Apr 072013
 

Whenever I look at recipe websites, the top searches are always for chicken recipes.  Chicken breasts are healthy, relatively inexpensive, and very versatile, but I’m just gonna come out there and say it…they can also be pretty LAME.  Sure, plain grilled chicken is healthy, but it gets boring fast, so I try to mix up my chicken recipes as much as possible.  I love chicken piccata at italian restaurants, but it can be really unhealthy and is often breaded and fried in a thick sauce.  This version isn’t breaded at all, and is sauteed quickly with a light sauce of lemon, capers, white wine, and garlic.  Very simple and quick but very tasty.  

 
The key to making this an especially quick meal is to pound your chicken breasts out very thin or cut them in half lengthwise.  I didn’t do a great job with this because I got a little lazy with my pounding, but when I make this again I’ll be sure to do it!  The process is really easy…just brown the chicken, set aside, and make the sauce quickly in the same pan. You can serve this with almost any sides you like, but I made whole wheat pasta with artichokes hearts, spinach,   red onion and fresh tomatoes to go with the mediterranean theme of the meal.  
 
Nutritional Highlights:  Although I don’t eat a ton of meat these days, when I do it’s usually chicken. Chicken breasts (try to get organic if you can) are incredibly lean and high in protein.  If you serve this recipe with a whole grain and a vegetable (like my veggie pasta here) you have a perfectly balance meal!
 
Chicken Piccata
adapted from Closet Kitchen

Ingredients
  • – 2 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin
  • – salt and pepper to taste
  • – 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • – 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • – 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • – 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • – 1 lemon, juice and 1 lemon, sliced
  • – 1 teaspoon honey
  • – 2 tablespoons capers
  • – 1 tablespoon butter
  • – salt and pepper to taste
  • – 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side and set aside.
  3. Add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  4. Add the wine to the pan and deglaze it.
  5. Add the broth, lemon juice, honey and capers in the pan and simmer until the liquids have reduce by half, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the butter, season with salt and pepper, mix in the parsley, return chicken to pan and toss to coat.  Top with thin lemon slices and additional chopped parsley and serve.  
Enjoy!
Jan 122013
 

I was trying to get a healthy start this week (along with the rest of the world) so I wanted to have plenty of healthy food in my fridge.  Roasted vegetables are one of my favorite things to have around because they are soooo easy to make, and so versatile–you can eat them as a side, or throw them in a salad or sandwich. I usually stick with the the standard veggies like peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, but when I was walking through the produce isle I decided that I might as well use the beautiful root vegetables that are in season.  I used parsnips, carrots, acorn squash, beets, and onions, but you can use any combo you like.  

An in case you didn’t know what some of those vegggie look like, here they are below (I gave my boyfriend a quiz and he got 2 of the 4 correct).  Then you just cut them up into bite size chunks, toss with oil, salt, pepper, herbs (I used thyme and rosemary), and whole peeled garlic cloves.  Then you just throw it in the oven until they are soft, brown, and delicious.  Can’t think of anything much easier than that! 


Nutritional highlights:  Root vegetables are some of the healthiest out there.  The common theme among these vegetables are the high levels of antioxidants (flavonoids in onions, beta carotene in carrots, betalains in beets) which help lower inflammation and thus protect against various ailments.  Aside from all that, I love root vegetables because they have a slightly sweet flavor when cooked and they are slightly starchy so they keep me full longer than other veggies.  


Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • olive oil spray
  • 1 acorn squash, halved, seeded, and sliced (any type of squash works)
  • 6 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • 3 parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 to 2-inch  pieces
  • 4-5 beets, washed and cut into wedges (no need to peel)
  • 1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Other options: celery root, any type of potato, rutabaga, leeks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (I used half rosemary and half thyme)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled

  • Directions: Preheat to 400°F and spray 2 baking sheets with olive oil spray. Combine all remaining ingredients except garlic in large bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture between prepared sheets. Place 1 sheet on each oven rack. Roast 30 minutes. Stir vegetables and add 3 garlic cloves to each sheet. Continue to roast until all vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer roasted vegetables to serving platter and then serve.


    Enjoy!

    Dec 272012
     
    Yep, it’s another recipe with butternut squash and kale.  Gotta say it’s my favorite ingredient combo of the season.  After the amazing hash I made a few weeks ago, I just couldn’t get enough.  This recipe also has sage and toasted hazelnuts…some of my favorite winter flavors.  This is the perfect rich but still semi-healthy main course or side for all of your holiday events.  

    I made this as individual lasagna roll-ups because I was just cooking for myself and didn’t want to (slash knew it was probably not in my best interest) to have an entire lasagna around the apartment.  If I made it again I would just make the whole thing because a) it was ridiculously tasty and b) the roll-ups probably ended up being even more work.  Be warned that this recipe is pretty labor intensive but I was very happy with the flavors.  Especially the squash mixture alone, which I would definitely make again as a crostini topping!


    Nutritional Highlights:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, butternut squash and kale are AMAZING for you.  These ingredients are so trendy right now for a very good reason! Butternut squash is packed with fiber, B6, potassium, folate, and most importantly, beta-carotene which has been linked with tons of health benefits.  Kale is a similar story, packed with Vitamin K, A and C which are all antioxidant vitamins, and also tons of fiber.  A brief plug on fiber…not only does it help keep things, you know, regular, but it also binds with cholesterol and takes it out of the body, to help keep your cholesterol in check.  Something we can all probably use after those Christmas hams.  


    Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Spinach (or Kale) Lasagna

    adapted from Cooking Light

    **Note:  I’m including the recipe for the whole lasagna because i think it will be easier and come out better, but for individual roll-ups, just cook the lasagna noodles, spread on the toppings, roll it up, put it in the pan and bake.

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
    • 12 garlic cloves, unpeeled (about 1 head)
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • Cooking spray
    • large onion, vertically sliced
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • (9-ounce) packages fresh spinach or 1 bunch fresh kale
    • 5 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
    • bay leaf
    • thyme sprig
    • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded fontina cheese, divided (I substituted some of this with goat cheese)
    • 3/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg (optional)
    • no-boil whole wheat lasagna noodles
    • Optional: 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

    Preparation

    1. 1. Preheat oven to 425°.
    2. 2. Combine squash, 1 tablespoon oil, sage, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat. Arrange squash mixture on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender. Cool slightly; peel garlic. Place squash and garlic in a bowl; partially mash with a fork.
    3. 3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue cooking for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Place onion in a bowl.
    4. 4. Add 2 tablespoons water and spinach to Dutch oven; increase heat to high. Cover and cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain in a colander; cool. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach. Add spinach to onions.
    5. 5. Heat 4 1/2 cups milk, bay leaf, and thyme in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf and thyme. Return pan to medium heat. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl. Add to pan, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cups cheese, red pepper, and nutmeg.
    6. 6. Spread 1/2 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with half of squash mixture, half of spinach mixture, and 3/4 cup milk mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread remaining milk mixture over noodles. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, and remove from oven. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
    7. 7. Preheat broiler.
    8. 8. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with toasted hazelnuts and serve.
    Sep 242012
     

    Breakfast can get a little mundane some times.  I can only make so many egg white veggie omelettes and yogurt parfaits.  Healthy breakfasts don’t have to be boring.  This was probably the healthiest AND most exciting I’ve had in a while.  A simple and flavorful hash of butternut squash and kale topped with a fried egg and shaved parmesan.  My new favorite breakfast and/or lunch and/or dinner for fall.

    The beauty of this meal is that it can be made entirely in one pan (that is if you have a cast iron skillet, which  I do not).  All you do is saute butternut squash, onions, and garlic until they’re browned and soft, add the kale for a few minutes, and finish with a fried egg, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan.  I don’t know what it was–maybe the runny yolk, maybe the sweet butternut squash, maybe the savory kale–but something magical happened when they all came together on my plate.  

    Nutritional Highlights:  Butternut squash has tons of beta-carotene (veggie’s version of vitamin A), vitamin C, and even some calcium and iron.  Plus, it has less calories and carbohydrates than sweet potatoes and is comparably delicious.  Then there’s kale–what I would dare to say is the trendiest veggie of 2012. For good reason–it has absurd amounts of vitamin K, A, and C and has tons of fiber.  The egg on top, yolk and all (yeah, I did it), is the perfect protein to round out this meal.  Your body and your taste buds want you to make this now.   


    Kale and Butternut Squash Hash with Fried Eggs and Parmesan
    (for about 3 servings)

    Ingredients:  

    • 2 cups butternut squash, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
    • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
    • 3 cups kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 T olive oil
    • optional: 1/4 tspn red pepper flakes
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 3 eggs 
    • shaved parmesan cheese
    Directions:

    In a cast iron skillet (or large frying pan if you’re like me and don’t have a cast iron skillet), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, onion, and butternut squash (and red pepper flakes if using) and sautee, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes or until the squash has softened and the onion is browned.  Add the chopped kale and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the kale has softened slightly.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

    For the eggs there are two options.  If you’re working in a cast iron skillet, you can turn on your broiler, crack the 3 eggs right on top of the hash and put it under the broiler until the eggs are cooked to your liking.  If you’re working in a frying pan, you can fry your eggs in another pan and place one on top of each serving of hash.  

    Top the hash and eggs with shaved parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper, and salt.  Enjoy!