Chicken Parmesan Casserole

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We live near a town known for its Italian food, Krebs —  also known as “Oklahoma’s Little Italy.”  It was settled by Italian immigrants years ago, who soon opened several restaurants, cafés, and shops.  In fact, two of my favorite foodie establishments are there.  Lovera’s Italian Market makes their own award winning cheeses, sauces, sausages, marinades, dressings, etc.  When I go into their shop, I want one of everything.  It’s a foodie’s dream.  My other favorite Little Italy stop is Rosanna’s Italian Food.  Their Chicken Parmesan is to die for.  Rosanna’s also makes cheesecakes from scratch.  Again, a foodie’s paradise…however this Weight Watcher has to enjoy these things in moderation.  When I’m craving Chicken Parmesan but don’t want to spend the calories or cash, I make this easy, healthy spin-off.  It’s baked instead of fried and has all the best parts of Chicken Parm, complete with that crunchy crust which makes it worthwhile.  Plus, it’s much faster and easier for busy cooks!  Serve it with spaghetti or all by itself.

͂ Erin

 

Ingredients for chicken layer:

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast – cut into small pieces

1 (29 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 packet McCormick Thick & Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix

1 T. garlic salt

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

¼ to ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I use ½ tsp. – plus I add more on my plated serving.)

Non-stick cooking spray

 

Ingredients for topping:

2 c. low moisture, part skim shredded mozzarella

2 c. panko breadcrumbs

½ c. shredded parmesan

1 ½ T. extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp. garlic salt

Basil, for garnish (optional) – I buy the chopped, lightly dried kind in the produce section

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Spread chicken pieces evenly on the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle the chicken with 1 T. garlic salt, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk McCormick seasoning packet into tomato sauce until well combined.  Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the chicken.

Sprinkle shredded mozzarella evenly over sauce; set pan aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine panko, shredded parmesan, olive oil, and ½ tsp. garlic salt.  Spread this topping evenly on top of mozzarella layer.

I usually spray a quick spritz of non-stick cooking spray over the top, to ensure even browning, but that is optional.

Bake on the center oven rack for 45-60 minutes until very bubbly and browned on the top (most importantly, until chicken is 165°F in the center).  If it starts to get too brown before fully cooked, cover loosely with foil.

Sprinkle with chopped basil before serving, if desired.

Weight Watchers info:  This recipe makes 8 servings at 8 SmartPoints each.

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May’s Chicken Salad

 

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When I first moved to the town where I currently live, there was a lovely little tea-room restaurant named after Mrs. Pawnee Bill, May Lillie.  Though the restaurant has been closed for many years, the chicken salad recipe is still a community favorite, often served at banquets, potlucks, and baby showers.  My sisters and I have made several adaptations to the original recipe, but I’d like to think that May Lillie would have served it proudly in her mansion.    ~Tracy

By the way, a visit to Pawnee Bill and May Lillie’s historic home is a must if you’re ever in our neck of the woods.  Plan your visit at:

http://www.travelok.com/listings/view.profile/id.5773  or  http://www.okhistory.org/sites/pawneebill.php     

Ingredients:

4 cups cooked and shredded chicken breast

1 small bunch green onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

1 c. chopped walnuts (pecans are fine too, but walnuts seem to best compliment this recipe)

1 c. mayonnaise (no miracle whip)

1 c. sour cream

½ c. sugar  *adjust sugar to your personal taste

 

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients in large bowl and chill.  Serve on your favorite croissant, roll, or crackers.

 

Monterey Chicken

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Posted by Erin

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie… a classic in many restaurants and diners, Monterey Chicken is always a favorite.  It’s so easy to make, there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy it at home as well!  This is one of the first dishes I made when Albert and I were newlyweds… or at least one of the first successful dishes.  It’s still on the menu at our house quite often, 14 years later.  It’s a quick and easy meal for a busy night, especially if you have the bacon precooked.  I keep cooked bacon in my freezer all the time (We love bacon!) but, if you don’t have any on hand, you can easily substitute 1 T. pre-packaged real bacon bits per chicken breast.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

6 (approx. 4 ounce each) boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded 1-inch thick

1 tsp. each of cumin, garlic salt, onion powder, and smoked paprika

1 T. olive oil

6 T. barbecue sauce

6 thin slices Colby-Jack cheese (such as Sargento Ultra Thin)

6 slices center cut bacon, cooked crisp & crumbled

1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

1 green onion, chopped

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Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large oven-safe skillet.

Season chicken breasts with cumin, garlic salt, onion powder, and paprika.

Brown the chicken in the skillet for 3 or 4 minutes on each side until no longer pink; remove from heat.

Top each chicken breast with 1 T. barbecue sauce, 1 slice cheese, and 1 slice crumbled bacon.

Sprinkle evenly with chopped tomatoes and green onions.

Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake about 5-8 minutes, until cheese is fully melted.

 

*Each loaded chicken breast is only 6 Weight Watchers SmartPoints!

Oven Barbeque Chicken

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Posted by Kathy

This recipe has been floating around our family for quite some time.  It is quite simple to prepare and get into the oven on a busy night.  The homemade barbeque sauce is the perfect mix of tangy and sweet.  We are certain this will be a family favorite of yours soon too!

 

Ingredients:

4 to 6 large chicken breasts cut into thirds (as equal in size as possible)

3 T. oil

1/3 c. sliced onion

3 T. butter

¾ c. catsup

1/3 c. apple cider vinegar

¼ c. molasses

1/3 c. water

2 T. prepared mustard

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 clove garlic, pressed (or ½ tsp garlic powder)

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350˚

Spray a 9×13 glass baking dish with non-stick spray.

Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper.

Place oil in large skillet.  Brown chicken in hot oil on each side.  Remove to plate.

Add butter into skillet. S auté onion in the butter until soft.  Add remaining ingredients to skillet.  Simmer sauce about 15 minutes, uncovered.

Place chicken pieces into baking dish and cover with sauce.  Bake 45-60 minutes, basting occasionally, until chicken is cooked through.

Chicken South of the Border

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Posted by Robin

If I’m pressed to name my favorite entrée (let’s be real; my favorite food is a tie between several kinds of dessert), this has to be it.  I think it’s beg-for-it-for-your-birthday level good — and I’m pretty sure I did just that a few times as a kid.

This is a very Tex-Mex kind of dish.  But what could be better for Cinco de Mayo, the holiday mooostly celebrated in the US?

Speaking of celebrating, this dish does pair quite nicely with a margarita on the rocks. I may have to cook this favorite myself now (most of the time), but being a grown up does have some perks!

Before we get into the recipe, there’s something you have to know.  Cheese whiz is part of this recipe.  Before you run screaming for the hills, just hear me out.  I know it’s not usually the most appealing ingredient, but I promise it’s perfect for this dish.  You could use Velveeta, but I tell you it’s just not the same (I’ve tried it and was disappointed).  Also, you’ll have such great 80s memories flash back — Fastback tennis shoes (somebody out there remembers those; don’t try to deny it), plus jellies shoes, mix tapes, and leg warmers, oh my!

Ingredients for Cornmeal Fried Chicken:

4 chicken cutlets, pounded flat

1 c. flour

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. cumin

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. salt

6 beaten eggs

1 to 1 ½ c. cornmeal

Ingredients for Salsa:

2 c. diced canned tomatoes, drained (which will probably be about 1.5 cans once drained)

1 small white onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. lime juice

1-3 jalapeños, diced (depending on heat pref. – I use 3)

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. garlic salt

¼ c. cilantro, chopped (optional—I love cilantro)

Other Ingredients:  

1 15 oz. jar of cheese whiz

Vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions:

For salsa, in a medium bowl, start with diced canned tomatoes, drained. Add onion, green pepper, garlic, jalapeños, lime juice, salt, garlic salt, and cilantro (if desired).  Refrigerate.

Combine flour and seasoning in a medium (cereal bowl size is fine for these) bowl.  In a medium sized separate bowl, beat eggs slightly.  In a separate medium sized bowl, place cornmeal.  Set aside.

Trim any fat from chicken.  Place vegetable oil, about a half inch deep, in a deep frying pan on medium heat.

To coat each piece of chicken to prepare for cooking, dredge through flour mixture, egg, flour mix again, egg again, then cornmeal.  Gently place directly into hot oil.  Cook a few minutes on each side — until cooked through and cornmeal is a nice golden color.  Try not to turn it too often, as you don’t want to knock off that delicious batter. (Chicken should reach 165 degrees in center.)

As you cook chicken, set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Microwave a few servings of cheese whiz in a bowl, heating to liquid for 20 seconds at a time, then stirring each time.  (Do not look directly at the cheese whiz at this stage until it’s fully melted if you can avoid it.  Not pretty as a solid, but it will be good on your chicken once it’s melted. Really.) 🙂

To serve, plate chicken.  Spoon the piping hot cheese whiz over chicken.  Top with salsa.  Enjoy the magic.  And maybe a margarita.

Spicy Italian Chicken & Artichoke Pasta

All four of us love spicy food, and if you do too, you’ll know how annoying it is that most things marked “spicy” in restaurants are really fairly bland.  After many frustrating Italian restaurant visits (thank goodness for Tiramisu), Robin and Barry decided to come up with their own perfect pasta. Barry tinkered in the kitchen, ending up with a hybrid of some favorite Italian dishes.  This creamy, savory pasta is serious comfort food.  And the best part is, we can set some aside for the kids — or guests with low-spice-tolerant palates — and (cayenne!!!) pepper our portions to our hearts’ content.  

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Ingredients:

4-6 chicken tenders, depending on size, diced

1/4 cup canned sliced mushrooms, drained (we use Giorgio)

1/2 cup dry, julienned sun dried tomatoes (thoroughly rinsed if packed in oil)*

1 15-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained, then quartered  

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

2 cloves minced fresh garlic (could use jarred garlic, but we prefer fresh)

3 T. butter

For Sauce:

1 15-oz. jar roasted garlic Alfredo sauce (We use Classico)

1 ½  cups finely shredded parmesan cheese

⅓ cup milk

¼ to ¾ tsp. of cayenne pepper, aka “red pepper” (depending on heat preference)

8 oz. farfalle (bowtie pasta) — half the box of Barilla that we usually use

3-4 sliced green onions

Instructions: 

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*The Bella Sun Luci sun-dried tomatoes pictured here are strongly recommended…far superior to those packed in oil both in terms of mess and flavor as far as we’re concerned, but if you’ve found a favorite that’s in oil, that’ll do too!  We normally do fresh garlic, but this is the jarred brand we use if the pantry is lacking the fresh variety.  If you’ve never bought fresh garlic, it keeps much longer than you’d think.

Prepare farfalle per box instructions.

In a small pot, put all sauce ingredients on low heat, stir occasionally while preparing chicken portion (be sure not to let it stick).  

In a large skillet heat butter and garlic on low. Add chicken and Italian seasoning. Increase heat to medium. When chicken begins to brown, add mushrooms, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes, heat on medium high for two to three minutes. Add sauce. Simmer for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally.

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At this point, it’s hard not to just eat this as is, but it’s worth the wait to put it all together.

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Serve over farfalle; top with green onions.  We like to add a little more ground cayenne pepper too, both for a touch of color and, of course, some spice.