Ready for the week ahead – and beyond!

Another fun day in the kitchen getting ready for the week ahead, putting a twist on an old favorite and sharing a nutritious breakfast cookie that’s perfect for those days you’re running out the door!

You know I’m a big fan of the versatile breaded chicken tender, so today I thought about preparing eggplant in the same way to make Eggplant Parmesan.  The original recipe shared back in 2011 starts by lightly frying the eggplant slices on the stovetop before assembling.  Today I decided to start with breaded eggplant slices that I baked in the oven before putting the layers together.  I even made some more of my favorite chicken tenders while I was at it!

Picture of breaded eggplant slices

Breaded Eggplant Slices

Picture of breaded baked chicken tenders

Breaded Chicken Tenders

 

 

 

 

As I was in and out of the refrigerator, I remembered I had some fresh basil that I bought last week to make the Basil & Goat Cheese Chicken Breasts, so in staying true to form with ‘never throwing anything away,’ in the food processor went the basil leaves and PRESTO, out come a few small containers of PESTO!

Picture of 3 small containers of basil pesto

Basil Pesto

 

 

 

 

Finally, I made another double batch of these delicious and nutritious Peanut Butter Power Cookies.  I found this recipe last August when I was looking for an ‘on the go’ breakfast treat to share as we headed out on a small group trip, and these have been a staple in our house from then on.  A double batch makes about 30 cookies, so I store them in the freezer and they are ready anytime.  I grab a couple to eat in the early morning hours on my way to the gym – feeling good about it all the way there!

Picture of Peanut Butter Power Cookies

Peanut Butter Power Cookies

 

Ready for the week ahead – and I hope you are, too!  Buon Appetito!

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8 Home-Cooked Meals for under $20?? No Problem – I’ve got you covered!

As I’ve shared many times before, I spend a few hours in the kitchen every weekend and we’ve got fresh and delicious home-cooked meals throughout the week ahead – and beyond!  Today’s adventure in the kitchen (and this blog post) isn’t about a new recipe I’ve been waiting to try, but all about my regular routine of ensuring I can always answer the question, “What’s for Dinner?” (and lunch, too, for that matter!)

So what does 8 meals for under $20 look like?

Chicken Salad Roasted Chicken goat-cheese-basil-chicken

 

 

 

 

I reserved 4 of the chicken breasts to prepare the Goat Cheese-Basil Chicken that will go in the freezer for easy weeknight meals (2 [2 serving] meals) that can be on the table in 45 minutes.  Then I roasted the remaining 2 chicken breasts with all the dark meat pieces.  The roasted breast meat (and a few of the thighs) were used to make the Chicken Salad (Quart size container – Easily 4-5 servings), and the rest of the dark meat pieces to be served alongside a salad, rice or potato, for another 2 [2 serving] meals.  (I saved the back bones to make chicken stock, too!)

Although I’ve shared each of these food prep ideas before, I thought it worth another post to remind everyone that fresh and delicious home-cooked are always within reach – at a fraction of the cost of going out or stopping at the drive-thru window on your way home from work.

I’m reminded about what I wrote in the “About Joe” section of this blog nearly 7 years ago, and it’s still true today.  Here’s an excerpt from that section:

I’ll write about shopping smart and turning leftovers into delightful new creations.  I’ll share ideas on dishes that can be made ahead and placed in the freezer to ensure a hot healthy meal after a long day at work.

I believe everyone can enjoy home-cooked meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – and feel good about what you’re doing for yourself and others in the process!  Food is a great way to share a part of yourself – and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

Thanks for joining me on my adventures in the kitchen, and I hope you’re inspired to try some of the recipes and prep-ahead ideas to reduce stress, eat fresh, and enjoy great food together!

Buon appetito!

 

 

 

 


Everything Old is New Again!

Too many holiday leftovers?  Have you sworn you’ve eaten them for the last time?  Get creative and turn them into something new – with half the work already done for you!  Here are a couple of tasty treats I made after a 3-day food fest over Christmas weekend!

Chicken Pot Pie made with leftover chicken – 3 ways, a half bag of leftover fresh spinach leaves, a big bunch of carrots, some roasted potatoes, and a few other veggies (both cooked and uncooked) that rounded out the list of repurposed leftovers!

Picture of Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

I also had an extra pound (ball) of dough from a couple of pizza rolls I made over the Christmas weekend, so I decided to make a pizza with whatever I could find in the refrigerator.  I make my own pizzas at home all the time, but this was a first with only leftover ingredients I could find in the refrigerator.  I knew I had a little leftover red sauce and some mozzarella and parmesan cheeses on hand, but I wasn’t sure what else.  I served some delicious hard salami earlier in the week, so whatever I had left of that went on the pizza.  After a little more searching, I came across a container of spinach artichoke dip that I prepared a few nights earlier – and that became the perfect (last) topping before popping it in the oven.

Picture of fresh baked pizza

‘Anything Goes’ Pizza

I hope you all enjoyed this holiday season in whatever way you celebrate – and I hope it was filled with good food and fun!  Here’s to a delicious 2017!

Buon Appetito!


Economical, Flexible, Delicious!

Cooking on a regular basis doesn’t mean you have to come up with something new and different each and every time.  What it does mean is that you and your family will have healthy home-prepared meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – even fast food!  As part of this weekend’s ‘Sunday Fun-day in the Kitchen’, here’s a tray of breaded chicken cutlets (that have made an appearance on this blog before) that was the result of 3 large boneless chicken breasts for $5.18!!  Imagine the possibilities:  Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Sandwiches, Sliced Chicken atop a Green Salad, or any other way you can imagine eating crispy delicious oven-baked breaded chicken cutlets! – And what a bargain!!

Platter of Breaded Chicken Cutlets

Breaded Chicken Cutlets

Using a sharp knife, filet the boneless chicken breast to about 1/4″ thick, then cut into 4-5 cutlet size pieces.

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper both sides of each piece, dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg, then coat with seasoned bread crumb mixture.  Place on a prepared (cooking spray) baking sheet pan, drizzle olive oil between and around the pieces, then bake for about 15 minutes on each side to a crispy golden brown.  (You should shake the pan about half way through the cooking on each side to ensure the cutlets don’t stick to the pan.  Add more olive oil as needed.)  Once cooked, move cutlets to rest on a plate – then enjoy!  These store really well in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Now you know what’s for dinner!


Simple, Delicious, Roasted Chicken Salad

After all the years I’ve been making Roasted Chicken Salad, I realized it’s never made an official appearance on this blog.  I’ll share the way I go about making it, but it’s up to you how you’ll make it your own.  It’s really as easy as 1, 2, 3:

Picture of oven roasted chicken breasts

1.  Roasted Chicken Breasts

Picture of Chopped Carrots, Celery, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries

2. Chopped Carrots, Celery, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries

Picture of Chicken Salad with Crackers

3. Chicken Salad – Ready to Eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started with 4 bone-in/skin on chicken breasts.  (You could use boneless/skinless, too, but I like the flavor from the bone and skin during roasting.)  Drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/pepper.  Roast in a 400F oven for about 50-60 minutes.  You’ll know they’re ready when they’re golden brown and the internal temperature is at 160F.  Let cool, then remove meat from the skin/bone and chop into small size dice.  Set aside in large bowl (for mixing.)

Chop about 1/2 cup (2 stalks) celery, 1/2 cup (2-3 small) carrots, and a handful each of walnuts and dried cranberries.  Add to the chopped chicken.

Mix chicken and ‘chopped goodness’ with about 1 cup mayo (or combo of 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt,) about 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and about 1/4 tsp. kosher salt.  (Since the chicken breasts were seasoned with salt/pepper, you’ll want to add additional to your taste.)

That’s it!  Simple and Delicious.  Eat with your favorite crackers, on your favorite bread as a sandwich, or put a scoop on top of a salad.  Now matter how you enjoy it – you’ll be making it again and again!  Enjoy!


Sunday, Fun Day, SOUP!!

It was anything but cold here in San Diego this past weekend, but it is winter – and with that comes the craving for delicious nutritious soup!  You know my freezer is always stocked with homemade soup selections, so it was time to restock!  Here’s what came from two chickens and a few vegetables:

4 Quarts Chicken Soup, 5 Quarts Roasted Chicken Lentil Soup, Chicken Salad, and Roasted Chicken (with sweet potatoes) for dinner!

Chicken Soup/Roasted Chicken Lentil Soup

Chicken Soup/Roasted Chicken Lentil Soup

The recipe for this lentil soup is straight from Ina Garten’s Vegetable Lentil Soup recipe, with the added deliciousness of  shredded roasted chicken!  Either way, it’ll warm you up!

Roasted!

 

 

 

 

 

Lentil and Roasted Chicken Soup
(Vegetarian – Omit the Roasted Chicken)
1 pound lentils
3 large yellow onions
2 leeks, white parts only (chopped)
3 cloves garlic – minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 TBSP minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp. ground cumin
8 celery stalks – ½-inch chop
6 carrots – ½-inch chop
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 Bone-In Roasted Chicken Breasts (shredded) – optional

In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large stockpot on medium heat, sauté the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Add the red wine and shredded chicken.   Serve hot, sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
 

Versatile Chicken!  I love to make chicken salad with roasted chicken, so I cut up the two chickens, roasted the 4 breast halves with the legs and wings, used the two backs and all the thighs for the chicken soup.  Two of the roasted chicken breast halves were shredded for the Lentil soup, and the other two were chopped and combined with some chopped celery, carrots, walnuts, dried cranberries, a dash each of Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and cumin, along with a couple spoonfuls of mayo – and voila – Roasted Chicken Salad!

Treat yourself to a Sunday, Fun Day in the kitchen – and reap the reward with meal after meal!

Your freezer IS your pantry – saving money, saving time!