Low Points – Big Flavor Chicken Cacciatore

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It’s been a long while since I posted anything here but this meal was so good, I decided to it NEEDED to be shared!

I had a taste for something Italian tonight but didn’t want pasta (I’m back to losing a few pounds on WW and wanted a low point meal). I googled some ideas and saw some inspiration for Chicken Cacciatore recipes but as I usually do, I create my own version of things and tonight’s meal with a total home run!


I started off by running up to store to get a good can of whole tomatoes (San Marzano) – and some good cheeses. Since the cheese and chicken were the only points in this meal, I wanted them to be DELICIOUS! I picked up some good quality Ricotta and Pecorino Romano.

I also picked up a few Patty Pan squash, some organic carrots, and red peppers. Patty Pan squash are the large yellow (or green) squash that look like flying saucers. If you can’t find Patty Pan, just pick up the largest yellow squash you can find.


If you haven’t tried any of Mom’s Gourmet Seasonings, you seriously need to. Sally Koepke is the founder and she’s a dear friend of mine. Her seasonings are available nationwide but not every store carries them. Whole Foods, Giant Eagle, and Winn Dixie are a few of the stores that carry it. You can always order it on their website at www.momsgourmet.net.

The one you need for this recipe is “Ciao Down” (it’s an incredible Italian blend). If you can’t find it, you can make your own blend using the ingredients in the recipe below.

I coated the chicken with a touch of olive oil and few healthy tablespoons of Ciao Down. Then a added the chicken to a hot cast iron skillet and browned it on both sides for about 5-6 minutes each side.

I put the veggies (carrots, red peppers, garlic scapes) and when it all browned, I removed everything from the pan to make room for the Patty Pan squash. I browned both sides. You don’t want to put the squash in too early because it will just become mush. You will want some crunch to it.

Add a touch of wine and deglaze the pan. Add a piece of chicken on top of each squash, and then add the rest of the veggies back into the pan.

Add a 32 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes, more Ciao Down, some fennel power, red pepper flakes and some salt and pepper.

Top each piece of chicken with 1 tablespoon of ricotta cheese and spoon some of the tomato sauce on top of it.

With a spatula, scoop a piece of the Patty Pan squash with the chicken on top and scoop out some veggies too. I served it with a leaf lettuce salad.

Load up on the veggies and you will have a super meal. You can also serve it with your favorite pasta.

Chicken Cacciatore with Veggies

This is a super healthy, LOW WW POINTS version of Chicken Cacciatore I made up myself and OMG - it's good!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Chicken, Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 2 - 4 Boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 Red pepper julienned
  • 1-2 Summer yellow squash Patty pan, or other large yellow squash, sliced into 4-8 pieces
  • 1 Large carrot Sliced at an angle for long pieces
  • 1 Can whole plum tomatoes San Marzano are the best
  • 1 Garlic scapes Chopped into 1/4" pieces, or 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 4 tbsp Ricotta cheese
  • 4 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp Mom's Gourmet "Ciao Down" italian seasoning Or mix basil, garlic, fennel, anise, oregano, thyme, black pepper together
  • 2 tbsp Fennel powder
  • 1/2 c White wine
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Add a bit of olive oil to a pan and heat
  • Coat and marinate chicken with Ciao Down spices and olive oil
  • Add chicken to hot plan and let it sear and cook. Flip once cooked to the other side.
  • Julienne peppers, carrots and add to pan.
  • Add garlic scapes or garlic and mix
  • Slice patty pan squash to get large wide pieces. Remove chicken and add squash. Brown on both sides.
  • Add wine to the pan and deglaze to get all the browned bits.
  • Add chicken back and place on top of the squash.
  • Add the can of tomatoes and squish some of them.
  • Add more Ciao Down seasoning and lots of fennel powder. Add salt and pepper as well.
  • Top each piece of chicken with 1 tablespoon of ricotta cheese and spoon some of the sauce on top of the cheese.
  • Sprinkle with a bit of grated pecorino romano cheese. Leave a few larger bite-sized chunks in the pan as well.

Notes

This is only an 8-point WW meal when you have 5 oz of chicken!
5 oz chicken: 3 points
1 oz ricotta cheese: 2 points
3/4 oz pecorino romano cheese: 3 points
 
Adam LapsevichLow Points – Big Flavor Chicken Cacciatore
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Rosemary and Parmesan Crusted Lamb Chops

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I write a foodie column for a local magazine in my area several times per year. Like any print publication, the story has to be in early as the magazine then usually comes out several weeks later.

I was asked to share a recipe for the January edition, which comes out sometime the first week of the month. I wanted to focus on something different – and a bit decadent, because it would give readers some time to prepare for a romantic, elegant Valentine’s Day.

One of my favorite meals that I only make on very rare occasions are lamb chops. But when I do prepare them, I go all out! I “French the Lamb Rack”, which is a culinary technique that gives the meat a much more delicious flavor and a cleaner, more appealing presentation. I learned how to do this on the blog SeriousEats – the article is here.

Once that is done the recipe is super easy. It did take me about 30 minutes the first time I did it, but once you know what you’re doing, it is relatively easy. I highly recommend it.


Prepping the Meal

Once the lamb chops are prepared, you’ll want to marinate them for 30-60 minutes. I create a marinade with olive oil, fresh chopped rosemary, salt, pepper,  and white pepper.  Mix it all in a bowl and baste the chops. Refrigerate them for a bit. Then you can start on the breadcrumb mixture.


To prepare the breadcrumbs, I use about a 3-inch piece of crusty French bread that I bake first, for maximum crunchiness! While the bread is in the oven, take a chuck of either a good quality Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese. Pulse in the food processor to it crumbles. The same goes for the bread too. Do not let either get too powdery – you want a thick texture to both the bread and cheese.

Once they are pulsed, place in a bowl with lots of chopped rosemary, add some garlic if you desire, lots of fresh ground pepper, and Kosher salt. Add the olive oil so that it generously coats the mixture, without getting it too soggy. Set this aside for a while now.


Sear the Chops

Remove the marinating chops from the refrigerator and allow to sit for a few moments while you heat a large skillet. Get it hot. Sear the chops on each side for about 2 minutes. You’ll want to get a brown crust on the meat.

Once that’s done, let the chops on a foil-lined baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. During this time, start your other side dishes.


The final step is to pack the top side of the chop with the breadcrumb mixture. Add a lot! It’s delicious. You’ll want to have as much of the crunchy, salty cheese as you can in every bite.

Please the chops back in the oven at 375 for about 20 minutes. Depending on how thick the chops are, and how you like them prepared will ultimately depend on how long you cook them. If you bake them too long they will be dry and you do NOT want that.


Serving Suggestions

Once the chops are done, remove them from the over and place a foil tent over them for 10 minutes to allow them time to rest..

Place a dollop of mint jelly on the plate. I served mine with homemade scalloped potatoes (recipe coming soon), roasted asparagus with pecorino romano cheese (recipe coming soon), an a lite endive and arugula salad with a fig balsamic dressing with olive oil, pine nuts and lemon zest.

My go-to red wine that is delicious and reasonably priced is Ghost Pines Cabernet ($20). It pairs perfectly with this meal.

This dish is definitely a special occasion meal.

And for those of you that might not care for lamb, it can be made with pork chops as well. Enjoy!

Rosemary and Parmesan Crusted Lamb Chops

An elegant meal for special occasions
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Marinate 30 minutes. Rest after sear for 30 minutes. Rest after final baking for 10 minutes. 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 55 mins
Course Lamb
Cuisine Dinner
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • 1 rack Lamb chops (6-8 bones)
  • 1 c Olive oil (divided)
  • 1 clove Fresh garlic
  • 1 small loaf French bread (for breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 c Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (high quality, crumbled)
  • 6-7 sprigs Fresh rosemary (chopped)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • I recommend to "French the Lamb Chops" which cleans them and makes for a much more elegant appearance and cleaner taste. (Link above for directions).
  • Cut into individual chops
  • Baste with 1/4 c olive oil, salt and pepper, and 2 springs of chopped rosemary. Marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
  • Heat large skillet on stove until very hot
  • Sear chops for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and set on foil-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes.
  • Prepare breadcrumbs by toasting French bread until crispy and pulsing in food processor. Do not make them too powdery. It's better with some bulk.
  • Pulse a chuck of cheese. Mix both the cheese and breadcrumbs in a bowl.
  • Add 5 springs of chopped rosemary, pressed garlic, and olive oil. Do not soak in olive oil. You want it to be coated enough so it will be able to stick the chops without being too soggy. Add salt and pepper.
  • Lay chops on their side and top with breadcrumb mixture. Use plenty. It's delicious.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, uncovered. Remove from oven and tent with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Arrange bones on plate. Add a garnish of microgreens, arugula, or parsley. Add a dollop of mint jelly to the plate. Serve with your favorite potato and vegetable.
Keyword Decadent, Elegant
Adam LapsevichRosemary and Parmesan Crusted Lamb Chops
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Salsa Verde

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I’m always searching for ideas for healthy breakfasts. Every night when I hit the sheets, I grab my iPad and fiddle around looking at recipe ideas. Several nights ago, I came across a recipe for Healthy Breakfast Tacos on the website blog Love and Lemons, and before you know, I’m going down a rabbit hole with ideas for salsas and was up until 1am!

As I got tangled in the web of different ideas for salsas, I came across a few recipes for Salsa Verde, the green salsa made with tomatillos. I never made it before and immediately started to crave it. Naturally, I wanted it with a “healthy breakfast taco”, but first had to start by making the salsa for the first time.

Fast forward to today. At 5am my pooch Rusty decided he needed to go outside. He woke me up and as I grumbled all the way downstairs to the back door, my stomach decided to start grumbling as well. I’m always hungry in the morning, but it was only 5am!

I went back to bed but by this time, I was a goner. I’m up now and hungry. So what did I do at 5:30am? Why, what any normal person does when they cannot sleep anymore. They head to the kitchen and and start making salsa verde!  And while I was at it, I made a jar of pickled purple onions and roasted a pan of sweet potatoes too…. more on that later!


Roast. Pulse. Cool.

It really isn’t hard. I purchased the tomatillos at Heinen’s yesterday so I knew I was going to be making this – I didn’t think I would be doing it at 5:30 in the morning though, but what the heck!

I roasted the veggies for 15 minutes on 350 degrees. When they were done, I added the cilantro, along with some salt and pepper, and pulsed it all in my handy Ninja Food Processor.

I stuck it in the freezer for a quicker cooldown.

Now I’m going to make my breakfast tacos! I’ll share those soon too! In the meantime, the salsa verde came out delicious.  Give it a whirl! You’ll love it!

Homemade Salsa Verde

A sweet yet tangy green salsa made from roasted tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno, and sweet onion.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Sauces
Cuisine Mexican

Equipment

  • Ninja food processor or similar

Ingredients
  

  • 8 tomatillos (husks removed and cut in half)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 jalapeno (cleaned and seeded)
  • 1/4 c sweet onion
  • 1/2 c cilantro
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil (for foil)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Cut tomatillos in half and place cut side down on foil-lined cookie sheet, with oil
  • Slice 1 jalapeno lengthwise; remove seeds (unless you want it hot), and add it to the pan
  • Add 2 garlic cloves to the pan
  • Chop onion into medium sized chunks and add to roasting pan
  • Rub oil on foil and coat everything slightly
  • Roast in oven for 15 minutes, turning once midway through
  • Add all ingredients, including cilantro and salt/pepper to a food processor and pulse. You don't want it too smooth! Keep some thickness to it.
  • Cool and serve with chips, with eggs for breakfast tacos, or use as you would with any other salsa! Enjoy!
Keyword Green Tomatoes, Salsa Verde, Tomatillos
Adam LapsevichSalsa Verde
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Crispy Thin Chicken and Pasta with Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

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When I was in college I worked at Morton’s Steakhouse. They had a dish on their lunch menu called “Chicken Christopher”. It was a very thin chicken breast, breaded crispy, with a garlicky-cream sauce.

I’ve been making it ever since, but I have always “Adam-ized” it, meaning, I made it my own. It can be made from a variety of garlic cream sauces, but if you like sundried tomatoes, you will go crazy of this version I created.

I’m not going to lie, this takes a lot of cookware. You need a pot to boil the pasta, a pot to blanch the asparagus, a pan to saute (fry) the chicken, and a deep pan to make the sauce!  Plus, a baking pan to put the chicken in the oven to finish cooking! If you think you can do it, here goes!

The full recipe is in the recipe card below, but if you can handle multiple pots going on your stove at the same time, it’s a breeze!

Start off by creating the breading for the chicken. Slice the chicken thin and then pound it to make it even thinner. This is important! It just makes the meal so much tastier.

Saute the chicken in olive oil in a pan on the stove, until it gets crispy. Then set it in a baking Pyrex dish and slightly tent with foil. Place in a 350 degree preheated oven. Now you can start making the sauce.


Pasta and Cream Sauce

This is actually pretty easy. Saute some butter in a deep pan. I use an All-Clad Weeknight Pan, but a wok would do just fine.

Start off boiling a pot of salted water and cooking the pasta to the package directions. Then, start the sauce.

Add the butter, olive oil, garlic, and sundried tomatoes to your deep pan. Use some of the olive oil from the jar as well. Add the cream. Stir and let it simmer on low. While you’re doing this, blanch the asparagus.

Once the pasta is done, drain and reserve 1 to 2 cups of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce. Add the Pecorino cheese.  A lot of it! And add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water. Get it to the consistency that you like. Not too runny, and not too thick.

Toss in the asparagus and stir it all to coat.

Simmer it on low until the chicken is done.

Plate it and enjoy! It’s sooooooo good!

Thin Crispy Chicken with Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

This is an unbelievably delicious meal. Thin chicken, with a lite sundried tomato cream sauce!
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

Chicken Breading

  • 1 c Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 c Panko bread crumbs
  • 3 chicken breasts (sliced thin, and pounded really thin)
  • 1/2 c grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs (beaten, for dipping and breading chicken)
  • 1/2 c olive oil (for frying chicken breasts)
  • 1 handful parsely finely chopped
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper

Pasta and Cream Sauce

  • 1 lb Bucatini pasta (or pasta of choice)
  • 1 c Pecorino romano cheese (get a high quality cheese and grate it)
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic (pressed)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp Kosher salt (divided, for pasta water, and sauce)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp sundried tomatoes (from jar, packed with olive oil)
  • 10 spears asparagus blanched
  • 1 c pasta water (reserved from cooking pasta)

Instructions
 

Prepare chicken

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • pound chicken breasts thin (I use a Pampered Chef meat pounder)
  • Beat 2 eggs in a bowl, large enough to dip chicken in to coat
  • Create breadcrumb mixture using both types of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley, finely chopped, and a dash of salt and pepper.
  • Heat nonstick skillet with olive oil until hot
  • Dip chicken in egg wash and breadcrumb mixture. Pat breadcrumbs on thick on both sides.
  • Place chicken in hot skillet and let it get crispy (approx 2-3 minutes per side). Turn and fry other side.
  • Repeat until all chicken is crispy fried with breading. WORK IN BATCHES! CLEAN THE PAN IN BETWEEN IF NECESSARY. This prevents burnt breadcrumbs coating chicken.
  • Set in baking dish. Lightly cover with foil and place in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes tops.

Prepare Pasta Sauce and Pasta

  • Boil pot of salted water
  • In another deep pan, add butter, sundried tomatoes, pressed garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil and stir until butter is melted. Add cream and stir. Reduce heat to a very low simmer.
  • In another pot, place asparagus for 3 minutes in boiling water. When finished, cut each stalk into 3-5 pieces, depending on the size of each asparagus stalk. Set aside.
  • Once pasta water boils, add pasta and cook per package instructions. Drain and reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water.
  • Slowly add pasta to the sauce and coat.
  • Add the grated Pecorino cheese slowly. Add pasta water to maintain creamy consistency.
  • Add more cheese if necessary. Feel free to add more cream and/or pasta water if necessary as well. There are no rules. Make it to your liking.
  • Add asparagus. Toss. Add salt and pepper.
  • Remove chicken from oven and plate with a side of pasta. Drizzle some of the sauce over the chicken.
Keyword Chicken, Pasta
Adam LapsevichCrispy Thin Chicken and Pasta with Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce
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