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



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Pork Tenderloin Medallions with a Shallot Balsamic Reduction

I learned two things while making this recipe.

#1 – Balsamic vinegar makes everything better.

#2 – It is incredibly difficult to photograph black foods in low lighting.  *insert childish temper tantrum here*

Baby steps….  baby steps.

This sweet and savory supper was courtesy of a Cooking Light recipe I had filed away in my big black book.  I went to the book in search of a new pork dish to make for dinner.  Truth be told, I wasn’t super excited about making pork, but the thought of pork covered in a sweet thickened balsamic glaze changed those feelings pretty darn quick.

Balsamic Pork Tenderloin (7 of 7)

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Bruschetta Chicken Pasta

The process of planning out a dinner for the BF and I usually involves 1-3 hours of research, googling, cookbook flipping, blog reading and a substantial amount of quality time spent on  This will result in a list of 3-6 options with corresponding website links and/or attached photos, which I will then email to the BF for his consideration.  If I’m lucky he’ll rule out 1-2 items on the list that aren’t striking his fancy and then leave the final decision up to me.  More often than not, he’ll respond that all the items on the list in question look fabulous and that “everything you cook turns out delicious” (LIES!!!!!) and then leave the final decision up to… you guessed it.  Moi.   This is a little game I like to call For the Love of God Will You Make a Decision, Man, or FTLOGWYMADM, as we say.

I wouldn’t say I’m indecisive.  The problem is my decision making abilities are clouded by my gluttonous desire to eat the world once over.  When I do finally reach a decision I stick to it with a supernatural stubbornness, but getting to that point can be a wee bit exhausting.  Decision making on an empty stomach is horrid after all, and I’ve mentioned a time or five before that bad things happen when I don’t eat.

All I want is a plate full of deliciousness.

A mound of this, perhaps:


After playing our normal round of FTLOGWYMADM and going through the subsequent mental debate, I decided to go with this recipe for Bruschetta Chicken pasta I saw on Iowa Girl Eats.  It’s really not much of a recipe, and that makes me love it all the more.

This pièce de résistance of this dish is the balsamic drizzle.  Simply simmer a cup of balsamic vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes.  The vinegar will reduce by about half, and once removed from the heat it will continue to thicken as it cools.

While I waited for the balsamic vinegar to reduce, I got to prepping my veggies.


The asparagus was for the pasta and the sprouts were our side dish.  Love me some veg.


Jarred bruschetta sauce is the secret behind the simplicity of this pasta dish.  Thank you Trader Giotto 🙂


This pasta was so simple, in fact, that I decided to squeeze in a little nap.


Before I fell asleep at the pan, I cut the chicken into big chunks, seasoned with S&P, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder and tossed into a saute pan with 2 tsp olive oil.   Then I dropped 6 ounces of penne pasta into boiling water.

Once the chicken was cooked through, I sautéed the veggies with garlic salt, black pepper, and 1 tsp olive oil.


When the pasta reached al dente, I combined the chicken, asparagus, jar of bruschetta, and penne in the skillet and sautéed until everything was heated through.

Last but not least, I topped the pasta with a little balsamic drizzzzzzle:


This pasta was DELICIOUS, filling, and balanced, and the tangy balsamic drizzle wowed my tastebuds.  I will definitely be adding this recipe to the playbook.


Bruschetta Chicken Pasta Ingredients List (serves 4)

Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 6 ounces penne pasta
  • bunch of asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 jar of tomato bruschetta
  • 12 ounces chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Seasonings of your choice (S&P, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder)
Step One:  Simply simmer a cup of balsamic vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes.  The vinegar will reduce by about half, and once removed from the heat it will continue to thicken as it cools.
Step Two:  Cook pasta to al dente as per pasta box instructions.  Meanwhile, cut the chicken into chunks, season with S&P, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder and saute with 2 tsp olive oil until no longer pink.  Remove from pan.  In the same pan, saute asparagus until crisp tender.
Step three:  Combine cooked pasta, chicken, asparagus, and bruschetta mix in the pan and saute until heated through.  Serve with balsamic reduction drizzled over top!


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Picnic in the Penthouse + #giveaway

Over the weekend, my mom, sister, and I made a trip to the Charlotte Farmer’s Market in search of delicious treats.  It was my FIRST trip to the market since moving to Charlotte.  What the heck have I been waiting for?!



I was really impressed by the wide variety of goods for sale at the market.  Yes, they had your standard fruit and veggie selection, but they also had a fab selection of local meats, cheeses, jams, and even local crafts, pottery, and jewelry.  And a bunch of crazy vegetables I’ve never seen before.

Here are some pretty shots:

We did a lap around the market in search of dinner inspiration.

And ended up nabbing quite a few goodies including these fresh tomatoes and basil which we combined with fresh mozzarella from Trader Joe’s to make a fantastic caprese salad:DSCF7051

We opted (aka I demanded) to put olive oil, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar on top:


We also snagged some corn on the cob and some grass-fed beef for our burgers.  I haven’t had corn on the cob in quite a while, and the cobs we picked up from the farmer’s market were so tasty and sweet and the kernels were just the perfect size to fit between the gap in my front teeth.

Makes me think I need to incorporate that veggie into my life more often 😉


We sandwiched our grass-fed beef burgers between brioche buns courtesy of Trader Joes, and topped everything off with more tomato and onion from the market and lotsa ketchup and mustard, of course.


I know these look like little baby burgers, but they were actually six ouncers dwarfed by those delicious brioche buns.


The only things missing from our picnic in the penthouse were potato chips and dip.  In my family, we eat chips and dip as an appetizer, and as a first course, AND as a compliment to any summer meal.  We will down 2 bags with gusto, especially if there’s some Lawson’s chip dip nearby for dunking Smile

My belly was still obsessing over the thought of chips and dip when I came home from work yesterday and was greeted by a large box of York’s Harvest Garden Chips from Charlotte-based Tropical Foods!


First off, coming home to a package of goodies to sample has to be THE BEST welcome home present EVER.  I immediately tore into the package to check out the Garden Chips.

The chips are made from real vegetables (awesome), and they are completely natural, completely crunchy, and completely addicting Smile


I was sent a few different varieties to try, including Okra, Green Beans, and the Mixed Vegetable chips (sweet potato, taro root, squash, carrots, and green beans).  After trying each and every vegetable chip variety, I decided the carrots and the green beans are my fav Smile

Have you guys tried these veggie chips yet?


More importantly, do you want to try them *for free*?!  We all know I love freebies.  I have no shame 😛

You can enter this giveaway for the York’s Harvest Garden Chips up to four times by leaving a comment on this post for each of the following:

1.  Leave a comment and let me know your favorite cookout food (recipe links are always welcome!)

2.  Add me to your RSS feed OR sign up for email subscription to my blog

3.  Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway:

4.  Like the Fervent Foodie page on Facebook:

Comments must be posted by midnight Thursday July 28, 2011.  Then I’ll use a random number generator to select a winner Open-mouthed smile


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