Monday, August 12, 2013

Cajun Stuffed Chicken

My dad’s birthday was last week, so KK and I drove down to Virginia to visit him.  We took Friday off from work and planned a big day out in DC.  Instead of driving and dealing with downtown parking, we opted to take the Metro and KK was strangely excited about his first Metro experience.  We had lunch at Thaaja, which is a Chipotle-inspired Indian restaurant KK’s brother-in-law, SK, opened in January.  SK developed all of the flavor-combinations and recipes himself, and the food did not disappoint.  I had a Thaaja wrap with paneer (delicious), while my dad and KK each ordered two smaller kati rolls, allowing them to sample several different combinations.  We practically licked our plates clean and will definitely be back to visit next time we’re in the area!

After lunch, we headed over to the Newseum.  The original Newseum, located in Virginia, was one of my dad’s favorite museums but I never had the chance to visit it.  It closed in 2002, and reopened in a larger building in DC in 2008.  Outside the front doors, the museum displays the daily front pages from every state.  Inside, the gallery continued with front pages from several international papers around the world.  It was interesting to see the range of stories on the front pages (football, gas prices, lotto numbers, politics…).  The entrance fee was a little steep ($22/person), but the museum allows you to visit the next day for free using the same ticket.  We really enjoyed all of the exhibits we saw, especially the 9/11 Gallery, the Berlin Wall Gallery, and the JFK exhibit (on display through January 5, 2014).

Our final, and most important stop of the night was Nationals Park.  KK is on a life-long quest to visit all of the MLB stadiums across the country (and Canada)! Nationals Park marked his 8th stadium; it was my 9th, and my dad’s been to so many stadiums that he’s lost track!  We grabbed beers and fit in a game of cornhole at The Bullpen before the game.  Given the Nationals are on a losing streak, tickets were very inexpensive so we were about 20 rows up from the first baseline.  Nothing really stood out as particularly interesting at the stadium – built in 2008, it’s a nice, new stadium with easy public transportation via Metro.  It was a boring game, but the Nationals beat the Phillies 9-2.  We did, however, enjoy watching the Racing Presidents at the bottom of the 4th inning – George Washington won despite the fact that Teddy Roosevelt was dressed as a shark in honor of Shark Week!

The rest of the weekend was pretty low key.  Since we were out all day Friday, I cooked my dad a birthday dinner on Saturday.  I doubled the recipe below because both my dad and KK tend to eat a lot.  I turned the 2 lbs. of chicken I bought (3 breasts) into 6 pieces of stuffed chicken.  Depending on the size of each piece and how well I rolled, I used anywhere between 4 and 8 toothpicks on each piece of chicken.  It’s OK to have the toothpicks sticking out when you put the chicken in the oven because the chicken expands as it’s cooked, making it sometimes difficult to locate the toothpicks before serving.  I suggest counting the number of toothpicks you use at the beginning, and then finding the same number of toothpicks once you’re done cooking! I used the store-bought Cajun seasoning my dad had in the pantry, but I wish I’d made my own because I found the store-mix to be overly salty.  I served the Cajun chicken with a side salad and Rice-a-Roni Rice Pilaf.  This was my first attempt at making stuffed chicken breasts, and thankfully it was a success.  KK suggested we buy more toothpicks at the grocery, implying there will be future renditions of stuffed chicken on our menu in the future!

Cajun Stuffed Chicken
Adapted from Cooking Creations
Time: 1 hour
Serves: 2-3

1 lb boneless chicken breasts
4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
10-oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 Tbsp breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Cover a baking sheet with tin foil.

2.  Butterfly chicken breasts, and use a kitchen mallet to flatten each piece to 1/4-inch thickness.  Season with salt and pepper.

3. In a medium bowl, combine pepper jack cheese and spinach.  In a small bowl, combine the Cajun seasoning and breadcrumbs.

4. Divide spinach mixture between each chicken breast, and spoon on top of the chicken.  Roll each chicken breast tightly around the spinach mixture and fasten the seams with toothpicks.

5.  Brush each chicken breast with the olive oil.  Sprinkle Cajun seasoning evenly over each piece, including underneath the chicken.

6. Place the chicken seam-side up onto the prepared baking sheet, and cook 30 to 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.  Remove the toothpicks before serving. 

1 comment:

  1. happy birthday mr. d'elia! glad to hear y'all had a nice weekend in dc.


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