Pizza Night

Travis worked hard today and when I asked what he would like for dinner he listed about 10 different possibilities but I stopped listening at his first choice…PIZZA! I bought some yummy looking all-natural, hormone free cheese which was a blend of mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, provalone and romano. A fun twist from the typical mozzarella! I had good intentions of trying to make pizza dough (for the first time) but the day got away from me so I went with a family favorite and local Richmond business, Pizza Tonight.

The Pinot Grigio is for me…not part of the pizza prep 🙂

The sauteing chicken breast, cut into strips and seasoned with salt and pepper.

The BBQ chicken pizza before baking.

Devin, slicing up the BBQ chicken pizza.

Pesto Chicken Pizza, all sliced up. Our favorite way is to cut the pizza into little squares.

These two pizzas are fun to make in the same night because you get two very different pizzas with very similar toppings!!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ingredients

  • 4-5 tablespoons of your favorite bbq sauce
  • very thinly sliced red onions
  • sauteed chicken breast
  • cheese

Method

  • Stretch pizza dough out according to package directions. Top with sauce first, then onions, then chicken and end with cheese.

Pesto Chicken and Tomato Pizza

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons pesto sauce (I used homemade)
  • very thinly sliced red onions
  • sauteed chicken breast
  • thinly sliced roma tomotoes
  • cheese

Method

  • Stretch pizza dough out according to package directions. Top with pesto first, then onions, chicken, tomatoes and end with cheese.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This. Is. Excellent. Chicken. Well, don’t make fun of me…it’s true! I would usually never make something like this. It’s been a handful of years since I have even attempted a stuffed chicken breast recipe. But the rain outside and the empty propane tank meant that I couldn’t grill without 1) a run to the store for a refill propane tank and 2) and boyfriend willing to get wet while turning chicken. It was just by the luck of those two hurdles on my Friday evening that I ran across this recipe from Cooking Light magazine. I exaggerate not when I tell you that it is DELICIOUS!!

The recipe called for a couple tablespoons of chopped basil. The only basil I have that is ready for a small harvest is my purple basil so I picked a few leaves to try in this dish. Isn’t it dark and beautiful??!!

Halfway through cooking I was almost jumping up and down in excitement that the goat cheese-y goodness wasn’t leaking out!

I am not a food photographer (yet) but here is the finished, lovely stuffed chicken and some braised swiss chard that I made to go along with it.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Method

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add shallot, garlic and sugar. Cook for about 4-5 minutes until soft.
  • In a bowl combine goat cheese, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes,   basil, the cooked shallot and garlic mixture, salt and pepper. Stir.
  • Prepare the chicken breasts by slicing the thick part of the breasts into a pocket. (the breasts I used were on the small side) Fill with a couple tablespoons of cheese mixture. Close with a toothpick or 2 per breast.
  • Using the same pan the shallot and garlic was cooked in, add another tablespoon of olive oil and place the stuffed chicken breasts in. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on 5 minutes per side. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and cook (flipping two more times and basting with pan juices) for another 15 minutes until done. Enjoy!

Rassawek Wine and Heritage Festival

Travis, Devin and I met my mom and brother Isaac today to check out a wine festival in the country today at Rassawek Vineyard. It was a beautiful day…78 degrees, sunny, cool in the shade…it just couldn’t have been any nicer. The event was a on simply gorgeous property off of Route 6 in Goochland County. There were horses, old cars and farm equipment on display, local handmade goods for sale, live music, good food and of course wine tastings! Not just wine tastings from the vineyard that sponsored the event but also from 9 local wineries! Travis got to drive an old antique (like 1920’s old) Ford truck that was was for sale. He showed a little interest and the owner let him take a spin. We had yummy smoked barbecue, fresh churned ice cream and sangria to wash it all down. It was fun to meet the vendors and others who have so many interests and talents!

I don’t have any pictures because my phone has no service out there (thanks Sprint!!) and I haven’t been able to locate the battery charger for my digital camera but I did grab a couple of cool items I wanted to share here. I do wish that I had a group shot of us to share! Next time!

The first are some herb mixes from Forrest Green Farm. I tasted the ranch dressing and was hooked! All you do to make it is mix 1 tablespoon of herbs from the packet with some buttermilk and a little sour cream. Give it a shaky-shake and it’s done! All of the contents of the packets are grown on their farm and they are all organic.

I also got a bag of buckwheat flour. The vendor had 100 year old equipment that was milling it right there for us to watch. How cool is that??!!

Lastly, I got a planter made of handmade pottery for $15! The lady that made the pottery had tons of different pieces out and was also working on new stuff and doing demonstrations. I was so excited about it that I forgot to get her card! I hope that I run into her again so I can give her proper credit for such beautiful work. When I got home this evening I planted some Greek Basil that had been stuck in an ugly temporary pot. It’s too pretty to put outside!! 🙂

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

This is the best go-to pasta recipe to impress guests or just feel like you have having a fancy dinner at home that is also super easy to make. I promise…it really is easy! I love Giada DeLaurentiis and this is one of my favorite recipes of hers.

I usually wait to make this pasta until I have tons of fresh basil of my own that I need to use up but this year I couldn’t wait so I bought some. I picked up the goat cheese from the farmer’s market that we visited over the weekend. It is made locally at a place called Night Sky Farm. It was very, very cool to get to talk to the woman that prepares the different varieties of goat cheese. She had everything from plain goat cheese to goat cheese that had white chocolate in it. I personally prefer the savory versions. The goat cheese I used in this recipe had basil in it.

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

(Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis)

Ingredients

  • 1 (2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne pasta (I was out so I used fusilli and it was great)
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 packed cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Preparation

  • Preheat Oven to 425 degrees.
  • Mix the squash and onion together and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for to 40 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Mix them around about halfway through the cooking. Depending on the size of the squash and onions they may cook faster so keep an eye on them. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  • While the squash mixture is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce. Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.

This is perfect for a vegetarian dinner or served with some grilled or roasted chicken… or a easy rotisserie chicken from your favorite grocery store!

Urban Herb Garden

I have been obsessed with growing herbs for about 5 years now. Last year I had what I consider to be my most successful year of growing. Today I want to share with you where they grow and some pictures of what I’m growing. My rosemary is whispering in my ear telling me that it wants to be written about first. It is included in the name of my blog, after all.

My rosemary grows, along with the rest of my garden, in a spot that has one of the most beautiful views in Richmond. My roof. We live in an urban neighborhood right on the James River in the downtown area of Richmond. The neighborhood is a mix of privately owned condos, townhouses and businesses. We have a pool, 3 restaurants and a boat marina. This is a photo of the seating area and part of the “growing” roof top.

Back to the rosemary…it grows inside of an old broken fire pit that was too cool and rustic to throw out. Here is a view from the top as it grows up toward the sun:

And another view of the rosemary:

Here are some shots of other herbs growing on the roof:

Lemon thyme, planted in 2011

Tarragon, planted April 2012

Sage, planted April 2012

Oregano, planted April 2012

Tomatoes (because they didn’t want to be left out), planted April 2012

The largest and most abundant herb that I grew last year was sweet basil. I had 3 very large bushes. One large plant would fill up a large colander once was it was cleaned and stemmed. This season I have planted sweet basil and thai basil, it’s currently about an inch tall and I’m hoping it’s going to get just as big as it did last year!

Basil, stemmed and washed. 2011

I also have a few things growing in pots on my front porch. The dill has been planted from seed I saved from last year.

Dill, planted March 2012

Chives, planted April 2012

Jalapeno pepper, planted April 2012

Thai Basil seedlings, started March 2012. A stray dill seed got in there somehow!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my recent plantings. I will keep you updated as they grow and as I use them in recipes! – Elissa