Baked Chicken with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

Greetings!  About two weeks ago I mention that Mike and I were preparing to cook for our Church's event, "Birthday Party for Jesus".  Well, the creamy mac 'n cheese was a big hit with the kids, and even the volunteers who got to partake in the leftovers.  Our adult guests that day were served baked chicken with mozzarella and tomatoes, along with a side of seasonal vegetables, and pasta, along with a gluten free option of rice pilaf.  

Mike and I did a test run of this dinner at home (pictured above) and it turned out fabulous!  This chicken recipe works well for serving two, as well as the 50 women we served at the Birthday for Jesus.   The chicken was brined in salt water, which kept the chicken super moist in the high heat oven.  When cooking the small batch at home I used Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes which added a nice smoky-sweet flavor.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find the bulk sized cans of Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes, so we substituted with crushed tomatoes for the 50 guests.  

Using mozzarella balls in brine water, versus dried shredded cheese, created a creamy almost sauce like consistency atop the chicken.  We then topped it off with a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar and sprinkling of fresh julienned basil and parsley.  MMM, I'm craving this even as I'm writing.  

Well, if you are in need of a 30-minute meal as Christmas approaches, this is the perfect solution.  It's low in fat and high in protein which will help you get through long nights of wrapping gifts.  Here's to good food and gladness!

CLICK HERE for a printer friendly recipe.  Recipe serves 4. 

Ingredients for Baked Chicken with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless
  • 2.5 tsp Italian seasoning (equal parts of each of the following dried herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 egg + 1 Tbsp water= egg wash
  • 12 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes (in the Summer, use 1 cup fresh tomatoes)
  • 8 cherry-sized mozzarella balls
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, julienned
  • 1 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Directions for Baked Chicken with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

  1. Place chicken in gallon sized zip top bag.  Add 1/2 gallon of water mixed with 1/4 cup of Kosher salt.  Allow to brine in the refrigerator at least 1 hour or overnight.  Rinse chicken prior to cooking.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. 
  3. Spray a large glass or ceramic casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.
  4. In a shallow bowl, combine the Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  
  5. Dredge brined chicken into the egg wash, then coat with the seasonings.  Place chicken into the prepared casserole dish.
  6. Bake chicken for 20-25 minutes, depending on thickness of meat.  Internal meat temperature = 165 degrees F.  
  7. Remove chicken from the oven.  Add the tomatoes and mozzarella to the chicken in the casserole dish.  Increase oven heat to broil.  Bake for 3 to 5 minutes until cheese begins to melt.  
  8. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with fresh herbs.