Roasted Chicken Breast with Polenta and Cherry Tomatoes

Wake up Monday…I’m here to put some well being in to your day. The last couple of weeks I took some personal time to try a few recipes that I have seen on Food Network, daytime talk shows, and in magazines. I went straight by the recipes (well, for the most part)! It was fun, mindless cooking, with the recipe front and center, rather than analyzing and creating. So remember the Buddy System and pass it on; be sure to tag the source if you post it on the Insta. This first one is from Katie Lee Biegel, as seen on The Kitchen a couple of weeks ago. Kicks you happily in the back of the throat and keeps you smiling. Simply put, it’s simple but not simplistic. How’s that for using a “root” word thrice in one sentence…grammar baby! Ha!

Nonstick cooking spray, for the baking dish
1 lb tube polenta, sliced 1/2″ thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
2 t Italian seasoning* 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving 
6 cloves garlic 
1 pint cherry tomatoes (a slight break from Katie’s recipe, because this is what I had on hand)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Place 5 slices of polenta in an even layer on the bottom of the baking dish.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 Tbs olive oil.
Place the chicken breasts on top of the polenta slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top each with the Italian seasoning* and Parmesan.
Arrange the garlic cloves and tomatoes around the chicken.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 4 Tbs olive oil.
Bake until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes.
Garnish with Parmesan and olive oil to taste.
Serve warm.

*If you don’t have premixed Italian Seasoning, simply combine and whisk together the following:
1 1/2 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried rosemary

Katie’s cookbooks always find their way to the top of my browsing pile! And her newest book It’s Not Complicated comes out in March. Can’t Wait!

Feta Orecchiette

Enjoy this simple March Madness lunch or dinner while pulling for your favorite team. It’s honestly so straightforward that it’s almost like child’s play. And you can pull it off during half time. Bonus…it’s a winner even if your team falters. And if that happens, then just Eat. Drink. Carry On. And Stay Tuned for Next Year. 

entree-pasta-tomato-feta

1/2 t olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs capers, drained and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs sugar
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved*
1/2 cup snipped fresh basil
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
1/4 cup snipped fresh flat leaf parsley
12 oz dried orecchiette
8 oz crumbled feta

In small skillet heat 1/2 t olive oil until hot.
Add pine nuts.
Cook and stir about 2 minutes until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.
Season lightly with salt.

For dressing, in large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, capers, sugar, and garlic.
Stir in cherry tomatoes, basil, chives, and parsley.
Let stand at room temperature to allow flavors to meld.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions.
Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.
Drain pasta.
In the pasta pot, combine reserved pasta water, pasta, and cherry tomato mixture.
Heat for 2 minutes.
Transfer to serving bowl.
Sprinkle with pine nuts and feta.
Garnish with lemon slices and additional parsley.

*For this particular recipe I used my homemade canned Italian tomatoes rather than the cherry tomatoes indicated in the recipe. This is only due to the fact that I am slightly addicted to them! But good quality cherry tomatoes are available at your local grocery all year, and this dish is excellent using them!

Adapted from 100 Best Tomato Recipes by Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications, 2016.