Baked Balsamic Chicken with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pesto

We walked nearly 20 miles during our weekend in Savannah (according to my Fitbit, that is), and our aimless meandering about the city included a dozen or so passes by Paula Dean’s Lady and Sons restaurant.  I’ve liked Paula Dean since the first time I stumbled upon her TV show.  I adore her southern charm, youthful excitement, and penchant for using a stick of butter (or two) in every friggin recipe.  When it comes to ingredients, I don’t possess Paula’s steadfast dedication to any one particular item, but rather four:  onions, garlic, Frank’s Red Hot, and balsamic vinegar. These are my four superstars, and I believe any one of them can take a meal from blah to brilliant.  In another life, I’ll write cookbooks dedicated to each of them.  Promise.

Tonight’s dinner was all about *BALSAMIC VINEGAR* Chicken (1 of 5)

Baked Balsamic Chicken with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pesto (serves 4)

Adapted from Eat, Live, Run Grilled Balsamic Chicken with Mozzarella and Pesto

  • 4 chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs, or 6 ounces each)
  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 4 ounces mozzarella (preferably fresh)
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto (try my basil almond pesto recipe)
  • S&P
  • Dried oregano

Step One:  Season chicken breasts with S&P.  Place chicken, 4 cloves garlic (minced OR roughly chopped, your call), and one cup of balsamic in a ziploc baggie or Tupperware and marinate in fridge for 1 hour.  Don’t exceed the one hour mark as the vinegar may start to break down the chicken in weird ways.

Step Two:  While the chicken marinates, heat 1 cup of balsamic vinegar over medium high heat for 15-20 minutes until liquid has reduced by half.  Remove from heat, and use a spatula to pour the reduction into a small bowl or serving pitcher to cool.

Step Three:  Cover a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.  Remove chicken from balsamic marinade, place on prepared baking sheet, and bake at 375 for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Remove chicken from oven and turn on the oven broiler.  Top each chicken breast with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese then sprinkle with S&P and dried oregano.  Leaving the oven door slightly ajar, broil chicken for 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Top each breast with 1 tbsp pesto and a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.

Balsamic Chicken (4 of 5)

“I’d rather die with a potato in my mouth than a piece of lettuce.” – Paula Deen




Last day in Savannah

The last day of any trip is always bitter.  So bitter, that it has taken me an entire week to bring myself to recap our last day in Savannah.  I woke up feeling, well, bitter that our trip’s last day had arrived, but one last stroll through the City Market for breakfast at Henry’s sure did  help to sweeten things up.  Henry’s is a relatively new breakfast and lunch spot in Savannah, and we were surprised that there wasn’t a line out the door on a Sunday morning.  We were actually waited on by Henry himself!  How’s that for southern hospitality?

I loved the bright teal paint throughout the restaurant.

Savannah Food Foodie Vacation (1 of 12)

Weekend in Savannah–Day 2

When I booked the weekend trip to Savannah I envisioned days filled with sunshine, spring flowers, and Spanish moss—a picturesque backdrop for hours of meandering about the historic city.

Boy was I wrong.


Weekend in Savannah

We arrived in Savannah just before dinner last night, and we were raring to get out on the streets and begin exploring the culinary offerings of the city.  Our hotel (a Priceline score at $80 per night) is very close to the City Market area, so that’s where we headed.  The market area was full of people—diners, chatters, music players everywhere.

Our first stop was the Avia Lounge, which we picked simply because we were starving and it was the nearest restaurant to us.  Avia is in the Avia Hyatt hotel, and I was immediately impressed with the fancy-chic décor and beautiful chandelier.Savannah Food Foodie Vacation (3 of 11)


Chicken Pesto Paninis

It’s Thursday–the day I spend approximately two to three hours scouring the internet, flipping through cookbooks, and rifling through my big black book in search of amazing recipes and/or inspiration for things to cook this weekend.  It’s a ritual that borders somewhere between dedication and obsession.

Nothing cheeses me off more than spending all those hours (HOURS!) researching on top of shelling out my hard earned moo-lah on ingredients, taking the time to cook the darned thing, and having it turn out to be a flop.  After trying one-too-many frown-evoking recipes, I adopted a new blog bylaw in 2012:  only post recipes that I would recommend (without hesitation) to a friend.  Even though I painstakingly snap photos of everything I cook, if it ain’t delicious, it ain’t going on the blog.  Jarrod knows exactly what I mean when I ask if a dish is “blog worthy,” and he’s pretty truthful about so-so meals (in a I’m-just-glad-you-cooked-please-don’t-make-me-do-this sort of way).

When he REALLY likes something, he doesn’t hesitate to let me know.  Like this Chicken Pesto Panini, for instance, which he declared the BEST SANDWICH OF HIS LIFE.

If those aren’t fighting words, I don’t know what are.

Chicken Pesto Panini (8 of 10)