Garlic-Parm Quinoa and Zucchini

3 05 2016

You know how sometimes you just need a quick side dish? Well, here’s one right here to add to your arsenal – quick and healthy quinoa and zucchini with just a few ingredients.

Garlic-Parm Quinoa and Zucchini

The following serves 3-4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2.5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, cut down the center lengthwise and then into moons
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Cook quinoa with 2 cups chicken stock according to package directions. Reserve the 1/2 cup for later.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and zucchini and saute until starting to brown and soften, flipping once, 5 minutes or so. Add the butter, garlic and salt to taste and continue to saute until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant, another couple of minutes. Add the cooked quinoa and the rest of the chicken stock, and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and add the cheese, cooking and stirring another minute or two until the stock is absorbed and everything is combined. Taste, and season with salt as needed.

Creamy Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Chicken and Kale

8 01 2015

This comfy casserole will help keep you warm on a bitter cold night. There’s no flour, butter or excess cheese, so you can feel good about diving into this healthy take on mac-n-cheese!

Creamy Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Chicken and Kale

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Food52):

  • 1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cubed, about 4 cups cubed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (or skim milk)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 small box (13 oz) whole wheat penne
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 4 oz plain goat cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
  • Panko breadcrumbs

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, stock and garlic cloves to a simmer. Add cubed squash and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer until squash is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. Season chicken with a little salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes to taste. Add to skillet and cook until just browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and add to bowl with pasta. Bake in the skillet, add 2-3 cups of chopped kale – add a little at a time, wilting slightly as you go. Remove sautéed kale from skillet and add to the bowl with pasta.

When the squash is tender, remove from the heat and transfer (carefully) to a high-powered blender. Puree until smooth.

Add the puree, a little at a time, to the bowl with the pasta, along with the goat cheese and parmesan cheese. Mix everything until well combined and the cheese melts. I added a little puree at a time as I didn’t need to use it all, and will save some for another sauce. You want everything to look really creamy with a little extra sauce mixed in as it will thicken in the oven.

Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with panko and more grated parmesan.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes before serving.

Twice-Baked Potatoes With Parmesan, Cream Cheese and Chives

22 04 2014

I served these fancy looking twice-baked potatoes at my family’s Easter dinner this past weekend, and they were a big hit! Deliciously creamy and so pretty to look at, they can be made ahead of time which is helpful when you’re cooking for a dinner party. Although I made 30 servings for the fam (that’s a lot of potats for real!), the recipe below is for two servings.

Twice-Baked Potatoes With Parmesan, Cream Cheese and Chives_Before

Twice-Baked Potatoes With Parmesan, Cream Cheese and Chives_Before

Twice-Baked Potatoes With Parmesan, Cream Cheese and Chives_After

Twice-Baked Potatoes With Parmesan, Cream Cheese and Chives_After

The following makes 2 servings (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat and Cuisine at Home):

  • 2 large russet potatoes, washed, thoroughly dried and pricked with a fork
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesean, plus more for topping
  • 2 Tbsp reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp chopped chives, plus more for topping
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425.

Bake potatoes directly on the oven rack until tender, about 1 hour. Trim off potato ends evenly so they can stand up easily. Then halve the potatoes, and let them rest until cool enough to handle.

Using a small spoon, scoop out potato flesh from the four halves into a bowl, leaving 1/8-inch on two of the halves, you can discard the other two halves. Scoop out the flesh slowly to ensure the skins don’t crack.

Mash/puree the potato flesh until smooth using a hand blender or immersion blender with 1/2 cup parmesean, the cream cheese, butter, zest and the chives. Season filling with salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture looks too dry, you can add a splash of cream or milk.

Spray the inside of a Ziploc bag with nonstick spray. Add the potatoes to the bag, seal and cut a small tip off the corner of the bottom of the bag. Pipe the filling back into the potato shells in a swirling motion so that it almost has the appearance of soft serve ice cream. Top with more parmesan and chives.

At this point, you can chill the potatoes until you’re ready to serve. Bring them back to room temp before baking.

Bake potatoes on a baking sheet or pan until heated through and starting to brown on top, about 15 minutes.

Eggplant Parmesan Baguette

30 03 2014

We hosted a dinner party last night and served freshly baked baguette bread from our local baker with the meal. There was no way I was going to let it go to waste, so today I took the leftovers (bread and marinara sauce) and turned them into a fabulous parmesan sandwich with eggplant. This is such a scrumptious, meatless meal that’s fork and knife worthy!

Eggplant Parmesan Baguette

Eggplant Parmesan Baguette

The following is compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Eggplant, sliced into 1-inch rounds
  • Eggs, beaten
  • Grated parmesan
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Aged parmesan, sliced
  • Fresh baguette, sliced into sandwich-size pieces
  • Fresh basil leaves

Slice the eggplant and lay them in a single layer on a cooling rack. Season liberally with salt. Once the eggplant has sweated, blot them dry with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 350.

Add a few Tbsps of oil to a large saute pan and heat over medium-high.

Beat eggs (start with 2 or 3 depending how many slices of eggplant you have, you may have to beat more) and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture until fully coated. Then place in the hot skillet and saute until golden brown on both sides, 5-8 minutes. Place browned eggplant back on the cooling rack inside a baking sheet. Continue to dip and brown eggplant until you’ve used up all the eggplant. Transfer baking sheet with the eggplant to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place sliced cheese on top, as much as desired. Place back in the oven until cheese melts.

Meanwhile, warm marinara sauce in a saucepan over low heat, or make sauce – see recipe below.

Slice baguette in half horizontally, and vertically into sandwich-size pieces. Place in the oven for a few minutes to warm.

Remove both eggplant and baguette from the oven.

To serve, spread some marinara on pieces of warmed baguette. Top one piece of baguette with 2-3 eggplant slices and a few basil leaves. Top with another piece of sauced baguette. Enjoy with a side salad. Pictured here is baby arugula tossed with lemon juice and olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

For the marinara:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • Handful fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, add a Tbsp or so of oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook for a few minutes until soft. Next add the minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, cook for another minute. Add tomatoes and basil, bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper to taste, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Off heat, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce slightly.

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

31 01 2014

Get dinner on the table fast with this simple, fresh pasta dish. This spaghetti is bright and lemony, with a nice kick of heat. Serve it as a side along with a protein, or as a main dish like I have here with roasted asparagus. Delicious with a crisp white wine!

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

Spicy, Lemony Spaghetti With Roasted Garlic Asparagus

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 Tbsp chili pepper paste
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425. Toss asparagus spears with olive oil, half the chopped garlic and kosher salt to taste. Roast 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and season liberally with salt. Cook spaghetti to al dente according to package directions.

In a large saute pan, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmery, lower the heat and add the rest of the chopped garlic and chili paste, stirring constantly so garlic doesn’t burn. If you want it even spicier, add a pinch of red pepper flakes as well. Cook on low for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon, and season with salt to taste.

Reserve about a cup of the pasta water, then strain the cooked pasta and add it to the chili-lemon oil in the saute pan. Toss spaghetti in the sauce over low heat, adding some of the pasta water to bring the sauce together. Remove from heat and add the grated parmesan.

Divide pasta among plates and garnish with parsley and a few red pepper flakes. Top with asparagus spears and serve with more grated parmesan.

Baked Chicken Milanese With a Mushroom, Spinach and Sherried Tomato Ragu

30 01 2014

Milanese is a breaded meat cutlet that is traditionally dredged in an egg, flour and breadcrumb mixture and pan-fried. I’m offering a healthier version on this Italian classic. By only dredging in oil and panko, and baking verses frying, you can still achieve a deliciously, crunchy coating.

You’ll find milanese often served with an arugula and/or tomato salad on top. But in addition, I was craving something a bit warmer on this cold night. This mushroom and spinach ragu pairs very nicely with the chicken cutlet. Overall, this is a delicious meal that you can feel good about enjoying! 🙂

Baked Chicken Milanese With a Mushroom, Spinach and Sherried Tomato Ragu

Baked Chicken Milanese With a Mushroom, Spinach and Sherried Tomato Ragu

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat and Cuisine For Two):

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied open
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 3 containers (8 oz each) sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes, use whatever you have
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 bag (9 oz) baby spinach
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme, or a dusting of dried thyme
  • Arugula
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To butterfly the chicken, cut breasts in half lengthwise almost to the end, just be careful not to cut all the way through. Unfold the top half to lay flat. Whisk 1/3 cup of olive oil with the lemon zest in a medium bowl. Add the cutlets and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450.

Combine the panko and parmesan in a shallow dish. Dredge the marinated chicken breasts in the panko mixture, pressing the chicken into the mixture to adhere. I eyeball the measurements here – you can always add more panko and cheese if needed to completely cover all the cutlets. Transfer to a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake chicken for 20-25 minutes, or until browned on both sides and cooked through, turning half way through.

While the chicken bakes, work on the ragu. In a large saute pan over medium heat, saute shallots in the leftover flavored oil you used to marinate the chicken in until soft. Increase heat to medium-high, add the mushrooms and saute until brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, broth, sherry, vinegar and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Wilt in the spinach and season ragu with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with parsley and thyme.

To serve, plate the ragu and top with a little parmesan cheese. Add a piece of chicken, garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh parsley. Top with a little arugula dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and a salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled Chicken Parmesan

30 10 2013

It’s the end of October and we have nearly a 60 degree day in CLE….that means I’m headed out to the grill! Chicken parm doesn’t have to be heavy and can be healthy, the simple trick is to grill it. Serve with a side of veggies and you have a really healthy meal!

Grilled Chicken Parmesan

Grilled Chicken Parmesan

The following serves 4 (compliments of Cuisine Lite and This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Shredded parmesan or reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 3 lb roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled
  • 6 cloves garlic, wrapped in foil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Fresh basil

For the marinara sauce: Heat a Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion (chop it in large chunks first) and cook for a few minutes. Add garlic, peeled, whole cloves are fine. Cook another few minutes, then add the tomatoes. Cook another 5-7 minutes until tomatoes have cooked through. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp each kosher salt and red pepper flakes; and pulse until onion and garlic are well minced and tomatoes are pureed. Stir in sliced basil and set aside.

  • You could also grill the marinara sauce, which would offer more of a smokey flavor: Preheat grill to medium. Toss tomatoes and onion with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Grill tomatoes and onion in a grill basket along with garlic packet, covered, until skin begins to peel away from the tomatoes, about 7 minutes. Flip basket and garlic packet, grill 5-7 minutes more. Remove from the grill. When cook enough to handle, pulse onion and garlic in a food processor until minced. Add tomatoes, 1 Tbsp oil and 1/2 tsp each kosher salt and red pepper flakes; puree until smooth. Stir in sliced basil and set aside.

For the chicken: Pound the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 1/2-inch thick. Coat chicken lightly with olive oil, salt, pepper and dried oregano. Grill chicken, covered, over medium-high heat for 3 minutes on one side. Flip chicken, grill until cooked through, 3 minutes more. Top each breast with 3 Tbsp of the marinara sauce and 2 Tbsp shredded cheese. Cover and grill until cheese melts.

I also quickly sauteed some baby spinach in olive oil and salt, and also roasted some broccoli tossed in olive oil, salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes in the oven on 400 until charred to serve along with the chicken. To serve, put some of the marinara on the plate, top with sauteed spinach then top the spinach with the chicken, adding more marinara if you’d like. Serve along with roasted broccoli (or other roasted veggie of your choice) or a side of pasta topped with more sauce.