Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parmesan is the kind of dish that can be as healthy or as fattening as you want it to be. Typically pan-fried and smothered in cheese over a bed of creamy fettucini Alfredo (yum)…. well sorry my friends, but this isn’t that recipe because it’s the “work week” – also known as – damage control from weekend indulging. This is my take on a lightened up version with a few shortcuts, so that you can still work, get some exercise in and have a nice little homemade dinner prepared in 30ish minutes. While I was watching Good Morning America today I heard a really motivating and true statement about the act of cooking. Chef Marcus Samuelsson, a Food Network regular, was doing a food demo on his favorite fall dishes and remarked on how cooking is something everyone should at least attempt even if you only have a few simple go-to recipes. Cooking brings people together, it is cost efficient and it can lead to a healthier lifestyle. He nailed all the reasons why I love to cook, especially the part about bringing people together — there is just something so rewarding about family week night dinners or a dinner party at home versus at a restaurant. If you are a beginner then set a goal to cook at least 1 night a week… you might become really great in the kitchen!

Try boiling quinoa instead of pasta to go along side the chicken — it was delish with a little marinara and fresh basil sprinkled on top. Also, I didn’t waste the money buying an entire package or container of mozzarella cheese. Most grocery stores have olive bars, so I found a mixture of marinated red peppers, mozzarella balls and artichoke hearts to bake on top of the chicken.

Cook’s Tip: The Chiffonade — which simply means shreds made by rolling up leafy foods like a cigar, then thinly slicing. Take a thick stack of basil leaves, roll them up like a cigar, then run your knife in thin slices… instant basil ribbons for a pretty garnish. Plus, you’ll sound so fancy saying “oh, just a little basil chiffonade on top”.

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Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Progresso “garlic and herb” breadcrumbs
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce of your choice
  • mozzarella cheese (1/2 cup) OR [ I purchased a small container of mozzarella cheese balls, marinated artichoke hearts and red peppers from the olive bar at my grocery store]
  • 1 large ziplock bag
  • non-stick cooking spray

Directions:

  • pre-heat your oven to 425
  • in an over proof baking dish spray non-stick spray
  • add chicken breasts to a large ziplock bag and use a spatula to pound them out (they need to get a bit thinner, so the chicken will cook through without burning the crust)
  • add the breadcrumb mixture to the bag and coat heavily
  • shake off the chicken and add to the baking dish
  • bake for 15 minutes then flip and bake for 10 more minutes
  • flip them back over and add spoonfuls of marinara to the top and add the cheese, artichokes and peppers
  • bake another 5-7 minutes
  • then switch from bake to broil for 1 minute
  • serve with quinoa or pasta

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