Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan Skillet + More with Antonia Lofaso

Chicken Parmesan Skillet 12

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.

Chicken Parmesan Skillet 8
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.
Chicken Parmesan Skillet 6

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.

Chicken Parmesan Skillet 1
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.
Chicken Parmesan Skillet 10

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.

Advertisements

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.
Hot BBQ Beef Sandwiches 5

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.
Hot BBQ Beef Sandwiches 9

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

Southwestern Chopped Salad with Blue Cheese Avocado Dressing

Southwestern Chopped Salad 1
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.
Southwestern Chopped Salad 2
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.
Blue Cheese Avocado Dressing 2
Toss is some romaine, roasted corn, black beans, cilantro and even more avocado for a perfectly dreamy salad.
Southwestern Chopped Salad 3
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.
Blue Cheese Avocado Dressing 1
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.
Blue Cheese Avocado Dressing 3

Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs

Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 3
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.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 5
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.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 1
I served these alongside some oven baked fries but can you imagine them on a roll with a little coleslaw? Absolutely happening next time.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 4
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.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 6

Honey Orange Shrimp

Honey Orange Shrimp 1
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.
Honey Orange Shrimp 2
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.
Honey Orange Shrimp 3
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.
Honey Orange Shrimp 4

Roasted Green Beans

I’m a parent to a picky four year old. He used to eat everything I put in front of him but as he’s gotten older, he’s gotten more and more selective. This is all very unfortunate as I have branched out since starting up this little blog and make a lot of unique meals that are not so common here in the Midwest. My palate has really increased and I am way less picky than I used to be. Of course there are still things I don’t enjoy but I’m pretty proud of some of the things I make these days.
roasted green beans 2
Green beans are a veggie I have had a hard time supporting. They just aren’t appealing to me but since I have a child to set an example for, I choke them down so that he can see that I was eating them “to make me healthy and strong.” That line works sometimes. He likes muscles.

Last week I decided to roast them in hopes that they would be a bit more bearable to consume. I love the transformation of veggies when they are roasted, especially cauliflower. They get all brown and crispy and all their natural sweetness comes out. I figured it could only up the green beans game. It doesn’t just make them bearable but really tasty! Seriously, I actually enjoyed them and went back for seconds. Pretty sure this is the only way green beans will be prepared in my house going forward. And an added bonus, they are so easy for a weeknight meal.
roasted green beans 1
Roasted Green Beans

12 oz. fresh green beans
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp. roasted garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Flip, then roast another 10-15 minutes.

Crispy Baked Pork Chops {Clean Eating}

Crispy Baked Pork Chops 1
So, I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in a few months due to a certain little girl. A little girl that is going to be one next week! She should totally be sleeping all night, am I right? Well, she did last night and I have to tell you, I haven’t felt this good in a long time. I’m actually a pleasant person today. Have I told you me without sleep is not a pretty picture? For reals.
Crispy Baked Pork Chops 3
Getting enough sleep means I still have energy by the end of the day to cook a decent meal. And this meal totally screams fall to me. Hearty, pork chops covered in homemade whole grain breadcrumbs with a huge helping of broccoli mashed potatoes on the side.
Crispy Baked Pork Chops 4
And did I mention this deliciously filling meal is healthy and clean? You’re welcome.
Crispy Baked Pork Chops 5
Crispy Baked Pork Chops
recipe adapted from Sugar and Spice by Celeste

4 boneless center-cut pork chops, 6 to 8 ounces each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
4 slices whole grain bread bread, torn into 1 inch pieces
3 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, place bread into a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and garlic. Mix until well combined. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool to room temperature. Bump oven temperature up to 425 degrees F.
2. Once crumbs are cool, mix in parmesan cheese, thyme and parsley. Next, set up an assembly line of ingredients. Place flour in a pie plate, mix eggs and mustard in another pie plate then breadcrumbs in another. Roll pork chops in flour, eggs then breadcrumbs and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 17-25 minutes or until cooked through (mine took 20 minutes).