Panko Breaded Chicken with Bourbon-Pecan Butter Sauce

Panko Breaded Chicken with Bourbon-Pecan Butter Sauce, served on Garlicky Sauteed Spinach Serves 4

20 ounces chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken breasts)
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Seasoning of your choice (I used Penzy’s Sunny Spain.)

  1. Cut breasts into one inch wide strips.
  2. Separate the egg. Throw away the yolk. Add water. Whisk together.
  3. Place panko crumbs in a shallow dish. Season to taste
  4. Dip breasts in egg wash. Dredge in crumbs on both sides, and set aside.
  5. Preheat large (10″ or larger) non-stick pan. Add oil.
  6. When the oil is hot, carefully lay the chicken in the pan. Let cook until browned, then turn.
  7. Total cooking time will be 6-10 minutes.
  8. Removed from heat and cover the keep warm.

Nutritional data (5 ounces of chicken only):
Calories:        129
Fat:                0.6g
Sat fat:              0g
Chol:               70mg
Sodium:         147mg
Carbs:            4.8g
Fiber:             0.2g
Protein:        23.6g

Sauce (can be made while the chicken cooks):
1 ounce pecans, crushed
2 ounces (1/4 cup) bourbon (or your favorite whiskey)
1 ounce chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter (unsalted)

  1. Place pecans in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Toss frequently until getting hot and fragrant (2-3 minutes).  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Place bourbon and chicken broth in sauce pan. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add butter. Stir until melted.
  4. Stir in pecans.

Nutritional data (1 tablespoon sauce):
Calories:        108
Fat:                8.1g
Sat fat:           2.3g
Chol:             7.6mg
Sodium:         3.1mg
Carbs:              1g
Fiber:            0.7g
Protein:         0.8g

Garlicky Sauteed Spinach:
Serves 2
1 bag (9 ounce) baby spinach
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil

  1. In the same large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. When the oil is hot, add sliced garlic.  Toss for one minute.
  3. Place fresh spinach in pan.
  4. Toss repeatedly, until the spinach wilts.

Nutritional data:
Calories:         83
Fat:               5.3g
Sat fat:          0.8g
Chol:               0mg
Sodium:       120mg
Carbs:           7.4g
Fiber:            3.4g
Protein:         4.7g

Place spinach on the plate. Top with 5 ounces (three strips) on the spinach. Drizzle 1 tablespoon sauce over the chicken.

An alternative to the above uses tilapia fillets. Instead of 20 ounces of chicken, use 16 ounces of tilapia (four fillets). Prepare the meal as above.

Panko-Breaded Tilapia

Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs, Creamy Cucumber-Olive Salad and Herbed Polenta

Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs
Serve 4

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves

  1. Combine all ingredients in a Ziploc bag, seal and refrigerate for 2-4 hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Place chicken thighs in a shallow baking dish, uncovered, for 18-20 minutes, or until they begin to brown.

Nutritional Data:
Calories:        289
Fat:             18.3g
Sat fat:          4.2g
Chol:            99mg
Sodium:        93mg
Carbs:          2.6g
Fiber:           0.4g
Protein:      27.3g

Herbed Polenta
Serves 4

2 cups skim milk
2/3 cup dried polenta
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 teaspoon Italian or Greek herbs

  1. Prepare polenta according to label instructions.
  2. When it is finished cooking, stir in the feta and herb.
  3. Serve immediately, or spread it flat, 1/2 inch thick and let cool.  Then, pan-fry in a bit of olive oil, flipping it over when the edges begin to brown. 

Nutritional Data:
Calories:        158
Fat:               1.7g
Sat fat:          1.2g
Chol:            8.6mg
Sodium:       126mg
Carbs:          23.2g
Fiber:           2.1g
Protein:           6g

Creamy Cucumber-Olive Salad
Serves 4
2 cucumber, peeled and seeded, cut into 1/8 inch thick crescents.
9 Kalamata olives, sliced
4 banana peppers, cut into rings
3 ounces (by weight) Fage plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Nutritional Data:
Calories:       69
Fat:             2.7g
Sat fat:           0g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:     206mg
Carbs:         8.2g
Fiber:          3.6g
Protein:       3.9g

Two Different Bean Salads

Chickpea Salad
Serves 10 (1/2 cup portions)
1 cup dried chickpeas (or 3 cups canned)
1 large cucumber, seeded and diced
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1.  Prepare dried beans according to package instructions. (If using canned beans, pour into colander and rinse with water.)
2.  Place all ingredients into a bowl, and mix.
3.  Refrigerate overnight.

Nutritional data:
Calories:    62
Fat:           2.3g
Sat fat:      0.2g
Chol:           0mg
Sodium:    11mg (This is using dried beans. Canned beans will add about 215mg per serving.)
Carbs:       13g
Fiber:       5.9g
Protein:   3.4g

Four Bean Salad
Serves 16 (1/2 cup portions)

This salas is a bit more sweet than the first salad.

1 cup dried kidney beans (or 1 can kidney beans)
1 cup dried navy beans (or 1 can navy beans)
1/2 cup dried Lima beans (or 1/2 can Lima beans)
2 cups fresh green (or yellow) beans
1 cup onion, diced
3/4 cup table sugar (you can replace some or all of the sugar with stevia or Splenda, if you want)
3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil

1.  Mix sugar, olive oil and vinegar.  Stir until sugar is dissolved. (Warming in the microwave will help.) Set aside.
2.  Prepare all beans according to label directions. (If using canned beans, pour into colander and rinse with water.)
3.  Trim green (or yellow) beans, and cut into 1 inch pieces.
4.  Bing 1 liter water to a boil in a 2 liter pot. Blanch the beans in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain water off.
5.  Combine all beans with onion.  Pour dressing over, and mix. Refrigerate overnight.
6.  Add black pepper to taste.

Nutritional data:
Calories:    110
Fat:              1.8g
Sat fat:        0.3g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:      14mg (This is using dried beans. Canned beans will add about 225mg per serving.)
Carbs:         26g
Fiber:         9.5g
Protein:     5.6g

Other option for this salad:

Add sweet bell pepper, jalapeno or other hot peppers, tomatoes, or corn.

Rosemary Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salsa

Rosemary Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salsa
Serve 6

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 ounces each)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
Black pepper

1.  Place chicken breasts inside a Ziploc freezer bag. With a rubber mallet or similar tool, pound the breast to 1/4 inch thickness. Season the breasts with black pepper.
2.  Combine oil, vinegar, rosemary and garlic in another Ziploc bag. Place chicken in bag and toss to coat. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3.  While the chicken rests in the refrigerator, prepare the salsa (below.)
4.  Preheat a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium high heat. Place each breast in skillet and cook until done (about 3 minutes per side.)
5.  Serve with salsa.

Nutritional data (1 chicken breast):
Calories:         308
Fat:               16.6g
Sat fat:            3.8g
Chol:               98mg
Sodium:           62mg
Carbs:             1.2g
Fiber:              0.2g
Protein:         37.7g

Tomato-Avocado Salsa
Serves 6

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped

1.  In a 1 quart or larger bowl, combine first four ingredients with a whisk.
2.  Add tomatoes, cheese and avocado.
3.  Serve immediately.

Nutritional data (1/2 cup portion):
Calories:         126
Fat:               10.9g
Sat fat:            2.6g
Chol:              8.3mg
Sodium:          112mg
Carbs:             6.3g
Fiber:              3.1g
Protein:           2.6g

Ultra-Thin Crust Veggie Pizza

“Ultra-Thin” Crust Veggie Pizza
Make 3 portions (1/3 of the pizza)

1 Ultra-thin whole wheat pizza crust
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 teaspoon Italian spice blend  (I used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset.)
2 ounces finely shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Mix garlic, spices and oil together.  Let sit for 10-15 minutes. 
2.  Spread garlic-oil mix evenly over the crust.
3.  Top with half of the mozzarella cheese.

Add your favorite ingredients.  In the picture above, I used:
1 small can mushrooms
2 tablespoons sliced black olives
10 sliced green olives
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
15 cherry tomatoes, sliced

4.  Place all toppings on the cheese.
5.  Top with remaining mozzarella.
6.  Place in a pre-heated oven at 425 degree, for 5-7 minutes.

Note: the label suggested 10-14 minutes in the oven.  Hah!  I checked it at 8 minutes at it was already a little too brown at the edges.  I suppose I could have avoided that by piling the topping on right to the edge, but that would defeat the idea of a light pizza.

Nutritional data:
Calories:         261
Fat:                12.7g
Sat fat:             3.2g
Chol:             14.7mg
Sodium:          484mg
Carbs:            28.8g
Fiber:               5.2g
Protein:            8.9g

(Fresh mushrooms would reduce the sodium load by 153mg per serving. But at 484mg for 1/3 of a pizza, that amount of sodium is not bad.)

Chicken Thighs with Chimmichurri Sauce

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chimichurri Sauce and Grilled Vegetables
Serve 4
8 Chicken thighs, boneless/skinless (each are about 3 ounces)
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
Your preferred seasoning (I used Penzey’s Bouquet Garni)

1.  Place chicken thighs on a platter.  Rub oil over both sides.  Sprinkle with seasoning.
2.  Preheat grill for 5 minutes on high.
3.  Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
4.  Remove and cover to keep warm.

Nutritional Data (6 ounces of chicken thighs):
Calories:         310
Fat:                  31g
Sat fat:               4g
Chol:              140mg
Sodium:          170mg
Carbs:                0g
Fiber:                 0g
Protein:            38g

Chimichurri Sauce
10 garlic cloves (this is delicious but a bit pungent)
1 bunch parsley
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Process garlic in food processor until chopped.  Add remaining ingredients.  Process for 1 minute or until finely minced. It will not be smooth.

This is a very tart sauce. If you don’t like it this sour, add sugar (or sweetener) to taste.

Nutritional Data (1/4 cup serving):
Calories:         104
Fat:                    8g
Sat fat:            1.1g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:          38mg
Carbs:            7.7g
Fiber:             3.8g
Protein:          1.6g

Grilled Vegetables
1 head cauliflower, cut into moderate size chunks
1 head broccoli, cut into similar sized chunks
3 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 ounces mushrooms, whole, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Spices (I used Penzey’s Sunny Paris.)

1.  Place cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, and cook on high for 3-4 minutes. The goal is to get the cauliflower hot and start to cook, but not cook it completely.
2.  When the cauliflower is out of the microwave, add all other veggies, and top with the remaining ingredients.  Toss to coat and set aside.
3.  Preheat your grill, and if you have one, a grill vegetable basket.  (Mine is similar to this.)
4.  Pour veggies into the basket.  Occasionally toss them around to ensure more even cooking.  You want some browning of the veggies for the best flavor. 

Nutritional data will vary depending on the vegetables used.

Grilled Chicken Wings

3 pounds chicken wings, single joint
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
6 Tablespoons olive oil
8 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp onion powder (not onion salt)
1 tsp ground black pepper

1.  Dry wings. Place in gallon-sized Ziplock bag.
2.  Combine the next 5 ingredients, pour over wings.
3.  Seal the bag.  “Massage” the wings so that the marinade covers everything.
4.  Place in refrigerator overnight.
5.  Preheat grill on high for 5 minutes.  Clean the grate. Rub the clean grate with a paper towel dipped in canola oil to help prevent the wings from sticking.
6.  Grill wings directly on the grate, in a single layer, over medium heat.  Have an aluminum pan to one side, not over heat, that can be used as a “rescue zone” when the grill flares up. It WILL flare up.

(Much of the butter/oil mixture will drip off.  Based on a pre-weight/post-weight, I calculate that approximately half of the butter/oil mix is lost to the cooking process.  The nutritional data reflects that calculation.)

7.  While the wings grill, you can sprinkle them with the spice blend of your choice. I am using a mild Penzey salt-free blend, 33rd and Galena. You could instead use a hot pepper powder (cayenne, chipotle or habanero), or a milder spice (paprika or ancho peppers). You can also use a salt-based spice blend (Old Bay Seasoning or Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, I like both of these).  Try new flavors and find what you like.
8.  Serve warm or cold. No dressing or dip is needed with my version, but they would taste great with a honey-mustard salad dressing as a dip.

Nutritional data (approximate, as noted above), per piece:
Calories:   112
Fat:            9.4g
Sat fat:       2.7g
Chol:          36mg
Sodium:      98mg
Carbs:        0.3g
Fiber:         0.0g
Protein:      7.6g

Pan-Fried Fish with Spinach and Quinoa

Season with your preferred spices. I do not use breading (it keeps the calories down and showcases the fish).  Heat a non-stick skillet and use cooking spray (or 1 tsp olive oil). Lay fish in skillet, turning once. The fish is done when it begins to flake. The time will depend on the type of fish and the thickness. These catfish fillets were 4 ounces, about 3/4 inch thick and took a total of about 6 minutes.

Nutritional data will vary with the species of fish.

Make 3 servings, 1/2 cup each

1/2 cup dried quinoa
1 cup water

1.  Put quinoa in water.  Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer until the water is absorbed (approximately 15 minutes.)

Nutritional data:
Calories:   111
Fat:            1.8g
Sat fat:       0.0g
Chol:          0.0mg
Sodium:    6.5mg
Carbs:      19.7g
Fiber:         2.6g
Protein:      4.1g

Garlicky Sauteed Spinach:
Serves 2-4, depending on how much everyone likes spinach.  In our case, this made three servings.

15 ounces baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, sliced thin

1.  Heat your non-stick skillet (large, 11-12 inches).  Add olive oil.
2.  Add garlic, stir until it begins to brown (1-2 minutes.)
3.  Add half the spinach, tossing frequently for 1 minute. It will begin to wilt.
4.  Add remaining spinach, tossing constantly until the spinach is uniformly wilted (another 60-90 seconds.)  Serve immediately.

Nutritional data:
Calories:  83
Fat:          5.3g
Sat fat:     0.8g
Chol:          0mg
Sodium:  119mg
Carbs:      7.4g
Fiber:       3.4g
Protein:    4.7g

Chicken in Garlic-Vinegar Sauce

Chicken and Garlic-Vinegar Sauce
Makes 6 servings  (Served as above with steamed broccoli and 1/2 cup whole wheat couscous.  The nutritional values below are for the chicken only, not the side dishes.)
Note:  I used 8 garlic cloves in this recipe.  The next time I will double it.  The garlic was very subdued by the vinegar and sour cream.  I wanted it to be more assertive.  I might also try malt vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, and use 8 ounces of beer instead of chicken broth, to reduce the sodium load, and bring out a different flavor.  As always, recipes are meant to be creative.
6 chicken breast 5 ounces each (approximately)
3 teaspoon Olive oil, divided
1 cup onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
2 tsp dried thyme
¼ cup reduced fat sour cream
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tsp all-purpose flour
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons chives
1.      Dry chicken.  Season with pepper (and salt, if desired)
2.      Heat heavy Dutch oven (or similar pan) over medium heat, spray with cooking spray and add 1 tsp olive oil.  Add the chicken, turning as needed until browned.  5-7 minutes.  If needed, cook chicken in multiple batches, if all will not fit at the same time.
3.      Remove chicken, add 1 tsp olive oil.  Add onions and garlic, stir over medium-high heat until the onion is lightly brown.
4.      Add vinegar, bring to a boil
5.      Return chicken to pot, add broth and thyme.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let cook until chicken is very tender, about 50 minutes.
6.      While cooking, mix sour cream, tomato paste and flour until smooth.
7.      Seed and dice tomatoes, add chives and the remaining olive in a bowl and reserve for garnish.
8.      When the chicken is finished, remove from the stock and place on a plate.  Stir in sour cream mixture until smooth, bring to a simmer and let cook for 1 minute.
9.      Return chicken to sauce, and gently stir to coat.
10.  Serve garnished with diced tomatoes.
Cal:           272
Fat:           3.5g 
Sat Fat:     1.0g 
Chol:       110mg
Sodium:  228mg 
Carb:         7.5g 
Fiber         1.4g 
Protein:   41.9g 

Moo Shu Vegetables on Shirataki Noodles


Moo Shu Vegetables on Shirataki Noodles
Serve 4

4 large eggs
12 ounce bag of Broccoli Slaw (or other shredded vegetable, approximately 4 cups)
1 cup bean sprouts (fresh)
1 cup shredded carrots
6 ounce bag snow peas, diced into ½ inch pieces
3 scallions sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger root, crushed

1 Tablespoon plus one teaspoon sesame oil
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon Hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce

14 ounces shirataki tofu noodles (2 bags)

1.   Empty bags of noodles into colander. Rinse. Set aside.
2.   Heat non-stock skillet with cooking spray. Lightly scramble eggs, and place in skillet.  Cook   until lightly set, remove from skillet, set aside.
3.   Wipe out skillet, re-spray with cooking spray over medium heat. When hot, add garlic and ginger, stirring, for one minute.
4.   Add broccoli slaw, carrots, bean sprouts and snow peas. Add vinegar, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil and let warm for 3 minutes.  Stir once or twice.
5.   Add hoisin sauce and eggs.  Stir to break up eggs.  Until heated through (3-4 minutes.)
6.   In a second non-stick pan, spray with cooking spray and add remaining 1 tsp sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add shirataki noodles and half of the scallions.  Toss until hot. (1-2 minutes)

Serve the vegetables (2 cups) over the noodles (1/2 cup).

Nutrition Data:
Calories:          204
Fat:                  10.5g
Sat fat:               2.1g
Chol:             211.5mg
Sodium:           230mg
Carbs:              18.9g
Fiber:                 8.1g
Protein:            11.7g