Thursday, May 30, 2013

Expand on the Simple; Garlic Butter Sauce.

In my post on Baked Ravioli, I mentioned how I don't always use the sauce that might come in the box of Buitoni Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli. The sauce is a simple garlic butter sauce that I might use on another pasta dish, as a marinade, as a basting sauce for grilling, even as a sauce over simple vegetables. Having that packet of sauce in the freezer though is not always an option, so I have to consider the possibility of making it up from scratch.

The two main ingredients, of course, are butter and garlic; eight tablespoons of butter melted on low heat in a small saucepan, then three cloves of minced garlic added to the butter and let it cook until softened.  It is what you do with that simple mixture afterwards that makes the difference in your foods.  For a marinade, add two tablespoons of dried Italian herb mixture and two tablespoons of olive oil; put your meat, pork or poultry into a resealable bag and massage in that marinade.  Refrigerate for one to two hours and grill it up; don't forget to make an extra batch of marinade for basting.  

To make a creamy version, after softening the garlic, turn the heat up to medium-high, add five tablespoons of flour and begin whisking; this will be the roux. Once all the flour is incorporated, continue to whisk and cook until a light brown color forms; then whisk in 2 cups of heavy cream, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and let it thicken.  Add salt, ground black pepper, or other seasonings to taste.

Again, with two simple ingredients, butter and garlic, you can make different combinations of marinade or sauce for your food; lemon juice, ground black pepper and chopped parsley would be excellent for poultry and seafood, for example.  Or change that parsley to dill for the seafood; your possibilities are only limited by your own imagination.

Garlic Chicken and Pasta
8 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided in half
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 cups steamed broccoli
1 cup red bell pepper strips
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 cups cooked rigatoni
salt and pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, low heat, melt the butter; add the garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes and stir occasionally to keep from sticking or burning.  Remove from heat.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat; saute chicken until fully cooked; remove from skillet.  Add remaining oil to skillet and saute vegetables until edges just begin to brown.  Add chicken back into skillet, add the garlic butter sauce, parsley and pasta; mix thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 4 servings.
Two ingredients to make a simple sauce, but what you add to it afterwards opens up an expanded world of flavor.  Enjoy!
Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Move Over 007, it's Ravioli, Baked not Boiled.

There are those days when making a meal is the farthest thought from my mind. New ideas are hidden deeply, and I am in the mood for nothing special. I look in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer; hoping that something will jump out at me and scream, "Here I am! Eat me!!!" That finally happened when Buitoni's Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli peeked its green box out. Hello my little friend. One problem though is that I didn't want to use the packet of garlic butter sauce that came with it. Oh no, I didn't throw it away; that will be used for another recipe featuring rigatoni, chicken and a few vegetables. So what to do with it, and suddenly the ideas started to pop into my mind...diced tomatoes, but a creamy tomato sauce, not chunky; cheese, not as a garnish, but as a main ingredient.   Of course a plain cheese, meat filled, even chicken and cheese ravioli can be used with this recipe.   Lets see what I finally created, and it sure did taste good!  

Baked Ravioli

1 (22 oz) box Buitoni Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup shredded Romano cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Take the packet of garlic butter sauce from the Buitoni box, label and return to the freezer (save for another recipe).  Heat a large sauce pan of unsalted water on high heat; when boiling, cook the ravioli for only one minute before straining.  All ice has been removed and the ravioli is no longer sticking together; it will finish cooking in the sauce while baking.

Preheat oven to 375F; spray a 1 and 1/2 quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Begin the layering process by spreading one cup of sauce in the bottom of the dish. 

Spread out half the ravioli over the sauce.

Spread half the diced tomatoes over the ravioli.

Mix the Romano and mozzarella cheeses together; spread half the mixture over the tomatoes and ravioli.

Now repeat the layering of sauce, ravioli, tomatoes, cheese; finish off with the final cup of sauce.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes; sauce will be bubbling and all the cheese melted.  The box of ravioli I used had 18 ravioli in them; during the baking process they expanded their bulk by half, so a serving of three was just right.  Therefore, this recipe made six servings.

The ravioli cooked up perfectly; the flavor of the sauce was infused into the pasta.  Tasting the seafood, pasta, cheese and tomatoes all together made me feel as if I was eating a decadent seafood parmigiana over pasta.  Sometimes, you have to think outside of the box, and not use everything inside it either.

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Vanilla and Chocolate in One Cheesecake; No Complaints Here.

I guess it has only been about a year or so since Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese introduced their "Indulgence" line. During the 2012 holiday season, I pulled out of a cooking magazine a recipe for their "Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake", but didn't get around to making it.  Last week though, I took my mother-in-law out for dinner, yes we get along very well, and she kind of hinted that I hadn't made her a cheesecake in awhile. Looking through my cheesecake recipes, I came across that recipe I had pulled from the magazine; as I read it, changes came to mind. Instead of Lorna Doone shortbread cookies for the crust, how about chocolate cookies? Instead of fruit as a garnish, what about more cookies, or chocolate candy?

I wanted this cheesecake to be all about the vanilla and the chocolate, no other flavors would do.  I crushed up Oreo cookies that had chocolate filling instead of the traditional white cream; no mixing with butter, prebaking or cooling in the refrigerator.  As the vanilla layer baked, the chocolate filling oozed up into the cake layer here and there to create little pockets of chocolate inside the vanilla.  When I removed the springform pan, a little side piece broke off and it tasted so good!  For the chocolate mousse topping, I increased the amount used from one eight ounce container of Milk Chocolate Indulgence to two and only used the recommended two cups of whipped topping.  Oh my, Oh my, Oh my!!!  Drooling yet? 

When it comes to baking I've always been told that you have to follow all the precise measurements, ingredients and rules.  Sometimes being a rule breaker can be a really great experience.
Vanilla Cheesecake with Chocolate Mousse

14 Oreo cookies with chocolate filling
2 (8 oz) packages plain cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 (8 oz) containers Philadelphia Brand Milk Chocolate Indulgence Cream Cheese
2 cups whipped topping
10 Hershey kisses


Preheat oven to 325F; spray a 9 inch springform pan with nonstick baking spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and spray the paper with the nonstick baking spray. Put 12 of the Oreo cookies into a resealable plastic bag, crush them and spread them out over the parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, beat the plain cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs until smooth; about 5 minutes on high speed. Spread mixture evenly over the cookies and bake for 35-40 minutes; cool cake on counter for a half hour, then for two hours in the refrigerator.

While cake is cooling, set milk chocolate cream cheese containers on the counter to soften. Once cake is cooled, remove from refrigerator. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth, about 1 minute on high. Fold in the whipped topping until well incorporated and a uniform chocolate coloring. Spread over the cake in pan; place back in refrigerator for one hour to set.

When ready to serve, use a sharp knife to help release cake sides from pan before opening springform. Place unwrapped kisses evenly around cake; place remaining two Oreo cookies in center.

Makes 10 servings.

Note: Usually I bake cheesecakes in a bain marie, but since this cake was getting a topping, I wasn't concerned with the top cracking.  However, do wrap aluminum foil around the base of the pan, in case any fluidss find a way to seep out.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Not Your Average Franks and Beans.

One of my husband's favorite casseroles is when I take miniature smoked sausages, mixed them up with pork and beans, molasses, cheese, onions and brown sugar; bake it till bubbling hot and he is in sausage and bean heaven. After making the Smoked Sausage Burrito the other day, I was inspired to keep on that Southwestern theme. What I came up with only has six ingredients and three cooking steps - prep, mix and bake. Eating is a whole other story, and this dish can be served two ways. First, serve it as a side dish at your next potluck or barbecue; or ladle it over a serving of homemade macaroni and cheese to make a complete meal.

Short blog post today, but with a big and tasty recipe to make.  Enjoy!

Barbecued Beans with Smoked Sausage

3 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 oz) package Johnsonville Smoked Sausage, cut into ¼ inch pieces at an angle
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup diced chile peppers
1 cup Queso Casero, broken up into pieces (or Queso Fresco)
2 cups barbecue sauce (hickory or mesquite smoked)


Preheat oven to 350F; spray a 2 quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together all six ingredients; spread out into baking dish.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

Mary Cokenour
May 22, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Smoked Sausage in a Burrito! Why Not?

Recently I began my new travel blog, The Southwest Through Wide Brown Eyes, and I've been busy going through hundreds and hundreds of photos.  I try to choose the ones that, once posted, you can actually see what I'm seeing through my eyes; not just a photo of some place, but the emotions behind seeing it for the first time.  Truth be told, I know for a fact that photos never do a breath taking area justice; but one can only try and, at least, get others interested in visiting and discovering for themselves.

The same can be said for my cooking; at one time, cooking Southwestern or Mexican food was not a consideration I'd make.  Oh sure, if there was a Mexican restaurant around, I'd go to it; or make tacos from some store bought, boxed, name brand, but that was the extent of it.  Since moving out to Utah though, I've taken the proverbial bull by the horns and experimented with the cuisine I was afraid to try from scratch.  It's not just about reading a recipe and imitating it; I research the origins of it, just like I do for my travel blog.  There is more to blogging than posting a photo, putting a name on it and saying, "there ya go, find out your own info cause I know nothing".  I can now make some outstanding Southwestern or Mexican food items, like Enchiladas.  I really thought it would be so very hard, filling the tortillas, rolling them, making the sauce and working with the chilies (fresh, roasted or dried and ground; it's not. It's like with any cuisine really, practice and patience win out at the end of it all.  Well except for Asian cuisine, I'm still struggling with that, but I haven't given up.

Anyway, while watching "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives", Guy Fieri visited a hot dog place that did a hot dog burrito; interesting, but I'm still a hot dog purist: spicy brown mustard and sauerkraut on a toasted split top bun.  Then an idea came to me, what if I replaced that hot dog with a smoked sausage of some type, like kielbasa or bratwurst.  I first asked some people what they thought about the idea, and I got a positive push to begin the experiment.

Johnsonville are the brat masters as far as I'm concerned, so I purchased a package of their smoked ones; basically for convenience and time saving. I split them in half lengthwise and let both sides caramelize a bit on a flat top grill. Since I know how good this little invention of mine tastes, you know I'll be trying it out with fresh, right off the barbecue grill, brats next time. The other filling items were chili made with ground beef and red beans, Frito corn chips (the strips, not the scoops), shredded cheese (Sargento Mexican mix) and an authentic homemade Mexican cheese (Queso Casero). The tortillas were fresh flour, 10 inch in diameter; couldn't find any 12 inch, otherwise I would have put two split brats into each burrito. The tortillas must be fresh, they're more flexible and you need that for the folding process.

The Queso Casero is a homemade cheese that can be made from either cow (smoky flavor) or goat (tangy flavor) milk.  It is a semi-soft, mild, white cheese and does not melt rapidly.  If you cannot find it, or prefer a melted cheese, Queso Fresco is an excellent substitute as it's a soft cheese,  easily crumbles, and is more readily available in supermarkets.

In the center of each tortilla, spread out 1/4 cup of cheese; with the Queso Casero I simply pulled it apart with my fingers into little pieces.  Lay the split sausage on top of the cheese.

Spread a 1/2 cup of chili over the sausage, then another 1/4 of cheese.  While the shredded cheese will melt thoroughly during the grilling process, the Queso Casero will keep its firmer texture for the most part.

The final addition is the Frito corn chips, a 1/4 cup should do it up nicely.

Fold the section of tortilla at the short end of the sausage as far as you can, being careful not to pull too tightly.  You don't want to tear the tortilla, or have the corn chips puncture any holes in it.

Now you want to fold the long ends over, again being careful not to tear or puncture the tortilla.  If the short ends stick out, or become loose, gently tuck them back in.   The burritos are now ready for the grill; I'm using a stove top flat top grill (oiled), but an electric is fine, or you might be daring and use a well oiled barbecue grill.

Place the burrito seam side down first; with the fresh tortillas, they are moist enough that you will not have to spread water around the edges to help seal them shut.  Once browned, turn them over and brown the top side; remove to a plate and either cut them in half, or just pick up the whole thing and take that first big bite.

The Smoked Sausage Burrito

Don't be stuck in a rut by cooking only what you know, or only the cuisine of where you live.  Develop a passion for cooking and travel the world by experimenting with the various food items and cuisines.  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lasagna 101 and No Cook Pasta.

I don't cook my lasagna sheets before hand when making lasagna; there, I've said it.  No, I do not and I have various reasons for it; not just out of convenience.  Now there are folks out there who will cry "Blasphemy!" and there will be others who will sigh in relief that they're not the only ones.  Then there are those who have never made lasagna; they thought it was too difficult, especially the part about manipulating long sheets of pasta without creating chaos.  This blog post is geared mostly towards those people.

My reasons for not cooking the pasta sheets before hand: convenience of course; the pasta cooks more evenly inside the baking dish; it absorbs the flavors of the tomatoes, herbs and garlic from the sauce it is simmering in; by leaving gaps and layers between the sheets gives them ample room to not stick together and become gummy (the sheets will expand during the baking process also).  Your question might be, "Do I need to buy lasagna sheets that specially say "no cook" on the box?"  The answer is no!  You can use those pretty, curly ended sheets; they are cooking in a liquid medium anyway, but in a manner that ensures they will not be over or undercooked.  I purchase both types only because the smaller "no cook" sheets fit perfectly in 9" x 5" x 3" aluminum loaf pans which I can freeze for a later meal (2-3 servings); or give away.  I can use either/or in the 9" x 12" x 3" aluminum baking pans.  Why the aluminum pans and not glass casserole dishes?  Simple answer is, "No clean up!"  Oh sure, they have that new liner paper out for the glass dishes, but it takes up room and I'd rather have more sauce than paper.

Embedded in the following words are links to the recipes for those items, so simply click on them: Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes, Sauce from Canned Tomatoes, including Meat Sauce, Vegetarian Pasta Sauce, Lasagna.  You're probably going to notice that older recipe for Lasagna may not exactly match what I describe in today's post.  None of my recipes are 100% gospel; no matter how well the dish comes out, I'm always looking to improve and update my own recipes.  Lets start creating an awesome lasagna.

Now I'm warning you now that this will be a fairly long blog posting; making a great lasagna takes time.  It's not as simple as Gordon Ramsay (Kitchen Nightmares) or Robert Irvine (Restaurant: Impossible) make it seem on their shows; the sauce is already prepared, the noodles already cooked and the cheese is either cool or at room temperature.  That's why it can be layered together quickly, placed under a broiler and done in about 10 minutes; it's more of a warming process than a cooking one.

You need to have a great sauce for Italian dishes and that means Homemade!  Whether it is from fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, meat sauce or even a vegetarian sauce; it's made with your own hands and that means made with love!  You will need a minimum of 14 cups, perhaps 16 especially if you want to serve a bowl on the side; and at room temperature.

.A mixture of cheeses truly enhances a dish like lasagna: 10 cups of Ricotta ( I use half whole milk, half part skim; but you can use all whole or all part skim too); 2 cups small curd Cottage Cheese (this is an American addition which adds needed liquid, but a little tang to the mixture), 1 bag (8 ounces) each of shredded Mozzarella and shredded Provolone, 1 cup shredded Romano cheese.  The cheeses should be cool, but not cold; mix them all together in a large bowl, except for half the Mozzarella and half the Provolone. Takes those halves, mix together and set aside.

Lasagna noodles, the "no cook" are usually smaller and wider than regular sheets, and have a "wavy" structure; these are recommended for loaf pans.  The regular sheets (need to cook, but we're not going to) are longer, thinner, flatter, have a curly ending along the sides.  The number needed depends on which type of pans being used: 30 curly ended for 2- 9" x 12"; 20 no cooks for 4- 9" x 5" loaf pans; or for what I made, 15 curly for 1- 9" x 12" and 10 no cooks for 2- 9" x 5" loaf pans.

                                                                                                           Preheat the oven to 375F; lightly spray the pan interiors with nonstick cooking spray (we don't want to leave any yummy sauce sticking to the pan).  Spread one cup of sauce over the bottom.

Place one sheet over the sauce and press down slightly.  See that space at the ends of the sheet; this is going to allow the liquids in the sauce to simmer up the sides, be absorbed by the sheets and cook them to tender perfection.  The sauce will thicken up with the absorption of the excess liquid.

                                                                                                                 From the cheese mixture in the large bowl, spread a thickness of between 1/4" and 1/2" over the pasta sheet only.

Spread a half cup of sauce over the cheese as evenly as possible.  Now we begin to repeat the layering process with a pasta sheet over the sauce; press down slightly; spread cheese, sauce, sheet, cheese, sauce, sheet, (however a slight change) sauce, sheet.  We will end up with three layers of cheese filling total; and a top layer of sauce only between the sheets.
Now that final pasta sheet you laid down; spread sauce evenly over it, but do not fill in the sides of the pan.  Remember, the liquids from the sauce need that space to move around in; not enough free space and you'll have an overflow onto your oven floor.

 Using the large pan, 3 sheets will go side by side, but have room for the liquid to move through and cook.  The layering process is essentially the same as the small pans.

Bake the lasagnas for one hour; spread the remaining Mozzarella and Provolone mixture over the tops of each and return to the oven for 20 minutes.

  Aren't they beautiful!?!
Now the single serving pictured above is after letting the lasagna rest only 15 minutes; the longer you wait, the firmer the servings will become.  While I may have patience in creating this most outstanding meal, I have none with waiting to eat it!  The longer you wait though, the cooler it is becoming also; so your big decision is do you want it pretty, but cold; or hot, messy and absolutely out of this world delicious?
Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Want Stew, He Wants Stroganoff; Compromise.

There are times you want to prepare a particular meal, but what do you do; you ask someone what would they like. Chances are they are going to tell you what they want, and it will not be what you were craving. Again, what do you do; the answer is (a) ignore them, (b) make what they want, (c) come up with a compromise. So it was with a top round roast, my desire for beef stew, but my husband's desire for beef stroganoff. Now if you think about it, a stew and a stroganoff are pretty similar in nature; the differences are more origination of the recipe and the cooking liquids.

With cooking techniques, beef stew can be created in the Oven, on the stove top, or in a Slow Cooker. It's pretty much the same for Beef Stroganoff. They have many of the same ingredients, so creating a compromise recipe of the two isn't a difficult task.  Two worries; how would it taste and how can I make it so it will freeze well?  The first question wouldn't be answered until I actually finished the dish.  The second question was answered by not using any pure dairy items such as milk or sour cream.  By using cream of mushroom soup and mixing it with red wine, instead of milk, I created a cooking medium that would freeze without separating or breaking on reheating.

Cooking time is between 6 to 7 hours with my Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker.  At 6 hours, while the potatoes were at the just beginning to get tender stage; the meat was still chewy.  At 7 hours, however, the potatoes were melt in the mouth as was the beef; the onions were supple and the peas did not become mushy.  The scent wafting throughout the house during the cooking process was enough to drive one's taste buds mad with wanting.

Compromise can be a very tasty experience.

Beef Stew Stroganoff


2 ½ lbs. top round roast; trimmed of fat, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 Tbsp flour
3 large russet potatoes; cut into 1 inch cubes, parboil
2 large onions, chopped
1 (8 oz) bag frozen peas
2 (10.5 oz) cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup red wine
1 (4 oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 tsp ground black pepper


Set a 6 quart slow cooker (crock pot) on low; spray interior with nonstick spray.  Mix the beef cubes with the flour; place inside the cooker.   Layer the potatoes on top of the beef; spread the onions and peas next.  In a medium bowl, mix together the soup, wine, mushrooms and black pepper; spread mixture evenly over top of all.

Cook for 6 to 7 hours, until beef and potatoes are tender.

Makes 10 servings.

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Draper Towing and Repair (A Non-Food Related Review)

Draper Towing and Repair

217 North Main Street
Monticello, Utah, 84535

(435) 587-2788

(435)459-4801 (Cell)

In June of 2010, Steve Draper opened up the newest automotive business in Monticello, Utah; bringing with him over 20 years of experience in the industry.   Word of mouth is spreading the knowledge of Steve’s friendly and professional manner; and I’m here to help spread that word. 

My husband’s SUV needed a new gas filter which was enclosed inside the tank itself.  Not only did Steve take the vehicle immediately, but he quoted us a price better than another repair shop had, and had the work done by the next day.  Later on an unrelated issue developed with the SUV; Steve kept the vehicle for several days, testing it at different times each day, but the problem refused to show itself again.   Steve did not take guesses at what the problem might be, nor did he fix parts unnecessarily; he honestly told us that until it occurred again, there was nothing he could do.  While traveling through Colorado, the vehicle stalled out and another mechanic found that the computer had finally given out…what do you expect from a 1998 used vehicle.  All we knew was that Steve had been very honest about the assessment, and we were going to keep using his business.

Recently I took my car in for its yearly inspection and it only took 20 minutes.  Another automotive business I had been using usually kept my car for an entire day!  While I was waiting, I saw Steve interact with other customers; he was naturally friendly, polite and helpful.  If he could not accommodate someone, he would call another business to see if they could help the customer.  Another facet I like about Draper’s is that the atmosphere is positive; being unfamiliar with the workings of an automobile, I’m not made to feel like an idiot.   Steve Draper should run a class on how to truly operate an automotive towing and repair business.

If you’re a resident of Monticello, Utah; or a traveler with auto issues; make sure to keep Draper’s numbers handy.  Thanks Steve for being a true professional and proud of what you do.

Mary Cokenour


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Challenge is...Wrap it in Bacon!

Recently I saw two friends post similar recipes on Facebook for "Bacon Wrapped, Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts".  I looked both recipes over and basically they had one difference; while one used chopped green onion, the other used chopped jalapeno peppers.  I threw down the gauntlet, or oven mitt, and challenged myself to make this recipe more intriguing.  I thought back to the sandwich I had eaten at Sweet Cravings in Moab; how the jalapeno jelly and cream cheese had brought such great flavors to the turkey breast.  Why not do that with chicken!?!

Looking in the pantry, I found a jar of both mild and hot jalapeno jelly.  While I intended on using some green onions, I also diced up red onions and a multicolored selection of bell peppers for their natural sweetness.

left piece is without plastic; right piece is between plastic
The chicken breasts need to be pounded out to about 1/4 inch in thickness. Always use the flat side of your meat tenderizer, or you can purchase a flat sided mallet. Do not use the mallet directly on the chicken; place it inside a plastic bag, or between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Also, placing a clean linen towel over the plastic will most definitely ensure that the tender poultry meat will not shred, but extend out smoothly.  Gently pound out the chicken to the desired thickness; this is not the type of meat to take your aggressions out on.

 After pounding out the chicken, spread one tablespoon of the mild jelly (green) or the hot jelly (red); leaving about a half inch border from the edges.
A tablespoon of cream cheese was spread on next; in the other recipes, only two tablespoons of cream cheese was used for the stuffing.  I pressed about two tablespoons of the bell peppers with red onions, only green onions, or bell peppers with green onions into the cream cheese.

 Now you might be wondering why no salt sprinkled over the chicken; the bacon is going to take care of the salt issue.  Also, in the recipes I read, they called for the bacon to be partially cooked before wrapping around the chicken.  I used totally raw bacon as I wanted it to be pliable enough to fully wrap around the rolled breasts; also to allow the fat to baste the chicken and keep it moist as the bacon began to crisp up in the oven.  I used a roasting pan with a rack which allowed the bacon to crisp up on the bottom as well as the top, so no need for a broiler later on.  Preheat the oven to 400F; line the roasting pan with aluminum foil and add two cups of water to keep any bacon drippings from burning and smoking.  Spray the rack with nonstick spray and place back inside the pan.  Now for the chicken rolling...

Carefully begin to roll the chicken and if any filling begins to ooze out, just push it right back inside.  Take a slice of bacon (you'll need 3 for each breast) and wrap it lengthwise around the chicken.  This will help keep the filling from coming out the sides while roasting.  The bacon will overlap a bit and seal against the chicken meat, so no toothpicks will be necessary.

Lay two slices of bacon on your board, about one inch apart, and carefully lay the rolled breast with the first bacon slice's seam facing upward.  Wrap those two slices around the chicken and let the ends come together to form a seal.

                                                                                                          Carefully pick up the bundle and lay it, bacon seams side down, on the roasting rack.  Leave about an inch in between each bundle, so the bacon can crisp up on all sides.  Place the roasting pan inside the oven and let it cook for 40-45 minutes; until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

There you have it, Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts.  The jalapeno jelly and cream cheese mixture combined to form a decadent stuffing which enhanced the natural sweetness of the bell peppers and red onions.  With the green onions, they combined with the jalapeno jelly to give that Southwestern flavor sensation.   The bacon kept the chicken moist, yet seasoned it at the same time.

Sometimes less is more, but with this new version of the recipe, more of more is just what you want.  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour