Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quick Weeknight Dinner: Oven-crisp Parmesan Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

My intentions always start out strong: every morning, I think about what I'll make for dinner (because my mind just works like that). Sometimes the plan will be elaborate, sometimes it'll be simple (like a frozen Kashi pizza). But by the end of the work day, after the commute home, sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook. So I have built up a stable of quick and healthy recipes that taste like they took a little while for days just like that... which happened to be today. Which is how I came to make Oven-crisp Parmesan Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower. I like this dish because:
  • You can do some prepping in advance
  • You can prep pretty quickly
  • You can cook the chicken and the veggies together
  • Oven time is 30 minutes total
  • It's delish!!
  • Chicken breasts (one per person)
  • Buttermilk, about 1/2 cup
  • Bread crumbs, about 1/3 cup
  • 1/4 t. paprika
  • 2 T. Parmesan
  • 1/2 head fresh cauliflower
  • 1-2 bunches broccoli
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
(optional prep work: as early as the night before, you can marinate the chicken breasts in the buttermilk in a zip-top bag, or in a covered baking dish. You can also chop the broccoli and cauliflower)
  1. Arrange two racks in your oven so that one is about a third of the way down and the second is a third of the way up. You want to be able to cook the chicken and veggies at the same time. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. If you've not pre-marinated the chicken breasts, place them in a shallow baking dish, or a pie plate, and pour the buttermilk over them. Let them soak a couple of minutes.
  3. In another shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, paprika, and Parmesan cheese. Place this dish directly next to the dish with the chicken.
  4. While the chicken marinates, cut the broccoli and cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and place them in a roasting pan or a 13x9 baking dish coated in cooking spray. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss the vegetables. Place in the oven on the lower rack.
  5. Working with one breast at a time, using tongs or a fork, lift the chicken from the buttermilk and let the excess drip off. Place the chicken into the breadcrumb mixture, then turn to coat the other side. Place the chicken breast in a baking dish coated in cooking spray, preferably one with a rack. Now do the rest! Spritz the chicken breasts with cooking spray before putting the baking dish on the upper rack of the oven. The spray will help the crust crisp up as it bakes.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. While the chicken is cooking, every 10 minutes or so, stir the vegetables around. Watch to ensure they're not burning or sticking to their baking dish - if they are then take them out of the oven.
  7. Everything should be done after 30 minutes... remove from the oven and enjoy!
  8. While this is all cooking, why not nuke a sweet potato? It will add some color to your meal, give you some awesome beta carotene and some fiber. It should only take about 6 minutes - poke a medium sweet potato all over with a fork and wrap it in a damp paper towel. Turn it over about three minutes through and shazam! You have a yummy sweet potato.
Nutrition information for the chicken: Per serving (4 oz. each serving): 159 calories, 7 g carbs, 3 g fat, 30 g protein, 1 g fiber

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cranberry Oat Pancakes

I was looking for a way to mix up my normal Saturday morning pancakes. Having just made some delicious cranberry oatmeal muffins (aka Yummy Bliss muffins), I thought - why not make some cranberry oatmeal pancakes? I didn't get to take pictures of these pancakes, but will make them again soon, and be sure to post photos from that batch.

I took the basic Saturday Morning Pancake recipe and made the following ingredient modifications:
  • Swap out 1/2 cup oats for 1/2 cup of the flour, so that you use 1/2 cup oats and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • Add 3/4 cup fresh cranberries, frozen
  • Use fat free buttermilk instead of reduced fat, to make up for the fat that the oats add
The technique for grinding the oats and chopping the cranberries is exactly as you use them for the Yummy Bliss muffins. I made these changes to the directions:
  • Add the ground oats to the flour
  • Add the sugar to the cranberries as you process them, instead of adding the sugar to the other dry ingredients
  • Add the cranberries to the buttermilk mixture before you combine with the dry ingredients to impart a pinkish hue. If you don't want the pinkish hue, then add the cranberries to the dry ingredients.
Cook as you would the regular pancakes, and enjoy! Here is the nutrition information - you get a little bit more calorie-wise, but you get additional fiber:
Per serving (about 4 pancakes, assuming 24 pancakes from the entire recipe): 223 calories, 40 g carbs, 3 g fat, 10 g protein, 5 g fiber.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sneaky Chili

Lately I haven't been getting enough veggies, and I was trying to think of a more interesting way to get them than green beans. One of my girlfriends who has kids was talking about a cookbook she has that helps parents "sneak" vegetables into kids' foods. So I'm thinking... I'm on a food processor kick (see the Madras Meatballs recipe) and I'm looking for something different to do with veggies. Why not put those together and think of a way to boost the nutrient content of something I love? And hence Sneaky Chili was born! The recipe is built very much in the same way Tasty Turkey Chili was, with similar technique... If you don't like the veggies I've selected, as my sister (who hates peppers and mushrooms) doesn't, use whatever veggies you have on hand that you like.

Sneaky Chili
Serves 4-6

  • 1 lb. ground turkey breast (you can sub veggie crumbles or crumbled tofu)
  • 2 small onions or 1 medium onion
  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 cup mushrooms (pre-sliced or roughly chopped whole ones)
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1/4 c. tomato sauce
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with chiles
  1. Peel and quarter onion, and mince in a food processor
  2. In a skillet coated with cooking spray, saute the turkey, taking care to break it up into crumbles.
  3. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat; add the olive oil and heat til shimmering. Add the onions and stir. Saute for 2-3 minutes; add tomato paste, chili powder, and garlic. Turn heat to low and cook while you prepare the veggies.
  4. Trim the pepper, carrots, and parsnips and add to the food processor; add the mushrooms. Pulse until vegetables are minced.
  5. Add the vegetables, diced tomatoes, and turkey to the onion-tomato mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are all cooked through. Serve over brown rice or a baked sweet potato
Per Serving (assuming 6 servings): 169 calories, 15 g carbs, 3 g fat, 20 g protein, 3 g fiber

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Announcing Recipe Challenge!

So I'm drinking some coffee, getting ready to start the day (which just happens to involve a visit to the spa and a night out with some girlfriends, woohoo!) and I was thinking about what to post today. I have some ideas of things I want to explore and do with this blog, but I wanted to see what would happen if I got some requests from YOU, dear healthy.tasty.easy. readers?

So as of today, I hereby welcome "requests". No request is too small! For example:
  • You're supposed to make something to bring somewhere (or you're hosting) and you don't know what to make
  • You've been making this recipe for years but it has so many calories and so much fat! You need help lightening it up!
  • You bought this freaky vegetable at Whole Foods today because it was on sale, but you don't know what to do with it!
  • And so on...
I will take on the request and see if I can either find or make a recipe to meet the challenge, then post what I come up with, as your "Recipe DJ," if you will.

So, either by commenting on this post, or by emailing info at healthytastyeasy dot com (I'm working on figuring out how to do this as a permanent blog "feature" - expert techies, your help is welcome!). I'm looking forward to seeing what curve balls you send my way!

Off to get this party started...

Yours in healthy.tasty.easiness,
Recipe DJ

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Madras Meatballs

So I just bought my first domain name - - and that was exciting. It got me to poke around and look at other foodies' blogs. I stumbled across nomnivorous, which I think is a nicely written, personable blog, and saw this recipe for Tikka Masala Meatballs (which in turn was inspired by Big Girls, Small Kitchen and Pretty Girls Use Knives). To me, cooking is about expressing yourself and trying new things. And like nomnivorous, I very seldom follow a recipe exactly. Besides, I typically stay in the European (French, Italian, German, Spanish) and Latin American cuisine genres - very seldom do I experiment with more Asian flavors. So - mainly because I didn't have exactly the same ingredients - I've tweaked the recipe very slightly. Here's my take on the recipe, which I'm calling Madras Meatballs. With some brown rice, the recipe makes four decent sized servings for dinner - but you could get away with six servings if you had a side dish or appetizer.

Ingredients Meatballs
  • 3/4 c. oats
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 lb. ground turkey breast (you could also use ground chicken breast)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 1 t. ginger
  • 2 t. dried cilantro (or chopped fresh - 2 T.)
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 cloves garlic (or equivalent pre-minced)
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 T. canola or other neutral vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (or equivalent pre-minced)
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 2 t. dried cilantro (or chopped fresh - at least 2 T.)
  • 1 - 2 t. hot curry powder (I used McCormick Hot Madras Curry powder) - use as much as you would like, depending on taste. E's not crazy about heat so I kept it closer to 1 t.
  • 1 1/2 t. ground ginger (you can use fresh if you have it)
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles (I used Trader Joe's fire roasted tomatoes with chiles)
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. light coconut milk
  1. (Note: This recipe works really well if you use a food processor, but it's optional. My directions will assume you're using one.) Turn on your oven's broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.
  2. Place the oats in the food processor and pulse until they look like coarse flour. Pour the oats into a bowl for now.
  3. Peel and quarter the onion. Place the onions in the food processor and pulse until they are minced.
  4. Add the turkey, the processed oats, the egg, tomato paste, salt and spices to the onion mixture in the food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are incorporated.
  5. You can make the meatballs any size you would like, I made smallish ones using a small cookie dough scoop. You could use an ice cream scoop, spoons, or your bare hands to shape the meatballs.
  6. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet (I ended up with 40 small ones) and cook under the broiler for about 10 minutes, watching to ensure they don't burn.
  7. Wash out the food processor, you'll need it for the sauce! Peel and quarter two onions; remove the ends from the carrots, and peel if you'd like to (I didn't, I just washed them) and cut the carrots into 1-inch chunks. Place the onions and carrots in the food processor and pulse until they are minced. In a skillet, heat 1 T. canola oil over medium-high heat and add the onions and carrots. Add the garlic and other spices, stir to combine, and cook for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to combine and heat up a bit.
  8. Add both cans of tomatoes and the coconut milk, stir to combine, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for another 15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through (they should have cooked pretty well under the broiler).
  9. Serve over brown rice (I like to use Trader Joe's microwaveable pre-cooked brown rice). Have some plain yogurt on hand in case you went a little overboard with the spice - it'll help balance that heat.
Per serving: 319 calories, 9 g fat, 29 g carb, 32 g protein, 6 g fiber

Notes on this recipe:
  • If you don't have diced tomatoes with chiles, you can use regular diced tomatoes and add chopped jalapenos, or crushed red pepper, or a pinch of cayenne, or just up the curry powder.
  • If you don't have coconut milk, you could use regular milk, or you could just go all-tomato.
  • You don't have to use diced tomatoes, you can use crushed or whole peeled and break them down yourself.
  • Fresh herbs and spices or dried? Usually 1 t. of a dried herb is about as powerful as 1 T. fresh. Use your taste buds to guide you here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Name these muffins! (now known as Yummy Bliss Muffins)

Those of you who know me "in real life" know that I love to bake muffins. In fact, back in the day when I lived with my BFFs Sun-Sun and Eri, I used to bake muffins all the time. So while pancakes have become the norm on Saturday mornings, Sunday mornings are usually for muffins.

Part of the challenge with muffins is that it's difficult to find a recipe that's under 200 calories per muffin. I don't know about you, but I think that's kind of "expensive" for a muffin. So this past Sunday I wanted to try a new muffin recipe and I wanted one that was under 200 calories. After looking at a couple of recipes for inspiration, I put together these Cranberry Oat muffins. They were so good that it's hard to believe they are 145 calories each, with a respectable 3 grams of fat.

There is one tool that will make this recipe really work well - that's a food processor. My immersion blender has an attachment that acts like a food processor, and that's what I used for this job. If you don't have a food processor, then a blender should do the trick as well - last possible option would be to coarsely chop with a chef's knife - but that's annoying. It's up to you.

E so enjoyed these muffins that he declared that they were "the best muffins I've ever made". That's quite a statement considering the guy has known me for 13 years. And in light of that statement I thought they ought to be called something more exciting than "Cranberry Oat Muffins". So... dear blog followers... what do you think I should name them?

  • 1 c. oats
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 3/4 c. whole, fresh cranberries plus 2 t. granulated sugar (don't thaw if the berries are frozen)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 1 t. pure almond extract
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place muffin cups in a 12-muffin baking pan, and spray with cooking spray
  2. In a food processor or blender, pulse the oats until they are the consistency of a course flour. This should just take a few pulses.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients with a whisk, ensuring that the brown sugar isn't too lumpy.
  4. In the food processor, pulse the cranberries and the sugar (2 t. granulated) just a couple of times, until the berries are coarsely chopped. Toss the cranberries with the dry ingredients to coat them a bit.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, oil, and extracts. Add to the flour mixture and stir until the ingredients are just combined. Remember, like with the pancakes, you don't want to over-mix or the muffins will be heavy and chewy.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin cups - I like to use an ice cream scoop to help me do this.
  7. Bake the muffins for 15-18 minutes; start to test after 15 minutes by inserting a toothpick (or wooden skewer or even a piece of uncooked spaghetti) into the muffin; if it's dry or has just small crumbs sticking to it when you remove it, the muffins are done. Take the muffins out of the pan and cool on a wire rack.
Per muffin: 145 calories, 26 g carbs, 3 g fat, 3 g protein, 2 g fiber

These muffins are really yummy with almond butter or peanut butter - they make a great pre-workout snack (or, as I like to call it, "first breakfast").