Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan Skillet + More with Antonia Lofaso

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When I was first contacted and asked if I was interested in interviewing Antonia, my first reaction was to turn it down. I thought there was no way I could do it. I’m an introvert. I don’t even like calling to order pizza and now I have to talk to this incredibly talented, famous chef? That’s just cray (do the kids say that anymore?). But then I thought about it and knew it would be ridiculous and stupid to turn it down. I knew I had  to do it. Even though just thinking about it make my heart race and mouth dry out. I mean, what a great opportunity for me to learn from someone who knows the ins and outs of the restaurant business, is classically trained and does it all while being a single mother. I learned to take a little risk even if it scared me. And best of all for you guys, I learned some great tips that I will use in my everyday life and share with all my favorite people on the internets.

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Now that Noah is in school (and eats lunch at 10:50), after school snacks are an integral part of our day so I asked Antonia about what she feeds her daughter to hold her over until dinner time. First, a little advice from an experienced mom was to have the snack ready and on the table when they get home because kids are ravenous. She also suggested high protein snacks that will fill them up but not spoil their appetite such as fresh tuna salad, hummus or avocado. Another idea is a small piece of her Tropical Ice Cream Sandwich as a sweet treat is better for digestion right after school rather than after dinner.
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We also had a chance to talk about some strategies for getting dinner on the table on those busy weeknights and she had some great advice. Organization and planning are huge life savers for Antonia during the week. Make sure you have your fridge and pantry stocked and organized and have your meals planned out for the week. Get up a half hour earlier and get as much prepped for dinner as possible. This is something I’ve gotten into the habit of doing recently and it has made an incredible difference in our nightly routine. Trying to get dinner cooked while keeping track of my kids has gotten pretty tricky, especially since we have some sharing issues going on right now.

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This Chicken Parmesan Skillet has a lot of make ahead options to help cut down on cooking time during the witching hour when the kids are cranky, hungry and need your attention. It can be made completely ahead of time, in 30 minutes, or you can complete a couple steps such as cooking the chicken and shredding the cheese then complete the rest right before dinner and bake.
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To lighten up the classic parmesan, I used whole wheat penne and sautéed the chicken rather than breading it. But I knew I would miss the crunch of the breadcrumb on the chicken so I sprinkled the top with just a bit of breadcrumbs to trick my taste buds. Totally did the trick while still keeping it lighter. This is simple, relatively quick and family pleasing. Chicken Parmesan Skillet 11
Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan Skillet

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite size chunks
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh black pepper
13.25 oz. whole wheat penne
1 (24 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/4 cups part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. dried basil, for topping
1/2 tsp. dried parsley, for topping

1.Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and chicken. Sprinkle with basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper then saute until golden brown on both sides, 3-4 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil and cook pasta 1 minute less than package directions. Add pasta to the skillet with the chicken. Stir in spaghetti sauce then top with cheeses, breadcrumbs, basil and parsley.

3. If you are eating right away, place under the broiler until the cheesy is melted and slightly golden. If you are eating later, cover with foil and place in refrigerator. When ready to eat, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes uncovered.

Hot BBQ Beef Sandwiches

Hot BBQ Beef Sandwiches 6We’ve been in Colorado for the past week so that’s why I’ve been MIA. I originally planned to write posts ahead of time but with the craziness of preparing for the trip, I didn’t get them done. Then I thought I would write after the kids were in bed but there was a hot tub at the house we were staying at so…. Sorry, I chose the hot tub instead. It was really nice to unplug and not touch my computer for a week but I sure did miss you guys. Hot BBQ Beef Sandwiches 7
I love going on vacation but it’s always hard to get back home, unpack and get back in the swing of things. Coming home to an empty fridge is kind of the worst too. I usually plan something easy for our first night back to ease back into our routine, like this Hot BBQ Beef Sandwich.
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This sandwich was inspired by something I tried at a local sub shop recently. I dreamed of it for days and knew I had to recreate it at home. It starts with a crusty roll, then is stuffed with roast beef, sweet barbecue sauce and provolone cheese. Hot BBQ Beef Sandwiches 1
Place it under the broiler until the cheese turns to melty, slightly browned goodness. These literally take 5-10 minutes from start to finish making them perfect for those upcoming school nights.
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Hot BBQ Beef Sandwiches

4 sub rolls
1 lb. roast beef, thinly sliced
8 slices provolone cheese
BBQ Sauce

1. Preheat broiler. Slice rolls almost in half and spread open. Place on cookie sheet. Slather buns with desired amount of barbecue sauce then divide roast beef evenly between sandwiches. Top each with 2 slices of provolone cheese. Leave them open face.

2. Place under broiler and cook until cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from oven. Close sandwiches, slice in half and enjoy. Serve additional barbecue on the side for dipping. Hot BBQ Beef Sandwiches 4

Grilled Honey Mustard Ham

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If you follow me on any of my social media accounts, you’ll know that my Shark Bite Cupcakes were featured on Buzzfeed Monday in celebration of Shark Week on The Discovery Channel. I’m just a tad excited about it if you hadn’t already noticed. I have always loved shark week and have even swam with them twice so that made it that much cooler for me. It feels so amazing to be recognized and validated for something you love doing.
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Ok, enough with the gushing and onto the recipe. I thought I would share another incredibly easy recipe for summer that is done in minutes. Seriously, like 5 minutes and done. We love honey mustard around here and I know if something is smothered in it, my guys will eat it.
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This recipe starts with a precooked ham, sliced thickly which is slathered in a quick, 3 ingredient honey mustard then thrown on the grill for a couple minutes to char it a bit. I love meals that take no thought or effort in the summer so we don’t have to take time away from all our outdoor shenanigans.
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A word of advice, this can overcook and get dry very quickly so just cook it long enough to heat it through and get a bit of color on it. Throw some veggies on the grill alongside the ham and you’ve got dinner done in minutes.

Grilled Honey Mustard Ham

4 thick slices precooked ham (like you would have at the holidays)
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. thyme

1. Preheat grill to medium high heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, yellow mustard and thyme.

2. Brush one side of each ham slice and place sauce side down on the grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until grill marks appear. Brush with more honey mustard then flip and cook another 2 minutes.
Grilled Honey Mustard Ham Collage

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Blue Cheese Avocado Dressing

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I have another Mexican inspired recipe to share today in preparation for Cinco de Mayo tomorrow just in case you didn’t find something in yesterday’s taco post. We decided on these Loaded Carne Asada Tacos for our little celebration but if you want to make smarter decisions and keep it light, this Southwestern Chopped Salad is the way to go.
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Ever since receiving Seriously Delish for Christmas I have been dying to make the Blue Cheese Avocado Dressing. I’ve had it rolling around in my head for awhile and thought the cool, creamy avocado would pair really well with some smoky, spicy chipotle chicken.
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Toss is some romaine, roasted corn, black beans, cilantro and even more avocado for a perfectly dreamy salad.
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I topped ours with crispy tortilla strips for some added texture. This salad was enjoyed by my entire family which is a huge feat. I couldn’t shovel it in Hannah’s mouth fast enough.
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Southwestern Chopped Salad
serves 2

1 large romaine heart, washed and chopped
2 chipotle chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, diced
2 Tbsp. cilantro, finely minced
tortilla strips, for garnish
Blue Cheese Dressing, recipe follows

1. Preheat broiler. Place frozen corn on rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place under broiler and cook until some brown spots appear, stirring frequently. This should only take a couple minutes so keep a close eye on it. Remove from oven and scrape into a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl, combine romaine, chicken, corn, black beans, avocado and cilantro. Toss then add desired amount of blue cheese avocado dressing, tossing again. Serve with tortilla strips on top.

Blue Cheese Avocado Dressing
recipe slightly adapted from Seriously Delish

1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced
1 garlic clove, roughly minced
Juice from 1/2 lemon
6 Tbsp. low-fat buttermilk
1 Tbsp. mayo
1 Tbsp. sour cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4-6 ounces bleu cheese crumbles (depending on taste)

Place avocado, garlic, lemon juice, buttermilk, mayo, sour cream, salt and pepper in food processor and blend until smooth. Gently stir in bleu cheese crumbles. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

*Disclaimer: the link above is an affiliate link which means if you click on the link and purchase, I get a small percentage from the sale.
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Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs

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I love a pulled pork sandwich covered in barbecue sauce but that takes a lot of effort. We have a smoker so that’s the only way we do pulled pork in our house. It’s quite a process though so it doesn’t happen too often. I was craving it like mad the other day so I decided to try something a little different that would be reminiscent of that delicious sandwich but take a lot less effort.
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In come these little beauties. Done in less than 30 minutes and totally comfort worthy. I made a simple, traditional meatball but switched out the ground beef for ground pork. Once they are done they are slathered in that delicious honey bbq sauce I shared on Monday.
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I served these alongside some oven baked fries but can you imagine them on a roll with a little coleslaw? Absolutely happening next time.
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Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs

1 lb. ground pork
1 egg
1/4 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper
1 Tbsp. parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 batch Honey BBQ Sauce

1. Combine egg, panko, salt, pepper and parsley in a large bowl. Crumble ground pork over the mixture and mix until just combined. Form mixture into 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs in a single layer, flipping after they have browned for 1-2 minutes. Cook until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the pan and toss with honey bbq sauce.
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Honey Orange Shrimp

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During Lent I ate a lot of shrimp. I’ve never been a big fan of seafood but shrimp has always been something I could tolerate. During the past month and a half, honey walnut shrimp has become a new favorite of mine. I decided it was about time to try an at home version but I wanted to change it up a bit since Joel doesn’t like nuts. So I took out the candied walnuts and added some orange zest to make it our own.
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Not only is this a tasty recipe, but it’s really quick and simple too. The shrimp are dredged lightly in cornstarch then cooked in a small amount of olive oil. While the shrimp were cooking I whipped up the sauce, lightly steamed broccoli and warmed up some brown rice. Less than 30 minutes FTW.
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Honey Orange Shrimp
recipe adapted from Le Crème De La Crumb

2 lbs large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 Tbsp. olive oil

for the sauce:
2/3 cup mayo
1/2 tsp. crushed red chili flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
1 orange, zested

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dredge the shrimp in the cornstarch. Place shrimp in a single layer in the skillet and cook about 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove to paper towel lined plate.

2. Meanwhile, mix sauce ingredients together. Toss sauce and shrimp together and enjoy.
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Lime Yogurt Pie with Strawberries for Pi Day

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This pie is totally doing double duty. Not only is it perfect for Pi Day tomorrow but it would be the perfect green dessert for St. Patrick’s Day too. Two holidays taken care of with a sweet, yet light treat. Super important now that we’re gearing up for spring and summer.
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I started to tell you all the story of how this pie came about on Wednesday. My main {little} man is always thinking up recipes we should make and this is the newest edition straight out of the mind of Noah. He named it Yogurt Scrunchful Pie. He makes up words on the daily and explained to me that scrunchful means it has to have some crunchy stuff in it. Alrighty then.
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I was planning on making this completely no-bake but the dude thought we should bake the crust so that it would be crunchy (don’t forget the scrunchful). Well, with the smooth filling it would be nice to have a bit more texture so we went with it. Seriously, does he understand that about the palate already or was he just born with it? Either way, he’s pretty awesome in my book. I almost used his name for the title of this post but worried you guys might think I went off the deep end.
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I thought about some yummy flavor combinations before we set off to the grocery store for our ingredients but they were all shot down for lime. Oh, the opinions of four year olds. He doesn’t get much control over meals (what do you mean we can’t eat pizza every night of the week?) so we went with his choice this time. And I did manage to talk him into some macerated strawberries on top “to make it fancy.”
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The filling consists of yogurt and Cool Whip, that’s it. We went with Greek yogurt and lite Cool Whip to keep it low on calories and sugar but still super refreshing and satisfying. The filling has such a light consistency, even after frozen. I foresee many of these pies in our future. Especially since it’s so easy and can be made ahead of time.
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I have literally thought of dozen of flavor combinations that we have to try this summer. Coconut yogurt with unsweetened coconut mixed into the crust. Vanilla yogurt and a few dollops of peanut butter with a chocolate cookie crust. Lemon yogurt with strawberries folded in. Mixed berries. I could go on and on.
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And don’t worry, I didn’t leave anyone out of this collaboration. I had my other little assistant at my feet during the photo shoot. And although she has a bad case of the flu, she was still pretty irritated that she didn’t get all.the.pie.right.now. That girl will let you know what’s up.
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Lime Yogurt Pie

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, melted

For the filling:
2 (5.3 oz.) containers lime Greek yogurt
1 (8 oz). lite Cool Whip

For the strawberries:
2 cups strawberries, washed and sliced
Zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar

1. For the crust: mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter together. Press into a pie plate along the bottom and up the sides. Bake at 325 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

2. Gently fold yogurt into the Cool Whip. Spread evenly into the cooled crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

3. Remove pie from freezer 10-15 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, mix strawberries, lime zest and sugar in a small bowl and leave at room temperature to macerate. When ready to serve, cut pie into wedges and top with strawberries.