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Caprese Stuffed Chicken

21 Jun

Without question, the combination of fresh mozzarella, plump tomatoes, and fragrant basil is divine.  Caprese salad is the quintessential summer salad; summer being the peak season for each component.  It is refreshing and satisfying without weighing you down. 

What better recipe to share for the first day of summer than a chicken dish inspired by this delightful salad?   

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 4 slices of fresh mozzarella
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, diced
  • 2 Tbsp pesto
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice chicken breasts open on the side so that a nice, long pocket forms.

Cover the interior of the chicken breast with one tablespoon of pesto.  I used Buitoni.

Next, slice the mozzarella and dice the basil. 

Insert one slice of mozzarella and one tablespoon of basil into each chicken breast.  Season the exterior of the breasts with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Sear the breasts for one minute per side then cook the breasts on a greased baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and top each breast with about two tablespoons of tomato sauce.  Cook for another 15 minutes and then top the chicken with a slice or two of mozzarella.  Cook for another 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

This dish was so flavorful!  The pesto on the interior of the chicken breast added so much to the dish but the true star of the show was the mozzarella.  It was perfect melted both on top and inside the chicken.  I’ll definitely be making this dish again!

Have you ever had caprese salad?  Do you have any derivations from the traditional recipe?

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Dessert for Breakfast

25 May

I started the day off on the right foot; I had dessert for breakfast.

Looks like a brownie sundae, right?  Well, it’s probably the healthiest sundae I’ve ever eaten.  For the “brownie” part, I made a chocolate protein muffin a la Smoothie Girl Eats Too.  This recipe is seriously great.  The “brownie” always comes out moist and chocolatey!  The only change I made was to add a boatload of cinnamon.  I love that stuff.

Now, the “ice cream” part was none other than greek yogurt ice cream.  I mixed 3/4 cup of plain greek yogurt with about 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk and 10 drops of vanilla stevia.  Then, I poured the whole mixture over my “brownie”, dressed it with some fresh organic blueberries, and dug in.  This breakfast sure made for a sweet morning.

On the way into work, Alex and I passed a group of Jamba Juice employees passing out new samples of their natural energy drinks.  I ended up with the Pomegranate Blueberry flavor.  The nutrition facts aren’t too bad as the ingredients appear to be real food.  What I don’t love about the stats is the high sugar content.  Most fruit juices have a large amount of sugar.  I usually don’t drink anything besides water, herbal teas, and the occasional glass of wine for that reason.

But, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to try it.  In truth, I didn’t really like it.  The first sip wasn’t so bad but by the third or fourth sip all I could taste was the sugar.  The drink had a very strong berry flavor and left a strange aftertaste.  I highly doubt I’ll drink it again, even if it’s another free sample.

Moving right along to lunch.  Today I ordered another salad!

Shocking, I know, but seriously salads are such a great way to eat lots of veggies.  And since I’m going away for a few days, I’m not sure how many veggies I’ll be consuming in the near future.  Today’s salad included:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green peas
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Grilled chicken
  • Egg whites
  • Low fat tex mex ranch dressing

It was delicious and protein packed 🙂

When snack time rolled around, I had one thing on my mind.  Another protein muffin.

Seriously.  So good.  Have I mentioned that?!

And I also had some fruit salad…

After work I headed to the gym for another Chisel class.  Tonight’s class was taught by a great instructor.  She’s only a sub so I’m never sure when I’ll get to see her but I’m glad I made her class tonight.  She made us work!

For dinner, I knew I needed something protein packed to refuel and it also had to be quick.  So I made pasta with meat sauce.  It’s the easiest thing to make since PB&J.

First up, I chopped up half an onion and sautéed it over medium heat for about five minutes.  Then I added 1lb organic grass-fed beef and cooked it until the beef browned.  After draining the fat, I added about 1 to 2 cups of tomato sauce and cooked it on low until it was heated all the way through.  Meanwhile I prepared some whole wheat pasta and steamed broccoli.  It was ready in less than 20 minutes and it was darn tasty!

Now I’m snacking on a small bowl of Kashi GoLean, almond milk, and blueberries.  I’m heading to bed very soon since we’ve got an extra early wake up call tomorrow!  See you from North Carolina!

Have you ever had dessert for breakfast?

Will you hold me accountable?

23 May

Hello there!  Welcome to another week.  This week is going to fly by for me because I only have to work three days.  Love that.  This Thursday, Alex and I are flying down to North Carolina to visit some of my family.  Then on Saturday, we’re hitting the road to Hilton Head, South Carolina to see some of his family.  It’ll be a whirlwind trip as we’re due back in NYC by Monday evening.  Phew!  I’m looking forward to it and hope to blog a little bit about it on the way 🙂  Do you have any plans for Memorial Day weekend?

Because I’m going to be in and out all week, I thought I’d discuss my daily eats.  I also want to start using the blog as a way to hold myself accountable.  I know I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’d like to lose a little weight before my wedding.  (What bride doesn’t, after all?)  Unfortunately, I’ve found that since I got engaged my weight has been going in the wrong direction.  Now I know that the number on the scale isn’t the best measurement of overall physique.  After all, muscle weighs more than fat.  But I’ve noticed that my clothes are a little tighter and my energy levels are lower.  So, I’m going to work hard to change things up and I hope this will help me stick to it!

My latest challenge has been to cut back on the amount of nutbutter I consume.  I know that nuts are a great source of healthy fats but I think I’ve been over doing it lately.  Changing up the proportions of each micronutrient will help me a lot.  My plan right now is to aim for 30-40% protein, 50-60% carbs, and about 10% fat.  I do not have any support for those numbers besides what’s worked well for my body in the past.  (Please remember that I’m not a nutritionist and am not recommending you do the same.  Be aware of your own body and do what’s best for you.  But please read along as I try to figure what’s best for me!)

Let’s start the day, shall we?

Breakfast

For breakfast I made one of my latest (and greatest) creations.  Greek yogurt ice cream!  I know you’re probably thinking I’m crazy for eating “ice cream” for breakfast, but allow me to explain.  What you’ll need is 3/4 cup greek yogurt (I use Fage Total 0%), 2 to 3 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk, and 10 drops of stevia vanilla.  Mix until all three are well incorporated.  Now taste and tell me that doesn’t taste like ice cream!  On top, I dumped 1/2 cup Kashi GoLean, 1/2 cup Fiber One, and 1/4 organic blueberries.  Yum!

Lunch

Today’s lunch is brought to you by Tossed.  Tossed is a great salad and sandwich place located in midtown.  They have a wide variety of ingredients and a nutritional calculator so you have an idea of your micronutrients.  Very nice.  Today’s salad included:

  • Roasted Chicken
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Apples
  • Bean & Corn Salsa
  • Egg Whites
  • Fat Free Raspberry Vinaigrette

I also munched on a fuji apple that went unpictured.  But I’m guessing you know what an apple looks like 🙂

Snack


Today’s snack was a treat!  I had a chocolate chip protein muffin.  It was just as scrumptious today as the day they were baked.

I also nibbled on a couple handfuls of Kashi GoLean because my stomach was still grumbling.

After completing a full workday, I still had energy to work it out at the gym.  Tonight’s class was Chisel.  I may have mentioned this before, but just in case I didn’t, this class uses weights and calisthenics to sculpt and shape muscles.  Woo hoo!  It was a tough workout and just what I needed.

Dinner


Now dinner is not as in line with my new goals as I would have hoped but I had to clean out the refrigerator since we’ll be gone for a few days.  Besides, a little cheese, bread, and wine never hurt, right?  I think “a little” are the key words there.  Alex and I shared the above plate and had a glass of red wine each.  It’s such a nice indulgence that we both really enjoy 🙂

That’s about all for today.  I might try to find something in the way of fruit for dessert.  Hopefully I’ll find something good!

How do you hold yourself accountable when it comes to healthy eating?  I can use all the help I can get!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

11 May

Yesterday I posted about a quick weeknight meal for those days when you have little time to cook.  This is another great recipe for nights when you’re short on time but it does require some planning. 

Every few weeks I like to make some double batch of pizza dough on the weekend.  It’s really quite simple although it does require a couple of hours of rise time.  Next time I make a batch, I’ll post a step-by-step tutorial so you can see what it’s all about.  

If making pizza dough from scratch isn’t really your thing, there are a lot of great pre-made doughs available.  Most of them freeze really well so all you have to do is remember to defrost it and you’ll be ready to make homemade pizza in a snap!

BBQ Chicken Pizza
(makes one pizza with about 8 slices)

Ingredients:

  • One batch prepared pizza dough
  • 2 to 3 boiled chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees (or follow package directions).
  2. Roll out pizza dough and place on a greased pizza baking sheet.
  3. Cover dough with BBQ sauce and place shredded chicken on top of the sauce.  Gently mix to combine.  I used about 1/4 cup and there was plenty of sauce but feel free to adjust the amount to your liking.
  4. Sprinkle cheeses on top to cover all sauce.
  5. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Allow the pizza to cool for a few minutes before digging in!

This pizza would be even better with some carmelized onions or gorgonzola cheese.  It’s such an easy recipe to customize!

Do you make pizza dough from scratch or do you buy it pre-made?  If you buy it from the store, which brand do you prefer?

Weeknight Dinner in 20 Minutes

10 May

The need for convenience is something that most people can agree on.  These days, everyone has such a busy schedule that anything that can make life easier is welcomed.  However, when it comes to food, convenience usually means unhealthy fare such as fast food or overly processed frozen dinners.  But it doesn’t have to.  There are ways to prepare a quick, nutritious meal in 20 minutes!

One of my favorite speedy meals involves chicken sausage.  It has such great flavor, it’s filling, and it cooks up in a matter of minutes.  The trick is to be careful of what sausage you buy.  Some brands contain artificial ingredients and preservatives which are not necessary and provide no nutritional benefit.  My brand of choice is Applegate Organics.

They don’t use antibiotics on their chicken and all the ingredients are organic.  Check out these stats!

My favorite way to cook the sausages is on my handy, dandy George Foreman grill.  The grill heats up the sausage evenly and retains the moisture so that your finished product is warm, succulent, and tasty.

And you get those neat little grill lines!  (If you don’t have a grill, you can easily cook them up on a skillet.)

Next up is some whole grains.

Pasta from a box is nothing new and it is so easy to prepare!  Annie’s is all organic with a pretty decent list of ingredients.

Here are the stats:

Now, the easiest part of this meal is steaming some broccoli on the side.  Do you have 5 minutes?  Because that’s all it takes. 

Let me give you a play by play of how to complete this meal in 20 minutes.

  • Pre-heat grill & boil water (for the noodles) – 5 minutes
  • While the noodles are cooking, put the sausage on the grill & chop broccoli – 10 minutes
  • In a smaller pot, bring about 2 tablespoons of water to a boil.  Throw in your broccoli, cover the pot and steam – 5 minutes
  • Done!

So next time you need to eat in a hurry, consider the fact that there are healthy options out there!

What’s your favorite dinner to prepare when you’re short on time?

Creamy Chicken & Broccoli Pasta

15 Mar

Typically, when our schedules coincide, Alex and I walk to and from work together.  It’s a nice chance for us to talk and we get some exercise in!  Last night was the first time in a loooooong time that we were able to walk home while it was still light out.  I’m very happy with this day lights saving business 🙂

Last night’s dinner was an impromptu recipe because I really had no idea what to make.  I knew I had some chicken in the fridge and I always keep pasta on hand, so after some thought, I came up with this dish.  The flavors of this dish really worked!  I keep surprising myself with my cooking abilities, haha.  But honestly, this is such a simple quick meal, even the most novice of cooks could make it.

Creamy Chicken & Broccoli Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1lb chicken tenders, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 4oz pasta, uncooked (I used Barilla Plus Elbows.)
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6oz container of greek yogurt (I used Fage.)
  • 1/4 cup spinach and artichoke hummus (I used Sabra –> just bought this over the weekend and it’s halfway gone; love it!)
  • 1/4 cup Italian blend shredded cheese (The blend I used had mozzarella, provolone, asiago, parmesan, and romano)
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Chop onions, mince garlic, and cut chicken into bite sized pieces.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic to the skillet.  Cook for about five minutes before adding the chicken.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat water to boiling and throw your pasta in.  After the pasta has cooked for 6 minutes, throw in two cups of broccoli.  Cook for another four minutes.
  4. While both the pasta and chicken are cooking, prepare your sauce.  In a small bowl, combine greek yogurt, hummus, cheese, and spices.  (PS… using hummus as pasta sauce is not my original idea!  I’ve seen it various places over the blogosphere.  It’s such a genius idea because it makes the sauce extra creamy!)
  5. Once the chicken is cooked, add the sauce to your skillet and heat over low until the pasta is done.
  6. Once the pasta and broccoli have cooked for 10 minutes, in total, drain both.  Add sauce to the pasta and you’re ready to serve!

What have you done to “celebrate” day lights saving time?  Have you ever used hummus as pasta sauce?

Chicken Parmesan

10 Mar

I did mention we eat a lot of chicken, didn’t I?  Well even if you missed it before, it’s hard to miss now.  I’ve posted three recipes this week, each involving chicken.  What can I say?  We like our chicken.

source

One of Alex’s favorite meals (as in, it’s the only thing he orders when we go to an Italian restaurant) is Chicken Parmesan.  I can understand where he’s coming from.  I mean, what’s not to like about juicy, breaded chicken cooked with hearty tomato sauce and melty cheese?  Mmmmm.

Lucky for him, I found a recipe that couldn’t be easier.  And it’s healthy to boot.  I served the chicken with whole grain pasta and roasted brussels sprouts for a balanced, vitamin rich meal.  So it’s healthy and it tastes good?  Sign me up!

Chicken Parmesan
(recipe adapted from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb chicken breast or tenders
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pat chicken tenders dry and dredge them through the flour, egg, then bread crumbs.
  3. Place chicken on a lightly greased baking sheet and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  4. In an 8×8 baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish.
  5. Lay chicken on top of the sauce and cover the chicken with the remaining sauce and cover with cheese.
  6. Cover the baking dish with foil and cook for another 20 minutes.
  7. Serve with pasta and veggies for a balanced meal 🙂

What’s your favorite Italian dish?
I love anything with pesto and warm, soft bread with olive oil!