Parmesan Chicken Casserole

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Have you ever wanted to take the same meal you enjoy immensely, but switch it up just a little bit? Same ingredients and hopefully the same taste; it’s just prepared a little differently. That’s what this casserole reminds me of. The list of items just scream Chicken Parmesan, you’re just giving it a whole new look!

I had spotted this recipe while browsing my Pinterest feed quite some time ago and was intrigued. I’m not quite sure who came up with this fun recipe, as I quickly jotted the ingredients down and added it to my list of potential meals. I can see how this can be either a family favorite or something you bring to a potluck party at work.

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Unlike the original recipe for Chicken Parmesan, you’re using creating a base for bake (breadcrumbs) last instead of coating the chicken in it before adding the marinara sauce and cheese. It gives it a crispier outer shell, while enjoying a more moist italian taste when you bite in. I recommend using rotisserie chicken if you’ve got it, but any leftover shredded chicken will do.

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I allowed my casserole to bake for 25 minutes, but that can always vary depending on your oven. If your breadcrumb topping has begun to take on a golden brown shade, there’s a good chance it’s ready.

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Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Serves 6
Craving something hot and easy to prepare? This Chicken Parm Casserole is a great bake for when you've got leftover chicken and an extra jar of marinara sauce.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 2-4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  2. 28-ounce jar marinara sauce
  3. 1½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  4. ½ fresh parmesan cheese
  5. 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  6. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  7. 2 tablespoons italian seasoning
  8. 1 tablespoon oregano
  9. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Use cooking spray to well coat an 8x8 casserole pan. Add chicken to bottom followed by marinara sauce. Mix well, evenly spreading throughout the pan. Cover with mozzarella cheese and parmesan.
  3. Add panko bread crumbs, olive oil, italian seasoning and oregano to a medium size mixing bowl. Stir well and add a pinch of both salt and pepper. Spread bread crumb mix over-top cheese layer, covering well.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Skinny Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Muffins

Lately I’ve been trying to swear off bread for the most part, but I’ve been constantly running into some really yummy sounding muffin recipes on Pinterest and it made it hard to resist baking some. Breakfast has always needed to be some sort of variety for me. I could never stick to a routine bowl-of-cereal breakfast day after day, week after week. And so I am unendingly searching and testing for new recipes for breakfast. Afterall, we do dedicate our Sunday night dinner to it as well! 

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I was pretty much sold on this recipe when I saw “chocolate chips” in the title. You can pass off just about any healthy ingredient when you’re adding chocolate chips as well. So if you have some picky eaters in your home, chances are they will still enjoy these muffins. I just leave the “banana” part out at first. You never know, they may not even figure out there’s bananas in there too.

Know what else is great? Each muffin is 170 calories, easily leaving room for that much needed cup of coffee in the morning. That made going off the bread edge for just this week even more worth it!

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Not to mention how much I wish I could put into words just how delicious these muffins are. I guess the best way for you to understand would be to just bake a batch yourself. If you decide to, come back and let me know how they turned out!

Skinny Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Muffins
Serves 12
A healthy take on banana and chocolate muffins that are easily assembled and take as short as 20 minutes to bake. Plus kids love them!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1½ cups white whole wheat flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. ¼ teaspoon salt
  4. 3 ripe bananas
  5. ¼ cup raw honey
  6. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
  8. 1 large egg
  9. ½ cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
  10. 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk
  11. ½ cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using cooking spray, grease muffin tin well.
  2. Add dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt to a medium size mixing bowl. Whisk well.
  3. Using a blender, add banana, honey, vanilla, oil, egg, yogurt, and milk. Blend on high speed for 60 seconds. Add blender mix to medium bowl with dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, combine well. Next gently fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Add batter to muffin tin evenly and filling until they are 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, depending on your oven. Check using a toothpick to see if they are throughly cooked through. If the toothpick comes out clean after you stick in the middle of muffin; they are ready to take out of the oven.
  5. Allow muffins to cool down momentarily before moving to a cooling rack. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. Muffins freeze for up to 3 months if needed. Just add them into a ziplock baggie and heat for 30 seconds in a microwave to thaw out when ready to eat.
Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen
Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Strawberry Pickin’ and Homemade Jam

strawberrypicking

I’ve been wanting to make some homemade jam for quite some time, so I took the kids to Jacquemin Farms in Plain City to do a little bit of strawberry picking. Every year when I remember it’s strawberry picking time, that time is basically over and we have to wait for it to be apple season before we get to experience anything similar.

We got there shortly after they opened for the day (830am) and I was surprised at how many people were already out in the fields picking! Luckily there were still a  bountiful amount of strawberries still on the vines. Enough that we came home with 6 quarts of strawberries; probably triple what I actually needed. So I imagine for the next few days, there will be several strawberry-based recipes. That’s convinent even if you can’t make it out to a strawberry farm; strawberries are in season now so they’re not super expensive at the grocery store!

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Washing strawberries is the easy part. Finding somewhere to store them turned out to be a little interesting, so I ended up lining the bottom of one of the 4qt carriers with parchment paper and filled it with strawberries to put in the refrigerator.

Next comes the time consuming part –  chopping the strawberries. While there’s always the option of washing your strawberries, cutting off the tops and throwing them in the blender, I happen to like my jam chunky and so I opted to slice small and large pieces instead. This means my prep-time was well over 30 minutes.

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Now for the real fun part, cooking strawberries. This is one of the quickest ways to make your entire house smell delicious. It’s such a sweet aroma combined with the lemon and sugar; definitely something that you taste test if your impatient like me.

Your jam will eventually thicken after boiling. Because all stoves cook differently; it may before the estimated time given on the recipe card, or it may be longer. You just have to constantly check as not to overcook.

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Aren’t they cute!? I’m in the process of making some cute tags for them as well and will post those when finished.

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Jam
Yields 2
A small-batch recipe for strawberry jam made with fresh strawberries, lemon juice and sugar.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups of fresh strawberries, cut into small and large pieces
  2. 2 cups granulated sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Allow strawberry mixture to come to a boil while mixing frequently with a wooden spoon. Scoop up as much foam as you can and dispose in sink. (foam will be a light pink color)
  2. After removing foam, allow strawberry mixture to continue cooking for 10-15 minutes; constantly stirring. Jam should begin to thicken. If it seems watery still, let it continue to cook but be sure to watch it so that it doesn't overcook.
  3. When jam seems thick enough your likening, add to clean mason jars and allow to sit out until they are room temperature. Refrigerate after.
  4. Canned jam lasts 2-3 weeks if it remains in fridge.
Notes
  1. If you want to try a quick set test, freeze a spoon while cooking mixture. When you want to see if jam is thick enough, use spoon to scoop mixture and tilt spoon ovetop a plate. If the mixture runs off the spoon quickly, your jam isn't thick enough.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Quick and Easy Pizza Pinwheels

I know a lot may not agree with me on this, but I think pizza gets boring if you don’t do a variety. We’ve done regular pizza dough, flatbreads, pita breads, whole wheat muffins, strombolis. stromboli. Something new was needed and quick. Otherwise it was going to be a week without pizza of any sort. That just doesn’t feel right.

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Introducing Pizza Pinwheels! They’re cute, they’re small and you can eat them in many different ways other than with just strictly sauce and cheese. But for our first try, we’re going to do just that. Experience always works best in small steps, or in this case little ingredients.

If you have a small kid, or large grownup who just LOVES pepperoni pizza and wont eat anything but pepperoni pizza – tell them that unless you have mini-pepperonis on hand or they want to help cut large pepperonis into small squares; tonight they’re having just cheese.

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Assembling them was just as I’ve assembled strombolis in the past, only instead of letting them cook through and then cut; I tightly rolled up the dough and stuck it in the fridge for a good 20 minutes. This allowed the dough to harden slightly making it a little easier to cut into small “pinwheel shapes,” or “cinnamon roll pizzas.” Just make sure that when you’re adding your sauce, you use a LIGHT amount. Thick sauce will literally seep through your dough and not only will it be a mess, but it’ll make cutting your pinwheels not so easy. Been there, done that.

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So good for such an easy little recipe! I think that not only will I repeat this recipe only with more ingredients, but these would be a great after-school or summer day snack. No more frozen pizza rolls!

Pizza Pinwheels
Serves 6
Need a different try as far as pizza goes? Try this Pizza Pinwheel recipe. They're easy to create, cook fast and are family friendly. Great for an afterschool snack or appetizer side-dish at a party.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Ingredients
  1. one 11-ounce tube of refrigerated Pillsbury french loaf
  2. pizza sauce
  3. 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly grease and set aside.
  3. Using a sheet of parchment paper, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour overtop. Spread refrigerated french loaf using hands and a roller until dough is flat and resembles a equal-sided rectangle.
  4. Using a spoon, spread pizza sauce lightly and evenly; leaving half an inch from the ends. Set remaining sauce aside.
  5. Add shredded cheese, spreading evenly throughout dough. Once finished, begin to tightly roll dough up, lengthwise. When finished, place in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to allow to harden. In the meantime, add remaining pizza sauce to a small saucepan and simmer.
  6. When dough seems slightly hardened, slice through. Add each to well-greased baking sheet, 1 inch apart. Bake for 12 minutes. Serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake

Our family has this fantastic recipe for Cajun Pasta that my Aunt will cook for parties if we’re ever so lucky. I’ve tried my hand at it but always had trouble getting the alfredo sauce to be thick enough to my liking. So whenever I think of alfredo or see a recipe that calls for a similar sauce; I contemplate just buying a jar and then feel like a failure and give up on the dish before even trying to prepare it. 

So when my husband recently brought home an already prepared Chicken Alfredo Bake from Sam’s Club that would have tasted great, had it not tasted super dry, it set off the spark, or craving if you may, for some GOOD alfredo. But before I gave the cajun pasta recipe another try, I wanted to start with something a little more simple; basic chicken alfredo.

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I noticed the ingredients for this particular alfredo were simple and the steps seemed pretty easy. Often I see heavy whipping cream or cornstarch that is used for “thickening” a sauce. This called for neither. I was caught off guard a little by the fact that it asked for chicken broth but to my amazement; I saw the sauce almost instantly start to thicken once I added it to the saute pan. Normally the pan has to sit over heat for a bit before it actually starts to thicken, but not this recipe! It was quick, making this a great idea if you’re running short on time but craving something with protein and creamy pasta.

And if you’re REALLY short on time, you don’t even have to bake this dish. You can serve immediately after combining all ingredients. It tastes just as good either way.

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Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake
Serves 6
Never made homemade alfredo sauce before? You're in luck! This version is basically foolproof and tastes better than any store bought alfredo. Combined with penne pasta, rotisserie chicken and baked with mozzarella cheese; this dish is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups rotisserie, or shredded chicken
  2. 12-ounce penne pasta
  3. ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Homemade Alfredo Sauce
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  3. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  4. 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  5. 1 cup whole milk
  6. 2/3 cup parmesan cheese
  7. ¼ teaspoon salt
  8. 1/8 teaspoon fresh coarse black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan, cook penne pasta according to package. When fully cooked through, drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile in a large deep saute pan, heat olive oil over med-high heat. Add minced garlic and allow to saute for 1 minute. Add flour, mixing well until browned. Slowly whisk in chicken broth, mixing well, followed by cup of milk. Whisk often, lowering temp to simmer and thicken. Once sauce appears thick, add penne pasta and rotisserie chicken to saute pan. Stir well, combining.
  4. Using a well-greased 9x13 baking dish, add alfredo pasta. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese overtop and bake for 20 minutes.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Baked Honey Garlic Pork Chops

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If you ask me, pork chops are tricky. They’re light in color so you don’t particularly know if the inside is truly cooked unless you use a knife to check. My trick is to always buy the pack of meat with more than you really need. That way you can use one of the less-appealing looking pieces (and there ALWAYS is one!) to cut and dice up to make sure that everything is cooked thoroughly. It’s also a good excuse for taste testing. 

I also prefer to bake meat versus frying or grilling. I know that when I place something in the oven, not only will it cook, but the juices are also most likely reserved. When you cook over the stovetop, there’s a good chance you’ll overturn the meat and it won’t taste as juicy. You can always find a medium though; begin your meat over the stovetop briefly to lightly brown and then transfer to your oven to finish cooking. This recipe is like that giving you the best of both cooking methods!

 

Baked Honey Garlic Pork Chops
Serves 4
A delicious recipe for center-loined pork chops that have a sweet honey taste with just the right amount of garlic.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 4 center-loined pork chops, trimmed
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. ¼ cup honey
  4. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  6. 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  7. 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Well grease a large cooking pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium size bowl, combine olive oil, honey, lemon juice, garlic and soy sauce. Whisk well. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large well-greased skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and allow to cook 5-7 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. When done, using a pair of tongs dip each pork chop individual into honey mixture, coating each side. Add pork chops to cooking pan and brush remaining sauce ontop. Sprinkle brown sugar over each.
  4. Cook for 1 hour and serve immediately.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

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131 Calorie Blueberry Muffins

131 Calorie Blueberry Muffins
Did you click on the link to this recipe because of the pretty pictures without looking at the post title? Look at it now. Look closely. No, your eyes are not deceiving you. You read correctly.

 
Blueberry muffins that are only 131 calories a piece. I think that deserves repeating in capital, bold letters. 131 CALORIES
 

And the second best part is that they taste AMAZING. It’s almost unbelievable that something this low in fat could be this yum. But it is. And you’ll use that as an excuse to eat two of them in one sitting. I did. I don’t regret it.

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Like most, I spend a good majority of my Sundays meal-prepping for the upcoming week. It makes life so much more easier. And while I like to have a variety as far as breakfast goes, I almost always prefer a good and sweet treat to start the day. 
 
Blueberries are my most absolute favorite fruit. I like to stock up on them when prices are low in the grocery store and I like to whine when prices are extremely high. This week, I happened to have 2 pints in the fridge that needed to be used soon or they were headed to the freezer where they would see Smoothie-Days in the near future. 
 
So because I had made loaf of blueberry banana bread (that recipe, soon!) and a loaf of healthy banana bread in the past two weeks, a blueberry muffin sounded perfect. Small and fluffy and easily thrown in a ziplock bag to take along to work, run errands or even have as a little mid-day snack.
 
Just make sure you remind yourself, they’re only 131 calories. That itself will feel like an accomplishment. Enjoy!
131 Calorie Blueberry Muffins
Serves 6
Low-Calorie, Delicious Blueberry Muffins. Finally, you can have more than just one!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
33 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
33 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. 1/4 cup organic honey
  6. 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  7. 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  8. 1/4 cup greek nonfat yogurt
  9. 1 large egg, beaten
  10. 3/4 cup almond milk
  11. 1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using nonstick cooking spray, grease muffin pan.
  2. 2. Combine dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Shift well.
  3. 3. In a separate bowl, combine honey and brown sugar. Use a fork to break up heavy clumps that may form. Add mashed bananas, greek yogurt and egg. Mix well.
  4. 4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well. Continue to mix together gently adding milk. Mixture at this point will feel and look doughy. Add blueberries, folding gently.
  5. 5. Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling each muffin nearly to the top. Bake for 18 minutes or lightly brown. Check to see if their done by using a toothpick. If the toothpick does not remove clean, muffins may need to cook a couple additional minutes. Be sure to supervise if so to prevent from burning.
  6. 6. Allow to cool completely on a baking rack before serving.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/