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It was a Berry Bash

by Meghann on June 16, 2012

It’s berry season!!

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Who doesn’t love berry season? I seriously wait all winter for them!

The team at Whole Foods feels the same way, which is why they’re celebrating all things berries this June with in-store promotions, berry-centric recipes, and special berry deals.

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They’re particularly obsessed with thinking outside the “berry box” and asked if I would create a fun berry themed recipe that showcased some of the beautiful organic berries currently on sale at Whole Foods until the 19th. You want creativity in the kitchen with fun flavor combinations – I’m your girl! Sign me up!

They gave me some parameters (no refined sugar!), a Whole Foods gift card, and set me loose with the mission of planning a “berry bash” for a few friends. (side note: it’s surprisingly easy to round people up when you use the keywords “free” “food” and “berries” ;))

I happened to luck out yesterday when I discovered Whole Foods was running a crazy one-day sale on organic blueberries: a pint for $1.99. Awesome deal!

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The bounty.

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Berry bash time!

I invited my XP Multisport teammates for the bash. Considering we really only ever see each other in training gear, it was fun to come together for a night in “real” clothes and, you know, actually smell nice.

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Maddie was in lap dog heaven. She made a lot of new friends while jumping from lap to lap, collecting table scraps along the way. She’s lucky she’s cute.

To complete the berry theme, Jess brought homemade berry and lemon sangria. Yum. :)

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We started with Strawberry and Goat Cheese Bruschetta, which was a recipe I found on the Whole Foods website. The mix of basil, strawberries, and goat cheese was refreshing and delicious – perfect as a starter for any summertime meal.

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It was also easy to make. I prepped the strawberry and goat cheese topping earlier in the day, then quickly assembled all the pieces when guests started arriving.

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Once we all had a chance to nibble on the bruschetta, enjoy some sangria, and exchange stories from the week, it was time for the main course and my “fun” berry recipe.

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Originally I had my mind wrapped around creating grilled cheeses with berries for the evening, but as soon as the idea crossed my mind, I started seeing the combo pop up everywhere. Apparently it wasn’t as outside of the “berry box” as I originally thought.

That’s when I decided to take it one step further. Keeping the same flavor combo, only – instead of grilling the cheese and berries between two slices of bread – how about baking them in a stuffed chicken breast?

Thus the Asiago and Berry Stuffed Chicken Breast recipe was born!

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And it was good too!

Here’s what you need (this fed 6 people w/ leftovers)

  • 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/3 lb asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoon fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375

Start with the berry sauce. Add all of the berries to a small saucepan over medium heat.

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Add the lemon juice, olive oil, cornstarch, and fresh herbs to the berries.

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Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes; or until the berries cook down and resemble a chunky, thick sauce.

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Set the berries aside to cool down and thicken up.

While the berries are cooling, butterfly the chicken breast, and pound them to a 1/4 inch thickness.

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The last piece of the puzzle is the cheese. I used the slicer part of the grater, but you can slice or grate the cheese however you’d like.

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Assembling is the fun part. Start with the butterflied chicken breast, add some cheese, top with berry mix, then roll into a pinwheel.

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Ideally you would tie the chicken up twine, but I had none. Toothpicks work too.

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Season with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 for 50 minutes.

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Done.

Check that berry and cheese action out!

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I sliced the Asiago and Berry-Stuffed Chicken Breast before serving. It was a hit. The berry filling wasn’t terribly overpowering, it just added a nice pop of sweet flavor, which the salty mild asiago balanced out beautifully.

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:)

With the berry-stuffed chicken, I made a berry-themed salad with fresh red leaf lettuce, organic local arugula, thinly sliced shallots, walnuts, organic blackberries and goat cheese.

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The homemade strawberry-balsamic dressing (Whole Foods recipe) was served on the side.

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Our meal was complete with whole wheat cous cous and pan fried brussels sprouts.

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Dinner time!!!

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My plate with a bit of everything.

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Hands down favorite was the asiago and berry stuffed chicken breast. Yes, there are leftovers and, yes, I WILL be eating them soon (if Derek doesn’t get to them before I do! ).

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For dessert, we had pie and ice cream.

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I very loosely followed the Whole Foods Summer Berry Pie recipe.

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With a few modifications. ;)

  • store bought crust instead of the suggested homemade
  • I played with the berry proportions and added strawberries to the mix (1 pint blueberries, 6 oz raspberries, 6 oz blackberries, 1 lb strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup of honey instead of 1/2 cup of sugar

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I was trying to keep it easy when I purchased the pre-made pie crust that was already pressed in the disposable pie tin. Then I got to the part of the recipe that described “rolling out the remaining dough and gently draping it over the filling.” Crap.

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No worries. The pre-made pie crust I purchased actually came in a two-pack. Surely popping the second pie crust out of the tin and placing it on top would work just as well, right?

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You can’t say I’m not resourceful. ;)

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It might not have been the world’s most beautiful or perfect pie, but it got the job done. Plus, we all had a good laugh over it before diving in.

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Pretty or not, i was darn proud of my berry pie!

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Side note: this is why when people asks us what we really “need” from our wedding registry, we are going to say dinnerware.

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Luckily no one minded eating off of mismatched plates or bowls. :)

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Berry pie a la mode. Ain’t nothin’ better. :)

Thank you Whole Foods for sponsoring our “Berry Bash” and thank you Chuck, Felipe, Carolyn, Courtney, and Jess for being amazing friends who love berries as much as I do!

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Maddie was too full from lap hopping to look a the camera.

What’s your favorite berry recipe? Sweet? Savory?

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