Chicken Parmesan

chickparm4Don’t shun me. Please. Although I’ve really shunned myself, but I’m back.

This right here has become my New Year’s Resolution. I used to post 2-3 times a week, and now…well I don’t even know. The better part of last year was a little rough. I stopped eating all Gluten and Dairy products in hopes of fixing my lil’ Claire tummy issues. After several months of remaining about 90% true to the former, I’ve been slowly able to bring a few of those items back into my diet. Although limited, it’s nice to ONLY be able to just eat…meat and vegetables. Ha!

I’ve spent the better part of this last year building my career, kicking butts, and taking names. I absolutely must rejuvenate my culinary creativity, because those protein bars aren’t really cutting it in the expressive department.

I could easily write pages and pages about my personal life, but this is a food blog, not a me blabbing blog so, as you were-

I thought I would do a “Welcome Back” with an oldie but a goodie Italian Chicken Parmesan.chickparm2

If you have all the right ingredients, this can be from prep to table easily in 40 minutes. Lay it all out so you’re ready to go from one thing to the next and boom! I would recommend a stove top to oven safe skillet if you have one, or even better, a cast iron. (Cast-iron is also your secret weapon for perfect pancakes…totally unrelated. Who’s surprised?)

Chicken Parmesan
(For 2)

*If you read almost any Chicken Parm recipe ever, it will tell you pound out to flatten out two chicken breasts. A quick cheat to this, is just to take a larger chicken breast and slice it lengthwise (carefully of course).

1 Large Chicken Breast, sliced lengthwise
2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp garlic

1 can of peel tomatoes + 1 tsp olive oil: blend in a food processor + 1/4 tsp salt+ 1/4 tsp pepper
1 can/jar of tomato sauce + 1 tsp olive oil+ 1/4 tsp salt+ 1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup of mozzarella
2 tbsp. parsley

1. In a skillet or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium. If it starts to smoke it’s too hot. You want it to sizzle if water touches it.
2. While the oil heats, you want to soak the chicken in milk with about 1/8 tsp of each salt and pepper.
3. In another dish coming the flour+ 1/8 tsp salt+1/8 tsp pepper+1/2 tsp parsley+1/4 tsp chili powder+1/4 tsp ginger+1/4 tsp garlic.
4. Starting with piece one, dredge the soaked piece in flour, then back into the milk for a second dip, back into the flour another one last time. Repeat with 2nd piece. Set off to the site until the oil is hot enough.
5. Shallow pan fry about 1-2 minutes each side. Then set aside.
6. Preheat oven to 375. Turn down stove top to low. If it’s too hot your sauce will bubble (spit)
7. While the oven heats, whip out your pan you used to fry the chicken with just a paper towel. Place back on the heat and add your sauce ingredients minus the mozzarella and parsley.
8. Warm sauce on stove top until oven is ready at 375. Place your chicken breasts lightly on top in the sauce, top with mozzarella, and bake for about 15 minutes.

Serve with pasta of your choice.

xoxo : Claire <3


GF/DF Italian Sausage & Brown Rice Soup

sausagekalesoup1Soups on! I want to jolt back to 2010, when I probably could have written a book just about anything delectable that goes into a bowl, slurped up with a spoon! THAT was a seriously cold and snowy winter. So much cold, means so much soup that needs to be in my belly :). Tom Yum, Cream of Mushroom, Creamy Potato, Chicken Noodle, Chili, Chicken Tortilla, Cheeseburger Soup. What a great year was that!!

Well, since the world started spinning reverse on its axis, and I can’t eat anything awesome without my stomach paying the price and feeling like crap for the next day and a half. No more creamy delicious soups for me (unless I’m inhaling Lactase pills to compensate)!  Woe-is-me!
On the bright side, this has just jet-streamed an alternate path of creative juices, to pair new ingredients together, as well as attempting new recipes not yet conquered or developed!

Mass prepping and left over ingredients are becoming an absolute must for me. I work late, I work out late, and get home later. By the time I step thru the door it’s typically pushing 8pm. That then leaves 3 hours to make dinner, clean the kitchen, wind (or WINE) down, and sit for about an hour before going to bed. I’m exhausted just writing that.

Leftover Italian Sausage, yellow and orange peppers, charred poblano peppers from stuff mushrooms really turned out to be a great idea for a sore throat, coughing, hacking, sick….me.

Fat burner, belly warming delight in a bowl. Boom. This is one of those dishes that isn’t the best thing you’ve ever tasted in your life. Nor should it be. Everyone’s taste is a little dulled when they’re under the weather. Broth, veggies, and a little kick of Italian Sausage seems like a good way to kick the end of this cold. It was. Soup ya!

Italian Sausage & Kale Soup
(serving size, 2)

3 cups of chicken broth
1 cup ground Italian Sausage, cooked
1/2 cup brown rice, prepared.
1/2 yellow bell pepper diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
6 Bella mushroom, chopped
1/4 cup kale, chopped

1. Cook your brown rice, this will take 30-45 min
2. Brown Italian Sausage in sauce pan
3. In the same saucepan, on medium heat, dump the rest all in!
2. Simmer for 30 minutes, or as long as it takes your brown rice to cook
3. Poach an egg
4. Dump soup in bowl, add two tablespoons of brown rice to each bowl, and place poached egg in the middle.

GF Seared Sausage & Kale Salad

searedsausagekalesaladSince being on quite a restrictive diet, anything green seems to now find its way into almost every one of my meals. Not the worst thing in the world, as you can imagine. However, one can only eat…so many salads before you really need to change it up, purely to prevent insanity. They’re great in a bind, especially if you’re tired or short on time since compiling a salad typically isn’t overly time-consuming. Obviously since a normal salad was easy, I decided to throw a fork into the equation and step it up a notch with a few extra ingredients.

Albeit still not difficult, this one does need just a little bit more prep time, and a sharp knife :)

I think at this point, everyone has at least heard of quinoa, if not tried it. I have found a very noticeable difference in toasting the quinoa in the oven for about 5 minutes previous to boiling it. It gives it almost a bid of a toasted almond, nutty taste, otherwise personally, I find it a little flavorless on it’s own.

Cilantro, tomatoes, sausage, kale, jalapeno, quinoa, egg over easy? Did someone just list all of my favorite things..and then throw them in a bowl? Oh wait, I did. I don’t know if I can really say this is a unique recipe. I was going thru the pantry and fridge and noticed many of my favorite things all staring back at me. It seemed like a good idea to really just throw them all together, see what happens. My Dad basically stirs his plate of favorite things together on Thanksgiving and Christmas, isn’t this kind of the same thing?
Look at this delicious recipe I created with, each ingredient, independently able to stand on its own, combined with other such like ingredients to create a perfectly paired and balanced dish. See what I did there? I pretended to create something, instead of dropping all those stellar ingredients into the same bowl :) It’s like magic (it’s not).
Just a note, I didn’t just use any sausage I think this is really a big part of what gives this extra character and finesse. I use sausages locally, such a variety of flavor combinations, that I usually rotate based on what intrigues me that particular trip to the store.  The ones for this episode were Jalapeno Sausage, with onion, peppers, and assorted spices. There is also a chicken/potato one that will just stop you in your tracks I really enjoy. For prep, they’re pre-cooked so you really just need to heat them. I slice them at an angle and then sear them in a non-stick pan.

I cook the egg over easy in the same pan, because the combined sausage and egg drippings…are super phenomenal. The little fat from the sausage is pretty fwa-pow. The drippings come out to be just under a tablespoon, the perfect dressing to mesh with the egg yolk! #love

Seared Sausage & Kale Salad

1 1/2 cup kale, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup tomato, chopped
2 tbsp jalapeno, chopped
1/4 cup of prepared Quinoa, toasted then cooked
1 Sausage link, sliced then seared
1 egg, cooked over easy
Sriracha, and pan drippings for dressing

(other items I didn’t add, but would in case you have them on hand, sliced mushroom, red onion, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes)


1. Really? It’s a salad. Just kidding, (kind of )
2. Toast quinoa, then boil for 20 minutes (cook according to package)
3. While the quinoa is cooking chop your kale, cilantro, tomato, and jalapeno.
4. You don’t want the quinoa hot, so when it’s finished, remove from heat and fluff with a fork several times. While cooling, slice the sausage at an angle about 1/2″ thick. Sear on each side for 2 minutes on medium heat.
5. Set sausage aside to cool. Plate all ingredients.
6. Spray pan with non-stick spray and cook egg, over easy.
7. Add the sausage, egg, the pan drippings, and drizzle with sriracha.searedsausagekalesalad2

GF/DF Black Bean Soup

blackbean2This month, as you know, is Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free for me! I’ve caved a few times, not gonna lie. Some of them may, or may not have been after a bottle of wine…or because I’m pretty the bag of chips  started speaking to me (I ate 3…lol). Although it’s been a challenge to completely change my diet, I feel SO much better than before I started it. I was just sick to my stomach, EVERY time I ate, and I definitely feel more alert and not tired during the day.

This lifestyle change is absolutely inconvenient, haha! It’s almost impossible to snack, and breakfast has been a real challenge which is heartbreaking, since it’s my favorite meal. I really miss my eggs+french toast…like, a lot.
Or…my homemade Pepperoni Egg-McMuffins. Sad.
The flip side of feeling better is just about worth it though :) I don’t miss feeling like a filled up balloon all the time, and dropping 10 lbs since last week didn’t exactly break my heart either! Heading to Mexico in a couple of weeks, so getting the summer bod back is an absolute necessity!

Going out to eat-is a pain in the butt, and tempting, so I’ve been staying home…A LOT. I miss being able to pick out anything on the menu, and the only things I want are things I’m not supposed to have. I try to force my eyeballs immediately move to the salad section, and I try not to glance around any further for fear of ordering and eating a whole plate of french fries.

I’ve found myself coming home and getting irritated that I haven’t planned ahead enough for dinner. Having something thawed out, or recently purchased and ready to go is not something I’m real skilled at :) I’m a professional “wing it” kind of dinner person.  I’m going to have to start pre-planning my weeks a little better, remembering to plan meals so I have things already thawed out, or make my trips to the grocery store verify specific to that week, so everything is fresh.

A night this week, I stumbled in the door after a long day at work, I was exhausted from the gym, and starving. I wanted someone to make ME dinner… but that ain’t gonna happen, so I started fumbling thru the cabinets. Everything convenient (aka awesome) was pasta, cheese, or pizza related. I just stood there aimlessly staring at the same items in the pantry and fridge…for a good 15 minutes, by minute 14 I was convinced that God actually hated me for taking all my favorite things away. After checking the fridge now…for the 13th time, my eyes finally set on a Tupperware of beans I’d soaked the night before in attempts to try dried black beans for the first time. hmmmm….

I’d eaten enough salads to bore a cow this week, and it was an entire 3 degrees outside… and then….* light bulb *. SOUP. Boom, on it.
Black bean soup, is just so…different. It is its own category of soup. I’m not even real particular about the consistency, since there are so many varieties of thin to creamy.
I glanced around online at a few recipes and then just started playing around in the kitchen- which turned into a fantastic new recipe!!
Awesome new recipe accident? Check. This was phenomenal.
The in-depth flavor profile completely took me by surprise. For me, what really made this one a home run, was coffee. Weird right? I’d used a little instant coffee packet the day before for a protein shake additive, and had a half packet leftover-which just gave me a little wink in the cabinet. The warm simple flavors were good, but the coffee really brought it around and turned it into decadent dish. It doesn’t overpower anything, but you can taste the resonance at the end of your spoon, it’ll make you happy. Promise

Black Bean Soup
Serves 2
2 cups Black Beans, cooked. This is a half pound of dried.
(I soaked mine overnight in water, and then boiled them for 10 minutes) I would not recommend using canned here, they won’t stand up as well.
1/2 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups of beef broth
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
2 jalapenos, slice in half, remove the seeds
1 tsp oil (I used sesame oil)
1/2 packet of single serving instant coffee
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
s/p to taste

1. Take the black beans you soaked overnight, and boil them for about 10 minutes if they’re not tender enough and drain
2. In your pot, add oil, garlic, and onion on medium heat, let cook for about 10 minutes, then add the beans back in
3. Dump in the rest of the ingredients (that was easy…wasn’t it)
4. Simmer for about 20 minutes
5. In your food processor or blender, blend! Add back into your pan and simmer again for 5 minutes to bring the temperature back up.
** You can pick your consistency here, if you want to thin it out, just add more water/or broth!

Gluten-Free (GF) January


So I love food, this isn’t exactly news. Well Baby Jesus 2015 must dislike me, because every time I consume something exciting, aka bread/pasta or milk/cheese based I want to keel over. After much research,  I’ve been instructed to clear my system of both and then introduce back in one at a time to see if it could be a slight gluten or dairy intolerance. Let’s hope it’s neither, but in light of the situation, I figured it would be a great time to play in the GF playground for the month of January.

I know it’s a double hit, but you’ll see little to none dairy aspects this month as well as I try to clear my system. If anything it’ll at least be a great recipe learning experience! Starting the new year with some clean-eating isn’t the worst idea either! Greens and protein here I come!

Happy New Year!

:) Claire

Lasagna Rolls

lazrolls2This is one of my absolute go-to recipes, I can’t believe I’ve never posted about it. It’s in our regular rotation, and a perfect winter comfort meal. I love that it’s made in easy single-dish servings, making it easy to pack and go. Plus, have you ever tried to reheat lasagna and did it too quickly or on too high of heat? The outside it’s crazy hot, and the inside…ice cold. How to you reheat something that burnt your mouth, then cooled it in the same go? Ya, I have no idea either- that’s why I like these, they make me look less…stupid.

No one makes better lasagna than my Mom. I don’t know what she does that’s different, I’ve never even tried to learn, but it’s- just – different. I can only think of one reasonable excuse for my lack of attempt… and that’s because I’m not trying to feed an army of people, and I don’t want to have leftovers for an entire week, of the same meal. To avoid overkill on one of my memories of her recipe,  I’ll be proactive and just keep letting her make it when I come home :)

We use cottage cheese in my family instead of ricotta, but feel free to swap out whatever you prefer. I think store-bought ricotta is absolutely disgusting, so if you’re feeling adventurous… try my Homemade Ricotta. I really like putting left-over ricotta in my oatmeal. Is that legal? It’s a cheese technically, but somehow it just works. A dash of cinnamon won’t hurt your feelings either. Promise.

Just a heads up, the first time you make these, you’re going to burn your fingers on the noodles, and make an absolute mess of your noodle space. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out :) Here are some tips for the above mentioned.

**When cooking the noodles, take them out about 2-3 minutes before they’re cooking time. You want them a little firmer, this helps the noodles not break apart, and avoids overcooking them in the oven.
Strain the noodles, then use tongs to lay them on a large cutting board, or where ever your placing them…or “you’ll burn your fingers”.
**Anti-mess tips- sauce, meat, cheese mixture. Roll firm, but not too tight, and don’t over-fill, or you’ll have all kinds of stuff fall out. Also known as lasagna splooge.

**Cottage Cheese Haters- Have someone in your family that doesn’t like cottage cheese? No problem, put the egg/cottage cheese mixture in a food processor. Hides the texture and traditional taste. Also, it gives it a similar ricotta fluffy texture.lazrolls1


–Also a great recipe to cut in half!

Lasagna Rolls

8 Lasagna Noodles
1 Large can/jar of sauce (I used Hunt’s brand because the large can’s are just too hard to beat, and they’re under a dollar)
1/2-3/4 lb of hamburger or sausage, browned
1 1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 Egg
4 handfuls of shredded mozzarella, this is about 2 cups
1/4 tsp of s&p
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp ground or flaked oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley

1. Start to brown your hamburger or sausage in a saute pan.
2. While meat is cooking, boil the noodles in a large, wide, sauce pan. Cut their cook time short by 2-3 minutes. You want them al-dente if not 1 minute less.
3. Drain the pasta after its done cooking, I lay them out on a large cutting board. If you don’t have one try parchment paper, so that it saves you the mess, and the noodles don’t stick.
4. Prepare a 9 x 13 dish (I used glass) and spread about 1/4 cup of sauce on the bottom.
5. While the noodles cool a bit, mix your cottage cheese mix either with a fork or in the food processor. Mix together the cottage cheese, egg, mozzarella, s/p, red pepper, paprika, basil, oregano, and parsley.
6. Two tablespoons or so of each in order, sauce, meat, cheese mixture. Leave an inch at the end of each noodle for rolling up.
7. Place noodles seam side down, cover with remainder of the sauce, and two more handfuls of cheese.
8. Bake at 350 covered for 30-35 minutes.

Pumpkin Bars

pumpkinbars2I love this time of year, pumpkin EVERYTHING, in any form. It’s so wonderful in everything you put it in, how can we only use it (in a social/seasonally acceptable fashion) only two months out of the year? TELL ME WHY?!

I’m going to have to just give up Pumpkin Pie completely, because these are just absolutely ridiculous-my tighter jeans said so. I literally can’t not eat more than three at a time. I didn’t even attempt to make these healthy, but I’ll give it another go soon to cut out some of the sugar and go easier on the frosting, so stay tuned.

I’m an absolute freak, for making things harder on myself than should be. Taking something to a potluck or gathering for instance. I almost always pick something to bring that is ridiculously labor intensive (individual or bite size servings in large quantities), or something that needs to be piping hot, or appropriately chilled to be served at best. Why do I do this, why?! I’m trying to learn my lesson, and not cause so much un-needed food stress. (woe-is-me-right?)

Well here is the answer to every single one of those problems. These bars are easy, quick to bake, easy to frost, and they can be chilled or at room temp. What could make these better, but cream cheese frosting?! Yep, it’s got that too. Cream cheese frosting in any instance is great at locking in the moisture of the cake/bars.
Cream Cheese Frosting two-part awesome factor-
1. Cream cheese is dense, when you pair that with locking these up air tight, it makes your bars last so much longer, locking in all that moisture.
2. When you chill bars, whether same day, or as leftovers (because it’s dairy, fridge it!) and then serve them again later, as they come to room temp, some of the cream cheese starts soaking in to the bars. Extra yum factor.

This was my first jelly roll pan (12×17) experience. Love it, will do again! I wanted them more bar-like than cake-like (9×13) in a rectangular cake pan, bars are so much easier to get out of jelly roll pan than a cake pan! But either is great, so just use whatever you have on hand, or prefer. I feel like in my jelly roll pan I can eat more, stretching it out! Course…I’m not supposed to eat the whole pan alone- I’m pretty much doing that.

I LOVE November, December, and everything holiday, and I HATE eating moderately these two months. It is absolutely zero fun. So in honor of kicking off Thanksgiving week, lots of football, Family and Friendsgiving’s, eating till you explode and excessive amounts of wine, let’s celebrate with a basic pumpkin bar recipe. There really isn’t a lot of variation of them floating around, unless you start adding in different ingredients. Sometimes it’s better to just stick with keeping it simple, and not over-complicating what’s already great! (Isn’t that true in life sometimes too?)

**I can’t wait to re-post my healthier version in a couple weeks! Enjoy!! (I am…still)

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 15oz can of Libby’s Pumpkin
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup veg or canola oil

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 nutmeg
3 tsp cinnamon

7 oz. cream cheese, softened– I know, you can use the whole package, I just think it makes it too much frosting, people tend to start scraping it off
5 tbsp. of butter, softened
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 C powdered sugar

1. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
2. Whisk together oil, eggs, sugar and pumpkin.
3. Pour into a greased (buttered, floured. Or, sprayed, then floured) 12 x 17 jelly roll pan or 9 x 13 cake pan.
4. Bake at 350 for 24 minutes in the jelly roll pan (35 minutes in the 9×13). Make sure when you remove from the oven to set it on a wire rack or something that allows air flow to the bottom of the pan.

Cream all ingredients until smooth. Add the powdered sugar in 4 sessions slow so it doesn’t explode all over your kitchen.
Wait about 20 minutes or until cooled to frost.pumpkinbars1