Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lightened-up Chicken Parmesan

My husband loves chicken parm and I love anything with red sauce.  I came across this section in the March issue of Food Network's magazine that compared light versions to rich versions of our cheesy Italian favorites.  Their recipe for skillet chicken parmesan inspired me to try it this week.  It had only 330 calories as compared to about 800 in the classic version.  Crazy!  I changed a few things to make it quicker and easier for the weeknight, being careful not to add any fat.  It was so incredibly delicious!  The fresh basil made a high difference.  I served the chicken parm with a side of angel hair pasta, roasted broccoli, and sauteed swiss chard.  Everyone loved it and the kids and I ate all the leftovers for lunch today.  This is a recipe I would put in my monthly rotation.  I hope you enjoy it!

And now for a moment of venting:
Today is one of those days where my patience wore off an hour ago and I'm now practicing deep breathing in an attempt to keep my cool as each new trying situation smacks me across the face. Whew! It felt good to get that off my chest. Thanks for listening.

Happy Cooking!

Lightened-up Chicken Parmesan
 recipe inspired by
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 T olive oil, plus 2 T for sauteing the chicken in batches
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally and pounded to even thickness
1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
1 jar of your favorite homemade (recipe below) or jarred marinara sauce (I used a jar of Rao's Marinara, a really high quality sauce that was on clearance at my local grocery store)
1/2 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

In a small bowl combine the panko breadcrumbs, 1 T olive oil, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese.  Stir until well combined and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and preheat your broiler.  After you have prepared the chicken breasts (as described above and pictured below - I cut mine into smaller pieces for faster cooking time), sprinkle them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. 

Saute the chicken in batches, using only 1 T of olive oil or less per batch.  Cook them about 3 min per side or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees (you can always use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat just to be on the safe side).

Take a medium sized baking dish or 9x13 inch pan and spray it with cooking spray.  Place the cooked chicken in the baking pan.  Once you have cooked all the chicken, pour the marinara sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer.  My pan was really hot and the sauce splattered everywhere.  I had to immediately cover it with a lid to prevent a huge mess.  Don't ever say I didn't warn you. ;)  Now its time to layer the flavors. 

Pour about 1/2 - 2/3 of the jarred sauce (or about 2-3 cups of homemade) over the chicken.
Now sprinkle 3/4 of the breadcrumb mixture over the sauce.

Top with the cheese, making sure to get an even layer.  You will be shocked at how far 1/2 cup of cheese can go!
And finally, the last bit of breadcrumb mixture goes on the top.  Place in the oven under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Just keep a close eye on it so that it doesn't burn.

And this is the beautiful and delicious final product!  So yummy!!!  You can smell the fresh basil and we couldn't wait to dig in!  Enjoy!!!
The other sides I served with the meal, something to please everyone: the carb lover, my kids, and the healthy veggies.  I always try to make half my meal vegetables!

The cooked angel hair tossed with the rest of the jarred sauce.
Roasted broccoli:  broccoli tossed with 1 T olive oil, salt, garlic, and juice of 1/2 lemon.  Roasted at 400 for 25 minutes.
Sauteed Swiss Chard:  1 tsp olive oil, chard, garlic, salt to taste.  Toss over medium-high heat until wilted.

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