Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stuffed with Inspiration

A couple of weeks ago, Nuno, the girls, and I went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Orillia, about half an hour's drive from our home.  The restaurant is called Zat's.  This was our first time dining there.  The girls ordered spaghetti and meatballs and Nuno and I each ordered a tomato-based seafood pasta .  The restaurant was participating in "Barrielicious" - a food festival where restaurants in and around Barrie offer customers a 3 course prix fixe menu for only 15-25 dollars per person. What I loved most about the pasta was the addition of the goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, and black olives.  Those simple ingredients made an otherwise standard dish, taste deliciously gourmet.  It really left an impression on me.  I decided to use some of that inspiration towards Monday's dinner. 

First, I made the tomato sauce using tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, and fresh basil.  I let it simmer for approximately one hour, then set it aside.

Using a sharp knife, I sliced into the thickest part of the boneless, skinless chicken breast.  This forms a "pocket" so you can fill it with the stuffing.  Be careful not to cut through the other side!

Ingredients for the stuffing - soft unripened goat cheese, chopped fresh basil, and sliced black olives - mix these together until well combined

Fill pockets with the stuffing and secure opening with a toothpick, so the stuffing doesn't escapeSeason chicken breasts with salt and pepper. 

Next, I braised the breasts in some vegetable oil (no photo).  You can braise them for 4-5 minutes each side over medium high heat.  This gives the breasts a nice golden color. Add enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the pan and place the chicken breasts on top.  Cover them with more tomato sauce. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake covered, for approximately 20 minutes. Take care not to over cook, or the breast meat will dry up.

In the meantime, cook your favorite pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente.  Add tomato sauce.

...and here it is on a plate.  I added bits of goat cheese to the pasta as well as sliced black olives and some fresh basil.   

In my love affair with cooking, I have learned that inspiration is key.  I will never have enough cookbooks, food magazines, or restaurant experiences. These all provide me with constant inspiration for everyday meals and culinary adventures.  Thank you again for visiting my kitchen.  I love reading your comments.  Have a wonderful day! xo


  1. Oh Rosinda, doesn't that look fantastic. I love the idea of the goat cheese in the chicken and the pasta looks great too. Wish I had some right now!! Keep up the yummy work!

  2. How I missed your blog, Rosinda! I've had too many meals out recently...and need to get back to the kitchen and I find lots of inspiration right here from you, sweetie!! Oh, my, and your photos are superb!! Did hubby help shoot the one of you splitting the chicken..?? I'm doing pasta and salad tonight! Need to go back to the store to get your lovely ingredients for another time!! Hugs, Sherry xx

  3. I, too, have oftentimes been inspired by visiting a gourmet market, a restaurant, or simply looking at a magazine....and noe YOU my dear have inspired me!!! This is wonderful!!!!! And I will now have to try soon as I can find my pots and pans!!!!

  4. Your goat cheese and basil picture is so pretty! And this meal looks delicious!

  5. I was going to say the same thing as Emily about the photo of the basil and the goat cheese! You'd think we were related or somethng :)