Friday, January 28, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu Bread Bowls

Is it almost the end of January at your house?

It is at mine and I can't believe it--I mean it's January.  The time isn't suppose to go by that fast.  All my previous Januaries (is that a word?) seem to drag on and on and on--you get the message.  But not this one!  Why?

It just hit me (not literally, just figuratively in case you were wondering). I'm leaving on a cruise in February--21 days if you were wondering (it's not my first time or anything on a cruise...okay is it that obvious)!

Why does that make time speed up at my house?

Because I haven't lost any of the weight I wanted to so I could look *hot* in a swimsuit (even though things are not as jiggly and I am stronger) and I'm leaving my kiddos for a week and that has me freaking out a little bit!  They will be in awesome hands with their Grandma but still a week is a long time!

Anyways, this really does have a connection to this recipe.  It is these kinds of awesome recipes that make losing anything almost hopeless.  It was so tasty!!  I love chicken cordon bleu and usually find other ways to make it since the "original" way seems to take so long.  This was so good with the bread and has a great flavor.  Plus I love that it is fairly quick to make (I bought the bread bowls so it went much faster) and perfect for a cold January evening.  By the way, I left the broccoli out so my children would eat it, even though it looks absolutely delicious with it in there.

For the Chicken and Sauce:
4 T. butter
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cubed (about 2-3 chicken breasts)
1/2 c. minced onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 T. flour
½ c. apple juice
1 1/4 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. prepared yellow mustard
1 t. dried thyme
2-3 c.s broccoli florets
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

To Assemble:
4-6 medium round regular or sourdough bread bowls
8-10 thin slices smoked ham
1 c. grated Swiss cheese (my kids won't eat this so I used mozzarella)
¼ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly coat the foil with cooking spray.

2.  Place the broccoli florets in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tight fitting microwave-safe lid. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes until tender but still bright green. Remove the plastic wrap and set aside.

3.  In a 10- or 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chicken and saute until the chicken begins to brown but isn’t cooked all the way through, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened (when chicken is still slightly pink), about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken/onion mixture and stir to incorporate. Cook, stirring, constantly for one minute.

4.  Gradually add the chicken broth and apple juice, stirring constantly to avoid any clumps from forming. Stir in the cream, Parmesan cheese, mustard and thyme. Simmer for about 5-6 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in the broccoli; season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

5.  Hollow out the inside of the bread bowls by cutting off the tops and tearing out the insides. I like to leave about a 1/4-inch edge along all sides of the bread bowl. Compress the remaining bread together to firm up the sides and make room for the filling. Place the bread bowls on the prepared baking sheet and toast them for about 5 minutes in the preheated oven.

6.  Remove the toasted loaves from the oven and arrange the ham slices in the bottom of each loaf. Using a slotted spoon, divide chicken mixture evenly between loaves, reserving about 1-2 cups sauce in the pan for serving. Top the chicken mixture in each loaf with shredded Swiss and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

7.  Bake the bread bowls until the cheese melts, about 10-15 minutes. Serve each bread bowl with reserved cream sauce.  Enjoy!

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