Aug 052015

What’s this? A chicken recipe on tush cook? They’re pretty hard to come by around here, and that’s because I had been generally steering away from meat the past few years. But, I’ve been feeling a little low energy lately (which is NOT ok when you have just started your dietetic internship, which involves frantically running around all day seeing patients and trying not to screw up) so I thought I’d try out reincorporating small amounts a few times a week. When an AWESOME friend gifted me a week of meals with “Plated”, I thought that’d be a perfect opportunity to try it. And I have to say that this recipe reminded me that chicken can be pretty yummy. Also, cheese.
First of all, these new programs that deliver ingredients and recipes to cook your own meals are pretty awesome. I know I’m in the minority in that I LOVE going to the grocery store (I am aware I have a problem) and coming up with recipes, but for people who don’t (ie, everyone else), these programs are a great way to get off your tush, add a little variety to your diet, and give your seamless account a break. This recipe for example gave me, a pretty frequent cook, a chance to use an ingredient I hadn’t before–baby artichokes. This recipe is simple but full of flavor, and perfect for any week night or even with guests.
Nutrition highlights: Although I’m loving the meatless trends lately, I’m even more so a proponent of listening to your body and including everything in moderation. If you’re really feeling like a burger, maybe your body is telling you that you need a little extra protein/iron. Or maybe you’re just passing shake shack and you smell it and it’s all over, but that’s another story. At the same time, portion control is key, and one portion of meat is only 3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards) so for this recipe I had half of the chicken breast and loaded up on veggies. If you’re looking for something different from your typical chicken recipes, this is a great one, and can be served over any combination of sautéed veggies you like (if the artichokes aren’t your trying).
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Fontina-Basil Stuffed Chicken with Baby Artichokes, Cherry Tomatoes & Spinach
Serves 2, adapted from “Plated”
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What’s in it:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons vinegar (white win or red wine vinegar work well)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 sprigs fresh basil, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4-6 baby artichokes (if you don’t want to have to clean/prep them, just buy frozen or canned artichoke hearts)
1/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

How to make it:
1. Start by preparing the chicken. Cut the chicken breasts lengthwise (cutting almost all the way through but not quite to create a pocket). In a large bag, combine the mined garlic, oregano/rosemary, wine, and vinegar, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, prep the veggies. If using the baby artichokes, prepare them by cutting off the top third of the leafy portion and discarding. Then remove and toss about 3 layers of the tough outer leaves until you reach the more tender lighter green leaves. Peel the stems of the artichokes using a veggie peeler. Quarter the artichokes and scoop out the furry choke from the center. I know, it’s a lot of work but they’re super yummy! Save about 10 minutes by buying artichoke hearts frozen or in the can (although it’s not quite the same).
3. Remove chicken from the marinade and season both sides with salt and pepper. Open the chicken breasts and stuff with the fontina and half of the chopped basil. Close the chicken breasts.
4. To cook the chicken, heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and once hot, add the chicken, cooking for about 6 minutes until one side is browned. Flip the chicken breasts, cover, and cook for another 6 minutes. Check if the chicken is fully cooked. If you’re using very thick breasts and they need more time, cook for another 2-3 minutes per side until done. Set chicken aside and cover with foil or a pan lid to keep warm.
5. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan over medium-high and add the baby artichokes. Cook for 3-4 minutes without moving, then stir and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the artichokes are tender. Add the cherrry tomatoes and spinach and cook for 1 minute until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are warmed. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the basil.
6. Serve chicken over the sauteed veggies and enjoy. Bonus points if you stick to a 3 oz portion of chicken (probably about half of those monstrous breasts you get these days!

Nov 202014

OK, it’s definitely a working title, but these meatballs are perfect little Thanksgiving bundles of joy. Have you ever thought on Thanksgiving, hey, what would happen if I took this mundane dinner roll and put a little bit of everything on my plate on it? And then you did it and realized your life had been changed forever? We’ve all been there, and although the future dietitian in my does not condone the regular consumption of stuffing, mashed potato, and gravy coated turkey sandwiches, on Thanksgiving anything goes. This year for my A Cappella group’s “friendsgiving” brunch, I decided to put this concept to the test in the form of meatballs. And so the pilgrim ball was born.
These meatballs have a little bit of all your thanksgiving favorites–ground turkey, cranberries, stuffing, onions, and sage. On top of that, they are something that Thanksgiving dinner is usually not–super easy to make. You basically mix all the ingredients, roll into balls, cook, cover in gravy, eat, repeat.
Nutrition Highlights: This is not the healthiest recipe you’ll find on my blog, but I have to say it still does have a few things going for it. One, it’s made with ground turkey, which is a lean protein source. Two, they’re individually portioned, which leads to inherent portion control (something that is not my strength on Thanksgiving). As long as you take it easy on the gravy (which can be high in fat) and cranberry sauce (which can be high in sugar), than you are good to go.
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Thanksgiving Meatballs (a.k.a Pilgrim Balls)
makes about 16 medium sized meatballs
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What’s in them:
1 1/2 lb ground turkey meat (I used half ground turkey and half sweet turkey sausage for extra flavor)
1 1/4 cup of herb stuffing cubes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 large egg plus 1 egg white
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Other add in ideas: shredded carrots or chopped mushrooms to make these a little healthier

How to make them:
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Coat a 9×13 inch baking sheet with olive oil and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey/turkey sausage, cranberries, eggs, onion, sage, and salt. Add half of the stuffing cubes whole, and crush the other half in your hands a bit so they are more like bread crumbs. Mix everything together with your hands until it is all incorporated.
4. Coat your hands with a little bit of olive oil and roll the mixture firmly into balls about the size of golf balls. Place the meatballs in the baking dish directly next to each other in rows (see photo). This will help them keep their shape while baking.
5. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and slightly brown on top.
6. Serve meatballs with gravy and cranberry sauce, and enjoy!

Jul 252013
When I was a little kid (a chubby little kid, to be specific), I used to think a burger was just a greasy beef patty between a smushy white bun that usually came out of a little box with a toy and some french fries. Sometimes it even had a yellow piece of “cheese” (I use that word lightly) and some ketchup if you were lucky.Oh, how much I have learned since then. Burgers are now one of my favorite meals because they are so versatile and allow you to play with flavors, ingredients and toppings. Plus, they can be pretty healthy if you stick with veggie, chicken, or turkey burgers. This one was a great twist on buffalo chicken, with plenty of hot sauce, cool yogurt-blue cheese sauce, and a crisp carrot-celery slaw all on a whole grain bun. That’s a happier meal if I do say so myself.

There were a few different components to prepare for this meal, but they come together so well that the effort was worth it.  First I made the slaw with carrots, onion, celery, cilantro, vinegar, and honey and let that slawify for a while.  Then I put together the burgers, which got their flavor and moisture from grated carrot, celery, onion, and hot sauce.  Then I whipped up the blue cheese dressing, which was just greek yogurt with blue cheese chunks, lemon juice, and spices.  Once you put it all together is when the magic happens…the slaw is crunch and slightly sweet, the blue-cheese sauce is tangy and cool, and the burgers are spicy and hearty. 

Instead of fries or chips, I served the burgers with a big summer chopped salad, packed with awesome ingredients like tomatoes, chickpeas, basil, avocado, and charred corn.  The key is the charred corn. So good.

Nutritional Highlights:  Buffalo chicken can get a bad rep…usually fried chicken, a creamy high-fat dressing, and a sauce that’s actually butter with a splash of hot sauce.  This version preserves the flavors but without all that fat.  I used lean ground chicken breast, non-fat greek yogurt as the base for the sauce, and a butter free buffalo sauce.  Since a serving of meat is only 3 ounces, try to keep the burgers to about 1/4 (4 oz) to 1/3 (5 oz) pound each to keep the portion in control.  Also, always choose a whole wheat bun or just go naked if you’re watching your carbs (the burger, not you).  Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Blue Cheese-Yogurt Sauce and Carrot-Celery Slaw

For the Burgers (makes 3-4):


• 1 pounds ground chicken breast (turkey would work too, no one will know)

• 2 tablespoons finely grated carrots

• 1 tablespoon finely grated celery

• 2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced

• 1/8 to 1/4 cup buffalo hot sauce (depending on how hot you like it), plus a little on the side to baste with

• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

• salt and pepper to taste

• 3 or 4 whole wheat buns

• Serve with carrot-celery slaw and yogurt-blue cheese sauce (recipe to follow)


1. Mix the chicken, grated carrot, celery, onion, hot sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper and form into 4 patties.

2. Heat your grill to medium high, and oil or spray the grill. Grill your patties, about 4-5 minutes per side, painting with more hot sauce when they’re almost done. Serve the buffalo chicken burgers in the buns along with the slaw and blue cheese sauce.

For the Carrot-Celery Slaw:


• 3 large carrots, roughly grated or cut into matchsticks

• 3 celery stalks cut into matchsticks

• ¼ red onion, thinly sliced

• 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

• 3 tablespoons vinegar (I used rice vinegar but other types should work too, but not balsamic)

• 2 teaspoons honey

• Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Combine vinegar and honey. Add the rest of the ingredients and taste (add more vinegar if it needs more acidity, more honey if it needs sweetness). Refrigerate, stirring occasionally for a few hours. Serve on top of your buffalo chicken burgers.

For the Yogurt Blue-Cheese Sauce:


½ cup non-fat Greek Yogurt

¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (very fine crumbles so the flavor is dispersed)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil (to thin it slightly)

Garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste

Directions: Combine all ingredients. Stir. Refrigerate until you’re ready to eat. Put it on your burgers and enjoy!

May 152013

There are a few things I always look forward to when I go home to Chicago.  First, seeing my family (duh) and especially it’s newest addition, my nephew Owen.  And second, cooking in my Mom’s amazing kitchen with my grill-master dad ready to assist.  This visit I was in charge of a Mother’s Day BBQ, but needed to come up with a few ideas that wouldn’t take too long as to maximize baby time.  So, I made this relatively easy but super impressive meal, Bruschetta Grilled Chicken Breasts with Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Pasta Salad.  A little more impressive than the usual burgers and dogs, right?

This chicken recipe will definitely be a new go to.  I marinated it in a simple balsamic/garlic/oil mixture but you can also just use a bottled balsamic dressing.  Grill the chicken, and top with a mixture of fresh mozzarella, diced tomatoes, basil, and garlic, with a drizzle of oil and vinegar.  For the pasta salad, just throw any veggies you like into the oven to roast, and meanwhile, boil some whole wheat pasta.  Toss it all together with store bought or homemade pesto and chill til you’re ready to eat it. 

Check out the grill master at work…

And now the final product.  You want that.

Nutritional Highlights:  BBQs can be a deadly thing…most of the traditional items, burgers, hotdogs, pasta salad, are not the best for you.  This is a great recipe that will satisfy all bbq-goers and not be detrimental to your plans to wear a bathing suit come memorial day.  We all know that chicken is a lean protein source, but go organic if you can afford it.  The topping  has tons of antioxidant rich tomatoes.  For pasta salad, always choose whole grain pasta and load it up with veggies so you eat less of the actual pasta part of it.  I’d also add a salad to this meal, but I just needed to get back to my adorable nephew.  See below…you get why I don’t want to be trapped in the kitchen now.

Bruschetta Chicken

Serves 4

For Chicken:

• 4 chicken breasts (if they are very unevenly thick, you may want to pound them out a bit for easier cooking)

• 1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing (or make your own by mixing balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper)

For Bruschetta Topping

• 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

• 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil

• 4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes

• ½ small garlic clove, finely minced (could also sub garlic powder)

• Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar


• salt and pepper to taste


1. Marinade chicken breasts in balsamic vinaigrette for at least 1 hour (but more is even better). I like to poke a few holes in my chicken breasts with a fork so the flavor can really penetrate.

2. While chicken is marinating, combine brushcetta topping and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

3. Grill chicken until it is cooked through (about 15-20 minutes but varies depending on thickness of your chicken)

4. Top chicken with bruschetta topping and enjoy.

Roasted Vegetable and Pesto Pasta Salad

For 4-6 servings


• 2 cups whole wheat penne (or other whole wheat pasta of your choosing)

• 4 cups mixed vegetables, cut into pieces for roasting (I used red pepper, mushroom, zucchini, and asparagus)

• ½ cup pesto (store bought or homemade)

• Olive oil, salt, and pepper


• Preheat oven to 400 and put a pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta

• Put vegetables in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt pepper (I also added red pepper flakes and garlic powder here). Spread veggies on a large baking sheet.

• Roast for about 20-25 minutes or until vegetables have softened and browned.

• Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions.

• Combined pasta, roasted vegetables, and toss with pesto sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve for a bbq but this would also be delish as a hot meal as well!

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

  • – 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
  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.  
Jun 022011

There’s nothing better than a good bar-be-que.  When the weather finally starts to cooperate, the first thing I want to do is get outside and get grillin (or at least watch someone more grill-capable cook the food the I prepared).  But sadly, my NYC apartment does not have a spacious back yard for a grill.  So, when I was home in Chicago last weekend and my family requested a tush cook dinner, I had to take advantage of access to a great grill and an even greater griller (I call him Dad).  So, I made some flavorful and colorful yogurt-marinated chicken skewers.

The marinade was simple but added so much flavor and kept the chicken incredibly moist.  Perfect way to mix up your run-of-the-grill (get it??) bbq and impress your guests (or family, in my case).

Nutritional Highlights:  Skewers are a great way to keep your bbq tasty AND healthy.  Burgers and dogs are tasty, but chicken or shrimp skewered with lots of veggies is way better.  I paired mine with my favorite mustard roasted potatoes and a strawberry, feta, and toasted pine nut salad.  General rule of thumb–the more colorful plate you have, the better…you can’t really beat this!

Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Skewers
adapted from Baked Bree

For the chicken and marinade:
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used a little extra cuz I’m crazy like that)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Veggies for skewering (red onion, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms…)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into one inch cubes

For the lemon dressing (I didn’t make this because I lost track of time and forgot, but I think it would be yummy so I’m including the recipe):
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:  Mix all the marinade ingredients.  Cut chicken into cubes and marinate for 3-6 hours (no longer or the yogurt will start breaking down the chicken).  Mix your lemon dressing, if using.  Soak your skewers in water for 30 minutes so they don’t burn on the grill.  When it’s done marinating, skewer your chicken with vegetables in between and grill over high heat for about 4 minutes per side (this may vary based on the size of your chick chunks).  When they chicken is done, remove for the grill, brush with the lemon dressing and serve!