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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grilled Lemon, Garlic, and Herb Chicken Breast

This persistent cold weather is causing me to have dreamy thoughts of the upcoming spring season.  Flowers blooming, sunshine, and of course...grilled foods!  When I first began my weight loss journey last April it was easy for me to obtain healthy grilled meats.  As the seasons changed I had to find a way to bring the grill inside, so I invested in a grill pan.  It won't give you that "charcoal" taste that some of us love but it does the trick!  

This marinade won't overpower your chicken and is sure to please the pickiest eater.  To ensure maximum flavor, be sure to marinate your fillets for at least 4 hours and up to 12.  Not only can this be used on breasts, but it's also great on wings, pork chops, and fish.  (Don't marinate fish for more than 1 hour though or the meat will become soggy).  I only used 1 chicken breast for this recipe, since I'm only cooking for myself, but the marinade can easily be doubled or tripled!  Serve along side grilled asparagus or a crisp green salad for a quick and satisfying weeknight meal!


1 chicken breast,trimmed of all fat
Wax Paper
2.5 tbsp EVOO
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp lemon zest - about 1 large lemon
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
Vegetable or Canola Oil for the grill pan


Split your chicken breast in half, lengthwise.  Place the breasts between the two sheets of wax paper and using a meat mallet, pound until approximately 1/2 inch thick.  Zest your lemon, being sure not to zest the white part because it is bitter.  

In a large ziplock bag combine the lemon zest, EVOO, and all spices.  Use a whisk or spoon to stir the mixture until well combined.  Add the fillets to the bag and massage the marinade into the breast, covering them thoroughly.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  When ready to eat, heat your grill pan over high heat.  Coat a paper towel in vegetable or canola oil and using tongs, wipe the paper towel over the grill grates, coating thoroughly.  

Once the pan begins to smoke place the chicken breasts on the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Keep the heat high to get a nice grill line on the breasts but watch them closely; the fillets will cook quickly because you pounded them thin.  

Flip and cook an additional 3 minutes, being sure not to over cook.  There's nothing worse than dry chicken breast!  Serve with lemon wedges on the side.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chicken Salad

I hate hate HATE to throw away leftovers!  If there is a way for me to make another meal out of some leftovers earlier in the week I will find a way!  That being said, I found myself staring at almost a half chicken leftover from my crock pot chicken recipe.  what to do with all this moist, flavorful chicken?  Feed it to my Pomeranian Capone?  Throw it out?  NO!  I'll make a great chicken salad that I can serve on a roll or on top of crisp spinach or field greens.  This recipe is pretty basic and you can make alterations easily to fit your palate.  I used plain Greek yogurt in addition to light mayo to keep the salad creamy, but without all the calories.  You can also use sour cream if you like, but please don't use Miracle's the devil!  And if you don't have a rotisserie chicken on hand you can easily boil a few chicken breasts in chicken stock until done, and shred.


1/2 - 4 pound rotisserie chicken OR 3 - 8oz boneless/skinless breasts
1/2 cup light mayo
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or low fat sour cream)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp dill - chopped
2 celery stalks
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)


If using boneless/skinless breasts, boil the breasts in chicken stock and water for 15-18 minutes or until cooked through and no longer pink.  Coarsely chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.  If using a rotisserie chicken be sure to remove all bones.  Place the chicken into a large bowl and set aside.

Finely chop the dill and celery stalk, including the leaves.  This is a personal preference, if you don't want the leaves feel free to leave them out. 

In a bowl combine the mayo, yogurt or sour cream, celery, dill, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne (optional). Still until well incorporated.  Now here's the important part...TASTE!  Add more dill, spices, or whatever you think it may need.  You want to add your spices now before you incorporate the dressing into the chicken.   

Using a wooden spoon or soft spatula fold the dressing mixture into the chicken, stirring until well combined.  If you prefer a "wetter" chicken salad now is the time to add more mayo and yogurt or sour cream.  Just be sure to add equal parts, meaning if you add 2 tbsp of mayo, also add 2 tbsp yogurt. 

Cool the salad in an airtight dish for at least 3 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

We are in the midst of the Lenten season and each Friday I've found it increasingly harder to find creative ways to prepare a seafood meal.  I don't want to get bored with eating the same fish or shellfish meal every Friday so I decided to scour the net and see what I could find.  I stumbled upon a recipe for tomato basil cream sauce and thought that would be great over a tilapia filet, and I had all the ingredients on hand to create it!  This light but filling meal came together in under 30 minutes and is perfect for any weeknight.  When preparing this meal, don't skip the 3 step process for breading the tilapia or your coating will not stick!


3 tilapia fillets
3 tbsp EVOO
2 tsp garlic, minced
18-20 cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup cream
10-12 basil leaves
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste


Heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO in a small skillet over medium-low heat.  While the oil is heating, slice your tomatoes in half.

Add the garlic to the skillet and cook for approximately 1 minute or until fragrant and golden brown.   Add the tomatoes and continue cooking for 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and stir in the cream.  Let simmer for 15 minutes or until its coats the back of a spoon.  (Your sauce will turn a light pink)

Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat, or one big enough to fit all of your fillets.  Rinse the fillets and pat them dry.  Season both sides with salt and pepper. 

 In one bowl add your flour, in a second bowl add your beaten egg, and in a third bowl combine the Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, and garlic salt.  (Once you've combined the ingredients in the third bowl, transfer the mixture onto a plate; it makes it easier to coat the fillets)

Dredge each filet through the flour, thoroughly coating.  Next dip it into the egg mixture, then press into the Parmesan/panko mixture. 

Place the fillets in the skillet and cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and flaking easily with a fork. 

After removing the fish, chiffondale the basil and stir it into the sauce.  (To chiffondale, just roll up the basil like a log and chop) 

 Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Plate your tilapia and generously pour the cream sauce over the fillets.

I served this sauteed asparagus and a crisp white wine.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Crock Pot Whole Chicken with Root Vegetables

There is nothing better than a one pot meal.  It makes clean up super easy allows you to "set-and-forget" your meal while it cooks. Although preparing an entire chicken can be intimidating, its quite simple with a crock pot.  Even though we haven't gotten all the snow they predicted, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of food on hand!  

Preparing an entire chicken in the crock pot is one of the easiest things to do.  You can toss in any root vegetables that you have on hand, season your chicken, and come home to the aromatic smell of moist, flavorful chicken in just 8 hours!  Note:  You will need a large (at least 5 quart) Crock Pot in order to fit the chicken and vegetables.   I served this with a side of rice and gravy, made from the juices drained from the chicken, and cabbage.


1 whole chicken 4-4.5 pounds - giblets and innards removed
1.5 cups of baby carrots
3 large baking potatoes
1 large onion, thickly sliced
2 tbsp butter, softened
2.5 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground thyme
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Optional Gravy

Approximately 1/2 cup low fat chicken broth
1/4 cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste


Roughly chop the potatoes into large cubes and slice the onion into thick strips.  Scatter potatoes, carrots, and onions in the bottom of the crock pot, leaving a few pieces of each vegetable to the side.

Rinse and pat the chicken with paper towels until dry.  Rub the softened butter liberally over the entire chicken, coating both sides, wings, legs, and empty cavity thoroughly.  

In a small bowl add all the dry seasoning and mix until well combined.  Using your hands rub the minced garlic in the cavity of the chicken, then stuff with the leftover carrots, onion, and potatoes.  

Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the entire chicken, breast and backside, coating well.  You can pat the seasoning into the meat to help it stick.  Place the chicken on the bed of vegetables in the crock pot, breast side down.  There is no need to add any water or chicken broth because the chicken will create its own juice.  

Cover the chicken and cook over low heat for 7-8 hours on low, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the inner thigh reads 165 degrees.  


Tilt the crock pot to drain all the juices from the pot.  Strain the juices into a large bowl and add the chicken broth until the mixture equals 2 cups. (You should only need approximately 1/2 cup of broth)

Pour 1 cup of the mixture into a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Whisk in 1/4 cup of flour, cooking for about 1 minute.  

Slowly pour in the rest of the broth mixture, continuing to whisk to ensure no lumps develop.  Bring the gravy to a slow boil, cooking and stirring for 2 minutes or until the gravy has thickened.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Parmesan Chicken Tenders with Marinara Dipping Sauce

By request, I've decided to add this meal to the blog.  This was something I threw together quickly last night with the ingredients I already had on hand.  The chicken is breaded twice to give it a crunchy texture while still keeping the meat moist.  It is imperative to use regular olive oil, not EVOO, in this recipe as it has a higher smoke point.  Or you can opt to bake these tenders; they will still come out crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. 

The marinara is quick and easy to throw together and can be jarred and stored in the fridge for up to two weeks!  This is the same marinara I used in my Lasagna Rolls recipe a few months ago.  Enjoy!


2 Chicken breasts - cut into tenders
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 cup regular olive oil


For Marinara Sauce

2 - 28oz cans Tutturoso crushed tomatoes (or your favorite brand)
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fat free chicken stock
fresh basil - chiffondaled
salt and pepper to taste


In a large saucepan, heat the EVOO over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft.  Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, and pepper and simmer uncovered on low for 45 minutes. 

In the last 10 minutes of cooking add the chiffondaled basil and taste.  (To chiffondale basil, lay the leaves on top of each other and roll, creating a log shape.  Thinly slice into strips) Adjust seasonings if needed.  This can be jarred and stored in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Combine flour, garlic salt and onion powder in a bowl and mix well.  In another bowl gently whisk your eggs.  In a third bowl combine the Parmesan cheese, Italian bread crumbs, and panko bread crumbs.   Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the regular olive oil. 

Dredge each tender through the flour, shaking off any excess coating.  Dip it in the egg, allowing excess to drip off, then toss in the breadcrumb mixture pressing the coating into the tender so that it sticks, and set aside.  Add the tenders to the skillet (they should not be completely covered in the oil) and cook untouched for 5-6 minutes.  Flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the coating is golden brown.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for 3-4 minutes before serving.  

Alternative Method:

If you choose, you can also bake these chicken tenders.  Follow the instructions above for breading the chicken.  Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Liberally spray a non-stick baking pan with cooking spray. Place the tenders on the pan at least one inch apart.  Lightly spray the top of each tender with cooking spray.  Bake for 15 minutes and flip, cooking an additional 10 minutes, or until tenders are golden brown. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Garlic Lemon Pepper Chicken with Pan Gravy

Lemon and garlic are two of my favorite things!  When combined they create a truly refreshing taste.  This dish has a heavy garlic base so if you aren't a huge garlic fan like me, feel free to modify as necessary. Note that this recipe calls for regular olive oil, not virgin or EVOO.  Regular olive oil has a higher smoke point and is better fitting for this method of cooking.  You'll end up with moist and juicy chicken tenders on the inside, with a crunchy garlic coating on the outside! I'm also going to start making smaller portions of my meals.  I'm only cooking for one and end up with too many leftovers for just lil' ole me.  :-)

2 - 8oz chicken breast - trimmed of all fat
2 cups all purpose flour
Approximately 3/4 cup regular olive oil
1 large lemon
3.5 tbsp minced garlic
ground black pepper
ground white pepper
garlic salt
onion powder
dried parsley

Optional Pan Gravy
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tbsp dried thyme leaves
3/4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp water

Slice each chicken breast width-wise, creating 3-4 tenders per breast.  

Pour flour into a large bowl and dredge each tender through the flour, coating thoroughly.  Place the tenders on a plate and allow them to sit for 1-2 minutes.  

Zest the lemon, slice in half, and set aside.

In a large non-stick pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat for   1- 2 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes to infuse the garlic into the oil.  

When the oil begins to bubble add all of the chicken tenders to the pan.  

Sprinkle tenders lightly with the white and black pepper, garlic salt, onion powder and parsley.  Cook uncovered 3-4 minutes and then flip.  

Sprinkle the tenders lightly with the white and black pepper, garlic salt, onion powder and parsley.  Cook for 3-4 more minutes and flip.  You should begin to see a nice golden brown crust forming on the tenders.  

Flip the chicken again and sprinkle lightly with the white and black pepper, garlic salt, onion powder and parsley.  Sprinkle the tenders with the fresh lemon zest, then squeeze one lemon half over the tenders.  Cook 3-4 minutes and flip.  Sprinkle lightly with dried parsley and squeeze the other half of lemon over the tenders.  

Cook 7-8 more minutes.  At this point your chicken should be cooked through.  Remove to a plate and store in a warm place.
Optional Pan Gravy

Discard the leftover oil from the pan and any loose garlic - DO NOT SCRAPE THE PAN!

Add the butter and cook over medium heat until melted and bubbling.  

Scrape the pan, incorporating the chicken and garlic bits into the butter.  Stir in the parsley and thyme and saute' for 1 minute.  Add the chicken broth and cook stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes.  

Turn heat the low.  In a small bowl combine the corn starch and water and whisk until well combined.  Pour the mixture into the pan and stir  until incorporated; the sauce will begin to thicken.  Place the chicken tenders into the sauce and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally to coat the tenders in the gravy.

Serve immediately over jasmine rice or buttered egg noodles.