It is hard to find someone who isn’t a fan of chicken parmesan. The crunchy breaded chicken, lovely tomato sauce and cheesy goodness is enough to make anyone’s mouth water.
What would you say if I told you, I found a way to have this classic dish but with half the effort and calories but with all the flavor and goodness?
And it is so easy and delicious!
Now if you want to use jarred sauce, go right ahead, they did in the recipe I adapted this from. Just make sure it is a good brand without lots of sugar and that you use at least 28 ounces. I prefer using crushed tomatoes (from my garden if possible), fresh basil and garlic and some salt, and pepper.
Now for the easy part. Just place the chicken in the slow cooker, dump the tomatoes or sauce over the top and add the herbs. Cook it on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
Once the chicken is done, shred it right in the slow cooker then add in your pasta (I used rotini) cover. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the pasta is al dente. Just make sure all the pasta is covering in the tomatoes and juices before you cover and walk away.
Top with mozzarella cheese, cover and cook 10 more minutes or until the cheese is melted. Now for the best part! The crunchies!
Toast whole wheat panko breadcrumbs in a skillet! Right before serving, sprinkle some of that crunchy goodness on each serving!
There you go! Totally easy and totally delicious without all the frying!
Last week, the husband dragged us tent camping in the Adirondack Mountains. The area is absolutely beautiful, I will 100% agree with that. Breaking from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and breaking away from electronics was very calming and relaxing.
(views from our tent)
(Top of Panther Mountain)
While I won’t get into the reasons I do not enjoy tent camping at all (give me a camper and I’m good to go) I love to see the pure joy on my boys and husbands face. They loved every minute of it and I in turn, loved watching them. I’m not going to lie when I say I was very excited to get back and take a real shower, wash the bug spray and campfire smells away and cook on a cooktop that doesn’t burn the top layer of skin off.
Introducing: Grilled Chicken Pesto Zoodles!
As I have stated before, zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables and come summer time, we eat A LOT of it. It’s very easy to care for (if you can keep the squash bugs away) and grows like a weed. Luckily, there is so much you can do with it. So yes, here is yet another zucchini recipe.
Many of the ingredients in this recipe come straight from my garden. The basil for the pesto, the tomatoes and the zucchini, I picked from the garden that morning. Yeah for having dinner right at your finger tips!
I used my homemade Pesto for this recipe. The zucchini I used were a bit too big for my hand spiralizer so I used my mandolin and julienned the zucchini. Normally I would spiralize them. Tastes the same whichever method you choose.
Does anyone else type things into Google as a spellchecker? Hopefully I’m not the only one who does this.
As I was typing “Cacciatore” into Google to make sure it was spelled correctly, it’s meaning popped up. “Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, often bell peppers, and sometimes wine. Cacciatore is popularly made with braised chicken or rabbit.” I don’t eat rabbit but it’s yummy with chicken!
Awesome, makes complete sense. Typically, when I make cacciatore, I bread and fry or bake the chicken. With busy sports schedules and lessons after school, time to do all that is limited. I figured there had to be a way to make it in the slow cooker and still have it be the comforting dish I am used to. My biggest concern being that when you cook peppers and onions in the slow cooker, all their liquid releases and its makes whatever you are cooking more liquidly. We like our cacciatore thick so liquidly won’t fly.
To get around this, I sauteed the peppers and onions before I added them to the slow cooker. I also browned the chicken for a few minutes.
It turned out perfectly except for one mistake that I made. I meant to chunk the chicken instead of shredding it. Whoops! It was still really good!
Typically it is served over pasta but I served mine over brown rice with a nice big spinach salad. Sorry there is no picture. I was hungry and my stomach took over before my brain processed I hadn’t taken a picture.
Serving Size: approx 2/3 cup
Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
A thick, hearty Italian classic, done right in the slow cooker!
15 minPrep Time:
8 hrCook Time:
8 hr, 15 Total Time:
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 red (or whatever color you like) bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 large onion, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
salt and fresh pepper to taste
Heat a large skillet over medium-high.
Lightly spray with oil and brown chicken on both sides a few minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and add to the slow cooker.
Spray the skillet with a little more oil and add onions and peppers and minced garlic.
Sauté until juices release and the vegetables become slightly tender.
Add to the slow cooker.
Pour tomatoes over the chicken and vegetables,
Add oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper, give it a stir and cover.
Set to LOW for 8 hours or HIGH 4 hours.
Remove bay leaf, adjust salt and pepper and chunk chicken.
Serve over pasta or rice!
Cuisine: Italian |
21 Day Fix: 1/2 G, 1/2 P, 1 R, 1 tsp (adjust your yellows according to what you serve it over)
I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t look pretty but I PROMISE it tastes amazing! My kids are not picky broccoli eaters. They eat it no matter how I cook it. I lucked out in that department. To save time, I usually just chop it and steam it as a side dish. Every so often, you need something that is a bit different. This recipe actually happened as a mistake. I was trying to make pasta with chunks of the broccoli and to save time and dishes, I cooked the broccoli directly with the pasta. And I cooked it a bit too long. Oops! Things happen; like this amazing dish that turned into more of a broccoli pesto! I am a huge basil pesto fan but no one else in the family eats it. More for me I guess. They had no problem eating this though! In fact, they went back for seconds.
You can use any type of pasta you wish for this. I had orecchiette in the pantry so that is what I used. You just have to make sure you time adding your broccoli correctly. All pastas have different cooking times. You will want the pasta al dente but the broccoli on the soft side. This type of pasta usually cooks to al dente in 14 minutes, so, I added the broccoli with about 10 minutes of cook time left on the orecchiette.
One of things I love most about this dish is how easy it is! The pasta and broccoli cook together so you save some time and your hands from the dish water! You can use which ever chicken sausage your family likes best or you can leave it out all together. I know there are some brands that make a spicy chicken sausage which would be really good! As, I have said before, this is my favorite kind.
You could even use chunks of chicken breast if you wish. I like the flavors that chicken sausage add to dish. It matches the broccoli well. The choice is yours! Enjoy!
Serving Size: 1 Cup
Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pesto Pasta
5 minPrep Time:
15 minCook Time:
20 minTotal Time:
1 package Italian chicken sausage, casing removed
12 oz uncooked pasta
6 cups fresh broccoli florets, stems removed
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Heat a large nonstick skillet and brown the sausage over medium-high, for 5 to 7 minutes; remove from heat.
When the water comes to a rapid boil, add the pasta and bring back to a boil,
Cook pasta for 5 minutes then add the chopped broccoli.
When pasta is al dente, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
Drain pasta and broccoli.
Return the pot to the stove and set heat to medium; add 1 tbsp olive oil.
When oil is hot, add garlic. cooking, about 1 minute.
Reduce the heat to low and add the pasta/broccoli mixture and sausage to the pot. Stir.
Add grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste mixing well and smashing any large pieces of broccoli.
Add 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and mix well adding the rest if the mixture is too thick.
Serve with additional grated cheese on the side, if desired.
Sorry it’s been a few days. I have been fighting a cold. I hate being sick.
A few years ago, as I was flipping through a Taste of Home magazine, I came across a recipe for Hungarian Goulash. Typical Goulash is a soup of meat and vegetables like peppers, carrots, onions, tomatoes and potatoes, seasoned with paprika and other spices, originating from the country, Hungary. Here in the United States, what one person calls Goulash another person might call American Chop Suey or American Goulash. This dish is usually a ground beef hash with tomatoes and macaroni. I have made it a few times the way the recipe is written and it’s good but over the years, I have started to play with ingredients and ways to prepare it and have come up with this. Combining aspects of both Hungarian and American and stuffing it in peppers.
My kids love it!
It’s warm and comforting and any leftover mixture is promptly eaten the next day.
First, you start off with the peppers. You can use any variation of colors and can even cut the peppers in half rather than having them stand up. I have done both. This is the way I did them this time.
Next, I started a small pot of water on to boil the pasta. Instead of using a larger pasta like macaroni, I like to use a smaller pasta like orzo. It fits down inside the peppers much easier and it’s about the small size as the other ingredients so there are no large chunks of one thing.
While the pasta is boiling, I place 1/2 lb of ground turkey in a large skillet and brown it. To the browning ground turkey, I add minced garlic, some basil and oregano, salt, pepper and the leftover tops of the peppers (not the stem of course) and sauté for a couple minutes. Once those have cooked, I then add finely chopped broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and cook for a few more minutes.
Once the pasta is al dente, I drain it and add it to the ground turkey mixture along with half a jar of spaghetti sauce. You can use homemade or your favorite jar sauce. I didn’t have any homemade sauce left, so I used my favorite Wegman’s Organic Classic marinara sauce. Stir to combine and sprinkle in some parmesan cheese.
Next, spoon the mixture down inside the peppers and place in a pan the will support them. I used a bread pan because I was making three (the boys split one). If you cut them in half, a 9×13 pan would work great!
Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes in a 350* oven. Remove the foil and sprinkle some mozzarella over the top and bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly!
Yield: 3 Servings
Healthy American Goulash Stuffed Peppers
10 minPrep Time:
30 minCook Time:
40 minTotal Time:
1/2 lbs Lean ground turkey
3/4 cup orzo
3 bell peppers, any color
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 tsp basil/oregano seasoning (or any blend of italian herbs)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups finely chopped broccoli, cauliflower and carrots
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Wash red peppers, and cut tops off. Remove the stems from top and dice. Remove the seeds and ribs inside the peppers. Set peppers on baking pan.
In a boiling pot of salted water, cook Orzo till al dente. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook ground turkey in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
Stir and break up the turkey while it’s cooking.
When turkey is almost completely cooked through, add the garlic, vegetables and seasonings to the pan.
Stir and continue to cook until the turkey is completely cooked (when it is no longer pink).
Add the sauce, orzo and parmesan and stir until everything is well combined.
Scoop the turkey mixture into each pepper until it is full.
Cover pan with foil and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on each pepper.
Place back in the oven and cook till cheese it melted and bubbly.
Remove from the oven, let cool slightly and enjoy!
I have to say, that this is hands down, one of the best meals I have ever made! Tender chicken, crispy peppers and onions, pasta and a delicate sauce all come together to create this warm and inviting, fast and easy one pan dish!
Let’s get started with how to make it!
Start by cutting three chicken breast into bite sized chunks and seasoning with 1 1/2 tablespoons of taco or fajita seasoning mix. Now, I used my own homemade taco seasoning. You can totally tell difference between homemade and store bought. Homemade is 1000x’s better and I can control what goes in it. I make big batches of it and store it in a air tight container. Here is the the recipe I use: Homemade Taco Seasoning.
In a large skillet with a cover, heat olive oil on high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the chicken in a single layer and cook (without stirring) until one side is seared and browned. Then flip the chicken over and brown the other side . Remove the chicken to a plate.
Add a tad more oil to the skillet and let it heat on high again. When it has heated through, add the peppers and onions and another 1 1/2 tablespoons of taco/fajita seasoning and cook, stirring every so often until the veggies start to blacken.
Turn the heat to low and add the minced garlic and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the veggies to the plate with the chicken.
Turn the heat back up to medium high and add the broth, cream, diced tomatoes, and uncooked pasta to the skillet stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes until the pasta is tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed.
Add the chicken and veggies back in, stir to combine and until heated through, about 3 minutes.
Serve with a nice salad and you have yourself a quick and delicious meal bursting with multiple flavors!
Yield: 4 Servings
Chicken Fajita Pasta
10 minPrep Time:
15 minCook Time:
25 minTotal Time:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons taco or fajita seasoning (I used Homemade Taco Seasoning)
2 cups diced onion (about 1 whole onion)
2 cups diced bell peppers (2-3 bell peppers)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup milk
1 (15.5oz) can Diced Tomatoes (with or without Chili's)
8 oz (about 3 cups) penne pasta
½ teaspoon salt
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and season with 1. 5 tablespoons taco seasoning.
In a 12-inch skillet with a cover, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat.
When the oil is hot, carefully add the chicken in a single layer and cook without stirring until one side is seared and browned, about 1-2 minutes.
Flip the chicken to the other side and cook until browned.
Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet with the heat still on high.
When the oil is very hot again, add the onions, bell peppers, and remaining taco seasoning.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are slightly blackened.
Turn heat to low, add minced garlic, and stir until well combined.
Remove the veggies to the plate with the chicken.
In the same skillet with heat turned to medium high, add the broth, milk, diced tomatoes, uncooked pasta, and salt.
Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes until pasta is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed.
Add the chicken and veggies back into the skillet and stir to combine until heated through.
If you head to the Olive Garden and order a bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo, how many calories do you think you would be consuming? A whopping 1100 calories for one bowl of pasta. Add the salad and breadsticks, because you know you ate those too, you are looking at an approximate total of 1400 calories for one meal. Give or take 140 calories for how many breadsticks you consumed. One meal!!!!
Now what if I told you, I found a way to lighten up that calorie overload while also keeping all the flavor? Well, I have!!
Introducing…Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo! 140 calories for the sauce and added to one serving of whole grain pasta, 340 calories for one serving!
The husband is a huge alfredo lover. Anytime we go somewhere and it’s on the menu, that’s what he orders. Especially seafood alfredo. Me? I could take it or leave it. I don’t dislike it, but it’s not the first thing I am going to order off the menu. Unless, someone says you absolutely have to try this.
Gone is the not-so-good for you heavy cream, butter and cream cheese base. Instead it is made with olive oil, garlic, flour, chicken broth (or Vegetable if you looking to go vegetarian), low fat milk and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I actually used unsweetened cashew milk to make mine. Yep, you read that right! You don’t taste it at all! Only 35 calories for the one cup that you will use.
Even better? It all comes together in less then 30 minutes! Paired with a nice salad, this meal can satisfy the pickiest of alfredo eaters without sacrificing their waist line! I served ours with some fresh steamed broccoli!
Yield: 4 Servings
Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo
10 minPrep Time:
12 minCook Time:
22 minTotal Time:
12 ounces fettuccine
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make vegetarian)
1 cup any low-fat milk (I used unsweetened cashew milk)
3/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
In salted water, cook pasta al dente according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
Add garlic and saute one minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
Sprinkle with flour, and stir.
Saute for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.
Slowly add the broth, whisking to combine until smooth.
Whisk in the milk, and bring the mixture to a low simmer.
Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg until the cheese melted.
Reduce heat to medium-low until pasta reaches al dente.
Drain pasta, then immediately add to the saute pan with sauce.
This is one of my favorite recipes to make. It’s warm, inviting and smells delicious! Especially when made in the summer time when your garden is full of these:
From my backyard to my skillet. Can’t get much better than that! This is a one skillet dinner, that combines diced tomatoes, cannellini beans (white beans), spinach and fresh mozzarella cheese melted over the top!
Start with a large skillet that has a cover. Add olive oil to a the skillet that has been heating over medium heat. When the olive oil is heated through add the gnocchi and saute till it is a nice golden color and the gnocchi has plumped up. I usually use Whole Wheat gnocchi but the store was out that day and I didn’t want to stop at the Italian Specialty store. Regular or whole wheat is fine.
Remove the gnocchi from the skillet and add the diced onion. Let the onion cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and water and cover the skillet to let it all cook till the onion is soft. Add in the spinach and stir till it starts to wilt, then add in chopped tomatoes, beans, pepper and Italian seasoning and bring to a simmer.
Add the gnocchi back into the skillet and stir. Sprinkle the fresh mozzarella over the top, cover and let the mixture cook till the cheese has melted and the mixture is bubbly! Serve with a nice salad and dinner is done! Quick, easy and hardly any clean up! My kind of dinner!
Yield: 6 Servings
Gnocchi with Cannellini Beans & Spinach
10 minPrep Time:
20 minCook Time:
30 minTotal Time:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
So I wasn’t going to post this recipe till next week but when I posted it as a sneak peek for what’s to come, I got an overwhelming number of, “we must have this recipe now,” from my accountability groups and personal Facebook friends. Okay! Ask and ye shall receive I guess! Without further ado, I present Healthy Mac & Cheese!!
Mac & Cheese appears to be a comfort food for A LOT of people. Don’t get me wrong, I love it too! Especially Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese. When its baked and the edges get all crusty and crunchy, (drool) it’s extremely hard to resist. BUT…let’s be honest. Even if the majority of us could eat it everyday, our bodies would hate us. I don’t even want to think about the number of burpees we would have to do to burn a serving off. I don’t mind burpees but there is a limit to my tolerance for them. I am most sure that tolerance would be tested and I would fail miserably. Best to stick with the burpee friendly version of Mac & Cheese.
While it still has some cheese in it, (how can it be called Mac & Cheese if it didn’t?!?) the main ingredient is none other than; BUTTERNUT SQUASH! Gone is the loads of butter, flour and whole milk or cream. On the 21 Day Fix, butternut squash is a vegetable. While it is one of starchier (yes, I know, not a word) vegetables, it is still a vegetable. A vegetable that when blended leaves you with a thick but smooth, creamy texture. Combine that with sweet caramelized onions, zesty garlic and sharp cheddar and you get a robust, healthy comfort food that will leave your mac & cheese craving sated and your thighs and abs relieved! You’ll thank me later!
Yield: 4 Servings
Healthy Mac & Cheese
10 minPrep Time:
30 minCook Time:
40 minTotal Time:
2.5 cups whole grain elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small butternut squash (4-5 cups cubed)
5 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth if vegetarian
2/3 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond but whatever you have is fine)
1 oz light cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese - shredded
parsley for topping
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive in a skillet over low heat. When heated through, add onions and let caramelize* for about 30 minutes.
Cook macaroni according to directions making sure to salt the water.
Meanwhile, remove the skin and the seeds from the squash.
Cut the flesh into small cubes.
Bring the broth to a rolling boil and add the squash, cooking for 5 minutes or until fork tender. Drain, reserving ½ cup broth, and transfer squash to the blender.
Add the minced garlic to the onions and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the onions and garlic, milk, cream cheese, salt, and reserved broth to the blender with the squash and puree until smooth and creamy. (yields about 4 cups of sauce)
Pour the sauce over the noodles and add the shredded cheese, stirring to melt.
Add water or milk to adjust consistency as needed.
Serve with parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.
*Caramelize means to cook something low and slowly until it becomes brown and sweet
If you are not a cheddar person, feel free to use whichever kind of cheese you prefer.
Sometimes you just need some good ole’ comfort food in the the form of a hearty whole pasta with my garden peppers, button mushrooms and organic chicken sausage! Am I right? And you can’t go wrong with lovely Parmesan Cheese sprinkled over the top!
Now when it comes to chicken sausage, or any sausage for that matter, I am extremely picky. There are certain brands that I avoid all together and not all brands are the same so my suggestion is you pick the brand that you and your family prefer. It took me a few tries with various other chicken sausage to come across a brand that we all love. Some were to spicy, others to sweet, some not much flavor at all and some just plain gross. This brand seems to be a nice combination of all good things. I am lucky that I live in the land of Italians here in NY so we have a lot of Italian specialty stores where this is sold not already pre-packaged. Again, choose the one you and your family will eat best!
If you don’t have a garden of your own, I highly recommend finding a farmers market to pick up local veggies and fruits. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Wegman’s but they wouldn’t notice if I stopped shopping there. I figure if I give to the local farmers I am helping them keep their farms going and I know exactly where my stuff is coming from. Plus, I find so many more things at farmer’s markets! That can be good and bad 😉
Feel free to substitute regular Italian sausage. It just won’t be as healthy. You can also add spinach or kale or even crushed red pepper flakes for some extra heat! The options are endless!
Yield: 6 Servings
Whole Grain Pasta with Organic Chicken Sausage, Peppers & Mushrooms
10 minPrep Time:
20 minCook Time:
30 minTotal Time:
12 oz whole grain pasta
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
6 oz button mushrooms, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb Italian chicken sausage, sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh pepper to taste
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water. Reserve 1 cup water before draining.
While pasta water boils, heat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat.
Add olive oil; when hot add onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper.
Cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
Add sausage cook until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Add cooked pasta, reserved water and Parmesan cheese.
Toss well and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Serve immediately. Sprinkle with more Parmesan if desired.