Keep. It. Simple. Stuffed Chicken.

Isn’t that some advice we all need to take sometimes?  Not the stuffed chicken breast part… the keep it simple part! They call it the KISS principle… but since I don’t feel like inadvertently insulting anyone, I decided to leave the name calling, second “S” off.

So really, who isn’t guilty of over-complicating things?  Keeping it simple means to downsize, to get rid of anything frivolous or unnecessary (whereas you are probably thinking material items right now)… but what else?  I think it means considering what is really, I mean REALLY important to us.  Do we value having a million friends or just a few that you know you can always count on?  Seeing our family more often for short bursts of hectic, mid-week catching up or just having a few quality, focused gatherings with them when possible?  Having a meticulously immaculate home or ignoring some clutter while you snuggle on the couch watching a show?  These are some decisions I have contemplated that have helped me to simplify some aspects of my life that used to bother me a great deal.

Now, for the completely obvious segue:  When I get home from work at 7pm and I have to shower and feed myself some dinner before that quality couch time can occur, that’s when it’s time to remember to keep it simple.  And on a recent particular night as such, I didn’t want to pick up a Wendy’s half-salad, get Chinese takeout, heat up some leftovers, or call my parents and see what they were making.  I wanted to make myself a home-cooked meal.  Therefore, I decided to find the most simple recipe (for a gourmet meal) that I could find.  😉
I stumbled upon this one for Asparagus and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts.

There were only 5 ingredients, and one of the ingredients is salt and pepper!  Woohoo!  Winner, winner, chicken dinner.  So I went for it, and here is the recipe and my experience:

All five ingredients... check!

All FIVE simple ingredients… check!

I used salt and pepper on the chicken but I don't think I thinned it out very much... it still worked great!

I used salt and pepper on the chicken but I don’t think I thinned it out very much… it still worked great!

Right before the breadcrumbs and baking... look how pretty it looks!

Right before the breadcrumbs and baking… look how pretty it looks!

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish.
  2. Place each chicken breast between two sheets of heavy plastic (resealable freezer bags work well) on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken with the smooth side of a meat mallet to an even thickness of about 1/4 inch. Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper.
  3. Place 4 spears of asparagus down the center of a chicken breast, and spread about 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese over the asparagus. Repeat with the other chicken breast, and roll the chicken around the asparagus and cheese to make a tidy, compact roll. Place the rolls seam sides down in the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle each with about 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the juices run clear when pricked with a fork, about 25 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). (Recipe from allrecipes.com)

My Final Review:  It definitely tasted healthy, and wasn’t too bad in the taste department, either!  Many reviews online offer variations that include cooking it with a cream of chicken soup, or finishing it with a sauteed mushroom mixture.  Both sound delicious as well.  Maybe next time… because as you know, I’m trying to keep it simple for now.  🙂

❤ Jessi

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Spaghetti Squash “Pasta!”

Spaghetti13MARKED2After a recent farmers’ market trip, I found myself in possession of a 6-inch spaghetti squash.  I had heard quite a few good things about this vegetable including how easy it is to cook.  Well, I can now vouch that the hearsay was extremely accurate!

For my first spaghetti squash recipe, I decided to use it as a healthy substitution in an obvious but classic recipe:  Spaghetti and (Chicken) Meatballs!  I wanted this recipe to be super DUPER easy so I used seasoned ground chicken for the meatballs, and boxed (aka jarred) sauce.   Check out this easy recipe!

This squash size was just fine to feed two people!

This squash size was just fine to feed two people!

Ingredients (Makes 2 servings)

1 Medium Spaghetti Squash

1 Jar of Sauce

2 TBS Parmesan Cheese (plus additional for topping, if desired)

1 LB seasoned ground chicken

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Garlic Powder

Italian Seasoning

(OPTIONAL:  Bread, butter and garlic for a side of garlic bread)

Directions:

1. Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.

2.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  Place squash face up, and brush all sides with olive oil.  Sprinkle salt on the top.

Seeds are scooped out, squash is face side up, brushed with olive oil and some salt. :-)

Seeds are scooped out, squash is face side up and brushed with olive oil and some salt. 🙂

3.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.  Remove foil, then bake for an additional 15 minutes.

4.  Meatballs:  While the squash is cooking, combine the chicken with breadcrumbs (we also added extra garlic powder) and form into about 1″ meatballs.

meatballsMARKED

5.  Cook the meatballs on another lined cookie tray in the same 350°F oven.  They will take about 20 minutes to cook.  Be sure to rotate them so each side browns evenly.  I usually forget that they are chicken instead of red meat!

6.  Garlic Bread:  If you are choosing to make some garlic bread with your meal, now’s a good time to simply brush the bread with some butter, and add some garlic powder and/or additional Italian seasonings.  Just hold that off to the side and heat it up in the oven about 10 minutes before you will serve your meal.

7.  Sauce:  Get your sauce heating up on the stove – keep it simmering on a low temperature so it doesn’t boil and pop!  Once again, we also added extra garlic powder and Italian seasonings.

I used this boxed "POMI" sauce.  You can find it in a supermarket but I got mine free as a promotion.  The company sponsors a cooking show, Real Food, at the TV station that I work at. :-)

I used this boxed “Pomi” sauce in a tomato and basil flavor. You can find Pomi in a supermarket but I got mine free as a promotion. The company sponsors a cooking show, Real Food, on Telecare, the TV station that I work at. 🙂

8.  If you are timing right, it’s probably spaghetti squash time!  This part was so much fun.  With a fork, you simply scrape the inside meat of the squash.  The more you scrape, the more “spaghetti” you will be left with.

This part was the most fun!

This part was the most fun!

9.  Place the “spaghetti” in either a large communal bowl, or individual bowls ready to serve.  Toss with 2 TBS of Parmesan cheese.

10.  Take out your meatballs from the oven, too!  They should be nice and browned.

Meatballs2MARKED

11.  Put it together!  Put your desired amount of meatballs on top of your pasta and cover with sauce.  Add a piece of garlic bread and you are good to go!

I thought this meal was delicious.  It was such a simple way to sneak extra veggies into dinner, and stay away from pasta!  If you are questioning why I chose to add bread when I had just saved myself the calories from pasta, well, this wasn’t just any old bread.  In my blog post about my trip to the farmers market this weekend, you’ll see that Patrick and I picked up a wonderful smelling loaf of onion bread.  We just simply had to  have some with this meal, so we sliced just a little bit off and it was worth every calorie.  😉

If you haven’t yet tried spaghetti squash (I mean, how cool is this vegetable?!!), then like me, I think it’s time you pick one up and give it a whirl!  It was fun to both make and eat and I am looking forward to trying lots of new recipes with spaghetti squash.

Happy cooking!

❤ Jessi