Crowd Pleasin’ Cheesy Bruschetta

Around the holiday season, I find that short-notice entertaining of friends happens more often than the rest of the year. And trust me when I tell you, I have absolutely no complaints. There truly are few things I love more than preparing food and feeding people. But when I’m in a time crunch, Bruschetta is one of my go-to appetizers.

I’ve already shared with you all how to turn the bold flavors of basil, garlic, and tomato into a main dish by pouring it over chicken. But how could I forget to talk about the simple appetizer version of these favorite ingredients of mine?

Ingredients

3 large, ripe tomatoes

1 clove garlic, chopped

4 fresh basil leaves, chopped or shredded

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2  tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Pepper to taste

1 long baguette

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Chop tomatoes, and place them in a large bowl with garlic, balsamic vinegar, pepper and basil leaves. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. Cut baguette into circular rounds, about 1-inch in thickness. Drizzle rounds with olive oil. Top rounds with tomato mixture and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and return to oven for 2 minutes. Serve hot 🙂

image_1

I love serving dishes that seem fancier and more difficult to prepare than they actually were. This bruschetta dish fits that description! These ingredients serve 3-6 people as an appetizer, so make sure to double it if you have a bigger crowd to feed.

If you give this recipe a try, enjoy!

Balsamic Chicken Caprese

Yesterday was my first day at my summer job – I’ll be there until I finish my Master’s Program in August. While I feel very lucky to have some part-time employment, I can’t stop my mind from racing about all the furniture and crafting projects I want to begin. I guess that’s what the weekend is for, right?

My gym time was pretty speedy – I was able to run a quick 3 miles before getting ready for work. I had plans to do an arm workout as well, but I was too paranoid about being late on Day 1 – bad first impression! Luckily, I arrived on time and the day went well!

When I walked in the door after work, what was the first thing I saw? Little Louie, who just got back from the groomer! He is the stinkin’ cutest thing I’ve ever seen and I LOVE when he gets his hairs cut!

Louie haircut

By the time dinner rolled around, I knew exactly what I was craving: Balsamic Chicken Caprese, or some version thereof. I knew we had a thriving basil plant in the back yard, and I couldn’t wait to incorporate it into a dish.

caprese ingredients

Here’s what it took to whip up this Italiano inspired meal:

Balsamic Chicken Caprese with Roasted Tomatoes

4 Chicken Breasts

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons oregano

2 cloves chopped garlic garlic

1 teaspoon rosemary rosemary

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

3 oz. fresh Mozzarella, sliced or chopped

2 cups cherry tomatos

1 teaspoon olive oil

8 basil leaves, cut in strips

1 cup quinoa

Directions

Chicken: Trim excess fat off of chicken. Place chicken breasts in a large plastic bag, and add in balsamic vinegar, oregano, rosemary, garlic, and pepper. Seal bag and shake the contents so all is evenly dispersed. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Grill for 20-25 minutes, flipping chicken breasts at the half way point.

Tomatoes: Toss cherry tomatos in pepper and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Roast in oven at 350° for 20 minutes.

Quinoa: Add cup of (rinsed) quinoa, a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and 2 cups of water to a pot. Bring water to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed by the quinoa. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. [ here’s a link from Whole Foods with quinoa cooking instructions ]

Assembly: Place hot chicken breasts on a plate and top with fresh mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, and basil strips. Top with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Serve with quinoa.

balsamic chicken

balsamic chicken 2

Have a Happy and Healthy Hump Day, everyone! I’m off for a run before I have to go into work!