Bon Appetite

Foodie Diaries: Bacon-Wrapped Pesto Chicken

I love bacon, in fact, I love it so much I feel like it should be it’s own group on the food pyramid. Chicken is my BFF (sorry, Mercedes), I eat literally every other day. So a dish featuring two of my all-time favorites? I’m so down. I got hip to this dish after a guy that I was supposed to go on a date with (I decided to go in a different direction) suggested to make it together. The date, once it finally happened, was a disaster but I got this awesome recipe so I’ll take that as a win. This recipe is super simple and it is the personification of happiness, so you should definitely try it.


Ingredients:

  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (pounded flat)
  • Salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 tablespoons of prepared basil pesto
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Basil pesto:

  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts
  • 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup of freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Directions for pesto:

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth and season the mixture with salt and pepper. If you’re using it immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

Directions for chicken:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lay the chicken breast flat and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Spread the pesto over the chicken breast, and roll the chicken breast in a slice of bacon securing the roll with toothpicks. Lay the rolled chicken breast in a 9×9-inch baking dish. Pour the vegetable oil over the chicken breasts.

Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is no longer pink inside and the bacon is crisp, about 30 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a roll should read at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Take the baking dish out and let it cool for five to six minutes. Garnish, plate, and enjoy!

Recipe Makeovers: Spinach Stuffed Flounder

The new year is a perfect time for a health makeover, but executing it is most often easier said than done. Around this time of year most people flood the gyms, break out the juicers, and start some crazy fad diet (the Baby Food Diet? Yuck!). All of this lasts a good two months tops. Getting healthier isn’t rocket science when you know what you’re doing. You have to keep in mind that becoming a healthier you isn’t a 100 yard dash, but a marathon. Marathons take time, you have to pace yourself. The same concepts apply when you decide to buckle down and start living a healthier life. I’ve added some tips below to help make this getting healthy kick a cakewalk (carrot cake, it’s better for you), and a recipe at the end. Enjoy!

1. Make a swap

There are so many benefits that go along with healthy substitutions. Not only do they reduce the amount of fat, calories and salt in your recipes, but they can also boost the nutritional content. Here are some tips:

  • Choose low-fat or fat-free versions of ingredients like milk, yogurt, sour cream, cheese or mayonnaise. Substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream is a great option.
  • Opt for “light” margarine in place of butter.
  • Choose light or low-fat condiments like salad dressing, dips and sauces.
  • Try using hummus instead of high-fat spreads and condiments.

2. Limit or Omit Some Ingredients

In some recipes, you can completely eliminate an ingredient or scale back on the amount you use. You can:

  • Eliminate toppings that are used only for presentation like whipped toppings, coconut, frosting, chocolate chips or cheese and butter toppings for casseroles.
  • Omit salt from recipes and add your favorite salt-free seasoning blends, herbs, citrus zest, juice or vinegars.
  • Use low-sodium marinades and soy sauce. Cut the amount a recipe calls for in half to reduce the salt content.
  • Use 1/2 the amount of cheese a recipe calls for and opt for sharp versions for more flavor.
  • Use egg whites instead of whole eggs. One whole egg is equal to two egg whites in recipe conversions.

3. Healthy Cooking Methods

The way you prepare food can also alter its nutrient content. You can:

  • Retain nutrients in vegetables by steaming
  • Bake, broil, grill, poach, stir fry or roast lean meats instead of frying or sautéing.
  • To intensify veggie flavors try roasting them with 1-2 tsp of oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. You can try this with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, string beans, cauliflower, zucchini and wedges of cabbage.
  • If you need a “crunchy” texture, try oven “frying” or pan frying instead of deep frying and opt for a healthy oil such as canola or olive oil

spinach stuffed flounder

Spinach Stuffed Flounder
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes*

Ingredients:
2 tsp. olive oil
3 shallots, finely diced (1/4 cup)
1 tsp. no-salt-added garlic and herb seasoning
1 (10-oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup lower sodium chicken broth or dry white wine
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan
6 (4-oz.) flounder fillets

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. For the filling, in a medium skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and seasoning; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until shallots are tender. Add spinach and chicken broth or wine. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until wine has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes to cool. Add Parmesan; toss until well-combined. Set aside.

2. Place fillets on a clean work surface; season both sides with pepper to taste. Place three rounded tablespoons of the filling on the center of each fillet. Fold the tail end of each fillet over filling and roll up, securing with toothpicks if necessary. Place rolls, seam side down, in baking dish; coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through and fish flakes easily with a fork. Transfer to a platter, and serve.

Makes: 6 servings
Per serving: 170 calories, 5g fat, 2g saturated fat, 50mg cholesterol, 300mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 21g protein
*10 minutes cooling time extra

I hope you guys enjoy this recipe and it helps you get in the habit of cooking and eating healthier. Do you have any favorite healthy recipes you love? How about New Year’s resolutions? Comment them below, I’d love to read them. Enjoy your weekend and stay beautiful lovies ❤

What’s For Dinner?: Blackened Chicken with Avocado Cream Sauce

Planning what to make for dinner can sometimes be an arduous process.

Me: “So what do you want for dinner?”

Him: “Umm…I don’t know. Chicken?”

Me: “Ugh! Chicken again? I’m chickened out!”

Him: “McDonalds…?”

Me: “Yuck! Do you have any idea what’s in that stuff?”

Him: “Pizza.”

Me: “We had pizza Friday, I want real food.”

Him: “Nachos.”

Me: “I’ll go unthaw the chicken.”

The above exchange is an actual transcript of how this process usually goes. Chicken over and over is boring, there are only so many ways you can cook a fish, and is mad cow disease still a thing? Why is this so difficult? It actually doesn’t have to be this way. One of the great things about cooking is that you can cook the same thing (meat, vegetables, ect.) in a new way, tweak the ingredients, and end up with something amazing. So when faced with the seemingly mundane option of chicken, again, I decided to try something a little different. If you’re tired of cooking the same old bird, and are looking to kick it up a couple notches, the following recipe is sure do just that.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Yields 4 servings

Serving size: I chicken breast, 1 cup of quinoa, & 1/8 cup of cream sauce

Ingredients:

  • 4 4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Directions

In a medium size sauce pan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the quinoa, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, covered. When it’s finished cooking (no liquid will be left), stir in the scallions and a 1/2 tsp of lemon juice.

In a small bowl, mix the paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, onion powder, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the chicken breasts.

Next, spray a large frying pan with non-stick cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, cook the chicken breasts for 7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Make sure to cover the pan while they’re cooking.

Meanwhile, mix the Greek yogurt, remaining lemon juice, garlic powder and avocado in a food processor.

To serve: place a single piece of chicken breast on a bed of quinoa and drizzle the sauce on top. You can add a lemon wedge for garnish of you like. And viola!

Enjoy! ❤

blackened-chicken-avocado-cream-sauce2

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere!

We’ve put away the blender and lemonade pitchers, and have finally accepted the fact that the summer cocktail season is over. Now all we have to look forward to is hot apple cider, eggnog, and pumpkin spiced lattes. *sigh* Fret not my dear, just because the weather’s a little colder doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice cocktail. To kick off this wonderful change of the season I’d like to share this oh-so-delicious recipe I’m sure you’ll love at first sip. So sit back, relax, and get ready to toast to the great and magnificent Fall season. You’ve earned it 🙂

Vanilla, Pear, and Vodka Cocktail

Ingredients

12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) pear juice

6 oz. vodka

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Vanilla sugar, for rim

1 cup ice, plus more to serve over

Mix the pear juice and vodka in a pitcher or shaker. Next, split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into juice and vodka. Add 1 cup of ice, then give it a good shake. Pour into cocktail glasses over more ice and serve with sugared rim. Makes 4 drinks.

And there you have it, super easy right? Enjoy darlings! ❤