Tag Archives: weeknight dinner

Bruschetta, Avocado, & Mozzarella Chicken

24 Jun

Since I posted a fall-flavored Meatless Monday recipe yesterday, I knew I had to share a full-on-in-your-face-SUMMER recipe today!  This is another spectacular recipe I found over at Iowa Girl Eats – I will fan girl over her recipes every. damn. day.  Go check her out!

Bruschetta-Avocado-Mozzarella-Chicken-Balsalmic-Reduction



Bruschetta, Avocado, and Mozzarella Chicken

  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – pounded to about 1/4″ thickness
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 c. bruschetta (homemade or store bought)
  • sliced Mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil, salt, pepper
  • spinach

Preheat the broiler and pour 1/2 c. balsamic into a small skillet and bring to a boil.  As soon as the vinegar begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer it off for about 10-15 minutes.  It will begin to get syrupy and reduce a ton.  You know it’s ready to go when it coats the spoon: Balsamic-Reduction

Meanwhile, heat 1 T. olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper, then cook it 7ish minutes per side or until your meat thermometer reaches 165*F.

Chicken

**I don’t mess around with “cook until pink” or “until juices run clear.”  After having a kitchen under construction so long, I’ve learned that lighting can be the difference between food poisoning and a great dinner.  Always go for the thermometer to check if meat is cooked!**

Delallo-Italian-Tomato-Bruschetta

When the chicken is ready to go, spoon enough bruschetta on top to make you happy!  I have never purchased pre-made bruschetta before and I was pleasantly surprised with this Delallo Italian Tomato mixture.   Doesn’t hurt that Delallo is based right here in Pittsburgh.  The pre-made bruschetta was the best idea I didn’t mean to have.  Honestly, it was so sweet that it complimented everything perfectly – I don’t even really like tomatoes!!  Add onto that your sliced avocado, and finally top it with a piece of mozzarella cheese. Chicken-Bruschetta-Avoacdo-Mozzarella

At this point, your balsamic reduction is probably done so just go ahead and set that aside until you are ready to eat!  Pop the chicken into the broiler and cook it until the cheese gets melted and toasted to perfection.

Serve on a bed of spinach with the balsamic reduction!

Bruschetta-Chicken-Avocado-Mozzarella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How’s that for a 20 minute meal?!

 

Sweet Tea & Citrus Roasted Chicken

13 Oct

Turns out, third time IS a charm.

stc.final

I attempted to roast a chicken for the third time and it was a hit!  I honestly don’t even know where I went wrong the first two mishaps, but it left me nervous about trying again.  Whole roasting chickens were on sale so I made sure to scoop one up last week.  After endlessly researching techniques, I opted to brine that sucker and boy am I glad I did!

I found quite a few sweet tea and citrus brines on Pinterest and I happened to have enough ingredients to throw something together.  Win.

Sweet Tea & Citrus Brine

stcbrine.ingredients

Not shown:

  • 3.5 lb. roasting chicken
  • 8 family size bags of unsweetened tea
  • 1/2 c. sea salt
  • 1 c. brown sugar

First, I made the tea by boiling a gallon of water in my stockpot and adding all 8 tea bags.  I steeped them for 10 minutes while I prepped everything else.  After 10 minutes, I removed the tea bags and added the sugar and salt and stirred until they were fully dissolved.  Then, everything else went into the pot:

stcbrine.steep

This has to cool completely before you add the chicken or it will start to cook it.  Since my bird was less than 4 lbs, I decided that my best bet would be to just put it in a bag with the brine, then put it over ice in the same stockpot I had been using.

stcbrine.brining

I put the ice over it and then put the lid on.  I only meant to brine it overnight, but then all kinds of stuff came up and it ended up brining for a little over 48 hours.  Oopsie.  But no big deal, right?  I flipped it over in the brine every 12 hours.

When it was time to cook it, I took it out of the brine and rinsed it inside and out.  I set it up on a bed of carrots and onions in a casserole dish and then stuffed it with all the stuff that was in the brine (lemon, orange, onions, etc.)  I drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it with pepper and then into the oven it went!  The bird was nice and brown before it even went in because of the tea, but HOOOOO BOY did it turn out good.

stc.final

Lucky Number Three

23 Apr

I had taken a week off from running since the Tuesday after my 5K.  Not intentionally, really, just my body demanding some R&R.  I spent the week eating whatever I wanted and drinking more beer than I should have.  No regrets – I needed a break.   In between doing work for Changin’ Time, participating in the Great Cloth Diaper Change, and renovating our new rental, I managed to carefully devise my 10K training plan.  Don’t worry, I’m still running with Hal.

There are several big changes that I knew I had to make based on my 5K training.

1.  Integrate strength training into my program.  Stronger legs and core can help a struggling runner keep proper form, especially when they’re at the point of fatigue.  Maintaining proper form can even keep a runner from feeling fatigued too quickly.  (I can’t find the exact article where I read this, but it was at somewhere on Runner’s World.)  With my 10K program, I am going to be doing strength training 3-4 times a week along with cross training 2 times a week.  I even played around with some basic strength moves yesterday to see where my skill level is.

IMG_5321

But, then it got awkward when customers started coming in and I was grunting around in the office.  I’m even a little sore today, so I guess a little bit is better than none at all!

2.  Run more.  To quote Christina, “Three days a week ain’t cuttin’ it.”  After nine weeks of training, I still struggled, and it was clear to both of us that I needed to run 4-5 days a week.  My 10K program has 3 days of running.  This first week, for example, looks like this:  2.5mi run today (Tuesday), 2 mile run on Thursday, and a long run of 3 miles on Sunday.  For the first few weeks, the only distance that increases in the long run, eventually building up to 5.5 miles the week before my 10K.  I plan on integrating some easy runs into my cross training, just so that I build a good mileage base.

Today was my first day back to running.  I took it slow and I’m happy with how I did.

Picture

It might have had something to do with the cool temperatures and the absolute bluest sky I’ve seen in a long time.

IMG_5320

3.  Stop eating crap.  Every time I say that, there’s this little voice in the back of my head that says:  “Obvi,” and rolls its eyes.  But, its not always as easy to follow through with as it to say.  Processed foods are extremely tempting and easily accessible; so is grabbing a bite during the few minutes of down time we have in our hectic lives.  For the most part, the junk food is out of our house (which I hear about by someone who isn’t training for a 10K and is wondering where all the snack food is).  I’ve noticed that the rumors are true: when I have healthy food within reach, I am more likely to grab healthy food to snack on.  In fact, I even noticed that one of my old favorite snacks (tortilla chips & salsa) didn’t even taste good to me anymore.  Isn’t that weird?

As usual, I’ve been turning to Pinterest for healthy dinner ideas.  Last night, I made chicken and kale stuffed ‘bella caps.  The chicken mixture included shredded chicken, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Alouette creamed cheese pats, shredded Parmesan cheese, and kale.  I topped it with a little more shredded cheese and baked them.  She♥ did NOT like them.  At all.  Perhaps because she expected it to be spinach and upon tasting, realized it was kale and it was just all off.

I, on the other hand, wish I could eat them every day.

IMG_5316

So, those are the three big changes that you’ll be hearing me complain talk about over the next 8 weeks.  I’m going to try to keep up with weekly updates about my progress.  I don’t want to jinx a potential “Fitness Friday” series because obviously my “Fish Friday” series has been a total bust for the last two years!  (I can’t help it if I live a mile away from the best lenten fish fry in the entire city, Holy Angels Fish Fry!!

Spiced From The Strip

17 Apr

Dinner was Strip District-inspired last night.

If you’re not from Pittsburgh, you are probably asking yourself what racy, scandalous inspiration that is.

The Strip District is a wonderful area which connects to downtown Pittsburgh.  It’s called “the Strip” because its just a little “strip” of property that runs parallel to the river.  It’s actually the historic location of one of Andrew Carnegie’s first steel mills, ALCOA aluminum production HQ, and Westinghouse’s first factory to product air breaks.  I just love history.  At the turn of the century, the Strip become the center of produce in Pittsburgh.  The city’s main train station runs through the area, so produce merchants were able to get fresh fruits and veggies through easily accessible channels.  Today, the Strip has changed a lot, but its heartbeat is still the same.  It’s now home to many ethnic grocery stores, a destination for fresh produce, meats, cheese, and pasta.  There are so many little niche restaurants and cafes and bakeries, that you can get lost there for hours on the weekends.

We ventured down there on Monday morning, before I reported for duty at the laundry facility, to visit a novelty toy wholesaler named Mike Feinberg’s.  We had to buy prizes to give the big kids at the Great Cloth Diaper Change on Saturday.  Changin’ Time is in charge of kids games and activities!  Just across the street is one of my favorite places: Penzeys Spices.

Penzeys

I had accrued 4 coupons for free or discounted spices, so I had to stop for a spice haul.

Next door to Penzeys is a gourmet coffee dealer called Prestogeorge Coffee Roasting Company, a company which was founded locally in the 1960s and eventually found its home in the Strip.

Prestogeorge

When you walk in the door, the smells which lured you in from the sidewalk are amazing.  The walls are lined with interesting and rare blends of coffee beans and teas, biscotti, baked goods, deli meats, and all things delicious.

Prestogeorge2

We were just stopping in for some tea, but I could have spent hours looking at all the different blends.

So – what ended up in dinner last night, you ask?

The featured spice at Penzeys this month is called Berbere, a fiery Ethiopian spice blend.  Because I subscribe to their catalog, I received a coupon this month to try it for free!  You can order it online or find it in the store for $4.39.  We love spicy food, so we had to try it out.  I used it as a rub on chicken.

Berbere

At Prestogeorge, they had been sampling something called “Caribbean dip.”  We liked the sample and are constantly looking for new spicy items,  so we bought it.  When we got home, we realized that it was a little bit too mayo-based to really use as a dip.  However, I thought it would be excellent to use as a spicy breading base for the chicken, so I brushed some on!

CaribbeanDip

Then, I lightly dusted the chicken with Panko.

ChickenBefore

And baked it for about an hour at 350F.  When it was done, I topped it with just a dab of the dip and served it.

ChickenAfter

It was seriously SOOOOO good.  And spicy!  Like, I served it with celery spicy.  A yummy entree which supported two local business. 🙂

Don’t forget to enter my Earth Week Giveaway over here.  Find out how you can get a second giveaway entry if you all ready like SOLE for the Soul on Facebook ♥

Southwest Smothered Sweet Potato Skins

10 Apr

Doesn’t my breakfast look yummy?

Breakfast

We’ve been making a solid attempt at eating healthier, substantial meals instead of skipping meals and resorting to snacking.  My breakfast burrito has 3 scrambled eggs (no milk), chicken sausage, a little bit of low fat cheddar cheese, a dab of salsa, and 1/4 of an avocado on a whole wheat tortilla.  It was basically a breakfast taco because it was too fat to fold like a burrito.

Speaking of mexi-inspired clean eating, we had a seriously scrumptious dinner last night.

Southwest Smothered Sweet Potato Skins (inspired by Half Baked Harvest)

Done2

I saw a variation of this recipe on Pinterest (of course) and knew we had to try it.  The concept is the same as baked potato skins, except the filling is more substantial and its in a sweet potato skin.

I baked three sweet potatoes in the oven, during which time I made the “fixin’s” and let them sit the entire time the potatoes were baking.  I like my favors to really get a chance to combine.

My mixture was:

1/4 c. olive oil
2 diced jalapeno peppers (without seeds)
3 cloves pressed garlic
2 T. lime juice
1 t. cumin
1 t. oregano
2 t. ancho chili powder
salt & pepper
 
PepperMix

I added this mixture to the spinach that we had leftover from strawberry spinach salads (about 3 cups) and 2 shredded chicken breasts:

Chicken

Once the potatoes were cooked and had cooled enough to handle, I scooped out the middle to create a pocket.

Potato Boats

A great idea I got from the recipe was to baste the potatoes in some of the spice mixture and bake for 10 minutes to give them even more crisp.  Then, I topped with my spicy chicken mixture and sprinkled some shredded mozzarella (the only kind I had on hand) on top.  Bake into the oven until the cheese is brown and the potato skins are crisp enough!

FilledBoats2

These were super delicious and really healthy!  I ended up mashing the sweet potato insides and serving them as a side.

Done1

What are some of your favorite Pinterest recipes??

%d bloggers like this: