4 boneless , skinless chicken breasts (2 pounds | 1 kg)
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon mild paprika (optional)
salt and pepper to season
SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP:
4 oz | 120 g frozen spinach , thawed
8 oz | 250 g block cream cheese (light or reduced fat), at room temp
6 oz | 170 g bottled or canned artichoke hearts in brine , finely chopped*
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt to taste
OPTIONAL CREAM SAUCE:
Remaining spinach / artichoke dip
1 cup milk (skim, 2% or full fat)
For The Chicken:
Place each chicken breast on a flat surface. Season both sides of each breast with the Italian seasoning and paprika. With your hand supporting each piece, cut a slit or pocket about 3/4 quarter of the way through, being careful not to cut all the way.
For The Dip Filling:
Squeeze any and all excess liquid out of the spinach. Discard the water released. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the spinach, cream cheese, artichokes, mozzarella, parmesan and garlic mix well to combine (use your hands if necessary).
Fill chicken 'pockets' with 1-2 tablespoons of the spinach artichoke dip, spreading evenly with the back of the spoon (or use your fingertips to press it down). Reserve the leftover dip for the optional cream sauce (you should have exactly half left over), or see notes for other ideas!
Seal with two or three toothpicks near the opening to keep the dip inside while cooking.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet (or non stick pan) over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and fry until golden. Rotate and fry on the other side, covering pan with a lid, until cooked through, (about 6 to 7 minutes per side). Transfer chicken to a warm plate to make the optional cream sauce.
For The Cream Sauce:
Pour milk into the skillet / pan and bring to a simmer. Add in the remaining dip (you should have exactly half remaining), and stir until sauce is combined and thickened. Add the chicken back into the pan and serve immediately!
*Don't like artichokes? Replace them with an extra 4 oz | 120 g of frozen and thawed spinach.