2 pounds (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
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 (SEE NOTES)
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 half and half or heavy cream
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 and discard the water. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the spinach, cream cheese, artichokes, mozzarella, parmesan and garlic; mix well to combine.
Stuff chicken with 1-2 tablespoons of the spinach artichoke dip, spreading evenly with the back of the spoon. Reserve the leftover dip for later.*
Seal chicken breasts 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. Sear chicken until golden. Flip and sear 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 cream sauce.
For The Cream Sauce:
Combine half and half or heavy cream with the remaining dip (you should have exactly half remaining). Stir until sauce is combined and thickened. Add the chicken back into the pan and serve immediately!