Pesto Stuffed Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken

It’s been awhile! If you’re missing my posts, know that I am still blogging weekly at, sharing Food as Medicine insights and recipes such as this awesome Stone Fruit Crisp and this Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Salad.  My food brain is still very much alive and I am in the kitchen more than ever these days!

One of my favorite things to do since becoming an omnivore about a year ago is to wrap things in prosciutto. Literally, all things. Prosciutto was one of my first non-vegan indulgences and remains a favorite, a close second to really good smoked brisket.  One of my other favorite things to do is to stuff delicious things with other delicious things, like this Blue Cheese, Fig + Swiss Chard Stuffed Pork Loin I did awhile back and also like dates stuffed with goat cheese wrapped in bacon. Oh, and there’s goat cheese involved here too, did I mention that?

This recipe combines both stuffing and wrapping, and is therefore, perfection. I have been making and freezing tons of pesto this summer and am fairly certain that this dish is my favorite use of pesto. This dish is a fun dinner party trick to make your guests think you slaved in the kitchen all day. Make the pesto as far ahead as 3 days and freeze the extra in ice cube trays for later use.

For the pesto:
2 cups fresh basil
4 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil                                                                                            
salt and pepper to taste
For the chicken:
4 chicken breasts
4 oz goat cheese
salt and pepper
8-12 slices prosciutto                             


Make the pesto. In a food processor, combine basil through pine nuts. Pulse until finely chopped. With the food processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Overlap 2 slices of prosciutto so that it forms a square. Place a chicken breast on one end of the prosciutto square. Using a sharp knife create a slit in one side of the chicken breast. Spoon a tablespoon of pesto into the slit and add about a tablespoon of goat cheese and pull the slit closed. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.

Wrap the prosciutto around the chicken breast and place seam side down on a baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of the chicken breasts. Bake until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and golden brown on the top– about 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. To serve the chicken, slice in half and top with more pesto.

Moqueca (or Brazilian Fish Stew)




We recently got back from a three week trip to Brazil for Christmas and New Year’s.  When I say recently, it was actually a full month ago today.  My tan lines are long gone, bathing suits are stowed for warmer days (especially the thong one I bought…just for Brazil!), and I’m back in my winter hibernation mode, big sweaters and leggings all day every day.  When I say Brazil I mostly mean Rio de Janeiro and a couple of neighboring spots because Brazil is like, huge.

Anyway, one of the things I was most excited about, which is always the case when I travel, was the food.  Sadly, my experience of Brazil was mostly a miss when it came to food, and especially nutrition.  It was potatoes next to rice next to beans next to a piece of overcooked and under-seasoned meat. Carbs, carbs and more carbs.  I almost peed myself when I found kale on a menu.  Now, I’m not saying all Brazilian food is bad, and it certainly could have been a combination of our terrible Portuguese and picking the wrong restaurants, I just was really happy to get back to my own kitchen.  Hence the inundation of blog posts.

Did I mention that I accidentally ordered raw meat for dinner one night, and lacking the vocabulary to send it back, endured a 30 minute staring contest with a pile of bloody ground beef?  Or the time I was forcibly dragged into a churrascaria and then inundated with a rotation of meat I didn’t really want, followed by more meat really I didn’t want.  Brazil is no place for a recovering vegan, or a health-conscious person of any nature, and by the end of the trip it had me swearing up and down that I’d never eat meat again once I touched American soil.  I quickly gave that up in the comfort of my own kitchen, but I certainly won’t be running around Houston to track down any Brazilian restaurants anytime soon.

The trip in all was amazing, and there were definitely some food highlights. Among them, tapioca flour fried into the most amazing chips, fresh papaya, passion fruit caipirinhas, fresh coconuts and acai bowls on every street corner. And then there was this dish called Moqueca, which quickly became my go-to at any restaurant that served good fish.  I was not about to risk another raw meat ordeal.  It was served bubbling hot in these giant bowls that no one human could finish on their own, it was even a stretch for two people.  Moqueca is a coconut milk based stew, with white fish, tomatoes, onions and an array of other vegetable players.  I also had it once or twice with, get this…banana.  They put it in EVERYTHING.  I tried banana on pizza once, which actually was kind of great.   This recipe represents a loose translation of the dish.  Like I said, my Portuguese is horrible and I could have totally missed an ingredient or two…so if you’re Brazilian please don’t be offended.  Also if you’re Brazilian, please tell me how your country is not full of overweight diabetic people considering that your diet is carbs on carbs on carbs.

Oh yeah, the recipe.  It is best to marinate your fish a few hours ahead, so plan accordingly.  If you don’t plan accordingly, all is not lost, I promise.  Just marinate while you chop up the other ingredients.   Choose a firm, white fish like halibut, sea bass or snapper.  I used redfish and it worked quite nicely.  This dish goes well with, dare I say it, rice.   Please use brown rice or even quinoa, for my sake.

Serves 4-6

1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2  pounds white fish, cut into bite sized cubes
2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped very finely
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped very finely
1 bay leaf
3-4 tomatoes, diced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2-3 cups vegetable broth or chicken bone broth (fish stock would be great here)
1 can coconut milk
4 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup hearts of palm, sliced
pinch cayenne
more cilantro, green onions and lime wedges for serving

First, marinate the fish in the lime juice, half the yellow onion, half the green onion, half the ginger, half the garlic, half the cilantro, a tablespoon of coconut oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Set aside for 3-4 hours.

Heat a stock pot or dutch oven over medium and add the other tablespoon of coconut oil.  Add the onions and sauté until translucent.  Add the bell pepper, ginger, garlic and green onions until softened, then add the bay leaf and remaining cilantro.   Pour in the stock and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the tomato paste, coconut milk and fish sauce and return to a boil. Next add the diced tomatoes, hearts of palm and the marinating fish, as well as all of the marinade.  Lower the heat and cook, covered, 8-10 minutes or until fish is cooked through.  Remove the bay leaf and season to taste with cayenne, salt and pepper.  Serve with cilantro, green onions and a lime wedge.  IMG_5136

Blue Cheese, Fig & Swiss Chard Stuffed Pork Tenderloin


As I’m posting this recipe, I’m sipping on a big bowl of cold, kind of goopy avocado and celery soup.  I’m on a detox, and while it’s not half bad, it’s definitely not as delicious as this stuffed pork tenderloin.  I’m counting down the days until I can make this recipe again (five down, five to go…).  Make it this weekend so I can live vicariously through you!
This dish is simple and straightforward, and the product is elegant and perfect for entertaining or for a fancy dinner for two, with leftovers for lunch the next day. I brined my pork ahead, which I definitely recommend if you have some lead time, it makes the meat so juicy and flavorful.  You could throw it in the brine the morning of, and it will be ready by the time you’re ready to cook dinner.
Serves 4
For the brine:
2 cups apple cider
4 cups cold water (or enough to cover the pork)
1/4 cup sea salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 sprigs thyme
For the pork:
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 cups swiss chard, cut into ribbons
1/2 cup dried figs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
For the apple cider glaze:
1 cup apple cider
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder mixed with water
To make the brine: If you are brining the pork, combine apple cider, salt, garlic and thyme and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan until salt is dissolved.  Add the water, cool completely, then submerge the pork in the brine.  Brine in the refrigerator 8-12 hours.
To make the pork: Preheat the oven to 450F. Remove the pork and discard the brine.  Pat dry and place on a flat surface covered with plastic wrap.  Butterfly the tenderloin by cutting down the long edge about 2/3 of the way through, so that you can open it like a book.  Place another piece of plastic wrap over the pork and pound with a meat mallet or a small cast iron skillet until 1/2 inch thick.
Remove the plastic wrap and fill down the center with the swiss chard, figs and blue cheese, leaving 1/2 inch border on each side.  Roll up the pork from the long side and secure with kitchen twine every two inches.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle the outside with the salt and pepper and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.
In the meantime, make the apple cider glaze: Combine the apple cider and maple syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and stir frequently until the mixture starts to thicken.  If it needs further thickening, add in the arrowroot mixed with water and whisk until combined.  Remove from the heat.
After 15-20 minutes, remove the pork and pour the glaze over it.  Bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until a meat thermometer (inserted into the meat, not the filling) registers 145F.  Allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing into 1 inch slices, discarding the twine.

Broccoli Meatballs, Two Ways

IMG_5818IMG_5824 Although I may have strayed from my staunch veganism, I haven’t gone far.  I’m still eating and cooking just as many, if not more, vegetables as ever before.  These meatballs are a fun way to sneak in more veggies and a very different take on broccoli than your typical steamed variety.  I’m a big fan of sneaking vegetables into the most likely of places, like greens in a meatloaf or cauliflower in an otherwise decadent dip.  These meatballs fit that bill, and I imagine they’d go over well with picky eaters and kiddos alike. As a kind of homage to my very veggie roots, I’m posting a vegetarian version, which is adapted from a recipe by my beloved Vegetarian Times magazine, as well as a version made with grass fed beef.  The recipe makes at least a dozen pretty substantial meatballs, so you could feasibly whip up half a batch of each and pit them against one another in a taste test.  We did that, actually.  And while they were both good, like really really good, my boyfriend and I agreed that the vegetarian version was a clear winner. Makes about 12 large meatballs

For the vegetarian version:
4 cups broccoli, steamed until tender (about 10 minutes), then cooled
1 cup raw almonds, pulsed into a rough meal
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/4 parsley, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch sea salt
pinch black pepper
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350F. Pulse the steamed broccoli in the food processor until well chopped but not mushy. Add the chopped herbs, onion, garlic and spices to the food processor and pulse a few more times, until uniform. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the ground almonds and parmesan.  Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then add those in as well and combine.You may want to use your hands here to make sure everything is uniform. Shape the mixture into 12 balls, either eyeballing it or using an ice cream scoop to measure them out.  Press them together by hand and smooth over. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush the tops with olive oil and bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

For the omnivore version:
2 cups broccoli, steamed until tender (about 10 minutes), then cooled
1 pound ground grass fed beef
1 cup raw almonds, pulsed into a rough meal
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1/4 parsley, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch sea salt
pinch black pepper
2 eggs

Follow the same instructions, adding the ground beef at the same stage as the almonds and cheese. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160F. Serve either version, or both, over brown rice pasta or spaghetti squash with a good dollop of marinara, homemade or not.

Chicken Tortilla Soup


Tortilla Soup makes for a fun weeknight dinner, with its infinite variations of toppings.  The base of the soup too can be made any number of ways, fresh tomatoes or canned, leftover rotisserie chicken or freshly cooked bone-in breasts shredded right into the pot, chipotle peppers or ancho chiles or jalapeños, or all three.  My favorite part of this dish (besides the eating part) is the assembly at the table, which makes for a fun dinner party activity or an interactive kids meal.

Serves 4, with ample leftovers

For the soup:
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I used smoked sea salt)
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1-2 jalapeño peppers, diced, depending on your preference for spice
6 cups chicken bone broth
1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
1-14.5 oz can black beans, preferably Eden brand
2 whole chicken breasts, or the equivalent, cooked and shredded
For the condiments:
4 tortillas, cut into strips, drizzled with olive oil and baked at 350F until crispy
1 avocado, sliced
1 small red onion, diced
1 cup raw jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup whole milk greek yogurt
1 cup cilantro, torn
1 lime, cut into wedges

In a stockpot, heat the olive oil.  Add the onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, carrots, jalapeño, cumin, chili powder and salt and sauté until onion is translucent and vegetables begin to soften.

Pour in the chicken stock, shredded chicken, canned tomatoes and black beans and bring the whole pot to a boil.  Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook 30-45 minutes.  Test for seasoning and be generous with cumin and chili until desired spice is reached.

To serve, ladle into soup bowls and pile high with condiments, including a good squeeze of lime juice.