Caprese Chicken Bake with Balsamic Reduction

This Italian dish is a fresh take on traditional pasta and tomato sauce. Simple to make and full of flavor. This is another Pinterest inspired recipe, but this time I took a few things from two different dishes. The end product was great! But to be fair, soaking just about anything in a balsamic reduction would be pretty awesome…

Caprese Chicken Bake

Caprese Chicken Bake 

2 pints of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 red onion, julienned
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned (plus a little more for garnish)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 chicken breasts
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz angel hair pasta, cooked according to box in salted water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar

1.) Place first 8 ingredients in a casserole dish and stir until well combined. Add chicken breasts and try to rub the chicken in the tomatoes to transfer some of the olive oil and seasoning, then place chicken breasts on top of tomatoes. Salt and pepper liberally.
2.) Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place 1/3 of the mozzarella on each breast. Place chicken back in oven for about 10 more minutes. Exact time will vary based on the size of the breasts, so check to make sure they are done.
3.) While chicken is baking, place vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until vinegar has thickened and sticks to a spoon. Watch that this doesn’t burn.
4.) When pasta is done cooking, toss in about a tablespoon of olive oil.
5.) Serve chicken and tomatoes on top of the angel hair pasta and drizzle the balsamic reduction over top.

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Adapted from Our Story’s Italian Chicken and The Novice Chef’s Caprese Chicken

Apple Basil Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is one of my favorite things.  Truthfully, I love just about anything with mayonnaise, but there’s something about this chicken salad with a fresh crunch and sweetness that makes it really good.  I’ve been making the same chicken salad for about 2 years, and I thought I had perfected it.  Then when we found out a few months ago that my oldest has tree nut allergies – one of the star ingredients, roasted almonds, had to go.  So as I tried to think of what I could add in place of delicious almonds, I looked to my fridge and saw basil.  I thought about this for a couple of minutes, hesitant to add something so new to my beloved chicken salad (and not wanting to waste 3 chicken breasts if it didn’t turn out!) But I took a chance and it paid off – yay!  I didn’t think it was possible, but I believe this variation is better than the original!

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Apple Basil Chicken Salad

3 chicken breasts, boiled and shred
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1/2 of a medium sweet onion, finely diced
1/2 of an apple, finely diced (I used Golden Delicious)
2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp celery seed
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and chill. Enjoy!

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