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In my home, we eat a LOT of chicken. A lot. I buy more chicken than anything because it's not only a healthy, lean protein choice, I also buy it because it's so darn versatile. Seriously, there's not much you can't do with chicken. Whether you're a fan of spicy Mexican or Thai, downhome, American comfort food, or flavorful Italian dishes, chicken has got you covered.
Since I am very conscious about what I feed my family, I was excited to learn that Harvestland offers various chicken, turkey, and pork products that are not only budget-friendly, but also free of antibiotics, steroids, and hormones. In fact, the animals at Harvestland farms are raised cage-free, and fed an organic, vegetarian diet, too. So of course, when I saw these products on the shelves of my local Walmart, I stocked up.
Recently, I have started getting a bit more creative when it comes to our meals. While chicken is absolutely awesomesauce, it can get pretty boring if you don't switch things up a bit. I know I get tired of having the same old dinner rotation every month.
I decided to surprise my family with an amazing meal that's anything but ordinary. Using Harvestland Fresh Ground Chicken, I whipped up some absolutely sinful Chicken Parmesan "Cupcakes", and served them over a bed of tri-colored pasta nests with a creamy, decadent Carbonara Sauce. (You could use marinara sauce, too, if you like Chicken Parmesan. My husband is a weirdo, though, and hates any sort of tomato based sauce.)
These "cupcakes" are actually a lot like meatloaf in composition. You simply take your fresh ground chicken, seasonings, garlic, chopped bell pepper, fresh Basil, breadcrumbs, and an egg, and mix them together till all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
To make these "cupcakes", just spoon half of the mixture into a pre-greased muffin pan. Yes, I did just say half. Trust me here. This is where the fun starts!
Once you have your muffin pan half-way full with this amazing chicken mixture, add a good sized chunk of cheese, right in the middle. You can really use any cheese you like, but I would recommend Mozzarella, Provolone, or Havarti. I used Havarti this time, since it just happens to be my favorite cheese ever. It's creamy, buttery, and slightly nutty in flavor, which compliments this recipe perfectly.
Once you've loaded these babies full of ooey-gooey, cheesy deliciousness, add the remaining meat mixture to the tops. Be sure that your cheese is fully enclosed, since it will ooze out during the cooking process if you've left anything exposed. And cheese escaping my food makes me sad....Very, very sad.
Finally, it's time to top our "cupcakes". No, not with frosting. That would just be gross. These savory delights are topped with a mixture of crisp, Panko breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, and some melted butter. I add a little garlic powder to this mixture for added flavor.
Then it's time to pop these beauties in the oven. I baked these at 400 F for about 50 minutes. My house smelled so amazing while these baked. I almost couldn't stand it!
Oh, remember when I said that it's super-important to make sure all your cheese is tucked away safely in the center of the cupcake? Well, somehow, one of mine had some cheese exposed. This is what happens when you neglect to cover the cheese completely. Still totally edible, but I prefer my cheese to be melty and gooey inside the cupcake, not oozing out, getting all cold and hard.
Doesn't that look drool-worthy?
While the cupcakes were baking away, I prepared some tri-colored pasta nests. I get them at World Market, and they're absolutely fantastic. Plus, they are imported from Italy, which makes the meal feel fancier, somehow. I also used World Market's own creamy Carbonara sauce. Normally, I tend to shy away from jarred sauces. I usually opt to make my sauces from scratch. However, this Carbonara sauce blows away the competition, and truly tastes homemade. On a busy weeknight, this saves me a load of time without sacrificing flavor.
My family positively raved about our Chicken Parmesan "Cupcakes" with Tri-Colored Pasta Carbonara. It was definitely something out of the ordinary, and it was completely scrumptious. The chicken was flavorful and remained moist, the peppers and basil gave it nice dimension, and the molten, cheesy surprise in the middle was like a surprise party in Flavor Town. Oh, and the buttery, panko parmesan topping was like the icing on the cake...literally.
Okay, so I am sure you guys want to rush into the kitchen and make your own Chicken Parmesan "Cupcakes", right? They're SO simple, and taste truly gourmet. Even the pickiest of eaters will gobble these up!
Here's my recipe. Feel free to tweak it to your taste. Cooking is supposed to be creative, after all!
Chicken Parmesan "Cupcakes" with Pasta Carbonara :
For the pasta :
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You can check them out on their website and learn all about their common-sense approach to making cleaner eating affordable for families.
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I'm Brandy, a happily married, proud Mom of 3 amazing kids. If you're interested in building a working relationship, please feel free to e-mail me at: NewlyCrunchyMamaOf3@gmail.com
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