This winter my husband and I decided to get out of the Michigan snow and head to Florida to take our kids to Disney World for the first time. We figured we’d never be closer than we are now even if it is a seventeen hour drive from Ann Arbor to Orlando. What we didn’t take into account was that we’d be driving through winter weather until we actually reached Florida…we found out that meant driving through three blizzards and sometimes only going five miles an hour because we couldn’t see anything but white in front of us. Needless to say it took longer than seventeen hours.
When we finally did reach warmer weather and were able to sport shorts and flip-flops we knew it had been worth it! We planned two days at the Magic Kingdom, but in-between those two days we left one open to explore Downtown Disney. I’m sure glad we did! The kids spent over an hour playing at the Lego Store and we had an awesome time at the T-Rex restaurant. We knew that the restaurant would be pricey, but being able to see all the moving dinosaurs was a special treat for our kids. And I was pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed my food! This recipe is a recreation of what I ordered there and enjoyed so much. Unfortunately I couldn’t even find it on the menu anymore because they’ve changed it since we’ve been there. That’s sad because my server said it was their favorite item on the menu and when someone else brought me my food they said, “Mmmm…my favorite.”
I know my version of this dish isn’t entirely accurate, but it’s delicious nevertheless. In the original recipe they used a creamed spinach and artichoke sauce which was slightly thinner than a typical spinach artichoke dip, but after I tried it I immediately thought, “Yup, spinach artichoke dip will work!” I love the idea of using regular spinach artichoke dip because you can enjoy it beforehand as an appetizer the day before and then use leftovers for dinner the next day. That way you enjoy it more than once and your job is easier the next night because you’ve already prepped. 🙂 I adjusted a version I found on food.com after reading reviews and looking at other variations. Use your favorite! Another change is that the one I had at the restaurant was a stuffed chicken breast. Honestly, I’m always nervous about cooking a stuffed chicken breast all the way and my little family can’t eat that much at one time anyway. It was easier for me to bake the chicken solo and then serve it on a bed of spinach artichoke dip and then top the whole thing with a lemon butter sun-dried tomato sauce. Thus the title, “Unstuffed Chicken.” The other thing that I changed is that the original was marinated chicken breast and I breaded mine. I would say that if you choose to marinate it, it should be in a lemon herb marinade. Pick your pleasure, it’s good either way. After making this the first time at home it was an instant family favorite. I hope you enjoy it too.
- Spinach Artichoke Dip
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
- 1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 2⁄3 cup sour cream
- 1 cup cream cheese
- 1⁄3 cup mayonnaise
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish (optional)
- Panko bread crumbs, Italian flavored
- 3/4 cup flour
- salt & pepper
- 2 eggs
- 3 chicken breasts, sliced thin lengthwise to yield 6
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon white wine (I use cooking wine)
- 1/2 jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
- Italian parsley for garnish (optional)
- Make the Spinach Artichoke Dip: Preheat oven to 375°F. Put artichoke hearts and garlic into a food processor and chop to your desired size. (I prefer mine small) Pour into a large oven safe bowl/casserole dish and add spinach and parmesan and Italian cheese. Combine remaining ingredients and mix with spinach mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes. (If you make this a day ahead just take out about 1 and 1/2 cups and reheat it. Add a few splashes of milk to thin it out just a tad.)
- Set up your chicken breading station. You will need three shallow, wide bowls. I actually like to use pie pans for this step. In bowl one mix together 3/4 cup flour, salt, pepper. In bowl two combine eggs & milk and use fork to mix ingredients. In bowl three add panko.
- Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so that you get six thin breasts. Dredge each breast first in the flour, then egg wash, and finally panko bread crumbs. Let them rest on a baking sheet while you get a head start on the dishes (cleaning up the breading station.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake chicken breasts 20-30 minutes depending on thickness. Meanwhile make lemon-butter sauce.
- In a small saucepan combine butter & garlic. Heat over medium until garlic is lightly browned. Add lemon juice, white wine and sun-dried tomatoes and continue cooking for an additional five minutes.
- Serve chicken on top of a couple tablespoons of spinach artichoke dip. Top chicken with lemon-butter sauce making sure everyone has enough sun-dried tomatoes. 🙂 In hindsight I should’ve topped it with Italian parsley to give it some color and extra oomph. (It’s totally a word.)