thai chicken noodles with red peppers + basil.

Happy Thursday! This week sure has seemed long, hasn’t it? I’ve had a series of deadlines and deliverables looming over me, both at work and for school, so my free time has been greatly reduced. Who needs to sleep??

While amounts of sleep may be variable, the need to eat certainly is not! I know we all need  easy dishes that come together quickly and stay delicious for next day lunches. Today’s recipe is just that: a rice noodle dish positively loaded with veggies and protein to keep you full and satisfied through the most stressful of days. I’m not sure how authentically Thai this dish is, but I promise you it is positively delicious!

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I like the thin brown rice noodles for this, often called ‘stir fry’ noodles at the grocery store. The brown rice adds additional whole grains and fiber, but if you cannot find, simply substitute white ones. I let them soak until they are just shy of soft, as they will cook a bit in the wok, and continue to soften as they sit. Six ounces of baby spinach (weight) may seem like a lot, but it wilts quickly and you’ll be surprised at how much it cooks down.

Serve with some sake, or a crisp white wine, and congratulate yourself on cooking a healthy, filling meal in less time than it takes to order takeout!

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thai chicken noodles with red peppers + basil.
a ‘PTL’ original. 

directions
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh, minced ginger
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
3 scallions, sliced
1/2-3/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
6 ounces baby spinach
1/3 cup fresh basil, minced
1 lime, juiced
8 ounces thin brown or white rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
sea salt and black pepper, if desired (optional)

directions
Heat oil in wok over high heat.  Stir fry chicken for 3-4 minutes, or until no longer pink.

Add bell peppers, ginger, and garlic; sauté until peppers just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add green onions; toss 2 minutes. Add soy sauce, lime juice and crushed red pepper.

Toss to blend, about 1 minute. Add thai rice noodles. Add spinach in 3 additions, tossing until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute for each addition. Mix in basil. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Toss consistently, to prevent the noodles from sticking.

Serve immediately. Serves 3-4.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

chicken parmesan stuffed peppers.

Do you ever get an idea in your head and it will. not. go. away. until you make it?? That is today’s recipe for me. A colleague brought in leftover stuffed peppers (mmmmmm) a few weeks ago for lunch, and an idea suddenly popped in my head: chicken parmesan stuffed peppers. Sounds delicious, right? Well, I thought so too, so I looked around on the internet and the few recipes I could find weren’t calling out to me, so I decided to create them. If I do say so myself, these are a winner.

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Inside of frying the chicken a la chicken parm, I decided to impart that crispy crunchiness by topping the peppers with a whole wheat panko, cheese and parsley topping. Delicious, and a great way to cut down on calories. We are using whole wheat orzo pasta in the filling, but feel free to use regular orzo pasta. I also found these super cute teeny tiny little fresh mozzarella balls, but any small fresh mozzarella will work for this. Mine were about 1/2 inch big, but you could always buy a big ball of it, and cut it down. That would probably be more economical, but hey, I was all about convenience, and cuteness.

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This recipe seems long, but it’s really just cooking each component, adding them together, and then assembling the peppers. Beautiful! My friend James and I devoured these the night I made them. The recipe makes five as written, and three of my peppers were on the smaller side. One big one was almost too much. As with many casserole type dishes, these get better the next day.

A portable, healthy way to get my chicken parmesan craving? yes, please!

chicken parmesan stuffed peppers.
a ‘PTL’ original recipe. 

ingredients
12-15 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached or roasted, shredded or cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
scant one cup whole wheat orzo, cooked
5 assorted bell peppers, tops cut off, seeded, tops reserved and diced (preferably red/orange/yellow)
1/2 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup fresh baby mozzarella balls
1 1/2 cups jarred marinana sauce, 1/2 cup reserved
1 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

topping:
1/3 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
sea salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon each)
5 baby mozzarella balls (optional)
fresh basil leaves, to garnish (optional)

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an oval 2 quart dish, add cut peppers, standing up to the dish. Cover with foil, and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes to slightly soften the peppers. Remove dish and let cool. Set aside.

To cook the chicken: Heat a deep skillet with one tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add chicken breasts, cover and let cook for 20 minutes until cooked through. Remove from heat, let cook for 3-5 minutes, and then shred or cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Heat a pot with boiling water and cook orzo to package directions for al dente. Remove, strain, and then add cooled orzo to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Make the panko topping: combine bread crumbs, cheese, parsley and salt and pepper. Toss together with a fork.

While orzo is cooking, heat a small skillet over medium high heat with remaining tablespoon of oil. Add diced onion, diced pepper tops, and garlic to skillet and cook, stirring often for 5-7 minutes, until slightly softened and lightly charred. Remove and add to mixing bowl. Add cooked, chopped chicken, marinara sauce, oregano, salt, pepper, basil and crushed red pepper is using. Lightly toss. Add baby mozzarella balls and lightly toss again.

Using a spoon, carefully fill each pepper with filling to the top of the pepper. Add a small spoonful of sauce to each top, and spoon the remaining sauce around the peppers in the casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, checking after 30 minutes to assess softening of peppers. Once peppers “give” a little (about 45 minutes), remove foil, add the panko topping, and top each pepper with remaining mozzarella ball. Turn the oven to the broil setting, and broil for 3-5 minutes, keeping an eye on them to ensure no burning.

Remove from the oven, and let sit for a few minutes. Serve, topped with ribbons of basil.

Serves 5.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible** 

cider glazed chicken with garlicky swiss chard.

The cider love continues! This dinner is super fast and perfect for a weeknight. In my overzealous fall shopping, I picked up a gallon of local apple cider. Turns out, I don’t really drink all that much apple cider, so after a week or so, I still had over half of the gallon left. Cider makes a delicious pan sauce, and this one is so simple. Just cider, dijon, salt, pepper and finished with a pat of butter. So much flavor with very little effort!

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I used a whisk to break up the mustard and smoothly incorporate it into the apple cider. This will bubble, and you’ll want to stir and/or whisk it often while it thickens. No cornstarch necessary here! Butter at the end makes the sauce oh-so silky and rich. Perfect for the chicken, although this would be equally delicious with pork chops or tenderloin. This sauce is SO. DELICIOUS. I loved the bitter greens agains the sweet sauce, but pick your favorite veggie if swiss chard isn’t for you.

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This comes together in under 20 minutes, making it a super fast and elegant weeknight dish that will make the return of short days that much easier!

cider glazed chicken with garlicky swiss chard.
adapted from cooking light. 

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ingredients
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (4)*
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter

swiss chard:
1 bunch swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
pinch of sea salt
splash (1 teaspoon-ish) red wine or cider vinegar

directions
Heat butter and olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add cider and mustard to pan, scraping pan to remove all browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add remaining salt and pepper, and cook for 3-5 minutes while sauce is bubbling until thickened and syrupy. Remove from heat, and swirl in tablespoon of butter. Pour over chicken.

While the chicken is cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat heat. Add minced garlic clove, and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add swiss chard to pan, and add crushed red pepper and sea salt. Toss together for one minute, and add in slash of red wine vinegar. Cook for 2-3 minutes longer, until the swiss chard begins to wilt. If finished before the pan sauce, remove from heat and cover.

Serves 4.

*I typically buy a pound chicken breasts, which yields two breasts in a package. I cut each breast in half, and pound to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness with a meat mallet.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

chicken taco stuffed zucchini boats.

I know this is my second zucchini recipe in a row, but if you’re anything like me, you are positively overflowing with zucchini right now. I tell you, every summer! My grandmother gifted me with a few from her garden, and while most of them were of normal size, there was one gigantic squash. I stuck it in the refrigerator while I waited for inspiration to strike. I had just made cookies, so I didn’t want to use it for another baked good. I wanted to use the whole thing in one dish, so I decided on stuffed zucchini, or zucchini ‘boats’! I decided to play around with the flavors for this recipe, and went with Mexican flavors.

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Stuffed with Tex-Mex spiced ground chicken, hearty healthy black beans, and rounded out with some extra vegetables, and we have a very healthy take on tacos!

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Naturally gluten free, the filling is chock full of protein, thanks to the black beans and lean ground chicken. If you’re avoiding dairy, just omit the jack cheese and the cotija.

Now I had a huge squash, so a quarter of the squash would serve on person. If you have normal sized zucchinis, you can plan on one half per person for a medium sized one, or two halves for a small squash. This comes together quickly and is so incredibly filling!

chicken taco stuffed zucchini boats. 

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ingredients
2 large or 4 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise with seeds scooped out
1/2 pound ground chicken
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup of zucchini, diced
1.5 tablespoons of taco seasoning (homemade or purchased)
1 10 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes with chiles
1/4 cup of salsa, plus extra for serving
monterey jack cheese, for serving
cotija cheese, for serving
cilantro, for serving
sea salt
black pepper

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly spray each zucchini half. Place skin side up and bake for 10-15 minutes, until just slightly softened. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of grapeseed oil. Once the oil is shimmery and hot, add the chicken. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add the onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the onions are translucent and beginning to soften. Add your taco seasoning blend, salt and pepper. Add in bell pepper and zucchini and cook for 1-2 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add in fire roasted tomatoes with chiles and salsa. Stir well to combine and allow to simmer softly until everything is heated through and the flavors combine (about 5 additional minutes).

To assemble: Divide the chicken mixture evenly amongst the zucchini boats, top with desired melting cheese (NOT cotija) and put into the oven. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve, topping with cotija and cilantro. Serve with additional salsa if desired.

Serves 4.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

 

asian BBQ chicken salad.

This salad is so delicious. Gosh I love a good salad. I’m sorry I just wrote that — I’m so boring. Most people go ga-ga over classic drool worthy foods like cookies, brownies, nachos, a burger. Not me! Salads are where it’s at. I think it’s because I love that they are such blank canvases; ready for anything: fruits, veggies, protein, dressings, you name it!

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I mean, just look at that. Crisp peppers and cabbage, delightfully crunchy cucumbers and chopped romaine lettuce, topped with that sticky, sweet and spicy chicken. Hello, salad nirvana!

This is a main dish salad that makes enough for two: one 8 ounce chicken breast is enough for two salads – 4 ounces for each person. Trust me, this salad is super filling and you can feel great, even if you end up eating the entire thing all by yourself!

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I cooked the chicken on my cast iron grill pan, but you could use your outdoor grill. If you prefer to cook on the stovetop/oven or don’t have a grill or grill pan, I would recommend the pan roasting method. To do this, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a heavy skillet over medium/medium high heat. Add chicken and let cook for 3-5 minutes, or until chicken releases easily. Turn and then put the skillet in the oven and let cook for 10 minutes longer, or until chicken is done.

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asian BBQ chicken salad
marinade adapted from half baked harvest. 

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ingredients

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon whole grain or dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
1/2 lime, juiced

salad

1 large or 2 small romaine hearts, chopped
1 cup of green cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup of red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup of carrots, shredded
1/4 of an English cucumber, thinly sliced into half moons
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, orange), thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

directions

Combine all marinade/dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Reserve about 1/3 of the marinade. Add chicken to remaining marinade, cover, and refrigerate and for at least 30 minutes. Remove from marinade and  grill, 5 minutes per side or until done. Alternatively, you can pan sear/pan roast/bake — whatever is easiest for you.

In a large mixing bowl, add all salad ingredients, romaine through sesame seeds. Add rice wine vinegar and toss gently to combine.

Divide salad amongst two plates and add 4 ounces of chicken to each plate. Drizzle each salad with a tablespoon of the remaining marinade/dressing. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

sesame-soy turkey meatballs.

A gluten free, egg free, healthy, Asian-inspired meatball that doesn’t fall apart? Yes, it can be done! To ensure this dish is gluten free, make sure to use certified GF soy sauce, or use tamari, which is common in Japanese cooking, a thicker, more fermented soy sauce, and is usually gluten free (but make sure to double check!).

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For some reason, meatballs always seem like such an ordeal. A liquid, an egg, a binder, meat, spices… and my eyes are glazed over already. Granted, I do make meatballs in the classic fashion (see these delicious chicken parm ones!), but these Asian-inspired ones are  SO. EASY. Just a few ingredients, mix together, roll and bake. Done.

They are delicious on their own, but I’ve been eating them with quinoa and steamed carrots and green beans, drizzled with a touch of sesame oil and soy sauce. You could even make these smaller and use them in soup. Or stick a toothpick in them and serve alongside your favorite Asian dipping sauce. Endless possibilities!

Make a double batch and freeze them for a rainy day!

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sesame-soy turkey meatballs.
adapted from Cooking Light. 

ingredients

1 pound lean ground turkey breast
1/3 cup scallions, sliced very thinly
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons reduced sodium, gluten free soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon chile garlic paste
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
cooking spray

directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking rack over a baking sheet and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add turkey, scallions, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile garlic paste and garlic. Using your hands, mix together until all combined, being careful not to over mix.

Using a one tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop a heaping tablespoon and roll into a ball. Place onto baking rack. Repeat with remaining mixture; you should end with about 15 meatballs.

Cook for 15-20 minutes until no longer pink and browned on the outside. Remove and cool completely prior to freezing.

Yields 15-16 meatballs.

**Please use all organic ingredients**

 

NOTES:
*I like to use a baking rack to let any extra fat drain off during the baking process! This is not necessary, and you can skip it if you’d like.

*Over mixing will yield a tougher meatball, so mix only until ingredients are combined.

 

skinny chicken parmesan with zucchini noodles.

Chicken Parmesan. That crispy breading, juicy chicken, all deliciously covered in fatty, salty melted cheese and smothered in marinara sauce…. YUM. If that wasn’t decadent enough, let’s throw it all on a massive bed of pasta! Yes? Well, that would indeed be very tasty, but not exactly light. In any sense. Luckily, I have a delicious “skinny” version of chicken parm that will delight your taste buds and satisfy the craving without weighing you down! Perfect for the upcoming warm weather, especially since Memorial Day is ten days away. Um, hi…. When did summer arrive?

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So, how did I skinny-ify Chicken Parm? Well, one of the major ways was to get rid of that huge piece of mozzarella or provolone atop each chicken piece. I know, I know, but before you balk, hear me out. We’re going to swap in salty, intense Pecorino Romano cheese and mix it in with the breading, so that the chicken itself will be nice and cheesy. Pecorino Romano is a full flavored, hard cheese, which is perfect for recipes like this because harder cheeses tend to have less fat, and their full flavor means a little goes a long way.

We are also using whole wheat panko bread crumbs instead of regular. Panko is a Japanese style bread crumb which only uses crustless bread, which results in lighter, airier crumbs. We are also only using an egg white instead of the whole egg, which lowers the fat and calories. As I made this on a weeknight, I used my favorite Marinara from Newman’s, but feel free to make your own! If using store-bought like me, please look for ones that have no more than 80 calories a serving and are low in added sugar.

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One more thing! The pasta. Dump the wheat and serve over zucchini noodles, or “zoodles”. I know they are trendy, but with good reason. They are delicious, and a great way to get a serving of vegetables into a dish that only gets its veggies from the tomato sauce. I used a handheld spiralizer, but you can slice the zucchini very thin (1/8-1/16 of an inch) on a mandoline, or carefully slice very thinly with a sharp knife. They only need a minute in a hot skillet, and they are perfect. My grandparents used to make a tomato sauce with chopped zucchini and then can it, so the pairing of the two together is so nostalgic and lovely for me.  A bonus? This will be safe for any gluten free friends and family.

I hope you love this as much as I do! Your waistline will. ; )

Skinny chicken parmesan with zucchini noodles.
inspired by Cooking Yourself Thin.

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Ingredients

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (halved and pounded thin, ¼ inch thick)*
½ cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus 2 tablespoons
1 egg white
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning (a mix of rosemary, oregano, thyme, marjoram)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 medium zucchini, spiralized or sliced very thin
2 cups marinara sauce (this is the one I use when I purchase it)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

Directions

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet on medium heat and add oil, swirling to coat bottom of the pan. Once chicken is pounded, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In one shallow dish, mix together bread crumbs and cheese. In another shallow dish mix whisk egg white until light and fluffy. One by one, dip chicken in egg white and then into the bread crumb/cheese mixture, pressing breading to chicken if needed. Immediately place in skillet. Repeat with remaining chicken cutlets. Cook on medium heat for 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove and keep warm.

While chicken is cooking, heat sauce in a small saucepan over medium low heat.  Heat another skillet on medium heat and add zucchini noodles. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often until slightly softened. Add some of the warmed sauce to the noodles and combine. Divide evenly among 4 plates. Top with chicken and 1/3 cup of sauce, and ½ tablespoon of reserved cheese.

Serves 4.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible**

Notes: My chicken package had two chicken breasts, resulting in ½ pound, which resulted in 4 cutlets. 1 pound should yield 8 cutlets, or 2/per person

Zucchini noodles keep well for one day. If planning on making chicken ahead of time, make noodles the night you plan to serve.