Healthified Chicken Parmigiana!

One of my all-time favorite dishes to order when out at an Italian restaurant is chicken parmigiana. ūüôā I love the crispy chicken covered in marinara with gooey melted mozz on top! Delish! However, I know that meal is probably worth 3 meals and goes straight to my stomach and/or hips! Every once in a while it is worth the splurge. But at home I am not as willing to drop my daily calories on one meal {not that I count calories, although I should if I want to get serious about weight training again!}!! So, when I stumbled across this healthified remix of chicken parm I was so excited! ¬†I just had to get the hubby on board to be my taste tester!

This recipe cuts the calories by using whole grain crackers and egg whites versus full egg and bread crumbs. Also, the addition of fresh herbs really helps this dish stand out. I loved that you could still get the crunch that chicken parm has, but with a healthy spin. It was nice knowing that you were eating whole grain versus white bread crumbs. Also, this version is baked and not fried whereas a lot of restaurant versions are pan fried in oil. All in all – this recipe was a keeper! Aside from a few extra dishes to clean thanks to the use of the food processor, I think this recipe is a keeper!

Delish! Don’t let the pictures fool you. This was a yummy dish! {Forgive me for the horrible photo quality – I chalk it up to absolutely no free time. Oh the life of a grad student/student teacher!}

Healthifed Chicken Parmigiana

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces baked whole-grain wheat crackers, such as Triscuits {about 12 }
    **I would suggest throwing in a few extra for good measure!
  • 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cans {28 ounces} diced tomatoes (no salt added), with juice
  • 1 can {8 ounces} tomato puree
  • 1/2 medium onion {3 ounces}, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped {3 teaspoons}
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves {6 ounces each}
  • 3 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated {about 1 cup}
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated {about 1/2 cup}

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pulse crackers, parsley, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor until finely ground. Season with pepper, and transfer to a plate. Puree tomatoes with juice, onion, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt with an immersion blender or in clean food processor until smooth.
  2. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with oil. Lightly whisk egg whites, and transfer to a shallow dish. Dip each chicken breast half in whites to fully coat; let excess drip off. Dredge chicken in crumb mixture, lightly pressing, to coat both sides.
  3. Transfer chicken to prepared baking dish, and flip once to coat in oil. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour tomato sauce over chicken, allowing some sauce underneath each piece. Top with cheeses, and bake until bubbling and top is lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

Source & recipe adapted from: Whole Living

Weekly Question – What is your favorite restaurant meal?¬†Leave me your answer either on the blog as a comment or on the {Santies Sunnyside Up} Facebook page! By the way, if you haven’t, go like the official Facebook page!!!

Have a blessed day friends!

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37/52: Turkey & Spinach Stuffed Shells *and* freezer meal tutorial!

Hello fellow foodies!

How has your week been? Fabulous¬†I hope. Mine has been… interesting.¬†The past two weeks have been¬†transition weeks for¬†me for certain.¬†Last week was the first week of fall semester so that means it was the first week of balancing my internship at the elementary school and classes on campus. Aside from the craziness on Tuesday {internship, class, back to internship site for meeting with university supervisor, groceries, home — crazy!} the week¬†was pretty good! Oh, and like usual PNW fashion, we¬†experienced the hottest weather of the “summer”. I say that with quotations because we are just now really getting summer. Boy oh boy, I do not even want to tell you about how warm our classrooms {at the elementary school, well campus classrooms too} were. Y-U-C-K. I do not have enough professional “summer” clothes in my wardrobe! This week has been even more interesting. Our school district has gone on strike and that means as student teachers we are staying neutral and have to stay away from our schools. I miss my kiddos! Hopefully this will be over by week’s end. Needless to say, trying to pin down a ‘routine’ has been… well, next to impossible! ūüėČ

A few weeks ago… in anticipation of my ever-changing schedule, I¬†decided it would be good to¬†try to “stock-up” on home cooked meals since I won’t have the time I used to cook in the evening. So, I bring to you my first ever… {attempt at a}¬†tutorial! I think knowing how to freeze meals is a great skill to have. One that I had never truly considered until talking with a past co-worker and reading many blogs. Not only is this a great skill to have for stocking up {think baby on the way, busy schedule approaching, gifts for expectant parents, etc.}, but a great skill when cooking for two. I cannot tell you how many times we have wasted 1/3 or even a 1/2 of a casserole in my house. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to make half a recipe, especially when the recipe calls for a full can of this, or that. So what to do? Make 1/2 and freeze 1/2! Perfect!

This can be done with a lot of meals. I have successfully done this with: lasagna, stuffed shells, enchiladas and macaroni and cheese. Practically any casserole would work well. I am going to walk you through the steps of making stuffed shells, with baking 1/2 and freezing half.

First… the recipe! I have interjected freezing directions in with the normal directions. If you are making a full dish of stuffed shells, make them in a 13X9 casserole dish, not the 9X9. And omit the bold directions.

Turkey and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:
12 oz. package large shell pasta
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 onion – chopped
1 lb ground turkey
dried basil
dried oregano
garlic powder
1 10 oz. pkg frozen spinach – thawed and drained
2 c ricotta cheese
1 c grated parmesan cheese
1-2 jars spaghetti sauce {I prefer Bertolli marinara — nothing fancy, just yummy spaghetti sauce!}
1-2 pkgs shredded mozzarella cheese
9X9 aluminum pan {if freezing half}

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.¬†Cook shells al dente {8-10 minutes usually}, drain and set aside {Tip: Prior to stuffing, make sure they are dry inside the shell to reduce the chances of ‘watery’ shells}.
2. Saute garlic and onions. Add ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper, basil, oregano and garlic powder to taste. Remove from heat, add spinach, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and parmesan. I like to transfer mine into a bowl to combine at this point.



3. Stuff shells with mixture — place in baking dish.
*3b. Note: at this point if you are freezing, make sure you have a 9X9 casserole dish and a 9X9 aluminum catering pan for freezing. Stuff as many as possible into the casserole dish for dinner tonight, stuff the remaining shells into the aluminum pan — set aside aluminum pan once filled {do not top with sauce and cheese yet} until after step 4.


4. Cover the shells with sauce and remaining package of mozzarella cheese.

5. Cover with foil and bake 30-40 minutes {remove foil during the last 5-10 minutes to allow cheese to bubble}.
*5b. Now that dinner is in the oven, bring the aluminum pan back into the picture. You have two options here. 1) cover with marinara and mozzarella cheese so all you have to do is thaw and cook, or 2) freeze without sauce and cheese, and add right before baking.


6. While dinner is baking, cover the aluminum pan with foil — secure tightly around the edges. I like to secure with two pieces of foil. It is also helpful to write what dinner is in the pan, any re-heating instructions, etc. This is especially helpful in case my husband needs to pop dinner into the oven before I’m home! ūüôā {Or if I forget and am too lazy to look up the recipe.} Make sure to put the date on the foil! Your freezer meal should be good between 6-10 months in the freezer. To bake — pull out the night before and put in the fridge. Pull from fridge and follow heating instructions.


7. Serve with garlic bread, salad, green beans, etc… whatever you like with italian. Most importantly… enjoy!

Source & recipe: {Santies Sunnyside Up}

Freezing is so easy!

Quick “go-to” directions for freezing meals:

1. Make a full recipe of whatever you want to freeze all the way through the assembly portion.

2. At this point if you are making half a recipe for dinner, continue through cooking/baking directions. For the other half that will be frozen, cover with foil and write cooking/baking directions on the final piece of foil. {I tend to double cover mine to make sure that frost stays out}. If you are freezing both halves, follow directions for freezing.

3. Make sure you do not freeze dinners after baking! You want to only do the required “pre-cooking”.

4. Throw meal in freezer until ready to use!

5. To thaw: Remove at least one night before and thaw in fridge {if your fridge is like mine, you might need to leave out on the counter for a few hours prior to placing in fridge for final thaw}.

6. Cook/bake as directed on the recipe directions!

So easy! I love it. If you plan ahead, you can freeze a lot of goodies. I love knowing I have home cooked meals at my fingertips.

Oh hello frozen stuffed shells! … :Cough, cough: Please ignore the dis-organized freezer. ūüėČ I will bring you a yummy enchilada recipe in the near future. But I also wanted to quickly talk about cookie dough! You can just make cookie dough balls, freeze in a ziplock and pull out and bake. Just like the cookie dough you buy from school fundraisers, etc. BUT the best part?! You know everything that is already in the cookies, no preservatives.

This came in handy when I was baking August’s baking project. I forgot how big Nestle cookie dough recipes are! I got half way through the dough and realized we would never be able to finish the cookies. I decided to try freezing the dough. I used my cookie scoop to make cookie dough balls.¬†I placed them inside zip-locks in packs of 6,¬†I figured a half-dozen¬†cookies would be a perfect amount for hubby and I. Then I labeled the outside of the zip-lock with the date and type of dough!

Throw these babies into the freezer until ready to use! When ready to bake, place on a cookie sheet and bake as is. Just like you would with the frozen fundraiser cookie dough. So easy.

Although I must say it is almost way too tempting knowing that these are in the freezer. I am a sucker for cookie dough!

I hope this gives you some great ideas for saving wasted food or saving time! Let me know if you try freezing something yummy that I haven’t, or if you have had success with freezing something that I didn’t list! I am always looking for new ideas. ūüôā

Until next week…