Chicken Scallopini

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I’ve always been curious about the taste of capers. I’ve never had them, but this recipe for Chicken Scallopini really caught my eye. My husband and I usually stick to the same old recipes, but I thought this would be a nice change from the usual.

I ended up putting the heat way too high on the skillet, partially burning the coating on the chicken without cooking it all the way through. So, I had to put the breasts in the oven for 10-15 minutes afterwards. I’m still learning how to cook, so these mistakes do happen for me. Sadly, putting them in the oven killed the crunch that I think the dish was supposed to have from the bread crumb coating.

The flavor of the chicken and sauce, however, was very good. Turns out, I love capers and I can’t wait to use them again! I served these with Creamy Parmesan Orzo (a must try!) and green beans.

Chicken Scallopini
Source: Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2  teaspoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/3  cup  Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4  cup  dry white wine
  • 4  teaspoons  capers
  • 1  tablespoon  butter

Directions:

  1. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Brush chicken with juice, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in breadcrumbs.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove from pan; keep warm.
  3. Add broth and wine to pan, and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in capers and butter.

***
I thought it would be cute to call the nutritional information from now on, The Skinny. I’m sure it’s unoriginal, but I like it. :) I will also no longer calculate POINTS on here, since I’ve been reading that a few food bloggers are getting in trouble with Weight Watchers for calculating these. I am, however, including the information necessary for you to use online/paper POINTS calculators if need be. :)
***

The Skinny – Per serving, serves 4
Calories: 206
Fat: 4.6 g
Fiber: 0.6 g

New plan: I’m quitting…

I hate that word: quitting. It sounds like I’m giving up when essentially I’m doing the opposite (just saving a little $$).

I am quitting my membership with the YMCA. I haven’t been there in over a month, and it’s always crazy crowded that I feel worried about getting in my full work-outs. I also only went twice/week. I wasn’t at all getting my $40/month worth, so I’ll be working out using other means.

  1. Couch to 5K -I haven’t done this in about a year but I had great weight loss and training results from it!
  2. 30 Day Shred – Of course, who could exclude the ever-so-fabulous SHRED!
  3. Weight Loss Yoga – A new DVD for me, but I really need to work on flexibility and balance. I figure Bob could help me!

Since I could really use some dieting motivation (stupid ice cream/snowball season), I’m going to (temporarily) go back to Weight Watchers meetings. There is a buy one, get one month free promotion going on that I can’t pass up! :)

I’ll continue to use my Lose It! app for food logging as well, which I LOVE! It’s a free app for iPhones…seriously get this app folks! Food logging couldn’t be easier!

Chipotle-Honey Glazed Chicken

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The minute I saw this chicken on Smells Like Home, I starred it for a later date. Not only is it a Bobby Flay recipe, but it looked healthy too!

I have to say, this was the best chicken recipe I’ve ever made to date. It was so flavorful and the spice wasn’t too over-powering for me. It was also simple and basically like BBQ-ing on a grill. Since we were out of propane for our grill, I made this inside on the cast iron grill. :) I served it with Green Bean Casserole and some garlic bread. Perfection!

Chipotle-Honey Glazed Chicken
Source: Bobby Flay via Smells Like Home

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp pureed canned chipotle chilies in adobo
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2″ thickness
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp chopped chives

Directions:

Heat your grill to high.

Whisk together the honey, chipotle puree, mustard, 1 tbsp ancho powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp oil in a small bowl. I just threw it all in the food processor to blend it well.

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Stir together the remaining ancho powder with the coriander, cumin, and paprika in another medium bowl.  Add the chicken breasts, the remaining oil, and toss to coat.  Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Place the chicken on the grill and grill for 3-4 minutes.  Flip the chicken and brush the pieces with the honey-chipotle sauce.  Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.  Flip the chicken again and brush the other side with the sauce; cook for 1 more minute.    Flip once more and cook for another minute. Remove chicken from the grill and brush on more sauce as desired. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, cilantro, and chives before serving.

Those were the days…

I like to think back on my life from time to time. I remember my school days very fondly, actually.

I can remember in kindergarten trying to convince the teacher’s aid that animal crackers shouldn’t be glued to paper for the Noah’s Ark project we were doing, because we wouldn’t have snacks for the afternoon. The aid laughed at me and said, today’s snacks aren’t animal crackers, so don’t worry! My real reason for not wanting to glue animal crackers? They were the pretty iced kind and I wanted to eat them!

I remember in 3rd grade when my teeth were grown in all weird, and I was ashamed to make my parents a photo ornament for the Christmas tree. I knew I was getting braces the next year, so I told my mom to please throw the ornament away, and I’ll give her an ornament with a picture of me with pretty teeth later. Sigh…last Christmas, I found that dang ornament in a box. I didn’t throw it away though, since it’s now pretty sentimental and I never did give her an ornament with a pretty teeth photo of me. :)

I can remember my first after school detention in 8th grade. This girl approached me at recess, and proceeded to make fun of me (for my weight) and I defensively said “Your MOMMA!” Yeah, I was really original. The assistant principal heard me (and only me). I got detention with my math teacher who laughed at the fact that the “goodie two shoes” was in detention. My teacher decided to give me two worksheets full of algebra problems as punishment. Little did she know that she made that the best detention EVER, seriously! I love Algebra! I’m a dork, I know.

I remember in high school when I landed my first (and only) solo in band. It happened in such a weird way. See, I was second chair clarinet. I have to say, I had great tone quality and control (due to playing the clarinet since 5th grade), but as far as fast fingers to play fast music? Hells to the no! First chair had super fast fingers, so she was first chair. She was awesome. However, she had to miss an afternoon of practice once, and I played the solo in her place that day. The next day, I found out from my band director that I was to play the solo for festival. I was elated, but also felt bad. I know that solo meant a lot to the first chair, but heck, how could ANYONE turn down a solo? So, I played the solo. Looking back, that was kind of mean. I hope you don’t hate me too much, <insert first chair player’s name>.

Now, to the nitty gritty – college.

I miss college the most. There was so much that happened to me over those 5 years, that it makes me pretty darn sad now that it’s all over. I was one of those SUPER involved people on campus. I became an RA (resident assistant) in the dorms my second semester of college. I think that helped to kill the introvert in me. I got to know so many great people, and honed my leadership skills through them.

I also joined quite a few organizations, but none were as important to me as Silver Wings. Silver Wings was at first, a club I joined because I was jealous of my neighbors who had pretty poster stars on their dorm doors. I wanted one, so I joined. Ha! I fell head over heels in love with the organization. I love community service and made so many great friends to where I finally felt a complete sense of belonging at LSU. In my senior year, I became president of the organization, and helped my chapter to get the outstanding chapter in the nation award at the National Conclave.

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The great thing about being so involved was that I meant many important people at the university, including the chancellor.

I met him the first time my 4th year senior year during residence hall move-in day, where he visited all the halls to tell the freshmen and staff a friendly hello.

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The second time was my 5th year senior year. I was part of a group of student leaders invited to a party at his personal home! I was way cooled out that I was invited to go to a party where the student body president, sorority/fraternity presidents, and student ambassadors were invited. The cream of the crop in student leaders – I felt like that was the peak of my student career at that very moment.

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Well, now, I’m at the bottom of the professional totem pole again. It’s difficult going from the top to the bottom, but I hope to one day do as well as I did in my college career. :)

Gumbeaux

Now, if you are from New Orleans, you probably get the gist of what I’m saying…we like to end our words normally ending with an “o” with an “eaux” instead. Why? Because we are special…

Other weird things (at least that I know of) that we like to say….

Neutral ground = street median

If I’m going to a Mardi Gras parade, trying to find someone, you either stand on the neutral ground side or the shoulder side of the street.

Brake tag = inspection sticker
Every year, you get a sticker to check your brake lights, blinkers, etc. This, to people from the NOLA area, is a brake tag folks.

Sha = term for friend/child/whatever…people can call you sha (a pronounced like a in apple)
You’ll sometimes hear someone greet another person…whatcha doin’ der sha? Seriously..don’t judge us.

Geaux = Go
If you ever find yourself in the lucky 92,000 people who are able to squeeze into Tiger Stadium (LSU) on a Saturday night, we don’t scream “GO TIGERS!”, rather it’s “GEAUX TIGERS!” Pronounced just the same, but it feels special. :)

Now, don’t let our vocabulary deter you from trying a bowl of this amazingness. Gumbo (yes, I’ll be normal for the rest of this blog entry) isn’t too crazy. It’s basically a smokey stew of chicken/sausage or seafood on rice. If you want to be adventurous, you can add frog legs or alligator, but folks, I’ll keep this simple.

The base of most cajun dishes is a good, dark roux. I will admit, this being my first time, I was very intimidated of burning the roux. Burnt roux isn’t good in gumbo. So, after watching my favorite Food Network chef, Alton Brown, try to master gumbo, I decided to use some parts of his recipe to help me out.

His method? Oven baked roux….perfection, right? It worked out really really well for us. Oh yeah and my hubs gave a HUGE helping hand during this. There is a lot going on at once, and since I’m new to cooking, I don’t think I could have done it alone.

However, in the recipe, it only makes 5 qts. of gumbo.

I would like to say that in Louisiana, just making a 5 qt. pot of gumbo is not only shameful, it’s downright rude…hehe. :) When making gumbo, you invite people over and 5 qts. just won’t make the cajun appetite very happy at all. So, we doubled the recipe and made HEAVY changes to it.

I present to you – chicken, andouille, sausage and crab gumbo.

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Chicken, Andouille, Sausage and Crab Gumbo
Inspired by: Alton Brown

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 2-3 lbs. of pre-boiled crabs, cleaned but meat still in shell (we split up the body and claws and just threw them in the pot)
  • 1 gallon water
  • 6 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1  diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced green peppers
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 pound andouille sausage
  • 1 pound pork sausage
  • 2 lbs. chicken boneless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon file powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the vegetable oil and flour into a 5 to 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 1/2 hours (or until dark brown/brick colored), whisking 2 to 3 times throughout the cooking process.
  3. After the roux bakes for 30 minutes, cut up the chicken breasts into small chunks. Place the chicken in a pot (at least 12 qts.) with a gallon of water and the bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil and reduce heat a little to simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Once the roux is done, carefully remove it from the oven and set over medium-high heat. Gently add the onions, celery, green peppers and garlic and cook, moving constantly for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the salt, black pepper, thyme, basil, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves and stir to combine.  Place the mixture in the 12 qt. pot with the chicken, stirring to avoid clumps of roux in the gumbo. Add sausage and andouille. Decrease the heat to low, cover and cook for 25-35 minutes, until the sausage looks done and the chicken shreds easily. Turn off the heat, add the crabs to combine. Add the file powder while stirring constantly. Cover and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes prior to serving. Serve over rice.

Oops!

I totally did it again. I’ve been so busy in life: new job, planning a garage sale, cleaning house, possibly hosting Turkey Day at our house. Very exciting things.

I also made a Twitter account. It’s @niftyfoodie. Add me if you’d like. I tweet about more than cooking! :)

I have been cooking and taking pictures, but blogging? Nope. Obviously…

My apologies to those who read my blog. I promise to have great posts this week! Stay tuned…please don’t leave me. :)

8/29/05

This date is forever embedded in my mind. It’s the day that Mother Nature tried to take away my hometown, New Orleans.

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Mother Nature came in the form of a major hurricane.

It was devastating to the area, but thankfully, not to the point to where the city couldn’t come back.

I think Katrina proved to New Orleans that the city is not ready to take on a full-on category 5 storm. Because of that, the Corps of Engineers is working day in and day out to protect the city from what is called “100 year storm”. Many people are against the Corps of Engineers, but from working with these dedicated people for almost a year and a half, I can attest that the people who work there are amazing, intelligent and determined to reach this goal!

It’s relieving to see all of the efforts out in the New Orleans area, because the damage that occurred 4 short years ago was really scary. I remember not being able to talk to my own family for days after the storm, because the cell phone towers were absolutely flooded with calls. Eventually, cell phones were only able to get through to 911 since things were pretty crazy.

I remember religiously watching CNN from my dorm room in awe, because so many places like the mall I went to as a teen was flooded with alligators swimming around it. I remember trying to find out what happened at home. I was so scared because my parents live right off the Mississippi River levee. Thankfully, my parents’ home was fine, but as for my grandmother and aunts? It was absolutely terrible. Their homes were flooded almost halfway up the first floor. They have since recovered, but it was a horribly painful process to get their houses back to normal and many priceless items were destroyed in the flood.

When the storm was over, while school was still closed, our basketball arena became a limbo place for New Orleans refugees. They couldn’t keep so many people there, so it became a rest place for a few hours before you were sent to either Shreveport or Houston, TX. So, my friends and I spent our afternoons volunteering there, making sure people received MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) and understood where the buses would be taking them. I met so many hopeful people there, but it was, at the same time, very upsetting, since these were people I probably passed everyday when I would be home.

6 months later, I decided to finally go home and face it in person. My mother drove me to the Lakeview area, which was right next to a levee breach. I took some pictures of what I saw.

neworleans2This home was right across the street from the levee breach. You can see the water line on this home very clearly. (Just look at the brick that has an orangey hue.)

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You can see the water line very distinctly here, as well as if you look very closely, you can see a white “X” painted on the house to the right of the door. That meant the house was searched for bodies or animals. It listed the date above it when the search occurred, which looks like 9/21. If anything was found, that would be posted on the house as well.

To this day, you can drive by parts of New Orleans where homeowners opted to keep these marks on their homes, in memory of what happened 4 years ago.

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The area of Lakeview had many expensive homes around there. Many of the homeowners simply abandoned their homes, deciding not to return to the city. It was overwhelming to return to what was left. So, insurance companies offered very small amounts of money to buy the land back. This house was easily over $200K pre-Katrina.

It’s really crazy what happened 4 years ago, but every time I drive back home from Baton Rouge, I see more and more places still coming back. It’s great to see the spirit of New Orleans at its highest ever, and I hope it stays that way for a long time. There is no place like home. :)

Dear MyCokeRewards…

I used to be a devout coke drinker and points collector. I would save every 20 oz. cap, every 12 pk. box piece and even embarrassingly raid the recycle bin at work when I saw a bunch of 12 pk. boxes in there for codes. I was dedicated and determined to get a huge load of points!

Then it happened. A visit to the dentist explained it all…I had 8 cavities, 3 of which were so deep, they had to do a root canal and crown. Dang soda, you cost me over $3000 in dental services because I loved you so.

So, we broke up. Cold turkey. I forgot about all 1700 of my points (yes 1700) and decided to go to water and juices. In the past few months, all I had my mind on was the wedding and cleaning the house. I forgot about my reward points….until last night.

I thought about my 1700 points and thought, oh nice! I should redeem these for a killer prize (or two).

I could have won free movie tickets for a date night, free flowers from 1-800-FLOWERS, a Nike gift card, or even a really nice OXO garden tools kit.

However, I forgot about a 90 day inactive account clause. I logged in only to find that my balance was 0 points. I’m heartbroken. Sure, these items were worth about $25, but I was counting on you, MyCokeRewards.

I hope someone at Coke will see this blog and give me my 1700 points back. It’s so doubtful, but it’s a stretch. I’m tempted to call or email but there is no contact information. I’m sure my busy soda boycotting booty is no exception to the clause, but I should be rewarded for the root canals and recycle bin digging in SOME way. :(

Sincerely,
The (now) water chugger

I might have made it to Alabama..

Now that July is over, I can say that I didn’t make it to Panama City for my local YMCA’s July Journey. I went a total of 210 “miles”, which equates to 630 minutes of workouts. It wasn’t quite what I wanted, since I had 115 miles to go, but I feel good knowing that I went pretty far in my journey.

As far as weight loss has gone, I’ve hit a bit of a hump you could say. I haven’t lost in a good while, but I have maintained. I’ll honestly say that I wasn’t really attempting in the past two weeks, so this comes at no surprise. I can’t make excuses, because excuses are for weenies. I just need to move on and get back on track!!

I need to admit, however, back on track is not easy. I’m sure it seems that way…eat less, move more, but it’s much more complicated than that. My obesity stems from years of eating out of boredom, eating from stress, etc. I turn to food very easily. My brain is pretty much on autopilot to crave a chocolate bar in the late morning and a cup of ice cream in the afternoon. It’s hard to override those cravings.

I also have to force myself to the gym. It takes a lot to walk in that circuits class and say that I will do this workout. I start to think, well, I can clean the house…I have dinner to make…Work was hard today. There are better things I should be doing, right?

To help you think that I’m not so crazy, check this out.  ABC News just published a story about a personal trainer who took the plunge to eat poorly and not exercise for a few months. Of course, he gained weight and a lot of it. Now that he’s subbed the apple for the chocolate for months and months, he’s able to truly sympathize with his clients and see what they mentally go through when it’s time to make that change for the healthy. While I don’t think this was such a good idea,  it’s good to read that someone who was perfectly healthy and fit can now understand what people like me battle every single day.

It takes a lot to kill habits. I used to bite my nails in middle school and high school…somehow I got over the habit and now I grow beautiful, long nails. So, just like that habit, I have to break these habits. The habit of snacking…the habit of having better things to do. It’s my life and it’s time to finally take over and live it the way I need to — the healthy way. :)

Have you broken a habit? How did you approach it?

Conquered THE CHEWY!

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One of my favorite Food Network shows is Good Eats. I’m a science geek, and I love how Alton goes into the science and details of why things cook/bake up the way they do. I especially love baking, so when I saw the episode when Alton made the different varieties of the ever so popular Chocolate Chip cookies, I knew I had to try one. I love chewy cookies the most, so naturally, that’s what I went with!

Unfortunately, the first time I made these, something went terribly wrong. The Chewy baked up SUPER flat and greasy. I’m not one to give up, so I decided to try again. This time, being very careful and mindful about each step. (I’m usually not so cautious with cookies!) This time, they baked up super well and I sampled 1 2 of them. They get a thumbs up from me!

The Chewy
Source: Alton Brown

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
  3. Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Chill the dough (I chilled for 2 hours), then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets with a #20 sized scoop, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes (mine took 12 minutes) or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.