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Friday, June 15, 2012

Basil Pesto Baked Chicken

I think everyone, cook or no cook, has a less than stellar baked chicken dish in their repertoire.  Let's face it, chicken can be dreadfully boring.  Mind numbing, if you will.  Excessively dried out, rubbery, even grilled to a crisp leaving you unable the swallow the piece in your mouth without chewing it 87 times.

On both sides of your mouth.

This all happens when you do not properly cook the chicken.  Chicken doesn't like to be left by itself.  It loves to be marinated and slathered in sauces.

Recently (as in last night, but that is a whole 'nother story), Foodbuzz asked me to take part in their "do-over" stories and recipes continuing in their partnership with Frigidaire.  I of course said yes.  Because don't we all have a "do-over" story in cooking history?

It didn't take me long to think of my do-over dish.  Baked chicken.  I cannot even count the endless dried out chicken breasts I used to serve myself, then my boyfriend, then my fiance, then my husband.

It's a wonder he stuck around.

Honestly, I thought the only way to cook chicken was lying on a baking sheet in the oven, or placing on the grill, sans marinade or seasoning.  What was I thinking?  The trick to good, moist, flavorful chicken, is treating it like a baby.

Chicken wants to take baths, it wants to be swaddled in sauce, cream or herbs, it mostly definitely doesn't want to stand alone to its dying heat.

Enter in Basil Pesto Baked Chicken.  I got inspiration for this dish on Pinterest.  Imagine that, the dream center for all women ages 18-44.  I'm addicted like all of you, it's okay.  This recipe even claims to be fitting of the South Beach Diet.  Never have I, nor will I ever be on the South Beach Diet, but I guess this dish snuck in somehow.

So, here it is.  Step by step.

Basil Pesto Baked Chicken

Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread 1/2 c. of basil pesto (store bought or homemade) on the bottom of the dish.

Lay 1 lb. of chicken breast tenders onto the pesto.  Lightly season with onion powder, pepper and salt.

Generously, slather on another 1/2 c. of pesto onto each chicken breast.  Let them bathe in their glory.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil.  Top with 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese.  Return to oven baking another 5 minutes.  Then turn the oven to broil and bake until the top of the chicken gets golden and crispy.

I served this on a bed of quinoa.  Our first time having quinoa.  It most definitely will not be our last!  Delicious.  This chicken has SO much flavor.  It is not dry, mushy, or charred on bit.  It is perfect.  

It was treated like a baby.

This post was sponsored by Frigidaire. When you share your own do-over moment at Facebook.com/Frigidaire, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children's U.S. programs. Plus, Frigidaire will help cover the costs for one lucky visitor to win the ultimate do-over.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca)June 18, 2012 at 3:31 AM

    I think I am the one person who doesn't have a good baked chicken recipe. I rarely cook chicken, but would like to start cooking it more often.

  2. Jessica_AKitchenAddictionJune 18, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    Mmmm, baked chicken with pesto! I want!

  3. That looks so good Ally! I love, love, love basil - I hope to buy some herb plants this weekend too and basil is the first one on the list!

  4. The baby chicken effect. Haha, I love it! I think covering it has something to do (here I am so scientific) with trapping in all your glorious sauces and such. B/c let me tell you, just adding sauce does NOT make it moist and tender. I think it is that along w/ covering it and making sure to turn it over at some point. ;)

  5. Looks amazing! I also have horror stories that involve chicken! So glad this turned out for you!

  6. This looks like a wonderful chicken dish! I am in a pesto kick of mood. Perhaps this is in my future.