Mandy's Marvelous Meals

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

Creamy Chicken Piccata


So like many bloggers…and many many women out there…I am obsessed with Pinterest. I have found such great ideas, recipes, clothes, tips, etc. Today’s post is for one of the very first recipes I found on Pinterest and tried out. Like any recipe it required some adjusting to get it just right, but last night when I made it Hubby & I both agreed that I had hit the mark! The original recipe, “Creamy Grilled Chicken Piccata”, calls for you to grill the chicken but since I didn’t plan ahead to make this I didn’t have a chance to marinade the chicken and thus I just decided to go ahead and make it in a pan. I used all fresh ingredients (no dried herbs, please!!!!) so if you do substitute dried you can just add the dry herbs (ex. basil, garlic powder) directly to the flour, rather than blending them like the directions below. I’ve also made a “slimmed down” version of this which tasted great, as well.  Hubby didn’t even know it was “healthified”, which is my test for how good my “slimmed down sensations” really are (trust me, he usually can tell right away when I make it low-fat). Too make it healthier use whole wheat pasta, fat free half & half, light butter, and only 1/2 cup of cheese and you can use a non-stick pan to eliminate the need for olive oil, or you can grill your chicken like the original recipe calls for.

Make this for a quick and easy weeknight meal or for date night in with your Honey! You won’t be disappointed!!

Creamy Chicken Piccata

(Modified from Plain Chicken)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (approx. 8 oz. each)

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters (or 1 egg)

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, packed

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 lemons

2 cups fresh pasta, such as penne or gemelli (if you don’t want to make your own it is available in the dairy or deli refrigerated section of the grocery store)

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp. capers, rinsed & drained

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/4 cup asiago cheese (or other cheese of your choice)

  1. Prepare the chicken by pounding to about 1/4″ thick. In a shallow dish or plate combine the flour, salt & pepper. Combine the juice of 1 lemon, the egg substitute, 1/4 cup basil, and 1 clove of garlic in a blender. Blend on high for a few seconds to combine all ingredients, making sure the garlic is finely chopped. Pour this into another shallow dish or plate.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.
  4. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, making sure to coat well and shaking off any excess. Next, dredge the chicken through the egg mixture, shaking off any excess.
  5. Place the chicken in the heated oil and cook for about 5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. (If chicken gets done before sauce cover with foil and place in an oven on the “warm” setting (around 170 degrees F).
  6. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat (I used the same pan that I used to cook the pasta). Add 1 clove of minced garlic and cook just until fragrant (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). Add the juice of 1 lemon. Next add the heavy cream by whisking in and continuing to whisk until heated through. Whisk in the cheese, stirring until cheese has melted. Once sauce has thickened (should just coat the back of a spoon) add the capers and basil and stir until just combined. If sauce is too thick add some of the reserved pasta water a little bit at a time until you reach desired consistency. Last, add the pasta and stir to coat well.
  7. Serve about 1 cup of pasta in a bowl and place one chicken breast over the top. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
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Chicken Pomodoro


I came across this recipe in Cuisine at Home magazine. I had never heard of chicken pomodoro so I wasn’t exactly sure if the recipe is similar to an authentic version of the dish or not. An internet search didn’t provide too much information, so maybe one of you can enlighten me!?!? In any case this is a really good dish. It is definitely one of those restaurant quality meals that your guests and/or loved ones will think you slaved away making, when in reality, it’s pretty simple to make. I served this with a side of pasta with a light tomato sauce.

The recipe calls for vodka, which kind of intrigued me.  I cook with alcohol all the time, but if you are not too keen on doing this I’ve read that you can substitute white grape juice for vodka. However, I’ve never tried it so I am not saying that it will work or that it will taste good.  If anyone has tried it or has other suggestions please share!! Anyway, be careful with the vodka…it is best to remove the pan from the heat and then add the vodka to deglaze the pan. Don’t forget to pound your chicken to ¼” thick to ensure even cooking. Also, I didn’t have any scallions on hand so I just cut up some fresh basil and used that to garnish.

Chicken Pomodoro

Source: Cuisine at Home

10-12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded into cutlets

Salt & Pepper, to taste

¼ cup all purpose flour

2 tbsp. olive oil

¼ cup vodka

½ cup chicken stock (or low-sodium chicken broth)

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

½ cup tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp. heavy cream

Scallions, for garnish

  1. Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and then dredge in the flour.
  2. Heat a sauté pan to medium high and add the oil. When the oil is hot sauté the cutlets until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (approximately 5 minutes per side). Remove chicken to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Set aside.
  3. Remove pan from heat and deglaze with the vodka.  Return to heat and cook until nearly evaporated.
  4. Add chicken stock and lemon juice and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium high. Stir in the cream and chopped tomato and heat through.
  5. Pour the sauce over the cutlets and garnish with scallions.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
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Italian Classic Slimmed Down


So I have finished week 6 on Weight Watchers with a total loss of 12 lbs. Not too bad although my weight loss has slowed a bit. I’m afraid to admit that I might be forced to start exercising regularly. I know I should be doing this anyway, but I’m not going to lie…I pretty much hate exercise. I’ve done it in the past because I know it is important not only for weight loss but for your overall health, but I’ve never been able to stick to any type of exercise plan. So this upcoming week my goal is to start moving a bit…wish me luck!!!

At least the eating part of losing weight has started to get easier. There are days when I’m still hungry, but not like before. I’m getting more and more creative with ways to “slim down” my favorite foods. I have to say this makes life a lot easier. There is nothing worse than the feeling of deprivation. Even if I can’t come up with a slimmed down version of something, I do not deprive myself. I actually can eat just a small amount and feel good about it. I have definitely surprised myself this time around with my change in thinking….before it was “well I already had one bite of cheesecake so I’ve ruined whatever good I’ve done; might as well go ahead and eat the whole piece.” But now I genuinely am happy to only have one small sliver of cake, or only one cookie, or one piece of candy. I’ve heard this many times before and I’m sure you have too. For some reason I could just never control myself when it came to treats or “junk food” and when I say control myself I mean I would always want more and more and more. I could not just eat one or two so I thought it was better to just avoid it all together. Ultimately though I would always end up over-indulging….and I always thought this was just the way I am. I really never thought I could change.

If this sounds familiar, I am here to tell you that you actually can change your thinking and maybe you think you have no will-power but it is within you….you just have to find what works for you. This is coming from someone who thought they would never be able to change and would never be satisfied with just one small bite of something.

Now, if I can just change my thinking when it comes to exercise…..

Until then here is a Slimmed Down Sensation for Chicken Franchaise (sorry about the quality of the pics. Forgot to take some so snapped a few on my phone before we ate). A favorite Italian dish of mine, which like a lot of dishes uses lots of oil and butter. So, this was a pretty easy one to slim down since it’s mostly about cutting down on the “bad stuff.” The whole recipe, including the lemon pasta is only 10 WW Points Plus. Serve with a big heaping of veggies on the side and you’ll feel like you just ate at a fine Italian Restaurant.

Slimmed Down Chicken Francaise (Serves 1; WW points plus = 10)

Chicken:

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

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. whole wheat flour

1 tbsp. refrigerated egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)

1/4 tsp. salt

1 pinch black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. white wine

2 tbsp. chicken stock

1/2 medium sized lemon, sliced thin

1/2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

Lemon Pasta:

1/2 cup cooked whole wheat spaghetti

1/2 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. seasoned bread crumbs

salt & pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

  1. Cook spaghetti per package directions. Set aside.
  2. Prepare chicken by pounding it to about 1/4″ thickness with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of chicken.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add oil.
  4. Place the flour and egg substitute in two seperate shallow bowls.
  5. Dredge the chicken in the flour, coating well on both sides, shaking off any excess. Then dip the chicken in the egg substitute making sure to drip off any excess.
  6. Add to the hot oil and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side. Use a meat thermometer to determine if the chicken is fully cooked. It should read 180 degrees F.
  7. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside, covering loosely with foil to keep warm.
  8. To the pan, add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Next add the wine, chicken stock and the slices of lemon. Continue to cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until reduced slightly.
  9. Pour sauce over chicken.(Remove lemon slices, if desired. The flavor will still be in the sauce)
  10. To prepare the pasta, add the olive oil, lemon juice, bread crumbs, salt & pepper, garlic powder and parsley. The pasta can be served hot or cold. If your spaghetti is cool heat over low heat for a few minutes, being careful not to scorch.
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Italian Sausage and Three Cheese Raviolletti


This is a quick pasta dish great for a weeknight meal. Full of flavor and fresh ingredients the whole family will love it! I know my Hubby did! 😉 I originally saw this recipe in Food Network Magazine, but I did change it up significantly starting with the type of sausage and pasta. It is a pretty basic recipe, so you can definitely use any pasta you like or spicy sausage or a different type of meat. For this recipe I used Buitoni Three Cheese Raviolletti which you can find in the dairy section of the grocery store.

Back in the day  in high school (we won’t mention how far back)I had learned in cooking class to always get all your ingredients prepared and measured out and ready to go before you begin the actual cooking or baking part. Fast forward to adulthood and when I first started out cooking I seemed to have forgotten this important “preparation” step. My cooking was unorganized, timed poorly and just an all around mess. As a matter of fact my own Mother commented that I was “a messy cook.” Initially this didn’t really matter to me so much as long as the end result tasted good! However, as I’ve gotten better and better I realized taking 10-15 minutes to prepare everything and have it readily available makes everything run so much smoother and easier….no more running around the kitchen like a chicken with its head cut off. As you can see in the picture, I took the time to chop the garlic, mushrooms, and tomatoes, as well as cooking the pasta while I cut everything up. Once it was time to cook, I just grabbed everything as I went along. The total time for me to make this and put it on the table was about 40 minutes with minimal clean up afterwards. I guess those old cliche’s are true…practice does make perfect!

Italian Sausage & Three Cheese Ravioletti (Makes 4 servings)

9 oz. Buitoni Three Cheese Ravioletti

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

8 oz. Italian Sausage (casings removed)

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

6 oz. mushrooms, sliced

1/2 tsp. salt

Black Pepper, to taste

1-2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon until it begins to brown.
  3. Add the scallions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, mushrooms, salt & pepper, stirring occassionally until the mushrooms start to brown.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook until they soften slightly, about 3 more minutes.
  6. Add the chicken stock to the skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  7. Stir in the pasta and cheese, cook until the cheese has melted.
  8. Divide among bowls, topping each bowl with some parmesan cheese.
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Slimmed Down Sensation: Chicken Piccata


Yesterday I posted a basic chicken piccata recipe. This is a dish I’ve made many times and this past Saturday I made it again. And…since weekends I am more lenient with what I eat and drink (what Dr. Oz calls “Faturday”….love that term!) I decided that I would indulge in some as well. To turn the recipe from full fat to slimmed down, all I did  was modify the amount of oil and butter, as well as cut back the amount of flour and parmesan cheese. My modified version is 8 pointsplus (Weight Watchers)…and let me tell you…it was SO GOOD! Even the Hubby enjoyed it and didn’t know it was “slimmed down” (until I told him, of course! 🙂 ). It tasted just as good as the original version, if not better because it didn’t have all that heaviness that comes from a lot of oil and butter.

One thing I would recommend with the slimmed down version, however, is that for the sauce you should start with the juice of only one lemon (or 1 tbsp. lemon juice) and allow it to cook for a few minutes. Then taste it as you go to see if you need more. One problem I did encounter was that it was a bit tangy from too much lemon (but it still tasted awesome!). Probably because it didn’t have as much butter as the original recipe to cut the tang!

Be sure to check out yesterday’s post “Chicken Piccata”  for some more tips on how to make this dish even more delish!

     

Slimmed Down Chicken Piccata (Makes 2 servings; 8 WW pointsplus)

10 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 1 small breast)

Salt & pepper, to taste

Garlic powder, to taste

2 tbsp. flour

2 tbsp. parmesan cheese, grated

½ tbsp. olive oil

¼ cup white wine

½ cup chicken stock

Lemon juice, from 1-2 lemons or 1-2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. parsley

2 tbsp. capers, rinsed and drained

1 tbsp. light butter

  1. Prepare the chicken by cutting it in half lengthwise to make two filets, approximately 5 oz. each.  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. Allow oil to get hot.
  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. Using 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 to your preference (remember the longer you reduce the thicker the sauce…but don’t reduce too long or you won’t have enough sauce for the chicken.) remove from heat and swirl in the butter until melted. Stir in the parsley and capers.
  9. Pour the sauce over the chicken (I used 2 tbsp. for mine, and poured the rest over my hubby’s) and serve.
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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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