Easy Lemon Herbed Baked Chicken

BOY HAS LIFE BEEN BORING. My food life that is…

Between a broken refrigerator and an upset tummy, my foods have been bland, boring, and cooking just hasn’t really existed in my house. Toast, bananas, and soups have been the base of my diet this week, so as you can probably guess, I haven’t been a happy camper!

Last night, I had finally had it and stopped at the store on my way home. I wasn’t feeling too brave just yet, but I figured my stomach could definitely handle chicken and potatoes. I am a big fan of herbed chicken, so that was where I started for the evening.

When picking out seasoning blends, I always look for salt-free versions. No need for added salt when you’re adding other flavors! Another basic rule of thumb for me when it comes to seasoning, taste first before you salt! Sprouts, a local farmer’s market in Arizona which I frequently mention, is one of my favorite places to pick up spices or seasonings. While there pre-made seasoning mixes are a little pricey, they are always delicious and have a wide variety of salt-free blends available. For this simple and easy dish, I used their Lemon Pepper Seasoning Mix which is potent, flavorful, and adds the perfect bit of lemon taste and aroma.

Sweet potatoes are a go-to side for me. I tend to mix sweet potatoes and red potatoes because my husband isn’t a huge sweet potato fan, so our side last night was homemade baked mixed fries (which looked more like hash browns but had the crispy, browned tasted of homemade fries). Combined, this is the perfect easy 30 minute meal (including cooking time) which added a little flare to our otherwise boring food week! Hope you enjoy 🙂

  

Lemon Herbed Baked Chicken:

Seasoning blend: salt-free lemon pepper seasoning, dried basil, garlic powder, black pepper

Other ingredients: 2 large chicken breasts or 4 thin-cut breasts or cutlets, olive or canola oil spray, 1/4-1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

For this meal, I used 2 large chicken breasts which I cut in half to have 4 thinner pieces of chicken.

Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray and lay your chicken out evenly. Season with a heavy amount of lemon-pepper seasoning and basil. Add a dusting of garlic powder and black pepper. Flip your chicken over and season the other side. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes has past, sprinkle your feta cheese over your chicken breasts and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes. Finish the chicken off with a quick broil to lightly brown your feta cheese for about 2-3 minutes on high.

Easy Baked Potato Fries:

For our side, I used 2 small sweet potatoes and 4 small red potatoes. I cut each potato into smaller pieces, about 1/2 in thick, 3/4 in wide. You can change the size of the potatoes, or cut into simple rounds, but this may change the cooking time a bit. On a large baking sheet, I added a little olive oil spray, then spread the potatoes out evenly. I sprayed the top of the potatoes lightly then seasoned with my go-to potato seasoning blend:

  • paprika
  • ground red pepper
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt to finish them off (immediately once they leave the oven)

  
 As I’ve said before, I never measure spices or herbs unless I’m baking, so use quantities that you enjoy. Red pepper flakes and ground red pepper can become very spicy very quickly, so use with caution until you find a spice level that works for you!

Bake your potatoes on 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. be sure to flip your potatoes about halfway through the baking process to assure both sides get golden and crisp!

Finish off your dish with whatever dipping sauces you may like or a side of extra veggies! Enjoy!
 


Easy Low-Fat Rustic Tomato Basil Soup

Hello readers! I’ve been slacking I know, but that’s kind of good in my mind because it means I have been really busy!

This week is a soup week. The chilly AZ mornings and nights called for something a little warm and special. For all my northern readers….. I’m sorry for complaining about 60 degrees.

Wherever you’re located, soup is always a staple in my book. Soup can be extremely versatile, light, or extremely filling. Not to mention, soup is a number 1 comfort food in my book.

IMG_0436IMG_0440

Tomato soup is one of my favorites. The problem with most store-bought or restaurant-style tomato soups is they are extremely salty and often time cream-based, which obviously packs a little too many calories into my tiny bow of soup. My Rustic Tomato Basil Soup is hearty, warm, but won’t bust the button on your jeans! Topped with homemade garlic parmesan croutons  coated in olive oil and thyme, this delicious soup is easy, with very few ingredients, and can be made in small or large quantities. I hope you enjoy my Rustic Tomato Basil Soup!

IMG_0442 IMG_0443

Ingredients: (makes 3-4 servings)

  • 6 medium-large regular tomatoes (not beefsteak; a little lager than plum)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 oz no sodium added chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp dried basil (or 4-5 large fresh basil leaves)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 medium red onion
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Croutons:

  • 1-2 cups cubed bakery bread of your choice (1 used basic sourdough)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese (use however much you prefer)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Toss your cubes of bread in olive oil, seasonings, and herbs and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Be careful not to burn!

Slice all your tomatoes in half. In a large pot, add the chicken stock, tomatoes, 1 tbsp basil, the garlic cloves, and black pepper and bring to a boil. Once to a boil, lower to a simmer and allow tomatoes to cook for 35-40 minutes you may leave the lid partially on but make sure some steam can be released so chicken stock can reduce.

In a small skillet, slice you onions into think strips and saute on med-low until soft and caramelized. Set aside.

Once your tomatoes have cooked down, put all contents of the pot into a blender and pulse until the mixture has turned semi-smooth, but still slightly chunky (if you’d like a smoother soup, go ahead and blend until you achieve the smoothness you’d like). Pour contents back into the same pot, add almond milk, additional tbsp of basil, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. Let simmer for an addition 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sautĂ©ed onions to tomato mixture and finish out cooking for an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve hot and top with croutons and a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!


Pass the Pizza: Pear & Fig Pizza w/ the Works!

I love pizza.

I think pizza gets a bad wrap. What’s know as typically a calorie-heavy, greasy, cheesy disaster is something that I not only salivate for, but see more as a blank slate waiting for a creative mind. There’s something about the combination of bread, cheese, and whatever sweet, salty, crunchy, savory, or strange topping combinations that I can come up with that just gets my tastebuds ready and active.IMG_0217This week, I’m trying out menu planning for the first time. A little strange right? But yes, even I fall into the more than popular slump of driving home thinking “what can I man out of nothing that will still taste fabulous.” I can only let the wheels turn so long before I get sick of the chase for finding something to make for dinner that will satisfy myself, my fiance, and not be boring old baked chicken or a salad with the sad remaining veggies that are leftover in the fridge.

Yesterday, to kick off my menu planning I of course started Monday with a bang, personal pizzas! While my future husband was pleases with his pineapple, ham, and mozzarella combo, I believe it was my savory-sweet pizza that stole the show. A whole grain Naan (I swear by these in a pinch!) served as the base for both of our pizzas. Get your taste buds ready, get those wheels turning, and make pizza the next star of your dinner showtime! 🙂

Pear & Fig Pizza w/ Goat Cheese:

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole grain Naan (comes in packs of 2 so good for you and a special someone 😉 … or a best friend!)
  • 1/2 Bartlett pear
  • 3-4 figs, depending on the size
  • 1/4-1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • black pepper to taste
  • olive oil spray

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Slice your pear into thin slices, as well as your figs to make small, bite-size circles.

Spray the top of your crust with a little olive oil spray. Pat with a paper towel if there are large droplets. Place your sliced pear and figs in whatever fashion you like on your crust. Top with goat cheese (make as cheese as you like), thyme, and black pepper to taste. Put directly on rack or pizza stone and let bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges begin to crisp a little and the bottom is light brown. Allow 5 minutes to cook before cutting and serving. If you want a little extra freshness and sweetness, drizzle with a little dot of honey before serving. Enjoy!IMG_0218 IMG_0219


Portobello Mushroom Cap Pizza

20140710-073305-27185258.jpg

For me, summertime and Portobello mushrooms go together wonderfully. They are light and airy, yet still provide a robust, meaty flavor that I love. They are also very versatile. From chopped, sautéed, and used in pasta dishes, to grilled and used as a burger alternative, Portobello mushrooms can be jazzed up and changed around to your liking.

This recipe is for my Portobello Mushroom Cap Pizzas. Unfortunately, I live in an apartment with little room for an actual grille outside so I used my George Forman, but an outdoor gas or coal grille would have been my first choice for preparing the mushrooms!

Portobello Mushroom Cap Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Portobello mushroom; cleaned well and patted dry (you will need to pat them a few times… they soak up water!); remove center stems (without breaking your mushroom!)
  • 4 Tbsp. roasted garlic marinara or tomato sauce (I used Trader Joes Roasted Garlic Marinara); depending on how large your mushrooms are, the sauce amount will vary
  • 2-3 Tbsp. shredded, fine parmesan cheese
  • 1 small Roma tomato
  • 6-8 spinach leaves depending on how large they are
  • dried thyme
  • dried basil
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Once your mushrooms have been cleaned, dried, and de-stemmed, place them on the grille for about 3-4 minutes (this was on my George Foreman where they were pressed, if on a normal grille, do about 2-3 minutes on each side; you may want to brush with a little olive oil as well to avoid sticking on a normal grille). Slice your Roma tomatoes to make about 1/2-1 cm thick rounds. You will need 6 slices total, so if your tomato is extra small you may need to use a second. A full-sized vine ripe or steak tomato may be used instead, just use one slice as it should take up about the same size as 3 Roma rounds. Once your mushrooms have been grilled, place them on a baking dish, lined with foil and sprayed with a little cooking spray. The stem side of the mushroom should be facing up. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of sauce onto each mushroom cap. One top of the sauce, place a few spinach leaves to cover the sauce. Press them down gently so that they flatten out. Place 3 tomato slices on top of the spinach. Season with a pinch of dried thyme, dried basil, a little black pepper, and garlic powder. Once each mushroom has been seasoned, top each one with out 1 Tbsp. of shredded, fine parmesan cheese. If you would like your mushrooms a bit cheesier, go ahead an add a little more cheese! The parmesan cheese adds a salty taste, so there is no need to add extra salt. Place the mushrooms into the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is fully melted and starting to get a little golden brown on the edges. Enjoy your mushrooms with a side salad or a little pasta of your choice! Enjoy!

 

 


Herb & Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries

Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries

Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries

Who doesn’t like fries? French fries are a true indulgence for me. Salty, spicy, or sweet, I will take any fry that I can get! This past weekend I decided to test out a new kind of fry that I hadn’t yet made, zucchini fries! This recipe is simple, yet flavorful and satisfying. Of course, nothing can compare to a good, crispy potato fry, but if you are looking for a lighter version that can still give you a little crunch and satisfaction this will surely do it!

Herb & Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries

Ingredients:

  • 1 small zucchini or 1/2 large zucchini
  • 2-4 Tbsp whole-wheat or white flour
  • 2 egg whites with a splash of cold water
  • 1/2 cup plain, unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl mix your bread crumbs, herbs, garlic powder, and black pepper. Feel free to add more or less of any of the seasonings as preferred. I did not add any salt, but feel free to add that as well. Place your bread crumb mixture onto a larger dish so that it provides enough room for you to later toss the zucchini. On a separate dish or in a cereal bowl, mix 2 egg whites with a splash of cold water and set aside. In a 3rd dish, spoon out your flour. Slice your zucchini into strips and then cut into fries  (whatever thickness you prefer). My fries were a little thicker; thin fries (more straw-like) will take about 2-3 minutes less to cook. The thicker the fry, the longer you can expect your cook time to be.

Lightly toss your zucchini pieces in the flour. There should only be a light coating of flour on the zucchini. This will help the egg whites have something to stick to. Next, evenly coat the zucchini in the egg white mixture. Lastly, toss the zucchini in the bread crumb mixture. On a lightly greased baking sheet, spread out your zucchini pieces evenly. Try not to move them around too much once you have laid them out to keep as much of the bread crumbs on each piece as possible. Sprinkle your shredded parmesan cheese on top of the fries and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. To assure even browning, flip your fries halfway through the cooking time. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice such as marinara, light ranch dressing, ketchup, or whatever you think sounds good!

Enjoy 🙂