Monday, November 10, 2008

Bacon and Cheese Chicken Bake

Bacon. I love bacon. Unfortunately, my hips do not. I have hips wide enough to cut someone in half if they walk too close to me. But I have four cute kids now, so the hips are here to stay. This means being moderate in my consumption of one of my favorite eats...bacon. I just love it. I have it in sandwiches, salads, wrapped around my Apricot Pork Tenderloin, in a breakfast sandwich. I could go on and on.

But let's get to it. This is an easy dinner to make and it should appeal to everyone in your family. It's essentially chicken baked with a honey mustard sauce, and topped with bacon and cheese. YUM!!! If your kids shriek at the sight of mushrooms, you can leave them out. I kept them in because I keep hoping my kids will like them some day.

Bacon and Cheese Chicken Bake

1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used five)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of paprika
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 strips of bacon, partially cooked
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced

Combine the mustard, honey, 1 tablespoon of oil, and the lemon juice in small bowl. Measure out 1/2 of the marinade into a large, resealable bag. Add the chicken and squish it around to coat it evenly. Let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Reserve the rest of the marinade in the fridge for later.

When you're ready, drain the chicken and discard the marinade. You could save it and use it as part of the sauce, but you MUST cook it at a rolling boil for 5 minutes to kill any bacteria. Season both sides of the chicken with the salt, pepper, and paprika.
In a large skillet heated over medium heat, brown the chicken on both sides (about 4-5 minutes per side) in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Arrange in a greased 9x13 baking pan. At this point, I like to sprinkle the chicken with a little more paprika.

The easiest, quickest way to partially cook bacon is to nuke it in the microwave for a few minutes. I just lay the bacon out on a paper towel covered plate, cover it with another paper towel, and cook it on "high" for about 3 minutes (for 5-6 bacon strips).

In the same skillet, saute the mushrooms with the 2 tablespoons of butter until tender.
Spread the reserved marinade over the chicken, top with the mushrooms, and then the cheeses.

Arrange the bacon in a "cross" over the chicken.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is done. If you have a meat thermometer now (good for you!), it should read 170. Honestly, I just poke the chicken, if it feels firm, and not squishy, it's done.

Garnish with the parsley and green onions, or if your kids complain, just sprinkle it on your plate and the hubby's so he'll be impressed :-).

If you love bacon, be sure to make this for your crew. God Bless your table tonight!

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