This week, I knew I was going to be cooking today,
and already had some ideas in my head from searching recipes,
so I added olives and feta to my grocery list on Monday.

Being intentional about planning my days is essential when juggling so many schedules.
I know the days and weeks I don’t work from a planned menu usually end up making
me feel overwhelmed and ineffective.
I love the weeks I have time to sit and plan, not only a menu and grocery lists,
but also think through my week and schedule “cooking” times and “meal prep” times.
Especially in the weeks I am out of the house more than usual.

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I have to be in Windsor this afternoon and evening,
and I’ll be out all day tomorrow until after 6:00,
so my family needed some dinners that were heatable.

Lasagna is usually my go-to meal for nights I’m out all day,
so I did make one of those, along with some garlic butter.
My kids can handle finding bread or bread-like items to butter and
any one of them will be able to just throw that in the oven an hour before dinner,
and I should be able to arrive home to the wonderful smells of garlic bread and pasta.

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For tonight, though, I decided to try out a new recipe,
which means a blog post as well. Yeah, we all win.

I don’t even know what to call it, because after a while all creamy chicken recipes
start sounding the same. Hopefully, I will figure something out before the end of this blog
so I can add it to our recipe pages as well.

Starting with 3 Schinkels’ chicken breast, I divided them into smaller portions
and browned them in some butter.

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Didn’t cook them all the way through, though.
As my recipe was going to end up as a baked dish, I didn’t want them to dry out
or become rubbery during the cooking process.
Browning the chicken first tends to seal the juices in,
rather than just letting the juices blend into whatever sauce you end up using.
So, browned chicken, done and set aside in a smaller casserole dish.

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I had some olives in the cupboard, thanks to my planning ahead,
as I had thought I’d go a little Mediterranean tonight.
Chopped them up pretty fine
(it’s going to be a stretch to convince my kids that they aren’t poison),

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and added them to the remaining butter in the skillet,
as well as some cremini mushrooms, smashed garlic and pesto.
You are going to have to read some older posts to find out why I prefer
smashed garlic over crushed.

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As for the cremini mushrooms,
I always choose those over white buttons when I’m cooking with mushrooms.
Of course, if there are some portobellos in the clearance section,
I will grab those,
but cremini are a nice, lower cost alternative to portobello.
Just a little richer flavour, and slightly firmer texture when cooked.

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Ok, so mushrooms, olives, pesto and garlic are sautéd,
and I had added salt and pepper as well while I was stirring.
So, now I added some wine, just a bit, maybe 1/4 cup to “glaze” the pan
and ingredients all together, and then about a cup of milk and sour cream.

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You may notice that the process is very similar to the Creamy Fennel Chicken I tried last week,
but some things just repeat themselves when I cook.
I lean towards mushrooms and cream sauces.
I’ll have to branch out in future weeks to appeal to the steak and marinara style customers.

But, since I hadn’t used flour on the chicken before browning, I needed to “reduce” the sauce.
This just means that you simmer the sauce a while so that some of the
liquid evaporates and gets a bit thicker. So, it started out like this:

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And ended up like this:

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Next, I poured the sauce over the chicken that had been set aside earlier
and made sure that all the chicken pieces were covered.
Going along with the Mediterranean theme,
I crumbled feta over the whole dish,
and just a bit of salt and pepper.

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Depending on how large your pieces are,
you will need anywhere from 20-40 minutes to ensure that the chicken is done,
since we started with partially cooked chicken.
I baked this at 350°F for 30 minutes,
and then I even cut one of the larger pieces open before deciding it was done.
Which gave me a perfect opportunity to taste the dish.

Pretty darn good if I do say so myself.

IMG_1637(oh, yeah, I added some real bacon I had in the fridge, too.
Not in the official recipe, but bacon is always a good add-on)

I’m not a big olive fan, but I appreciated the texture and flavour that it lends to this dish.
Sautéing them with the mushrooms and before the glazing
allowed the stronger tones to be spread out throughout,
and I really liked occasionally biting into one.

However, I have to admit, that about two minutes into putting this together,
right around the time I pulled the olives out of the cupboard,
I knew this was going to be a hard sell to many of my children.
Of course, I’m that mom that just won’t mention the ingredients,
but they aren’t dummies, either, and the truth always comes out.
And usually too quickly to have any of them give the dish a decent try.

So, I divided my chicken into two casserole dishes after the browning stage,
and quickly whipped up my “super secret emergency sauce”
that I pull out whenever I have an “adult” pasta or meat dish.
I just took my Ragu (or whatever pasta sauce I have handy)
and mixed it with a cup of sour cream and poured it over my browned chicken.

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Then, when I crumbled feta over the “glad I’m not picky” batch with olives,
I plopped some cottage cheese over the “sorry about your pickiness” batch.
Baked them at the same time, and am anticipating some leftovers from the delicious

Baked Pesto Chicken with Olives.

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That’s the name. It just came to me. Yes, I’m a genius.

Unfortunately, you only get my blog and some pictures,
but I hope you can also glean from this some of the appeal of this meal.
The olives add a fair bit to the flavour, but if you want to do without, I’m sure
that will be fine, too.
You can serve it as it is for a low carb or Keto dinner, maybe with a salad on the side.
Or serve it up with some pasta or rice or quinoa.
Or with NuPasta

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I ended up realizing about halfway through my lasagna
that I should make some more of the sauce (it was pretty easy)
and use the leftover BBQ chicken in the fridge to make some lunches for myself.
Only took a few minutes to get another recipe simmering,
and I didn’t let it reduce as long,
since I find when a meal sits in the fridge all night and gets microwaved, it tends to dry out.

So, a productive day in the kitchen, all things considered.

Lasagna & Garlic Butter prepped for tomorrow’s dinner,
and Baked Pesto & Olive Chicken ready to go for tonight,
and two lunches ready for myself for later in the week.

Greg will probably make a salad and heat up some frozen veggies
to go along with the chicken and the potatoes my Garret is peeling as I type.

Eet smakelijk!