Herb-Crusted Chicken with Fresh Strawberry Relish

27 May

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Happy Memorial Day! Did you miss me? I’m sorry I’ve been neglectful in providing you yummy recipes and insights into new fitness experiences. I’m going to play the excuses games for a moment. My latest graduate certificate course was a total time suck. I learned a lot and delivered a 55 page marketing plan, but I also had effectively no life outside of work, that course and the work associated with it, and training/fundraising for the Nike Half Marathon DC through Team In Training. Then came our week long cruise vacation and super busy times with a social media research project I’m leading for work. Good excuses? You be the judge. Either way, time to get back on track!

That time of year has happened where strawberries are red, sweet, and juicy not merely colorful and deceivingly well…horrible tasting. Here is a way to use your berries at dinner time while adding some color and sweetness to your chicken dish. If you are not a huge lime fan, I urge you to cut the amount of the lime zest. Also, this Eating Well recipe calls for the use of chicken thighs, but I prefer chicken breasts. I hope you’ll enjoy this summery meal!  It makes 4 servings and is low-calorie (173/serving), low-fat (9 g fat/ 2 saturated/serving), and low-carb (8 g/serving). What’s not to love?

Ingredients:

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  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 TBSP chopped fresh oregano
  • 2.5 TBSP chopped fresh chives, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus a pinch, divided
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper plus a pinch, divided
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 2 tsp freshly grated lime zest
  • 1 tsp sugar, or to taste
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, or more to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine chicken in a bowl with oil, oregano, 1 TBSP of the chives, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp of pepper.  Place in a small or medium roasting pan.
  3. Roast the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165 degrees, 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of chicken breasts.
  4. In the meantime, combine strawberries, lime zest, sugar, vinegar, the remaining 1.5 TBSP of chives and remaining pinch of salt and pepper in a bow.  Let stand at room temp until the chicken has fully cooked.                           IMG_20130430_185843_072
  5. Prior to serving, give the strawberry relish a taste and adjust sugar, vinegar, and/or salt to your liking.  Serve the relish atop the chicken.
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Skinny Cilantro-Garlic Shrimp in Coconut Milk

29 Mar

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Have you been observing Lent?  Congratulations to those who have and those who have not been eating meat on Fridays.  If you’re a vegetarian or vegan it probably was not too tough for you, but us carnivores have a little challenge remembering that chicken, beef, pork etc. may not make participate in our meals on these days.  Remember that while I’m not married to observing Lent and the meatless Fridays tradition, I do generally follow it since I eat with Bryan most Friday nights.

Here is one more dish that is quick and super tasty for your last meatless Friday!  The tomato-coconut broth is velvety smooth and tastes indulgent, but this is a Skinnytaste recipe so your fat content is far less than what you might assume as you munch away (10 g fat/ servings with 4 total servings in this recipe).  Have a fabulous Easter weekend!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (weight after peeled)
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can light coconut milk (50% less fat)

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat  OO over a low heat. Add red peppers and sauté until soft (about 4 minutes).
  2. Add scallion whites, 1/4 cup cilantro, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook 1 minute.
  3. Add tomatoes, coconut milk and salt to taste.
  4. Cover and simmer on low about 10 minutes to let the flavors blend together and to allow the sauce to thicken.
  5. Add shrimp and cook 5 minutes. Add lime juice.
  6. To serve, divide equally among 4 bowls (or 2 for double servings.  You’re looking at around 520 calorie meal if you have 2 servings/person like we did) and top with scallion greens and remaining cilantro.

Hiking Mount Tamalpais

20 Mar

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Just north of San Fran’s Golden Gate Bridge is beautiful Mount Tamalpais.  The views are simply spectacular capturing Marin County hills, San Fran Bay, the east bay, Mount Diablo and the Farrallon Islands 25 miles out to sea depending on where you are viewing from.  There are 50+ miles of trails in the Mount Tamalpais State Park system.  On the various trails, a hiker may come across all sorts of animal life (even bobcats/ mountain lions although you hope NOT to have a run in with those guys), the tall and majestic Redwood trees, and all sorts of plant and fauna life.  It’s so vast and the beauty just sucks you in.  That is probably why it was so easy to get lost when I hiked this with one of my oldest friends (who now lives in Sacramento and attends McGeorge Law School of the University of the Pacific).

Ohhhh yeah did we ever get lost.  Becca put me in charge of navigating the map which had suggested trail routes  that the ranger had outlined for us.  I know people will just say this plenty of the time, but truthfully I generally have a great sense of direction.  Somehow we just got sucked into the beautiful scenery and lost our way.   See the photo below.  The yellow indicates the route we were supposed to embark upon.  The purple shows where and how early in (about 1/2 mile) we started heading the wrong way.  The “You Are Here” indicates where we ended up.  We were about 2 miles off route.  We realized this around 5:45 pm and while the days have gotten longer, the sunlight is not on your side for several more hours by that time.  We hoofed it back up hill- pretty steep up hill to boot.  Somehow we got back in an hour or less even in spite of the incline. 

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Even this directionally challenged incident did not ruin our time.  It was pretty entertaining actually.  We also got much more of an awesome workout than we thought we would.  Here are few more photos of this beautiful hike in Cali.  Go check it out if you visit the San Fran area anytime soon!  My only caution is to pay BETTER attention to your map 🙂

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February Cooking Club: Cocoa!

15 Mar

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The key ingredient for February cooking club/competition with my co-workers was cocoa.  I have plenty of treat recipes I could have gone with, but I wanted to challenge myself to a savory cocoa-laced dish.  I came upon this chili recipe from Snack Girl which sounded exactly like what I was going for.  The only shortcoming was that it was being hosted on a Friday night.  Bryan and several others (I assumed) could not eat meat.  No problem!  I would put together a meat and a meatless version for the lent observers.  To mimic some level of meatiness, I would also try my hand at roasting eggplant.  I did a little Googling and figured that out.  The veggie version would also feature zucchini.  Similar to pumpkin chili recipes, the cocoa was subtle enough to avoid overpowering the recipe yet still present enough to be detectable.  It was a winning dish, but not the winner.  That coveted spot went to Kirk with his pork mole tacos.  Mole is no joke to make and the sauce was quite  good.  I’m just thrilled with the amount of left-overs I have truthfully.  I’m set for those last minute lunch or dinners thanks to some frozen on-the-ready portions I’ve got on hand.

Other entries included: Cocoa Dusted Chicken with Rice, Chile Chocolate Lime Martini Pudding, Red Wine Chocolate Cake w/ PB Mascarpone Icing, Peanutella Brownies with a Nutella Icing, and two versions of Popcorn- one Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt and the other a Milk Chocolate with PB and Vanilla.  A great food occasion as usual with this crowd!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (80% lean)
  • 3-15 oz cans different beans (black, light and/or dark kidney, white, pinto, etc.)
  • 1-28 oz can plum tomatoes
  • 4 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • salt to taste 
  • hot sauce (optional)

Directions:

  1. Brown ground beef in large sauce pan over medium high heat. When meat is brown, drain beans and add.
  2. Pour in tomatoes with their juices and add spices. Heat to a simmer and taste for salt.
  3. Cook for about 20 minutes at a low simmer and serve!

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini Boats

12 Mar

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Modified ever so slightly to a more semi-homemade version (I used jarred sauce instead of making my own and made a few other minor adjustments), this Skinnytaste recipe simply put floated my boat (see what I did there?!)   Ironically I had chosen this recipe to another the night I made it thinking it would be less labor intensive.  Not the case and I ended up shoveling down before a yoga class, but it was SO worth it.  Like stuffed peppers, this recipe has your protein atop/inside your main veggie.  You can almost eat it like finger food.  I stress almost.  It is a little messier than that!  I am going to try changing this up with some alternative ingredient/flavor combinations as I was so impressed how this recipe came together.  Enjoy!

Ingredients: 

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  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 12 oz lean Spicy Italian chicken sausage, removed from casing
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella
  • 8 tsp grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out flesh, leaving 1/4″ thick walls of the zucchini. Chop up the scooped out flesh of the zucchini into small pieces and set aside.           IMG_20130107_182203_701
  3. Drop zucchini halves in boiling water and cook 1 minute. Remove from water.
  4. Place 1/4 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 12″ baking dish, and place zucchini halves cut side up.
  5. In a large saute pan, brown sausage, breaking up as it cooks into smaller pieces until browned; set aside.
  6. Heat oil and add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook on a medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add chopped zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook about 2-3 minutes. Add sausage and cook a few more minutes.
  7. Using a spoon, fill each hollowed zucchini with 1/3 cup cooked sausage, pressing firmly. Top each with 2 tablespoons each of sauce, 1 tablespoon each of shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 teaspoon each of parmesan cheese.                                                                                                                      IMG_20130107_191055_444
  8. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes until cheese is melted and golden brown on top and zucchini is cooked through.

Pepperoni Dip on the Lighter Side

1 Mar

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I had made this dip back in February for a Super Bowl party (YAY RAVENS!), but I certainly think it is fabulous for any sort of entertaining/ large gathering event you may come across.  I am labeling this as a “sinner meal” even in spite of lightening it up from my friend’s original recipe on her blog, Table for Two.  Reason being that I think it is good to be real with yourself that lighter does not mean light.  Cheese and pepperoni are certainly amongst ingredients you want to be moderate with in your diet.  So make this, eat it, and enjoy it- all while remembering that moderation guiding principle!  Shout out to Table for Two one of many doozy recipes.  I’m certain your palette will be pleased!

Ingredients:

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  • 2 (8 oz.) packets of reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream (or plain greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded, plus more for topping
  • 1 cup pepperoni, sliced to half moons, plus additional whole pepperoni slices for topping
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream (or greek yogurt), mozzarella, pepperoni, basil, and olive oil.    IMG_20130203_175449_601
  3. Spread mixture in a rectangular casserole dish and smooth out the top using a spoon.
  4. Cover the top with more mozzarella cheese.
  5. Arrange whole pepperoni rounds on top of the mozzarella.              IMG_20130203_180300_096
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and cheese is good and melty.
  7. Serve hot with tortilla chips or sliced bread.  Be cautious not to burn your mouth!

Playing My Small Part to End Blood Cancer

27 Feb

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Back to running regularly this month for the first time since the Army 10-miler back in late October.  I like to do a charity race each year, particularly through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training (TNT) program  which trains beginner to advanced athletes for endurance events like running races, bike races, and triathlons in exchange for raising funds for the fight against blood cancers.  To date, this is my 5th season with TNT.  I have started training for the Inaugural DC Nike Half Marathon (13.1 miles) in late April and have been simultaneously involved with a number of efforts to fundraise (Here is my page.  I’d love your support! http://pages.teamintraining.org/nca/nikewhlf13/cbeanx) such as an indoor cycling class at Revolve, a % of sales day at my favorite local smoothie and wrap spot South Block, a volunteer day at my local IHOP for National Pancake Day, and ad hoc awareness raising via email and social media.  I’ve got about $500 more to raise (my page does not reflect all monies raised presently), but I’m confident I’ll get there! 

I really enjoy TNT for the cause, camaraderie, and ability to combine two passions- community service and a workout challenge.  Running is perhaps the toughest workout for me.  I don’t get that runners’ high thing and it just doesn’t come easy for me.  But man oh man when I finish do I ever feel accomplished.  In the month ahead, I will be climbing from 4 all the way to a 10 mile run in my training plan.  Thank goodness I just bought these super sexy new running shoes and fun new gear!  Also, I have made some new TNT friends who will be here for me and I for them on these long runs where you can really use a little extra encouragement to get it done.  Wish me luck!