Family Dinners #2 – Cheese and Ham stuffed Chicken Breasts

Another family dinner favourite! As I type, our 6-year-old is on my lap eagerly asking ” OOhhh we love those! Can we have them for dinner?!”

I make these rolls with either turkey or chicken breast and as a meal it is quite economical seeing that you want the meat cut ever so thinly in order to be able to roll it. A pack of 400-500g of meat therefore feeds all five of us, and all three children are good eaters!

Serve the meat with hand cut chips, feta cheese and tomato cous cous, lots of greens (pak choi is a grown up household favourite and the children like broccoli, corn) or a big plate of fresh peppers/cucumber/carrots with hummus.

The meat cooks in the oven, no frying involved, and because of the ham and cheese it is ever so tender when ready, not to mention full of flavour. The bread crumbs add a nice crisp to each bite but is not necessary.

Cheese and Ham Stuffed Chicken Breasts

500g chicken breast (will make about 8-10 rolls)
2 pieces of sliced bread – to make bread crumbs (you can buy these if you want of course)
A few tablespoons of olive oil
A few fresh basil leaves per meat roll
2 slices of cheese per meat roll
1 slice of ham per meat roll
 
  • Pre-heat your oven to 200C
  • Place the slices of bread in the oven as it heats up – keep an eye on them as you want them very crisp but not burnt!
  • On a cutting board, and with a very sharp knife, slice the chicken breast pieces in half. Ideally you want each piece to be no thicker than 1cm.
  • On each slice of meat, lay a slice of ham and cheese as well as some basil leaves (to make some of them more “grown up” you can spice them up with some fresh chilli or spread a layer of pesto on the inside)
  • Roll the meat up – no need to fasten them but if you want you can put a tooth pick at each end to ensure they remain shut
  • Your bread pieces will now be crisp – place them in a food processor and blend them on high speed for a few seconds – add salt and pepper and spread the bread crumbs out evenly on a large, flat plate
  • Coat each chicken roll with olive oil (easiest done by putting oil in a plate and rolling the chicken in it)
  • Then transfer the chicken rolls to the breadcrumbs and coat evenly with these.
  • Lay the finished rolls on a lined baking tray and cook in the oven for 25 minutes
  • The cheese will be runny and the bread crumbs crisp – so nice!

Nothing beats the classic Pesto

Pesto – just hearing the word makes me hungry; takes me to Italy, to thoughts of parmesan, garlic and gorgeous bruschetta, stuffed ravioli and fresh pasta recipes. I think dip, I think bread sticks, I think green, healthy…. Really, I just want it! So when the thought hit me the other day I had to make it!

A family food – yes, my children love it (I put a little less garlic in when they are having it with us and sometimes dilute it slightly with cream cheese in pasta dishes) – and very versatile. Can be used for any occasion! I like it as a dip, often just eat it by the spoon (!), and sprinkled over ripe, red tomatoes. Some people add it to their soup…never tried…but not one to judge!  It can be a simple dish but very much an extravagant one…never boring though!

It is, and I know I say this about most of what I cook, so easy to make. Ridiculously easy in fact. If you don’t believe me, try it!

I have made pesto this way since I was 13! My fabulous step mother, very good in a kitchen, taught me how to make it and I have never looked back! This makes enough to cover 500g pasta. Don’t worry about left overs! Keeps well in a jar in the fridge.

50g pine nuts
50g parmesan cheese in small chunks
2 cloves of garlic – peeled – ( this is the child friendly version! Add more if you like!)
A lot of basil….I love it….probably the equivalent of 1 large pot or two bags if you buy those
Pinch of salt (be careful not to add too much as the parmesan is salty on its own – may even be omitted)
Extra virgin olive oil…enough to make it smooth, but not so much that it covers everything. You will see what I mean as you pour it into the mix. Start slow – you can always add more later. I probably use about 120ml, give or take!
 
  •  Chuck all the ingredients, but only a glug (equivalent to about 1 tbsp) of the olive oil, into a food processor. If you do not have one, get one! 🙂 No, just kidding! If you don’t own any chopping machine you will have to do that bit of the job yourself, quite finely, and put it in a pestle and mortar. Squash away! Will be a softer pesto but the flavours will be there which is the most important. Or, just leave quite rough and ready. All good!

  • Start the food processor, or your arm, and add olive oil in small quantities as it churns. The mixture will change from dry to wet – from lumpy to smoothish and from separate colours to a sea of green. Smell it! Stunning right? Basil….yum!
  • When you think it is smooth enough – most people have a preference – stop the machinery or your arm! Stir a spoon through it. If it feels good you are done! If it feels or looks a bit dry, just add some more olive oil and stir through.
  • Put it in a jar in your fridge and use as and when you feel the need to smile!

Note

This is a really cute gift! Put a nice ribbon around your jar, maybe a hand written label, and give it as a housewarming gift with grissini (or posh breadsticks) as I call them!

Finally, make sure those around you have it too, especially your partner if you have one! Garlic is best when shared!!!  If you have no idea what I am on about, try being in close proximity to someone who has had garlic when you have not….let me know how it was!