Scavenger Hunt Cookery

I spent a couple of days with my mom last week as she recovered from eye surgery – partial left-side corneal replacement. There have been significant improvements to the surgery recently so that the recovery is quicker and much less arduous. Mom is recovering nicely, but is prohibited from reading for three weeks. That’s an eternity to a former librarian. Thank goodness for books on CD.

It’s always an adventure staying in someone else’s home. At my house, I know where most things are (most of the time); routine and familiarity help me to operate in a relatively smooth groove. But at mom’s . . . well let’s see – she moved to a new city following my dad’s death, recently renovated her kitchen, has had an extra generation to accumulate kitchen stuff, and our brains seem to be wired differently with regard to organization. But I wanted to give my brother a respite from caregiving while I was there, so I accepted the challenge of fixing dinner without knowing what ingredients and equipment I might find, or where.

In the waiting room at the surgery center, I had seen a really delicious-looking chicken recipe in a magazine. Rachel Ray maybe, or Martha Stewart or Good Housekeeping. I have been following a gluten- and processed sugar-free diet for a while and the recipe fit that too, so I made a mental note of the ingredients and instructions. Back at Mom’s I embarked on a scavenger hunt with my brother’s help. We managed to find everything except scallions, which we put on the grocery list we had already started.

I did not remember the exact proportions for the recipe, so I decided to wing it with what we found. I don’t like leaving little bits and pieces of leftover ingredients to get moldy in the fridge, so I try to use whole units as much as possible. Here is my adaptation of the recipe:

Spinach & Feta Chicken Breasts

  • 3 pound package frozen bone-free, skin-free chicken breasts, thawed
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 6 ounce package crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket into each chicken breast. Our 3-pound bag of chicken contained 5 thick breasts. I was able to halve each one lengthwise and then cut a pocket in each half.

Combine cream cheese, feta cheese, spinach, garlic and scallions in a medium mixing bowl. Pack mixture into each chicken breast pocket.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a frying pan at medium heat. Brown chicken breasts for 4-5 minutes on each side, turning gently to avoid losing the filling. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 7-10 minutes.

Serve with a garden salad and quinoa or rice. Approximately 10 portions, more or less depending on number of chicken breasts.

Notes: One of the chicken breasts shredded as I was forming the pocket, so I cut it into pieces, browned them, then added the leftover spinach and cheese mixture and put in the baking dish alongside the stuffed chicken breasts. It was equally tasty, just not as pretty. I think that bone-free skin-free chicken thighs would also work for this recipe. If we didn’t already have a grocery list, I would have substituted chopped onion for the scallions. There are no herbs or spices in the recipe, but the spinach, feta and garlic give it plenty of flavor. Delish!

I regret that I did not think to take a picture of the finished recipe and I have been unable to find it on the internet. Most are covered in bread crumbs; this is the closest I could find. I will be sure to snap a pic next time I make it.

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