Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Chicken

sundried tomato pesto pasta

Hi folks! I do believe it’s been awhile since my last post- my husband and I did some traveling to a wedding in Virginia and also visited DC for a quick trip which I will be sharing soon. However today I wanted to highlight a delicious recipe I made for me and the hubs this past weekend. I currently follow the Food Network’s facebook page and saw that they had shared Giada’s recipe for pasta with homemade sun-dried tomato pesto. I decided to make it while also adding some meat to be more appealing to my husband 🙂

As you can see, I went with the Barilla plus penne pasta (as I used before with my balsamic basil summer pasta recipe)… it was on sale again this week at my grocery store and since I enjoy the texture and added protein and fiber, why not? 🙂 You may also note that I didn’t have any freshly grated Parmesan but instead using some leftovers in our fridge by Sargento.

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As far as protein goes, I went with chicken breast cutlets, though I think that chicken sausage or similar would be just as delicious.  I added sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and garlic powder to each side of the chicken and then brushed the tops with olive oil to seal in the moisture while roasting. I had 1 lb of chicken breast cutlets roasting at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes.

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While my chicken was roasting and my pasta was cooking according to package directions, I started to create the pesto. I added the whole jar of sundried tomatoes, including the olive oil it was packed in.

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Next I thoroughly washed the 2 packs of basil I bought- at first I only washed enough for the “1 cup packed” that the original recipe called for but then went with using both packages.

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Add your basil, garlic, and salt & pepper to food processor and give it a go!

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It doesn’t look like it yields very much to go over the pasta but I had to remind myself that I would also be using the 1 cup reserved pasta water to moisten the mix (in the end, I ended up using about 1/2-3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water for this dish)

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Mix in your pasta as well as some of the reserved pasta water to your liking.

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Along with the Parmesan cheese, I added some additional sea salt and black pepper to taste…I also chopped up the cooked chicken (I used kitchen shears) and mixed it in as well.

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I forgot to take a picture after this, but I decided to sprinkle about 1/4 cup of additional Parmesan cheese on top and baked this in the oven (at 375 degrees since my oven was still set there from the chicken) for about 20 minutes prior to eating with my hubs 🙂

I really hope you like this recipe— looking back in hindsight, I wish I had added more garlic but overall I really liked this dish. I think I ended up using a good bit of the pasta water since I knew in the back of my head that I would be sticking this in the oven and did not want the pasta to dry out. I like the fact that this isn’t an abundantly sauced pasta and it provides a lot of great flavor. My husband said it was so filling and flavorful without feeling overly rich or heavy— I will consider that a win! 🙂

RECIPE

Giada De Laurentiis’ Penne with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Recipe (with a few additions from Sheena :))

Ingredients
12 ounces penne pasta
1 (8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
Garlic powder
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb chicken breast cutlets (or any other meat that you would like to add)

Directions
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. While pasta is cooking, prepare chicken breast cutlets by adding to lightly greased cookie sheet— sprinkle chicken on each side with sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Brush tops of chicken with olive oil prior to roasting in oven at 375 for about 15 minutes or until reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Cut cooked chicken into bite sized pieces and add to pasta mixture. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt, black pepper, and red pepper. If desired, sprinkle about 1/4 cup shredded/grated Parmesan on top and bake in oven f0r 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

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4th of July Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

Hi friends! Today I wanted to share a few quick tips to help you keep up healthy habits during the 4th of July holiday. Cookouts are infamous for copious amounts of red meat, alcohol, and high calorie side items; luckily though, cookouts also provide great opportunity for enjoying fresh veggies and fruit, especially on a hot day!

  • Do NOT show up to the get together famished.  Though “saving up your calories for the big meal” sounds like a great idea, it can do more harm than good by setting you up to eat overly large portions.If your cookout or gathering is at lunch, make sure to have breakfast beforehand….if it’s in the evening, have a light breakfast and lunch- you get the idea 🙂 Having a snack 30 minutes to an hour before eating can help avoid eating “with your eyes” and let you take your time to enjoy the foods that you really want to eat.
  • Eat slowly…take at least 15-20 minutes to consume your meal. It takes about 15-20 minutes for our brain and stomach to communicate that we’ve eaten something and give that full feeling. Often times, we end up eating so quickly, that within the first 5 minutes of eating, we’ve already eaten the volume of food it takes for our stomach to feel full BUT since the brain and stomach haven’t had time to communicate yet, we keep on eating and eating until about 20 minutes later we feel that “overfull” feeling (I call it gross full or that level of fullness that makes us want to unbutton our jeans or take off our Spanx). Putting the fork down in between every bite of food or taking a sip of a low calorie beverage between bites can help you pace your eating.
  • Build your plate using the plate planner method: 1/2 of your plate as veggies, 1/4 of your plate with starch, and 1/4 of your plate with protein (try also using a smaller plate if available). Often times we make about 3/4 of our plate something starchy like mac n cheese and potato salad with a hunk of meat on the side and no veggies in sight. Making a plate that has non-starchy vegetables as the star can help you feel full (from the water and fiber content of the veggies) without excessive calorie intake. This brings me to my next point…
  • Eat the ‘healthiest foods’ first. Having those veggies full of water and fiber can help slow digestion and provide that feeling of fullness. Additionally, having something that contains protein and some fat (maybe in the form of olive oil in a salad dressing) can help you feel full sooner.
  • Make sure to drink ample amounts of water throughout the day. If your cookout is outside, chances are you may get dehydrated more quickly outside due to the heat. If your “non-water” beverages contain alcohol or caffeine, these can also exacerbate the need for water due to their natural diuretic effects. If you need to be more convinced on the need to hydrate in the heat or strategies for naturally flavoring your water, check this out. Also, if you’re wanting to be mindful of calories from alcohol, be sure to look at my previous article comparing calories from different types of alcoholic beverages.
  • Be mindful of foods that do not provide fullness. Potato chips, crackers, and other types of refined carbohydrates can pack on unnecessary calories without providing a sensation of fullness. This can lead to mindless eating of these munchies. Instead, choose items that have a high water and fiber content, like a salad or some fresh fruit. If you want something salty, having an item with protein such as peanut butter, nuts, or hummus can be a nice option.
  • Try to be active during the day. Sure after eating a big plate of food, we totally want to crash on the couch. Instead, think about going for a family/friends walk in the afternoon or playing a game of flag football. These activities can keep you from being sedentary during the day and also allow you to socialize with your friends and family you’ve been wanting to spend time with 🙂

I hope you find these quick tips helpful 🙂 Please feel free to share your own strategies when it comes to holiday eating. And for those of you doing some traveling for this summer holiday, please check out a post from my fabulous RD friend, Cindy at Newlywed Nutrition— she has some great tips for eating healthy on the road including the best choices at gas stations as well as how to pack snacks for your car.

Happy 4th of July, friends!


My Recipes Nutrition Search

myrecipes search

Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or any other chronic health condition that makes you more conscious of the calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, sodium, etc. in the foods that you eat? If you do, I invite you to check out the awesome nutrition search at www.myrecipes.com. Just click on the nutrition search as seen below and this will take you to this nifty page. You can search for recipes based on your health needs and set parameters for calories, fat, fiber, cholesterol, etc. How cool is that? ANNNDDD….many of these recipes are pulled from Cooking Light and tested by their very own registered dietitians.  Have any of you ever used this before?


Cranberry, Chicken, and BRIE Pizza

Cranberry chicken and brie pizza

Cranberry, chicken, and brie pizza. All I have to say about today’s recipe is “OH MY DAD…THIS IS DELICIOUS!”  It’s almost not fair to put “…and Brie” in the recipe title especially since I have a love affair with this delicious cheese. If you’re a fan of baked brie with fruit preserves or the taste profile of savory and sweet in general, this is a recipe I would definitely recommend. It’s been about 3 years since I’ve made this particular pizza but after having some baked brie recently at one of my book clubs (shoutout to Sarah for being a fellow brie lover!) and my best friend Sally getting married next week (Sally first introduced me to this recipe around 2009) AND I wanted to make something different for dinner for my husband, this cranberry, chicken, and brie pizza seemed like a great (yummy) choice. I do want to mention that another reason I did this recipe is because I’d really like to do a recipe redux on this sometime…acknowledging the fact that brie is a high fat creamy cheese, this pizza would classify as something yummy every now and again (hence it being 3 years since I’ve made it 🙂 )

As far as chicken for this recipe goes, I really don’t think you could go wrong with whatever kind of chicken you use. If I had a leftover rotisserie, I would have probably opted to do that, but since I didn’t I decided to pick some raw breast up at the store. Some recipes I’ve seen in the past recommend buying two chicken breasts, cutting it up into cubes and then cooking stove top in a pan until done. My grocery store had a good deal on some chicken breast cutlets, thin sliced, so I added salt, pepper, and garlic powder (I really like the flavor the garlic powder brings in the chicken) on both sides of the chicken and then lightly brushed a layer of olive oil on the top to seal in the moisture to prevent this white meat from drying out while in the oven. You’ll noticed that there’s 4 pieces of chicken on my pan… by the time all was said and done, I actually only ended up using 2 pieces of chicken for the pizza.

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While my chicken was roasting I sliced up my brie… I used about 7 ounces based on the wedge I bought from the grocery store (o.47 lbs) but I think that you could get away with using less…about 6 oz or so.

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After my chicken was done I proceeded to cut it up into bite sized pieces.

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Since this was a last minute dinner idea, I didn’t have time to make my pizza dough from scratch and instead opted to use a Pillsbury pizza dough. Their dough calls for you to prebake it for 8 minutes prior to adding toppings.

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When you’re ready to add toppings, you’ll add about 1/2 -3/4 can of cranberry sauce…some recipes call for about 1 1/2 cups of cranberry sauce but I find that to be a little too much and can get watery very easily. You can also use your own cranberry sauce made from scratch 🙂

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Next add your brie and chicken… you’ll see that I probably could have gotten away with using less brie.

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We had a large bag of dried cranberries from Sams Club/Costco so I added a handful of those as well.

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Next you’ll top off your pizza with a little bit of Mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of dried Rosemary.

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You’ll follow your pizza crust’s baking instructions for the appropriate cook time…mine took an additional 13-14 minutes after the crust prebake.

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And tada! Pretty tasty and pretty simple 🙂 Below I’ve added the recipe for your use, and a Pinterest worthy picture for you to use to share the love 🙂

Cranberry, Chicken, and Brie Pizza

Ingredients
2 chicken breast cutlets, thin sliced (can also use about 1-1 1/2 cups of  any chopped chicken you have)
1 Pillsbury pizza crust (or your own recipe)
1-14oz can whole cranberry sauce or about 1-1 1/2 cups homemade cranberry sauce
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 oz Brie cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 Tb dried Rosemary
1 Tb garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees for chicken cutlets. On a foil lined baking sheet, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to both sides of chicken cutlets, brushing top of chicken with olive oil to seal moisture in- roast chicken for approximately 15 minutes or until 165 degrees internally. While chicken is cooking, slice Brie into bite sized pieces, followed by chopping chicken into bite sized pieces once cooked. Pre-bake Pillsbury crust by package directions at 425 degrees for about 8 minutes. After pre-bake, add cranberry sauce to crust— about 1/2-3/4 of the can. Next top with chopped chicken, brie, and dried cranberries. Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese and dried Rosemary on top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Pizza Collage