Baked Chicken Parmesan

When my mother-in-law was in town, she graciously took over the majority of the cooking – first, because I was too big to do anything but beach myself on the couch and later because we had just come home with Lexi. Of everything she cooked, this dish was the one the Irishman liked the most and after she left, he had her email me the recipe. When I made this chicken last night, I also modified it slightly to cook flounder in for myself and it came out fabulously. I’ll include the modifications at the end of the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbs. milk
1 clove garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 Tbs. white wine
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Between sheets of wax paper, pound chicken breasts to flatten them. In a shallow dish, stir together the beaten egg, milk, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. In a separate dish, add your bread crumbs. First, dip your chicken breasts in the egg mixture and then roll them in the bread crumbs to coat them well.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat about 4 Tbs. of olive oil and cook your chicken breasts until they are golden brown. Once they’re done, arrange the chicken breasts in a shallow baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth, white wine and lemon juice. Pour the broth mixture over the chicken and then sprinkle your Parmesan cheese over the top.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover the dish and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Serve this up with with rice or a side of pasta and you are well on your well to a yummy weeknight meal.

If you want to make this with flounder or tilapia instead, just replace the chicken broth with either veggie or fish broth and shorten the cooking time to just 15 minutes (bake it uncovered). I also added some dill to the bread crumbs and squeeze an additional bit of lemon juice upon taking it out of the oven. It came out wonderfully!

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Time To Get Moving!

As I approach the 6 week post-birth mark, it’s time for me to start thinking about how I’m going to lose these last 18 lbs. (I gained 45 total). With Parker, I had gained 50 lbs. and then went on to lose 60 lbs. over the following 18 months, so I know that losing all 45 lbs. of the weight I gained is an achievable goal over the next year. The key is to not focus on the numbers, but to instead focus on making good choices one day at a time.

For me, exercise and a good diet go hand in hand. By that, I mean that if I’m not working out, then I’m probably eating pretty poorly as well. Yup, it’s time to drop my ice cream cone-a-day habit and reenter the world of healthy eating. Since I’m breastfeeding full time, I need to consume about 2000 calories a day. I just need to make sure that they are the right calories. Starting next week, I’m going to start posting my weekly menus every Monday. This will help me get organized, but it will also keep me accountable.

For the month of June, I’m going to stick to walking instead of running thanks to my, um, current milk overload (I highly doubt my sports bras would remotely fit at the moment. You’ve got to love the sacrifices we make for our children). The goal for June is to get in 3 miles or so 3-4 days a week while pushing Lexi in her stroller. In addition to walking, I’m going to do the following workouts at home:

Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays – Wii Fit Plus (with a workout that focuses on flexibility and strength)

Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays  –  Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred DVD followed by the Med Ball 400 workout

Sundays – REST

The final step in my workout plan will be to find a couple of races to register for in 2012. I don’t know about you, but when I have an end goal in mind, it’s easier for me to stick with a training plan. I always feel like I’m training with a purpose instead of just spinning my wheels.

So without further ado, it’s time to get busy and kick it into gear (albeit a low gear at the moment). So if any of you have any weight that you want to drop, feel free to join me. Misery loves company and I’m certainly going to be suffering as I bust my butt to get back into shape!

Shrimp Pasta Salad with Buttermilk-Herb Dressing

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Cooking Light has delivered another great recipe. I made this last night and just finished it off for lunch today. It’s a cold pasta salad, so naturally, the leftovers are even better the next day and it makes for a great summer salad. Since I don’t eat meat, the shrimp works great for me, but I bet this would be fantastic with diced chicken as well. Here’s what you need:

8 oz. cooked pasta (I used baby shells, but any shape would do)
1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup thinly sliced radishes

For the dressing:

1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 Tbs. minced fresh chives
1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions. While you are waiting for the water to come to a boil, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Remember, if you don’t have buttermilk (which I never do), just add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk and let it sit for 5 minutes to make your own buttermilk. While your pasta is cooking, slice your radishes. I did this with a vegetable peeler and they came out great.

During the last 2 minutes of cooking time for your pasta, toss in your shrimp and peas. Bring the water back up to a boil and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so. Then, Drain everything together and rinse with cold water (making sure to drain it again). In a large bowl, Add your pasta shrimp to your sliced radishes and pour over your dressing. Mix it well to coat all of the pasta.

This can be served room temperature or chilled. I love that I can make this recipe the day before if we’re having company over and I can serve it directly from the fridge without having to reheat it. The less time that I can spend in the kitchen on the day of a cookout, the better!

Lexi’s One Month Photoshoot

So I finally got around to snapping some semi-formal photos of our sweet girl. She only gave me 20 minutes before deciding that she was D.O.N.E., but I think I got a couple of good photos. I know that I’m biased, but is this kid cute or what? I just love her to pieces!

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I’ve also included some outtakes. My personal favorite is the classic “Lexi Pose” with the milk dripping out of her mouth.

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And this final picture is entitled, “Momma, pick me up NOW!”

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Yes, my dear. Thank you for your cooperation in today’s photoshoot. And for being so cute.

My New Favorite Salad: Mediterranean Bulgur Salad

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First off, I cannot take credit for this salad. My mother created this recipe after I was commenting to her about my apprehension of cooking with healthy grains (bulgur, quinoa, cracked wheat). Truth be told, I was never really sure what to do with them, so I had avoided cooking with those ingredients even though I had been reading all about their nutritional value. So, my mom came to the rescue and now I’m hooked. And by hooked, I mean that I’m going to make a large batch of this salad every Sunday and eat it all week long. It really is that tasty (and filling). Please don’t be put off by the number of ingredients. The fresh herbs came from the herb garden and we happened to have a bunch of veggies on hand so we threw them in, but you can change the combination based on whatever is in your fridge.

For Bulgur:
2 cups water
1 cup uncooked bulgur

For Dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vinegar
½ cup minced fresh parsley
¼ cup minced basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Other Ingredients:
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 chopped green pepper
1 thinly sliced onion
1 package (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2 stalks of celery thinly sliced
5 broccoli florets thinly sliced
1/2 cup almonds (or pine nuts)
15 pitted kalamata black olives chopped

Directions:
In a large saucepan, bring water and bulgur to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender and water is almost absorbed. Remove from the heat; let stand at room temperature, uncovered, until water is absorbed. The bulgur can be made the night before and the salad assembled the next day.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
In a large serving bowl, combine the bulgur, beans, and all other veggies, Drizzle with dressing; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and almonds.

This is the kind of salad that gets better the next day, so leftovers are great. You’ll definitely want to give this one a try – it’s fabulous.

Chocolate Sauerkraut Cupcakes

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Yes, you read that correctly. When my mom arrived earlier this month, she brought with her a bunch of Weight Watchers newsletters that were filled with recipes. While we were looking through them, we were both struck by the addition of sauerkraut into a cake. When I think sauerkraut, I think sausages and Polish food. I do not think moist, delicious desserts. With that said, these cupcakes were definitely that, particularly when paired with cream cheese frosting. Yum! Here’s what you need to make these cupcakes (or a regular cake if you’re so inclined):

2 cup(s) all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 1/3 cup(s) sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup(s) regular butter, melted
1 1/2 cup(s) hot water (I used hot coffee instead)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup(s) sauerkraut, pureed until smooth

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat your muffin pan (or a Bundt pan) with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and 2/3 cup of cocoa. Add melted butter, hot water (or hot coffee) and vanilla extract; mix well. Add sauerkraut and blend thoroughly.

Pour batter into prepared pan (this batter will not rise very much, so go ahead and fill the muffin tins almost to the top); bake in center of oven until a tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes or 55 to 60 minutes for a Bundt pan. Cool cake in pan for about 20 minutes and then turn out onto a baking rack to cool completely.

Then, prepared to be surprised that the sauerkraut is nowhere to be found – just chocolatey goodness!