The Easiest Lemon Chicken Cordon Bleu

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!

Comments

  1. Dominique says

    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!

    • says

      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!

    • says

      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?

  2. says

    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?

  3. sally says

    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?

    • says

      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!

  4. says

    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. :)

  5. says

    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

  6. says

    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

  7. Linda says

    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!!

  8. Eric says

    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.

  9. Emily says

    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

  10. Caity Dotson says

    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 :)

  11. Cari Erwin says

    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!

  12. Sheila says

    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?

    • admin says

      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

  13. Mariah Walker says

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

  14. sandra says

    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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