Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

It’s Been A While…


Well to say it’s been a while is pretty much an understatement. It has been almost exactly 6 months since I posted my last blog. I wish I could say that my life was so busy and amazing that I just didn’t have the time….but the truth is I just didn’t do it!

So I have no important life events or amazing news to share…but I can share that over these past few months I’ve been trying my best to work towards a healthier lifestyle. My focus now is to lose weight (hmmm….didn’t I say that before??), but overall I have come to a point in my life where I want to be healthy and stick around till I’m old and dyed blonde (no grey hair here!). To really make this lifestyle change I am approaching it with baby steps. I have adopted the attitude that every little thing helps….so even if it is just one little change it is still a change and that’s what matters. One of the first things I’ve started doing is trying to cut out as much processed food as possible (although I am starting to think I need a support group to break my Diet Coke addiction). Another step I’ve taken is to try different “health foods”. One of the foods I’ve fallen in love with is the now trendy “Quinoa”. It is very healthy and if you’d like to see why you can read it here…sorry I just don’t feel like going over why it is so good for you! I am overall a picky eater and have a lot of issues with food textures (where was Early Intervention when I was a kid??) so even though I kept seeing Quinoa recipes everywhere I turned, I was hesitant. I finally took the plunge and it’s a keeper. I use it in my salads, replace it for rice & pasta, and use it for breakfast foods like protein bars and “oatmeal” (quinoa in place of oats), etc.

Tonight I decided to modify my Creamy Chicken Piccata recipe and not only make it a “slimmed down version” but to replace the pasta with quinoa. It was so delicious…..I was inspired to sit down and get back to blogging!!!! Woohoo!!

So here it is….a slimmed down healthier version of, ironically my last post…and unfortunately since Hubby was working late I only made this for one person so the serving size is one, but you can easily alter the ingredients to make as much as you want.

Creamy Quinoa Chicken Piccata

(Serves 1)

For the chicken:

4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded to 1/4″ thick

salt & pepper, to taste

1/4 -1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

For the Quinoa:

1/2 tbsp. light butter

1/2-1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup fat free half & half

1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tbsp. capers

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

To make the chicken, sprinkle both sides with the lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper & garlic powder. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and add the garlic. Brown the garlic in the butter for 30 seconds to 1 minute and add the lemon juice.

Whisk in the half & half and bring to a slow boil, whisking frequently for about 5 minutes until heated through and slightly thickened (may take longer than 5 minutes).

Add the basil, salt & pepper.

Remove from heat and whisk in the parmesan cheese. At this point, if you want a thicker sauce, return to heat and simmer until slightly more thickened. You can also add more cheese if you like.

Stir in the quinoa and the capers. Serve on a pasta plate.

Slice cooked chicken into thin strips and place over the quinoa. Sprinkle with some parmesan cheese, if desired and serve.20130222-204624.jpg20130222-204638.jpg20130222-204653.jpg

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Chicken Piccata


Chicken Piccata is a classic Italian dish. This is a really easy meal and great for a date night….especially if you’re trying to impress that special someone! Serve with roasted or mashed potatoes or pasta with a little olive oil and garlic. I usually serve it with lemon pasta (as in the picture) but most recently I made some roasted potatoes seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, and a bit of olive oil. The potatoes were just for my Hubby…I ate mine with some roasted asparagus with salt, pepper, garlic, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

A few things to remember:

Be sure to pound your chicken as evenly as possible. This ensures that the entire breast is getting done at the same time.

Make sure your pan is hot! Heat the pan first and then add the oil and allow that to heat up. Then you can add the chicken.

Although I’ve included estimated cooking times, the best way to get your meat tender and juicy is to use a meat thermometer (not to mention it’s safer…just say no to food borne illness!). Chicken needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F.  Forget the old “cook until juices run clear” motto! It is not safe….and if you’re like I used to be and tend to overcook your meat this will help ease your worries. (I would always cook the heck out of meat, especially chicken and pork, for fear that it wasn’t done and everyone would get sick!)

Chicken Piccata (2 servings)

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

garlic powder, to taste

½ cup flour

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. butter

¼ cup white wine

½ cup chicken stock

Lemon juice, from 2 small lemons

2 tbsp.  dried parsley or ¼ cup fresh, chopped

2 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained

  1. Prepare the chicken by cutting each breast in half lengthwise to make four filets.  Pound each piece to 1/4” thick, using a meat mallet, rolling pin, or bottom of a heavy pan.
  2. Sprinkle both sides of meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. In a shallow dish or plate, combine the flour and parmesan cheese.
  4. Heat the pan over medium heat and add the oil. When oil is hot add 1 tbsp of butter.
  5. Dredge the chicken in the flour/cheese mixture and place in the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes and flip, cooking until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees.
  6. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pan and cover it with foil to keep warm.
  7. To the same pan, add the wine, scraping up any bits of meat that may be stuck to the bottom.
  8. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice. Turn heat up to medium high and allow sauce to reduce, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce has reduced by at least half, remove from heat and swirl in the remaining 2 tbsp. of butter until melted. Stir in the parsley and capers.
  9. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.
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