oz. Cream cheese, softened
- 4 Large baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 c. Cherry tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. Butter
- 2 tbsp. Olive oil
- ¼ c. Balsamic vinegar
- ½ Fresh lemon’s juice
- ¼ tsp. Sea salt for seasoning skillet ingredients before placing in oven
- ¼ tsp. Cracked black peppercorns to season chicken breasts
1) Preheat oven to 400° F (204.4° C) and let cream cheese soften on top.
2) Prepare the ingredients as directed.
3) In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chopped baby kale, basil, softened cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, garlic, ¼ tsp. sea salt, ¼ tsp. cracked black peppercorns, and ¼ tsp. red chili pepper flakes. Mix until smooth and there are no chunks of cream cheese remaining.
4) Cut pockets in each of the chicken breasts along the long side to fill with cheesy stuffing. Take care not to cut all the way through. Season with ¼ tsp. cracked black peppercorns.
5) Fill the pockets in the chicken breasts.
6) Melt the butter along with the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
7) Add the chicken breasts and cook on each side for 2 minutes to sear. Turn the heat off.
8) Top each chicken breast the slices from one mushroom. Place the tomatoes in open areas in the skillet.
9) Sprinkle in a second ¼ tsp. sea salt, squeeze in the lemon juice, and pour in the balsamic vinegar. Make sure these additions cover the entire dish.
10) Bake for 22-25 minutes in the oven or until chicken is cooked through to 165° F (73.9° C).
11) Serve by spoon the sauce from the bottom of the skillet over finished chicken breasts.
Have fun creating a one-skillet dinner everyone will love!
Check back in every week for more Direct Your Dining recipes to help reduce your energy use in the kitchen while getting creative with delicious dishes!
Recipe and Images by Stacie Morgan