Fancy Pants Chicken

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I am a huge artichoke fan.  I love them with everything.  My husband, however, is not a fan.  Usually, if I make something with artichokes, I have to leave them off/out of his.  But I’ve been working on that.  I devised a devious little plan to trick him into eating them, hoping he would love them.  I put on my invisible suit and snuck into the kitchen.  I made a stuffed chicken and disguised it as Smothered Chicken.  I left it on a plate in the kitchen.  Lo and behold, he took the bait.  He went in the kitchen and saw this chicken.  And he ate every bite!  He even asked for more.  I laughed a hearty menacing laugh and told him I had conquered him and he will now be my slave!  Okay.  It didn’t really go down like that at all.  I asked him if I could put artichokes in his, and he said yes. And he did really love it.

So I’m calling this recipe Italian Chicken.  Why?  Mostly because I coated the chicken with Italian dressing mix, you know, the powdered stuff.  I stuffed the chicken with Roma tomatoes, artichokes, pepperoncini peppers, mushrooms and basil.  And then I did my most favoritest thing ever.  I smothered it with cheese.  And it was good.  I had to go put my fancy pants on to eat it, though, because it seemed so special.  And then I spilled it on my fancy pants and left a stain.  Oh, well.  I prefer shorts and flip-flops anyway.

What color are your fancy pants?

We love browned cheese!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-3 Roma tomatoes, diced
One 14-ounce can artichokes, drained and chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 T butter
Olive oil
1/4 C white wine
2 T fresh basil, chopped
2 cloves garlic
One packet of Italian dressing mix
2 T pepperoncini slices
Mozzarella cheese slices

Preheat a small skillet to medium high heat.  Melt in the butter and drizzle in some olive oil.  Cook the mushrooms until tender.  Deglaze the pan with the wine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until most of the wine is cooked out.

Next, butterfly the chicken breasts.  If you don’t know how to do that, watch this video on how to butterfly chicken breasts.  Mix the tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, pepperoncini peppers, basil and garlic in a bowl. Divide equally among the chicken breasts.  Secure the ends of the chicken with toothpicks.  To coat the chicken with the Italian seasoning, cover the filling with your hand and flip the chicken over.  Sprinkle 1/4 of the package over the meat side of the chicken breasts.  Place the chicken, filling side up, on a sheet pan.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until done.  During the last five minutes of cooking, lay the Mozzarella slices over the cheese.  Return to the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and browned.  Remember to warn your diners about the toothpicks.


On average, two restaurants a week closed in the year to the end of March, including casual dining chains, as well as upmarket and independent establishments, according to the latest data from analysts CGA and corporate advisory firm AlixPartners. Graeme Smith, the managing director of AlixPartners, said he expected restaurant numbers to continue to drop throughout the year as large chains in particular slim down. There have already been high-profile closures by burger chain Byron, Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s, the Prezzo Group and Sir Terence Conran’s Albion restaurants, but more large chains and independents are expected to suffer. “It’s easy to say this is a crisis in casual dining,” said Peter Martin at CGA. “This is a crisis happening for everyone.” Restaurants are suffering because the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote has made ingredients more expensive while staff costs have risen, partly due to increases in the minimum wage. Economic uncertainty has stalled growth in the sector just as competition has increased after a surge in openings partly fuelled by private equity investment.

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