The Easiest Lemon Chicken Cordon Bleu

by Andie Mitchell on January 14, 2011

Truth: I cook all of the meals that I eat during the week on the weekend. Yes. Each Sunday morning, there’s a crumpled and crotchety old piece of notebook paper set atop my kitchen counter with a list of dinners that are previously decided delicious. And there I am, standing in my two-day-worn jammies, hair a hot mess, cooking and singing a little too wildly. ‘Smiling, Crazy-Eyed Fool,’ if we were to name the scene.

Usually at the start of the weekend, I ask Daniel to think about foods that he’s craving and meals that sound appealing. I ask him to consider meals involving x, y, and z items that are on sale this week. It’s generally along the lines of me shouting from my perch on the kitchen counter, store circular and scissors in hand, “Chicken! Ice Cream! That rye bread you like! Toothpaste!!!”

The enthusiasm and decibel of my voice are often unnecessary. That much I admit.

Then, Daniel mulls it all over and returns a cool thirty minutes later with a list resembling, “waffle sundaes, chicken fingers and french fries, eggplant parmesan subs, and popcorn shrimp!”

I smile, nod, thank him for his thoughts.

By the time he’s left the room, cheery and so proud of his contributions, I have already mind erased and begun a new list. Largely because I don’t want Chuck E. Cheese to feel I’m copying their menu.

But really, Daniel does give valid suggestions much of the time. I admit that they always sound fabulous on paper, the kinds of things I’d eat with reckless abandon if I wasn’t worried about sugar and trans fat related diseases down the line. Or my blog credibility. And mostly, waffle sundaes and chicken fingers can be modified and merged into substantial, more legitimate meals like: oven-fried chicken and whole grain waffles or baked buffalo chicken tenders.

It’s a fun game we play. Take party food and turn it proper.

Once I have a hand written list of five or so meals that jive with not only our cravings but our current budget (and the question of, ‘Is this blogworthy?!’), I head to the grocery store and buy the ingredients. I come home, a little on edge, sporting a sweat mustache, because the market never treats me or my wallet as kindly as I’d like.

And then, on Sunday, I roll up my pajama sleeves, because God knows I haven’t gotten dressed in two days, pump up the jams in my kitchen, and set about making a meal for each weeknight. Generally, I make four servings per recipe because then Daniel and I have some pretty fabulous leftovers for lunch. And because somewhere along my path in life, I convinced myself I was one of The Duggars.

The beauty of it all is that I begin the week prepped and peppy. I have a fridge packed with dinners and tupperware-contained lunches that really do excite me, if not thrill me a little disconcertingly. I feel on top of it all.

People tell me that the trouble they find with weekly menu plans, or make ahead meals, is that they don’t end up wanting what they’ve made on a given night. Well here’s the thing to keep in mind: If you have five weeknights to eat them, and five dinners that sound delicious at the onset of the week, just swap them around as you like. I have a hunch that if those five meals made your mouth water at one point, they can do that again. Do not, repeat: Do not!, simply make meals that sound super duper healthy and like foods you “should be eating” just for the sake of setting up a week of strict, clean eating. This almost always backfires. You never end up wanting the boiled chicken and blanched green beans. They sit, cold, sad, and unappetizing, in your fridge.

Think about foods you actually salivate over, modify them in the healthiest ways you can, and make those.

You will not regret eating a meal that once sounded good. And the truth of it all is: talk to me at 6:45pm on Tuesday night when you’ve just walked through the door from work and are hungry. You’ll be happier to have a homemade dinner than you’ll be sad to have it pre-planned. Trust me.

This is also why it’s important to plan meals that are fun and interesting and to try new recipes all the time. I come home most nights at 6:30 rather giddy to dig into the fun dish I’ve planned.

This chicken is one such dish. The easiest chicken cordon bleu my mind can conjure.

It’s almost so simple I can’t prescribe a recipe. It’s almost so tasty you’d assume it to be a million calories, give or take a trillion.

Ingredients:

Tender and juicy chicken breast. Smooth and creamy whole milk provolone cheese.  Smoked ham. Extra virgin olive oil.  Paper-thin slices of lemon. Salt. Pepper. Hunger.

End list.

It’s easy. It’s not fussy in the slightest. It requires so few ingredients and comes together in no time at all. The result is moist chicken infused with the brightness of lemon and filled with hot ham and melting, creamy cheese. I imagine you could fill the chicken cutlets with anything you like. Give it a try for a fast, easy, and super healthy meal.

Directions for two:

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Butterfly a thick, 8 ounce chicken breast.

Cut that butterflied breast into two pieces along the seam that holds the two breast halves together. Imagine it as an open book and cut along the spine. Now you have two thin cutlets.

Lay a slice of ham and then a slice of provolone cheese on each cutlet. You may want to tear the cheese and fold the ham so that they do not extend beyond the cutlet, because they’ll just melt or burn in the oven.

Fold each cutlet over to almost seal the ham and cheese inside. Brush the tops and sides of the stuffed chicken cutlets with olive oil. Sprinkle very generously with salt and pepper.

Cut two thin rounds of lemon and place one on each chicken bundle.

Bake for 17-20 minutes.

Top each baked, stuffed chicken breast with minced fresh parsley to really enhance the fresh flavors.

Enjoy!

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Dominique January 14, 2011 at 9:27 am

How do you prep the mails to keep? Do you prepare sides the day of? I love this idea and had never consider it before!

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Can You Stay for Dinner January 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Great question! I do make most side dishes ahead of time along with the main portion of the meal (mashed potatoes, brown rice, couscous, pasta)- those reheat very well. Vegetables I almost always cook on the day I eat the meal, mainly because I like them fresh and crisp. So I’ll often roast or steam the veg portion while reheating dinner!

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Can You Stay for Dinner January 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I also portion them into individual glass containers that have covers- that way I’m not constantly dipping into one big dish (and in some way contaminating everything over and over again). Does that make sense?

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danielle January 14, 2011 at 9:36 am

I have chicken defrosting and I willbe making this tonight – thanks!

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Amy @ Second City Randomness January 14, 2011 at 10:21 am

I sort of love days that are spent completely in pajamas. I feel sort of silly afterwards, but it felt oh so good at the time…

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ASuburbanLife January 14, 2011 at 10:25 am

Another great post and funny too! I’d love to see a picture of your fridge on Sunday night with all of the meal containers. Also, how much time do you spend cooking on Sunday?

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Brittany January 14, 2011 at 10:59 am

Simple+Delicious? I have to make this! My husband loves cordon bleu!

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Heather January 14, 2011 at 11:20 am

i love cordon bleu but never thought to add the lemon…how refreshing and FLAVORFUL!

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MelissaNibbles January 14, 2011 at 11:35 am

I’m salivating over this! I love cordon bleu.

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Mikaela January 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I laughed so loud at you dancing in your pj’s in front of the stove. This chicken looks lovely. I loved stuffed chicken!

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Autumn @ Good Eats Girl January 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I love chicken cordon bleu….these look fantastic!

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Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) January 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Mmm…chicken cordon bleu was just kicked up a notch. This looks fabulous! :D

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snackgirlgoeshealthy January 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

That looks incredible. I love ham and cheese stuffed in anything!

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sally January 15, 2011 at 9:50 am

Do you freeze any of the meals to thaw out later in the week? I worry about eating meat on Saturday that was cooked last Sunday. Well, truth be known, I worry about eating on Wednesday what was cooked on Sunday. :-) Are they all cooked on Sunday or just prepared and ready to bake/cook?

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Can You Stay for Dinner January 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

Hi Sally, I usually finish all meals on Friday, and that is generally my cut off day for eating pre-made meals. I understand your apprehension, but I’ve been doing it for about two years now with no problems! No, I don’t freeze any of them. I cook them through and then just reheat in the oven, on the stove, or in the microwave!

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Lu January 15, 2011 at 9:16 pm

So, this can be made with turkey, right? Chicken scares me. Well, in all fairness chicken in restaurants scare me more. If you invited me to dinner, I’d eat that. :)

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Can You Stay for Dinner January 15, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Turkey absolutely works! You crack me up, Lu! :)

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patridew January 16, 2011 at 2:39 am

Wow, this definitely looks easy, almost as easy as spending all day in my pj’s! What do you eat on Saturday?

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Can You Stay for Dinner January 16, 2011 at 7:58 am

Hi Patridew! Saturdays I eat something really fun usually- either a new, unique and experimental recipe that wouldn’t really reheat well (so it has to be eaten that day) or we go out to a restaurant!

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Cindy January 17, 2011 at 8:00 am

you are the QUEEN I say. I just spent yesterday in my two day worn jammies and hair in a mop (my hat) doing the same thing (kind of) I prepped chuck roast for stew (made two batches of cubed, floured and browned roast, bagged up and frozen for stew on the quick….your frosting for some cupcakes, salad fixings for lunch…and on and on.

it is a great feeling to start the week out with food ready to go. Now I have recipe #4 printing and ready to go (haven’t made the shrimp yet)
yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummy

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Megan (Braise The Roof) January 17, 2011 at 8:13 am

Ah, such motivation you have. I love making food ahead of time, but I never manage to set aside enough time to do it! This chicken looks fantastic- I love a good piece of stuffed meat. :)

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barb7802 January 17, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I love your food and stories. I too try to make a few meals ahead. I find I actually appreciate the food as I am less stressed. The hurriedness sometimes takes away from simple enjoyment. Love your post as always.
Barbara

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Can You Stay for Dinner January 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Thank you Barbara!

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Linda January 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Gonna be starting WW next week. Guess this would be a good idea, huh? To work with the points system, I’m going to try to “work backwards”, as in dinner first, then lunch then breakfast. Hopefully still have a point or two to fill in so I can have my cocktail!!

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Eric March 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I make a similar recipe by spreading dijon mustard on a chicken breast and then rolling it in bread crumbs. Then I just lay the ham and cheese on top and bake in the oven. I love the addition of the lemon and look forward to trying that.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Oh wow I love the addition of dijon! Thanks for the idea :)

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Emily June 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Do you freeze this and then defrost and bake it as well or is this one that does not freeze real well? (I am trying to put together a set of recipes for once a month cooking)

Thank You

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Tracy November 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Miss Andie….I made this for my bf last night and it was amazing! And I may or not have made it again tonight because it was that good! <3

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Jackie January 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm

How many calories is this meal?

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Caity Dotson April 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I see some green stuff on the inside the chx of the before baked and final photo. Did you add anything extra? Making my list for the next 2 weeks :)

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Cari Erwin May 17, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Why use provolone and not swiss? And what did you sprinkle on top of the chicken? Looks like a nice Friday night dinner to me!

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Rebecca May 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm

I think I’m going to add some spinach also. Yummy :)

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Sheila January 15, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I’m doing this recipe right now! Hope it yummy :) the chicken it’s taking more than 20 minutes. I keep checking on it and it doesn’t look well done, looks kinda raw still. Is it ok to leave it in for longer?

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admin January 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Hey Sheila,

Glad you’re making it! Yes, it should be fine to cook it longer. Cut into it one of the pieces, though, to check. You wouldn’t want to let it go too long or it will be rubbery.

Andie

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Sony March 25, 2013 at 1:03 am

Made these tonight & the hubby LOVED them!! Thanks for another great recipe!

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Mariah Walker April 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I was wondering what else you put on the chicken. It looks like more than salt and pepper? Cant wait to make this tonight!

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Andie April 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hey Mariah,

I used a sprinkle of Mrs. Dash seasoning on each side of the chicken!

Andie

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sandra May 1, 2013 at 9:51 pm

I saw this recipe while at work and said to myself, “this is what I am making for dinner tonight…I have all the ingredients!” I get home and take the chicken out of the freezer. Take the dogs out to the back yard, turn on the tv and begin to wait for the chicken to be thawed. (fast forward) I finished butterflying the chicken, wash my hands, go to the fridge to take out the ham and cheese. NO HAM!!!!!! I HAD HAM!!!!! WHERE DID IT GO?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I stand there motionless and feeling defeated but then while staring at the hamless fridge I see a red bell pepper, about 10 stalks of asparagus left from the bunch, and some mushrooms. COULD I POSSIBLY SAVE THIS DINNER?!?! I grab the veggies, slice and stuff it into the chicken with shredded mozz cheese. Bake it to the specs listed in this recipe. Plate it, take a bite, SUCESS!!!! IT WAS AMAZINGLY GOOD!!! My boyfriend ate it, minus the mushrooms..he hates mushrooms, but he ate it! I pat myself on the back as I could not believe I just pulled that off.

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