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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Baked Chicken Parmesan

Baked Chicken Parmesan @ menumusings.com
Earlier this week, I was seriously craving some chicken parmesan!  The dilemma was that I didn't really want the whole fried version.  I was looking for something just as yummy, just... healthier.  I mean let's face it, bathing suit season will be here before we blink, right?  Yikes!  Not only that.  I really want to be the healthiest "me" I can be for my kiddos.  I DO believe in all things moderation, so I'm not about to cut OUT any of the food groups.  But this time, let's see if we can tweak this one to make a baked, not fried, version.  That's all.  Who's in?  :)

My main objective was FLAVOR!  So I made sure to have a super flavorful coating.  And then I wanted them to cook quickly once we had the whole set-up.  The verdict?  SCORE!!!  Flavorful, tender, and they cooked up so quickly!  And yep, I'll try to identify some "make ahead" components so you can get dinner on the table in a flash on a busy weeknight, although this was really nice enough to serve to company! 


Baked Chicken Parmesan for Pinterest @ menumusings.comIngredients: 
  • 1.5 pounds thin cut chicken cutlets
  • 1/2 c Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c seasoned Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 c freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • butter flavored cooking spray
  • canned/jarred marinara sauce
  • low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • extra sprinkling of dried basil as garnish 
Step-by-Step:
Go ahead and get the oven preheating to about 400 degrees F.

We are going to start out by making a really flavorful coating.  
*Time saving tip - This coating can be all made up ahead of time and stored in a zip top bag.  

I am mixing regular bread crumbs with Panko bread crumbs to get an extra crunch.  The Panko bread crumbs will give us that extra textural component.
1/2 c Panko bread crumbs + 1/2 c seasoned Italian bread crumbs
Now let's season it up really well!

1 tsp kosher salt + 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder + 1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano + 1 tsp dried basil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano (This is a KEY component! Please don't use the fake stuff in the green can.  Your recipe is only as good as your ingredients.)
Okay.  Now let's prepare the chicken.
*Time saving tip - The chicken can be trimmed of any fat and pounded thin ahead of time and stored in the fridge between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper in a gallon sized zip top bag.  When you get home from work, just take them out and you are ready to go!

Here are our thin cut chicken cutlets.  They come like this, as if the grocer has cut them in half.  They are still WAY more than a normal portion, if you ask me. But as you can see, there are still areas that are way thicker or thinner than the rest.  This will lead to uneven cooking.  So we need to even this out.
Take a sheet of plastic wrap and something heavy.  Pound out the chicken to an even thickness.  We want the chicken to cook at the SAME rate without being over- or under- cooked.  This also serves an additional benefit of helping to tenderize the meat.  If you don't have a meat pounder, you can use:  a small skillet, a wine/beer bottle, a rolling pin, the bottom of a heavy glass... you get the idea.
TaDAA... not hard at all.
Okay, we need something for the coating to stick to.  I'm going to make a mixture here.  The butter will help everything brown up and taste great.  The olive oil is heart friendly.  
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Paint the butter/EVOO mixture on to the flattened chicken breasts.
Press the oiled side down into the coating.  Paint the top side once you have it sitting in the coating. Find a cute little sous chef to help you cover, and press - press - PRESS!!!!! You want the coating to really be pressed on to the chicken really well. 

Can you BELIEVE that four of these took up the entire pan?!  How ridiculous is this?!  I set them on parchment paper for super easy cleanup.  That means they 1 - won't stick, and 2 - I won't have to add anything to the pan (like additional oil) to make sure they won't stick, and 3 - I can just throw the paper away and basically have a clean pan.  WooHoo!!!!  
I am going to insert my instant read thermometer into one of these because I want to make sure I don't overcook them.  I can tell they won't take long because we pounded them out and they aren't that thick.  Overcooked = dry and yucky.  We don't want that!
At the last minute, I decided to spray them with a butter flavored cooking spray to help the bread crumbs brown up.
butter flavored cooking spray
I did turn them over about halfway so the bottom would brown up as well.  All in all they only took around 15 minutes.  WOW!  But you need to use a digital thermometer to check your temperature. Chicken needs to be cooked to 165 F, but you can take these out at 160 F because we will put them back in to melt the cheese, and because the residual heat and carry-over cooking will increase them temperature in them.   If you do not have an instant read thermometer, there should be no clear areas in the meat and the juices should run clear.  (But I highly recommend one.  That $20 investment is well worth every penny as you can turn all your attention to other things!)
Now add about 2 Tbsp of marinara to the tops each chicken breast.
2 Tbsp marinara to each
Now add a big pinch (about 1 1/2 Tbsp) of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the marinara. Then for a bit pizzazz, a sprinkle of dried basil.  
Now these guys are ready to go back into the oven.  They only need to go back in for about 3 or 4 minutes - just long enough for the mozzarella to melt. 
And here it is!  Oh goodness!  It was SO good!!
Now you could totally put this over pasta if you wanted to, with a little extra marinara.  Or you could have it with a beautiful salad for a lower carb option.  It's completely up to you.  That's the beauty of eating at home.  You get to decide... and customize your own plate.  
Baked Chicken Parmesan full plate @ menumusings.com

I hope you enjoyed this fabulous and easy family friendly recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

Connect with me.     
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.


You can also visit my YouTube page to check out short cooking video tutorials.Here is an example of one for Baked Chicken Taquitos!  YUM!!  Just click the picture and view it right in this page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you:
Crawfish Fritters with Spicy Remoulade Sauce
Crawfish fritters with spicy remoulade sauce @ menumusings.com

Maple Mustard Glazed Chicken
Maple Mustard Glazed Chicken @ menumusings.com

Corn Cakes with Cilantro Lime Cream
Corn cakes with Cilantro Lime Cream @ menumusings.com

Apple and Bacon Stuffed Brussels Sprouts
Apple and Bacon Stuffed Brussels Sprouts @ menumusings.com

Ginger Orange Pork Tenderloin
Ginger Orange Pork Tenderloin @ menumusings.com

Grilled Chicken Southwestern Chopped Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing
Grilled Chicken Southwestern Chopped Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing @ menumusings.com

Mississippi Mud Puddles
Mississippi Mud Puddles @ menumusings.com
Written Method:
Go ahead and get the oven preheating to about 400 degrees F.
Baked Chicken Parmesan filmstrip @ menumusings.com

We are going to start out by making a really flavorful coating.  Add together both types of bread crumbs and the next seven types of seasonings. *Time saving tip - This coating can be all made up ahead of time and stored in a zip top bag.  

Okay.  Now let's prepare the chicken.  *Time saving tip - The chicken can be trimmed of any fat and pounded thin ahead of time and stored in the fridge between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper in a gallon sized zip top bag.  When you get home from work, just take them out and you are ready to go!  I used thin cut chicken cutlets.  They come like this, as if the grocer has cut them in half.  They are still WAY more than a normal portion, if you ask me. But there are still areas that are way thicker or thinner than the rest, which will lead to uneven cooking.  So you will need to even them out.  Take a sheet of plastic wrap and something heavy.  Pound out the chicken to an even thickness.  We want the chicken to cook at the SAME rate without being over- or under- cooked.  This also serves an additional benefit of helping to tenderize the meat.  If you don't have a meat pounder, you can use:  a small skillet, a wine/beer bottle, a rolling pin, the bottom of a heavy glass... you get the idea.  Next, we need something for the coating to stick to.  I'm going to make a mixture here with the butter and olive oil.  The butter will help everything brown up and taste great.  The olive oil is heart friendly.  Paint the butter/EVOO mixture on to the flattened chicken breasts.  Press the oiled side down into the coating.  Paint the top side once you have it sitting in the coating. Find a cute little sous chef to help you cover, and press - press - PRESS!!!!! You want the coating to really be pressed on to the chicken really well.  I set them on parchment paper for super easy cleanup.  That means they 1 - won't stick, and 2 - I won't have to add anything to the pan (like additional oil) to make sure they won't stick, and 3 - I can just throw the paper away and basically have a clean pan.  WooHoo!!!!

I am going to insert my instant read thermometer into one of these because I want to make sure I don't overcook them.  I can tell they won't take long because we pounded them out and they aren't that thick.  Overcooked = dry and yucky.  We don't want that!  At the last minute, I decided to spray them with a butter flavored cooking spray to help the bread crumbs brown up.  

I did turn them over about halfway so the bottom would brown up as well.  All in all they only took around 15 minutes.  WOW!  But you need to use a digital thermometer to check your temperature. Chicken needs to be cooked to 165 F, but you can take these out at 160 F because we will put them back in to melt the cheese, and because the residual heat and carry-over cooking will increase them temperature in them.   If you do not have an instant read thermometer, there should be no clear areas in the meat and the juices should run clear.  (But I highly recommend one.  That $20 investment is well worth every penny as you can turn all your attention to other things!)

Now add about 2 Tbsp of marinara to the tops each chicken breast, followed by a big pinch (about 1 1/2 Tbsp) of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the marinara. Then for a bit pizzazz, a sprinkle of dried basil.  Now these guys are ready to go back into the oven.  They only need to go back in for about 3 or 4 minutes - just long enough for the mozzarella to melt. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mojito Lime Mahi Mahi Tacos with Citrus Dressed Southwestern Slaw

Mojito Lime Mahi Mahi Tacos with Citrus Dressed Southwestern Slaw @ menumusings.com
For me personally, fish recipes can sometimes be a bit of a hit or miss... but this collaboration between my husband and myself is a slam dunk at our house!  The first time we made this, we just happened to have a couple of extra teenagers over and let's just say it was a winner all around, because the two of us ended up splitting one in the end that all those kids generously left over for us! The next time we made it, I'll be darned if my oldest didn't bring someone else by to "try them out!"   That time, I was prepared!  :) So when YOU make this, do yourself a favor and go ahead and make extras!

So many of you asked for the recipe to go on the blog that we had to make it again just for you.  Darn it!  HaHa! ... well, okay.  You've twisted our arms.  You're going to LOVE the big bold southwestern flavors, the big contrasts of textures, and the fact that you can go ahead and have another one because they are so healthy! 

Mojito Lime Mahi Mahi Tacos with Citrus Dressed Southwestern Slaw @ menumusings.comPrint this Recipe!

Ingredients: (around 9 servings)
Fish -
  • 9 Mahi Mahi fillets 
    • (typically come about 1" thick)
  • McCormick Grill Mates Mojito Lime seasoning 
  • small bag of fresh limes for squeezing over the fish (about 1/2 lime per fillet) 
Southwestern Slaw with Citrus Vinaigrette - 
  • 1/2 head purple cabbage sliced super thin
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage sliced super thin
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and grated on large hole of box grater
  • 2/3 - 3/4 cup cilantro, chopped medium 
  • 3/4 cup purchased (bottled) citrus vinaigrette or homemade 
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste  
Tacos - 
  • Flour tortillas (fajita or soft taco sized)
  • Guacamole (homemade or prepared) 
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Fresh lime wedges

Step-by-Step
Allow for around one fish fillet per person.  Generously squeeze a few limes over the thawed fish fillets and season them generously with the mojito lime seasoning.  Allow them to marinate for around 30 minutes in the seasoning.  
Each bag typically comes with 2 - 3 fillets
Just in case you are wondering, this is only a partial recipe being shown here.  We did a few fillets earlier than the rest.  There are always multiple logistics at work at our house.   That said, there probably are at YOUR house, too!  With this recipe, you can just throw a few of the fillets on the grill at a time since the fillets come individually wrapped.  The rest of the ingredients are ready for when the others are expected home.
around 1/2 lime per thawed fish fillet 
This seasoning blend is the BOMB!  Sprinkle generously over the fish.  You can put it on the other side once it is on the grill.
McCormick Grill Mates Mojito Lime Seasoning Blend
I put a link there in case you can't find it.  And no, this is NOT a paid advertisement.  Just trying to be helpful.  :)
Looks great, huh?
So while our fish is marinating in fresh lime juice and mojito lime seasoning, let's make the a quick southwestern slaw to give us some bold flavors and some crunch!   Even some of the members of my family (and our teenaged guests) who HATE coleslaw like this stuff!  Hey - that's a big plus, all in its own!  

For the southwestern slaw, just combine all of the ingredients.  If you would like more or less of any of the ingredients, adjust as you'd like.
1/2 head purple cabbage (about 4 cups) 

I really like the Napa cabbage better than the regular variety because it's not as hard and fibrous. There is also no bitterness to it.  

1/2 head Napa cabbage (about 4 cups)
This cilantro in here makes it feel like we are going straight to the Baja peninsula!  
2/3 - 3/4 cup cilantro, rough chopped
It's getting very pretty, isn't it?

2 large carrots, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater

This is the citrus vinaigrette I found in the supermarket.  I was going to make some initially, but then we got so busy that we thought.... ehhh... let's just go with this.  And we ended up really liking the flavor.     
Citrus Vinaigrette
~ 3/4 cup citrus vinaigrette
Use more or less to your liking.
 Combine and season to taste.
black pepper
kosher salt
Our fish fillets are ready to go on the grill.  My husband loves to grill, so this is where I let him take over.  The grill needs to be fully preheated to around 400 degrees F.  I'm quite sure you could do these on a grill pan indoors if you needed to, as well.   

The fish are grilled seasoned side down first so that you can season the "naked side" while the first side cooks.  Each side probably takes around 4 - 5 minutes, but will depend on how hot the grill is and the thickness of the fish.  The fish are done when they are opaque, fork tender, and flake easily with a fork.  
Mahi Mahi fillets being grilled
After removing from the grill, the fish need to rest around 5 minutes.  This is how gorgeous they will look.  And they smell amazing!  After the resting period, break them into chunks with a fork or the grilling spatula.  
grilled Mahi Mahi fillets
During that 5 minutes resting period, you can warm up and slightly blister the tortillas.  If you warm them like this over a flame, please use long handled tongs!   I have my fire on about medium.  Cold tortillas are just NOT the same!  If you have an electric stove, perhaps you can put them into a skillet or on a griddle to warm them.  
 Call everyone down to dinner, because there is going to be some serious eating going on!
slightly blistered tortillas
Did I not TELL you?!  How gorgeous is this?
Mojito Lime Mahi Mahi Tacos with Citrus Dressed Southwestern Slaw @ menumusings.com
Serve your fish tacos with those warm tortillas, some southwestern slaw with the citrus vinaigrette, the grilled fish chunks (obviously),  I have some fire roasted corn guacamole in there, and some Mexican Crema drizzled on top.   And then... serve with some lime wedges to squeeze over the top!
Mojito Lime Mahi Mahi Tacos with Citrus Dressed Southwestern Slaw @ menumusings.com

Did I make a point of telling you that you may need extras?  
Mojito Lime Mahi Mahi Tacos with Citrus Dressed Southwestern Slaw @ menumusings.com
I used the fajita sized tortillas this time.  They are probably the smallest of the varieties out in the markets (about the size of your outstretched hand, including your fingers).  You can probably count on two tacos per adult if you use this size.  I find this size easier to eat and manage, and certainly more kid friendly.  
Mojito Lime Mahi Mahi Tacos with Citrus Dressed Southwestern Slaw @ menumusings.com

I hope you enjoyed this fabulous and easy family friendly recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

Connect with me.     
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.


You can also visit my YouTube page to check out short cooking video tutorials.Here is an example of one for Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Chicken Breasts!  YUM!!  Just click the picture and view it right in this page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you:
Greek Tortellini Chicken Salad

Korean BBQ Shish Kabobs

Funky Monkey Morning Smoothies

Easy Meatball Sub Casserole

Creamy "Work Week" Chicken Enchiladas

Bananas Foster Cake


Written Method:

Allow for around one fish fillet per person.  Generously squeeze a few limes over the thawed fish fillets and season them generously with the mojito lime seasoning.  Allow them to marinate for around 30 minutes in the seasoning.  

Grill on a preheated grill (about 400 degrees F) until opaque, fork tender, and flakes easily with a fork.  This may take around 4 - 5 minutes per side, but will depend on how hot the grill is, and the thickness of the fish.  

After removing from the grill, the fish need to stand around 5 minutes. Then you can break them into large pieces with a fork or spatula for filling the tacos. 

For the slaw, just combine all ingredients and adjust the seasoning to your liking.   

Fill warm/blistered tortillas with southwestern slaw, fish pieces, guacamole, and crema.  Squeeze fresh lime wedges over tacos.  

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