Caprese Chicken Pasta

PASTA!!! Oh glorious pasta, how I love thee. Its such a cheap, easy and sometimes quick way to feed your family. The only thing that stinks about pasta is that if you are on a diet, it’s a hard thing to have. Luckily, with my Skinnytaste cookbook, I can!

The recipe in the book is actually called Chicken Pasta Caprese, but I think the way I put it rolls off the tongue better 😉

I used the same ingredients as the original recipe except I added a little dry white wine, it’s an ingredient that can be omitted but I like to add wine to my fresh tomato dishes. I can’t say that I was too pleased with this dish, to be honest, it needed a little help. Maybe its was the Trader Joe’s pasta that I used, it was an organic brown rice pasta. I should just stick with the classics, they are classics for a reason right? I felt the dish also lacked flavor. I’m going to mess around with this a little more and post about it again. Both Zach and Lucy devoured this dish which was surprising for me.

Caprese Chicken Pasta

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized chunks

Salt and Freshly ground pepper (we’ve talked about this before, yes?)

1/2 dried basil

Cooking spray

9 ounces of your favorite short pasta

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 garlic cloves minced

2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes

Splash of dry white wine

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

4 ounces mozzarella cheese cut into chunks

 

Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Season the chicken with Salt, pepper and dried basil. Spray your skillet with cooking spray and add chicken. Cook until the chicken is throughly cooked then transfer to a bowl.

While you are cooking your chicken, start your pasta. After your water comes to a boil make sure to season it with salt. You want your pasta water to be salty like the sea, it makes for the best tasting dishes. Drain but reserve about a cup of pasta water.

After the chicken is done, add olive oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and turn the heat to medium low. Allow to cook until the tomatoes start to become soft and release their juices. This is when I added my splash of white wine, I added maybe 1/8 cup. Add the pasta in and stir, if the dish seems too dry, add some of the pasta water.

Add the chicken, basil and mozzarella, then serve!

 

Prepared this way, a little under 2 cups is 495 calories. Not bad for a pasta dish!

Chicken Marsala and Mashed Cauliflower

Being Italian I love the classic dishes, but most times those dishes are heavy on the calories, lots of salt and oil, or paired with pasta. I recently bought the SkinnyTaste cookbook by Gina Homolka and instantly fell in love. I love that each recipe has a calorie breakdown and most of them seem easy.

Back to the recipe! So as I was skimming through the pages, drooling, I saw a recipe for Chicken Marsala. I added it to the weekly meal plan and I am so glad I did. I wanted to pair it with mashed potatoes as well but as we all know its heavy on the calories and with my allotted 1750 calories for the day, I try to stay under.

I followed the recipe outlined in the book except I omitted the fresh parsley, I don’t use it enough to justify the cost of buying a whole bunch of it. I’ll probably grab some the next time I make this dish and freeze the rest.

Chicken Marsala

Serves 4

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 ounces each)

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

8 ounces sliced Cremini mushrooms

3 ounces shiitake mushrooms *

1/3 cup Marsala wine

1/2 cup Swanson 88% fat-free chicken broth **

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, you’re going to put your chicken in here after you pan fry it.

Slice the chicken breasts in half, horizontally, to make 4 cutlets. You want to pound these out so they are thinner and this also helps tenderize the meat. I take a gallon plastic zip bag and cut down the two sides, place the chicken in between and then use one of my glasses for this. I don’t have a meat mallet (unitasker) so I use whatever is flat on the bottom and easy for me to grasp. Pound them until they are about 1/4 inch thick.

Place your flour, all but that 1 teaspoon, in a shallow dish. Season it with salt and freshly cracked pepper. I cannot stress this enough, always season your flour and always use freshly cracked pepper. That pregound pepper doesn’t do the spice justice. Lightly dredge your chicken in the flour and shake off any excess. Set aside. Get your sauté pan ready on medium-high heat. Add 1/2 butter and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Once melted add your chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Place the chicken in the oven on a baking sheet, don’t worry about it being fully cooked as it will continue cooking in the oven.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add your garlic and shallots and cook until soft. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper, freshly ground I hope, and cook until soft and golden. If the pan is too hot you can turn it to medium, you don’t want it to burn. Add your remaining 1 teaspoon of flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Next you’ll add the Marsala and chicken broth to deglaze the pan and get up all the nice bits that were stuck to the bottom of the pan from the chicken. Fun Fact, those bits are called Fond and they make sauces extra delicious.

Simmer until thickened then add your chicken, and any juices, to the pan. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve one piece of chicken and spoon over the mushrooms and some sauce.

*I couldn’t find Shiitake mushrooms when I went to the store this weekend so I just subbed in more Cremini.

**Another item I couldn’t find when I went to the store so I used the store brand, Winco in my case, 99% fat-free chicken broth.

The book has the calories for this as 241 but when I plugged in the recipe into MyFitnessPal it said 238.

 

Mashed Cauliflower

I pretty much followed this recipe but I omitted the scallions, another item I didn’t want to be bothered buying or chopping. I also used a kale/chard blend that was prepackaged, washed and chopped! I like shortcuts when I can take them and I love my greens so this was perfect.

I have a Ninja blender and was using my food processor to puree that cauliflower, it didn’t come out as I had hoped and the way the photos looked on the recipe. I’ll have to fiddle with it and update how that comes out.

Overall the taste was great! I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it and how Zach and Lucy enjoyed it. This is a repeat meal for sure!

Putting down the Nutella

As the title suggests, I had a hard time putting down my favorite go to, Nutella. I wouldn’t even waste time putting it on fruit or toast, I ate it straight off a spoon. I guess that’s probably better since it’s fewer calories HA

I decided to put the spoon down after I had just finished a StepBet with a dear friend. I was averaging 7k steps a day, going on walks around my neighborhood with my daughter and dog. Doesn’t seem like that many steps now but in the beginning it was a lot! I was/am a tired first time mom and wasn’t sure how to balance being a new mom with taking care of myself.

My front photo is of me in Sint Maarten in April 2015. My husband was attending medical school there at the time and I was in far better shape than I am now. We got pregnant shortly after the photo was taken and during the first two trimesters of my pregnancy I was still a healthy weight. I was all belly and I loved it. Then the third trimester hit and I packed on the pounds. All I craved was McDonald’s nuggets, bbq sauce and fries. My appetite was insatiable, I was eating more than Zach! I gave birth to a healthy 7lb 7oz Lucy and my weight stayed.

18485300_10213541708524064_1040160250423250901_n

A few days prior to Lucy’s arrival

 

With Zach starting his clinical rotations we were going to start moving around so I didn’t think about my weight. We were moving from Phoenix to Miami in May 2016 for 8 weeks and Lucy was in the thick of colic and we were still trying to figure out how to take care of a new baby. One of the few ways I was able to calm Lucy down was to walk around and bounce her. My arms and back got tired of this very quickly so I started wearing her. The only way I could wear her was facing out, she was very particular. So I would walk around the apartment we had in Miami, Lucy strapped to my body and bounce. I kid you not, it was the only way I knew to get her to calm down. She napped in the carrier, played in it, sometimes she even ate in it. How was I able to eat with a baby strapped to me you ask? Well, beef jerky and King’s Hawaiian rolls were easy to eat! Sodium and carbs does wonders for that postpartum weight loss.

13241310_1712006262391574_5615581656538813658_n

Lucy at 2 months old, while we were in Florida.

Fast forward to February of this year, when I started my StepBet. No weight was lost during my 6 weeks of stepping, I didn’t change my diet either. I had tried many times to count calories, I had failed after a few days every single time. April 18th I re-downloaded MyFitnessPal for the hundredth time and started looking up easy recipes that I could try. I used to have an entire board on my Pinterest dedicated to healthier food but it all tasted so…bleh. I needed new recipes that didn’t make me miss my old recipes. I am a foodie, I love most food. Zach and I love to try new restaurants, fast food, I love to cook and bake. It’s just not conducive to a healthier lifestyle, which is what I want. I want to be healthier, make healthier choices and set a good example for Lucy. Since April I have been logging into MyFitnessPal every day, logging in my calories, even if I go over, and have tried getting my butt into the gym when I’m not dog tired. I have lost a little over 10 pounds but I feel so much better overall. I’m sleeping better, my back doesn’t hurt, my clothes are fitting better or are too loose. It’s been worth it, I should have started sooner.

With the help of the recipes from MyFitnessPal, Pinterest and the Skinnytaste cookbook, I have a nice stash that I have successfully made that are so good that even my picky daughter and foodie husband love! I’m so excited to share the recipes that I have found that taste great and the ones I have changed that taste BETTER.