WIAW: Chicken Picatta

wiaw

Another WIAW!  These are probably becoming my favorite kind of post to write (after my travel recaps of course, not much can compete with reliving those trips!).  I’m trying to incorporate more recipes on the blog, and this was my first round of trying to create and photograph a recipe.  Let me tell you, trying to juggle a camera and a pot of hot boiling water is not as easy as it might seem.  I TOTALLY wanted to get a really cool action shot of water pouring and it did not happen.  Not even close.  How does the Pioneer Woman do it?

One of my favorite throw together meals is chicken picatta, but it can be hard to make when I’m watching calories or points.  I played around with the ratios of ingredients in the WW recipe calculator and think it turned out really good!  It’s healthy but still has the integrity of actually tasting like chicken picatta.  I’m pretty picky about healthy food substitutes (hard pass on cauliflower crust pizza or mashed cauliflower here), but I feel like this dish doesn’t TASTE like a healthy substitute.

But let’s start from the beginning:

I had one of my favorite breakfasts today, a yogurt bowl.  This one had 0% Fage greek yogurt, 1/2 c of sliced strawberries, 1 tsp of honey, and 1/2 c of Lean Way (the Harris Teeter brand knockoff of Kashi Go Lean 🙂 )  I also had some unpictured coffee with Coffee-mate Naturals Sweet Cream.  8 SP total.


I drank my usual 37 cups of hot tea at work.  At this point I drink tea as a survival technique to maintain my body heat in an old building that runs at about 32 degrees Fahrenheit (I’m guessing).  I am ALWAYS freezing at work.  I decided not to take pictures of my tea anymore, because that’s really boring but I enjoyed Celestial Orange Zinger, Green Tea with Pomegranate and Apple Spice throughout the day.

As I mentioned on Friday, I am extremely bored with my usual salad, but I also didn’t get a brilliant strike of inspiration for amazing lunch ideas so I kept it pretty simple.  Crockpot Buffalo chicken (that didn’t turn out buffalo-y at all, and used up the last of my buffalo sauce…), roasted broccoli and sweet potato.  7 SP total.


My snacks this afternoon were an orange and some shelled pistachios (3 SP worth).  And I forgot to take a picture because I am the worst.  But it looked a little something like this:

stock pistachios

After work, I came home and completed an Upper Body strength workout from Lauren Gleisberg’s Beauty and Booty Blueprints eBook.  It was a good one!  I got a barbell with weights for Christmas, so it’s been fun to try different exercises at home that I wasn’t able to do with just my dumbbell set.  I’ve also been increasing my weights, since my dumbbells only go up to 10 lbs.  I did some rows with 35 lbs and whew!  15 min warm-up on the elliptical plus a 45 min strength workout earned me 4 Fit Points.

As mentioned above, for dinner I made an attempt to Weight Watchers-ify one of my favorite meals, chicken picatta (full recipe below).  I used a few of my favorite health-ify techniques here:

  • I reduced the amount of butter and oil, and replaced it with chicken broth.  This technique is a delicate balance, because obviously delicious fats like oil and butter are the actual tasty part of the sauce so you don’t want to get rid of too much.  I also find that simply reducing the amounts of butter and oil reduces the overall volume of sauce too much for me (I like it saucy), so I like to use chicken broth to stretch out the sauce a little more.
  • I tossed the chicken in flour and cooked it olive oil.  This gives the chicken a light fry texture, without the added calories/points of a full out breading process.  The flour also helps thicken up your sauce a bit.
  • I used half zucchini noodles (you could call them zoodles if you wish…but I can’t bring myself to do that) and half whole wheat pasta.  Cutting the carbs is a quick and easy way to reduce the calories/points of your dish.  It’s also a quick and easy way to get rid of everything that makes a dish worth having.  I’ve tried completely replacing pasta with zucchini, but I can’t get past the fact that I’m eating a glorified salad.  I need carbs for satiety and happiness.  I have found that a 50/50 mix helps me achieve both things and also keeps my husband from revolting against me.

There is a detailed recipe below, but the basic steps are as follows:

First you want to pound out your chicken, cut it up and dredge in flour.  I made these pictures small because raw chicken is gross to look at, you are welcome.

Next, you pan fry your chicken in 2 tbsp of olive oil.

Meanwhile, you get your pasta cooking and start spiralizing that zucchini.

When your chicken is done, add all of your delicious ingredients like wine, garlic, butter, lemon juice, and chicken broth.

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Then, add your chicken back in and let it simmer a lil bit.

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Meanwhile (back at the ranch), pour your al dente pasta and water over your zoodles (ugh).

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After your sauce has thickened enough, combine your chicken + sauce + pasta + zucchini + capers for delicious magic.  Add some parmesan, if you’re so inclined.

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One serving of this recipe is 10 SP, and I had a small glass of wine too, for 4 SP.

After dinner I messed around with my new app and tried to Un$#&! my habitat a little bit (warning: lots of curse words ahead). 

I decided to deal with our kitchen table and island.  It’s a major dumping ground for mail, my purse, gym bags, coats, etc etc.  This was was supremely boring because it involved going through a ton of mail and magazines, but now the space is clean and I feel 1 million times better. Isn’t it amazing how productive and calm a clean space can make you feel?  And isn’t it equally amazing how that alone isn’t enough motivation to actually clean and organize consistently?  (At least not for me)

I ended the night with some TV watching and reading (finally got The Girl on the Train from my library!!!!). I enjoyed some Vanilla Sleepytime tea and two squares of Divine Hazelnut Dark Chocolate (2 SP).



Healthy Chicken Picatta

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Print

WW SP: 10  |   Cals: 422 Carbs: 37g Fat: 14g  Protein: 33g

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded to 1/4 – 1/2 inch thickness
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c. flour (I used more in my bowl to make it easier to coat the chicken breasts, but only approx 1/4 c. stuck to the actual chicken)
1 lemon
3/4 c. Low sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. Dry White wine
salt/pepper
3 medium zucchini
4 oz. whole wheat pasta
1/4 c. capers (or more/less to taste)

  1. Warm olive oil in pan over medium – medium/high heat.
  2. Start pot of boiling water for pasta.  When water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions.  I used angel hair, which only takes 4 minutes.
  3. Cut chicken into equal sized pieces (I used one ginormous breast and cut it into four pieces).
  4. Dredge chicken in flour to coat, set aside.
  5. Put chicken in pan, be careful not to crowd the pan.  We want the chicken to “fry” rather than steam to get that great texture.  I had to do two batches of two pieces each.
  6. While chicken is cooking, spiralize your zucchini.  When zucchini is spiralized, put into colander.  When pasta is done cooking, drain pasta over the zucchini.  I like a crisper zucchini noodle, so the hot water from the pasta and the continued cooking of the hot pasta sitting on the noodles cooks them enough for me.  And one less pan to clean!
  7. Add butter and garlic to olive oil to pan.  I use a microplane to mince my garlic right in.  Saute for 1 minute.
  8. Add wine to deglaze pan and pick up all of those brown bits (the flavor!).
  9. Add lemon juice and chicken broth.
  10. When sauce is bubbling, add chicken back in the pan and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes.  However long it takes for the sauce to get thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  11. You can add your capers to the sauce now, but I prefer to add them directly to my bowl because I am a caper FIEND and Nick doesn’t care quite as much for them.  So we are able to serve ourselves different amounts.
  12. Add all of your components together!  Admire your amazing work!  Pour yourself a glass of wine! (If it fits in your points/calories, that is)

WIAT? Is that a thing?

So I completely intended to do a “What I ate Wednesday” post yesterday, but forgot to continue to take pictures of my food halfway through the day. This is the second week in a row that this has happened. How do people do this on a regular basis?? I am exceptionally bad at it.

I already had written half the post in my head though, and I really wanted to talk about the new Weight Watchers plan so I decided to buck convention and write about my food on a THURSDAY. I’m a wild one.

This was my first full week on the Weight Watchers Smart Points plan, and it has certainly been an adjustment. The new points calculation really lead you to focus on protein and fiber, as they generally decrease point values. Point values are increased by saturated fat and sugar (all the delicious stuff). Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m not necessarily looking to lose a ton of weight but I’ve been feeling in a slump lately and trying out new plans and programs is really motivating to me.

My breakfast usually rotates between egg wraps or sandwiches, yogurt bowls and smoothies. Under the new plan, fruits and vegetables are free unless they are blended. I made a quick smoothie last Friday, once I got to work and logged my points, I realized that sucker was 12 points!  I get 30 per day, so I still need to play around with the calculator to figure out how to lower that value whole still maintaining the deliciousness.

I wish I had chosen prettier, non-stained Tupperware, but oh well.

This yogurt bowl cost me 6 points and was made with 0% Greek yogurt, pomegranate seeds, 1 tsp honey (down from my normal 1/2 tbsp to save a point), and 1/2 cup of Kashi Go Lean cereal.   I also had a 2 point coffee, with 1 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp half and half.

I worked worked worked for a while, then had a cup of mint green tea.

Yes, this is what tea looks like.

I started to eat my clementine snack (o points) with my tea, but had an orange juice/toothpaste effect with the mint tea so I held off on the clementines until after I finished.  Learn from me, don’t do this.

I had to change my normal lunch salad up a bit to be more points friendly.  As it was, it ran me about 12 points which is more than I wanted to spend on lunch.  At first I halved the amount of craisins and blue cheese, but that really reduced the delicious factor.  1/2 oz of blue cheese is not doing anything for anybody.  So today, I got rid of the craisins, which were high in sugar and ran me about 3 points, and replaced it with some sliced apple which is 0 points.  Because of that, I was able to keep the full 1 oz of blue cheese for the same amount of points.  Balance is restored in the world.  This salad + dressing was 10 points.

Without the blue cheese it’s basically a glorified bowl of vegetables, which I want NO part of.

My afternoon snack of carrots and hummus didn’t really need any adjusting, it has a value of 2 points.  I had it with some pomegranate green tea.
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I also broke into my Hershey’s Kiss stash at some point this afternoon.  I had two of them for 2 points.  No photo because I’m the worst at this.

I worked a little later than usual today, so I was bordering on hangry when I got home.  I decided to eat first and workout at some other point in the evening.  I prefer to workout right when I get home and get it done, but food won out today.

Dinner was Chicken Tortilla Soup that I made in the crockpot.  Except I didn’t add tortilla chips, so can I really even call it that?  I added some cilantro and 2% cheese on top, for a total of 8 points.

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One of these days I will share a dinner that ISN’T a giant bowl of mush.  One day.  

About an hour after dinner, I drug myself off of the couch to get my workout on.  I’ve certainly fallen off of the Lauren Gleisberg plan that I was doing with all of my sickness (you know, that one cold I had that I’ve been harping on for weeks) and traveling.  My plan for workouts these days is “Just do anything, for the love of god!”  I ended up doing a Jillian Michaels video, Hard Body.  I amped it up to Level 2 of the video today.  The workout is a strength and circuit workout with a fair amount of plyometrics thrown in.  It certainly got my heart rate up and earned me 5 whole fit points.

On the subject of fit points, WW suggests NOT trading in your fit points for food, and this might be my biggest gripe with the new plan.  I really believe that if you are exercising consistently, you can (and maybe should) be able to eat a little more.  I decided to change my settings to use my fit points after my weekly points.  I really wanted to set it to use fit points daily, but I thought I would do this as a compromise and see how I feel after a few weeks.  If I’m constantly hungry, I will certainly be changing it to use my fit points every day as I earn them.


I am currently enjoying some fancy-ass sparkling water as I write this post.  I love La Croix, this flavor is Cran-Raspberry and is really good.  Served in a glass with crushed ice, it’s the only way.  I also really like the sparkling water from Trader Joe’s and it’s cheaper!  Not as many flavors though.

So! That was my whole day, it ran me exactly 30 points which is my daily allotment.  I used up all my weeklies DAYS ago on Christmas food and alcohol this past weekend, so I’ve been trying hard to stick to the 30.  I’m learning and making adjustments, but so far I’m really enjoying the WW plan!

When do you workout during the day?  WW peeps, what are you doing with fit points?

 

Simple Marinara Sauce for Canning

This is my third year of canning tomatoes.  Nick loves gardening and the first year that we had the garden, I was so excited to make my own tomato sauce.  I looked up a ton of recipes and ended up with a recipe that had a ton of ingredients (tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, balsamic vinegar, red wine, etc.)  It was a lot of fun to do, but I had some ideas for improvement.  The sauce turned out pretty watery and I spent a LOT of time doing prep work.  I also didn’t feel like the added elements enhanced the sauce, I realized I prefer a simpler, more tomato-y tomato sauce.  The next year, we didn’t have a garden as we had just moved into our house in Wilmington but I bought about 20 lbs of tomatoes from a local CSA and canned whole tomatoes.  It was so much easier!  And the tomatoes made a great base to crush up and add some garlic/onions/basil to, to make an easy sauce for pasta.

This year I decided to meet in the middle of those two attempts.  I wanted a sauce that was simple and less time consuming, but also ready to use right out of the jar.

We planted about 6 San Marzano tomato plants this past year in the garden.  As the tomatoes ripened, I would just throw them into a bag in the freezer to can later.  We ended up with roughly 30 lbs of tomatoes

Overall this process has three phases:

  • Prep the tomatoes
  • Make the sauce
  • Can the sauce

You will need the following materials:

  • Lots of large bowls
  • Food scale (I suppose you could do without this and just play with the ratios of other ingredients)
  • At least two large pots
  • Immersion blender (you could use a regular blender but it will be a lot messier I think)
  • A boiling water canner and associated tools (we bought a kit from Walmart I think?  It came with tongs and stuff to pull the cans out)
  • Jars, bands and lids
  • Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Basil
  • Tomato paste

If you are doing it all in one day like I did, the whole process takes about 4 hours (with a fair amount of inactive time in there where you could do other things).  So, get your space set up, get in some comfy clothes, put on some good music (maybe grab some wine 😉 ) and get to working.

Prep the tomatoes

If you are planning on canning the same day as making the sauce, you should decide now how you are going to sanitize all of your canning materials (I know.  The first step in prepping our tomatoes, and we aren’t even talking about freaking tomatoes).  My dishwasher has a high temperature, sanitize setting so I used that.  It takes about three hours to run, so I started that now so it could run while I was working.  You want the jars to be warm/hot when you fill them, so that the glass doesn’t crack or break.  Since the cycle would be ending right as I would be ready to can, they would still be warm from the cycle.  Another option to sanitize is to put the jars in simmering water.  If you take this approach, you can wait until you are closer to can to worry about your jars.  See this Ball post for more directions.

Now, on to the actual tomatoes!  We need to get these bad boys peeled.  To do this, we are going to get two pots of boiling water going and get all of our frozen tomatoes weighed out and in bowls, ready to go.  We are going to submerge the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 seconds – 1 minute (however long it takes for the skin to start peeling away).


While waiting for the water to come to a boil, I did some other prep work and chopped up my onion.  I used 1.5 giant softball sized onions to yield 4 cups of chopped onion.

Once the water is boiling throw some tomatoes in.  You can see in the pic below how the skins start to peel back.  Once that happens, you can take the tomato out (I used a pasta scoop to rescue the peeling tomatoes) and finish peeling off the skin.  It should come off pretty easily, for most I just rubbed and they came off in one piece.  I also performed some quality control at this point and had a paring knife close by to cut out bad spots.  

I used a three bowl process.  Bowl 1 in the far back is holding the frozen tomatoes ready to go in.  Bowl 2 on the front left is where the tomatoes go after coming out of the water and to be peeled.  Bowl 3 on the right holds the naked, “prepped” tomatoes.

At first, I tried to do this with a constant, assembly line approach with a few tomatoes at a time for efficiency.  I was able to peel while the next batch of tomatoes were in the water.  But I found that this reduced the temperature of the water too much, since it was never able to come back up to boiling, and the skins weren’t bursting.  So I went to batches.  I would throw tomatoes in, let them start peeling, fish them back out, and then peel while the water was empty and coming back up to temperature.  Do this process over and over (and over…and over……) until all of your tomatoes are prepped.

All my finished naked tomatoes

Making the Sauce

Once all of your tomatoes are prepped, you are ready to start making your sauce!  I continued with two pots, if you had less tomatoes (15 lbs or so) you could work with just one.

I got some olive oil and butter going (about a tablespoon of each) and threw half of the onions in each pot.
  

While I had it melting, I remembered that I preserved some basil in olive oil (using muffin pans and freezing it) over the summer, so I threw some of that flavored olive oil in too.

DSC_0740After your onions are translucent (about 5 minutes), add all of your tomatoes and juice.

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I let these go for about 20 minutes, to ensure the tomatoes weren’t frozen any longer and had broken down some.  Then I busted out my handy dandy immersion blender.  You could also use a regular blender and blend it in batches, but this could be messy and you would have to be careful with the hot sauce.  If you are working with a smaller batch, this might be an ok approach though.  DSC_0746

You can see how watery the blended sauce is at this point.  Next, we want to reduce and thicken the sauce.  I also added three small cans (8 oz each) of tomato paste at this point to help move it along.  I like doing this because you save time spent reducing and end up with more final product, but you could leave it out and just let it cook off and reduce until you reach your intended thickness.

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I also chopped up my basil (I used one plastic clamshell, but in retrospect I wish I would have used two) and added it at this point.  DSC_0758DSC_0759

I let it cook about an hour, you can see below how the sauce has thickened.  This part is really personal preference, if you prefer a thicker sauce you can let it go even longer.DSC_0762

Canning the Sauce

Now for the fun part (sort of).  Gather all of your canning materials and fill up your boiling water canner and start heating.  Using a funnel (you want to keep the jars as clean as possible), start scooping in sauce, leaving about 1 inch of headspace.

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After your jars are filled, add about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar (to raise the acidity of the mixture, an important aspect of water bath canning).  Then add your lids and bands.  Hopefully by this part your water is boiling and you are ready to process them.

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Ready to take a dip

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Tomatoes and tomato sauce take approximately 35 minutes to boil, so put them in, slap on the lid and go relax for 35 minutes.  Or ya know, be efficient and do some laundry or something.

I actually ran out of lids (why didn’t I check that before starting?  I don’t know), so I decided to freeze our remaining sauce in ziploc bags.  To do this, I waited until the sauce was pretty cool and added about 4 cups of sauce to each gallon size freezer bag.  That random can on the right is sauce that I set aside for us to have this week, so it didn’t need a dip in the water bath.

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Our full bounty

After your jars are finished processing, move to a dark cool place and allow them to sit for 24 hours.  You will probably hear some popping as the cans seal.  You want to end up with lids that don’t have any give and you aren’t able to push down.  That’s the sign of a good seal!  I was happy that all of ours sealed.  If you end up with some that don’t, you can refrigerate and eat that week, or freeze instead.DSC_0771

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Shh…go to sleep little jars
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The unfortunate aftermath

Overall we ended up with 5 quart jars, 5 pint jars, 3 gallon sized bags, and one quart sized bag.  44 cups of sauce!  All of our Nick’s blood/sweat/tears from gardening this summer was totally worth it.

Here is some of the sauce we had this week on some campanelle pasta with a chicken sausage.  Delicious!

What is your favorite kind of tomato based sauce?  Have you ever canned before?