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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :
- 1 Cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 lb. Harvestland Fresh Ground Chicken
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese, divided
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup diced bell pepper (Any color is fine.)
- 1/2 cup finely minced onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (Optional.)
- Cheese of choice, cut into 1 oz. cubes. I recommend Mozzarella, Provolone, or Havarti.
For the pasta :
- Tri-Colored Pasta Nests (I get mine at World Market)
- World Market Carbonara Sauce (Or use the sauce of your choice. These would be great with marinara, too!)
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- In a small bowl, combine the panko, half of the Parmesan cheese, and the butter. Using your fingers, combine the mixture until it's evenly coated. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Then add the chicken,bell pepper, onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, oregano, the remaining Parmesan, basil, and the salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands.
- Lightly coat a mini muffin tin with cooking spray. Place a couple of tablespoons of the chicken mixture in each well. Nestle a cube of cheese in the center of the mixture. Pat the chicken over the cheese to completely cover it.
- Sprinkle the panko/Parmesan mixture on top of each chicken mound, lightly pressing it into the meat.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the panko is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. If needed, you may broil the panko to further brown it.
- Let rest 5 minutes. Then using a knife, lightly loosen each cupcake from the muffin tin.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Heat sauce to desired temperature.
- Serve Chicken "Cupcakes" over a bed of pasta and sauce. Drizzle additional sauce on top.
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