Guest Post: Baked Chicken Parm with Zucchini Pasta

Happy Wednesday! I have a guest post for you today by the amazing Ali. She uses one of my favorite kitchen tools to prepare creative dishes so her boyfriend eats more of the green stuff… When i first met Adam, he ate ZERO veggies. Um, this isn’t going to work for me… Adam slowly but surely came around and eats his greens with almost every meal. But the one thing I’ve been having trouble getting him on board with, is zucchini pasta. Ali to the rescue!

A Healthy Bowl of Manly Pasta: Getting The Man in Your Life to Eat Zucchini Pasta

The first time we met, Alyssa told me she already owned a spiralizer. Of course, I then realized that we’d be instant friends. She had told me that she tried making some zucchini pasta dishes for her husband, but he wasn’t exactly thrilled. I took this as a challenge and offered to guest blog for her and create a recipe JUST for ‘Life a la Wife.’ Now, here we are.

For those of you who haven’t heard of me, I’m Ali, the blogger at Inspiralized, a website dedicated 100% to spiralizing. Spiralizing is the act of converting whole vegetables into noodles by using a spiralizer (an inexpensive plastic counter-top kitchen tool) By replacing regular wheat pasta with these veggie noodles, you’re sneaking in more vegetables into your diet while reducing your calorie and carb intake! Find out more about this cooking method by visiting my blog, Inspiralized.com.

Although I’m not married (not yet!), I have been living with my boyfriend for about 6 months and completely understand the constant struggle between cooking healthy and cooking for a man. Most men are not as calorie conscious as us ladies are and I get it…. If I had the metabolism of a dude, I’d be wolfing down triple-decker peanut butter and jellies like there’s no tomorrow!

Everyone (especially men) love pasta. Zucchini pasta is a healthier, low-calorie, low-carb alternative to regular pasta. In order to get your man’s feet wet to the zucchini pasta movement, I present to you a dish that he’ll not only be impressed with, but will feel better after eating. In this healthier version of the classic Italian Chicken Parmesan, I skipped the frying of the breaded chicken in oil and baked it instead. I’ve also excluded butter and have used homemade whole wheat breadcrumbs.

Next time you make one of my healthy Inspiralized dishes and mention “zucchini pasta” he won’t shrug his shoulders or roll his eyes – he’ll be excited for a big bowl of pasta! The couple that eats healthy together stays together, I say.

NOTE: Recreate this in a skinny version for yourself by skipping the breading of the chicken. Then, when adding the mozzarella to melt, use half the amount of cheese. After plating, top with 1-2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs to get a bit more of that crunchy chicken parmesan feel. Almost half the calories and just as much deliciousness. Now you can eat alongside your manly man and not feel as guilty!

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Baked Chicken Parmesan with Zucchini Pasta

Serving size: 1
Time to prepare: 10 minutes
Time to cook: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini, Blade C
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce OR 1 cup of my tomato basil sauce (below)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 piece of whole wheat bread
  • 1/4 tsp oregano flakes
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 long ball of mozzarella cheese
  • cooking spray
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

For the tomato basil sauce (makes 1 cup)

  • 1/3 cup of chopped onions
  • 1 (14oz) can of diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp oregano flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed basil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 405 degrees.

Place your piece of bread into a food processor and pulse into breadcrumbs. Pour into a bowl and season with the oregano, garlic powder and then salt and pepper to taste.

Take out a baking dish or tray and pour the breadcrumbs onto the tray. Add in Parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly to combine. Set aside.

Start your sauce. Place a large skillet over medium heat and pour in olive oil. Once oil heats, add in garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and then add in red pepper flakes. Cook for 10 seconds and then add in onions. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or until onions begin to soften and are translucent. Add in diced tomatoes, oregano and season with salt and pepper. Crush tomatoes with a potato crusher, stir and lower heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Dredge your chicken in the beaten egg then dip in the breadcrumb-Parmesan mixture. Dip on both sides and pat breadcrumbs into any crevices on the chicken breast. Place on the baking tray and put into the oven for 17-20 minutes, depending on how thick the chicken breast (thicker = longer).

Continue to simmer the tomato sauce until all the juice is absorbed. Once done, reserve half of the sauce and keep the rest in the skillet, but turn off the heat.

After the chicken is done, take out, pour on the half cup of tomato basil sauce, top with mozzarella slice and place back in the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts and starts to lightly brown on top.

While the chicken is cooking for the last 5 minutes, turn the skillet back on, throw in the zucchini spaghetti, and toss to combine, cooking for 3 minutes or until zucchini softens and sauce is heated. Place the zucchini pasta down on a plate and set aside.

Top the pasta with the Chicken Parmesan and serve to your thankful and adoring husband! This dish is sure to please his tastebuds.

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Thanks Ali!! Adam has already asked me when I will be recreating this for him… Better get on it!

Grandma Turns 70!

Today is my Grandma’s actual birthday so I’d like to start off today by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the prettiest 70-year-old I know!

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Since we live a couple of states away we decided to celebrate over the weekend with the fam.

We posted some picture of the birthday girl in her early 20’s while we made dinner and admired her lovely smile and fun personality that she still has to this day.

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For dinner we made Chicken Cacciatore in the Crock Pot, served it over linguine with garlic bread and caesar salad on the side.

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Some of the crew enjoying dinner.

After dinner we sat my Grandma down to open some special gifts.

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New sassy flats

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A basket full of spa products to guess where she’s going…

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Almost got it… Enjoying a weekend getaway with the girls at Hershey Spa with chocolate facials and massages.

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Her last gift. About a month ago I hacked into my Grandma’s email account and sent emails to her friends/family asking for their favorite memory involving her. I was aiming for 70 responses but ended up with 76! She’s so popular 🙂

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She was ecstatic when she opened the box to see how many people she has touched throughout the years.

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We had her read a couple memories out-loud and told her to take her time and enjoy reading the rest without an audience.

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We made two desserts – Frozen Reese’s Pie

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and Chocolate Poke Cake. Make both, you won’t regret it.

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We left feeling full and happy knowing that my Grandma had such a great time.

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Here’s to 70 more 🙂

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

I’ve never been a marinara girl.

When I was younger and it was pizza night, I would remove the cheese and wipe the sauce off with napkins. Then I would eat the cheese and the dough separately while throwing my sauce blotted napkins in the trash.

I never said I was normal…

Cheese has always been my go to but now that I’m more mature (haha) I eat my veggies(fruit) too.

Saturday night Adam and I joined forces in the kitchen to make a spicy dish, Shrimp Fra Diavolo. We both love anything spicy and this didn’t disappoint. Like chug two bottles of water at dinner while you sweat spicy.

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Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Ingredients 

  • 8 oz Linguine (We used Trader Joe’s Spinach & Chive)
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, slivered
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Directions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  • While pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add 1 tablespoon garlic and shrimp. Sauté for 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove from pan; keep warm.
  • Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and onion to pan – sauté 5 minutes or until softened.
  • Stir in remaining rosemary, red pepper, basil, fennel seeds and oregano. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in lemon juice, crushed tomatoes, salt, and diced tomatoes – cook 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • Return shrimp to pan – cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve over pasta.
  • Sprinkle Parmesan on top if desired.

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Tramonti in NYC

Last weekend my brother Keith and his girlfriend, Brittany, came up to visit!

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We both went our separate ways while roaming the city but had plans to meet up for dinner at the restaurant, Tramonti. My brother was the one who suggested this restaurant and it was a good recommendation! Thankfully, we made reservations because the restaurant was tiny and NYC was crowded.

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Don’t you just love NYC during Christmas?

After trekking through Rockefeller center where a million other people were, we sat down at our table.

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1/2 bottle of prosecco for me. Don’t mind if I do.

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You are also greeted with a warm bread basket and olive oil / vinegar for dipping. My favorite!

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Adam and I split a salad that was on the specials menu which consisted of spinach, green apples, goat cheese, candied walnuts and a light dressing. I wasn’t a fan of these particular nuts (twss?)- they were too chewy. I was all over that goat cheese though!

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For dinner, I ordered another “Special of the Day”. Butternut Squash Ravioli in a butter and sage sauce. VERY delicious!

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Keith and Brittany split the gnocchi and a Caesar salad which they said was phenomenal.

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It’s no shocker my husband had to order the most expensive thing on the menu – Veal chop, mashed potatoes and broccoli rabe. Since the only thing left on his plate was a bone – I think its safe to say he enjoyed it as well!

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Paparazzi break while we wait for dessert!

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Adam and I chose the ricotta cheesecake and vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was no joke. I think they may have put more than a pint in our bowl!? The cheesecake was amazing… Not too sweet, which was great because the Ice Cream was a nice balance.

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Keith and Brittany went with tiramisu and chocolate ice cream. Clean plates all around!

We were going to head to Rolf’s  after dinner but well…we’re kinda old and were exhausted after a big meal! It’s probably best we didn’t attempt to go there because I heard there was a huge line out the door. Old people need sleep…

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5 more days til Christmas!

Questions: Have you seen the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center? It’s so beautiful but extremely packed. I would suggest going the weekend after they light it – Not the weekend before Christmas (like us)