Baked Chicken with Artichoke, Lemon, & Zucchini

Baked Chicken with Artichoke, Lemon, & Zucchini

All hail the baked chicken breast, the reigning queen of meal prep perfection!

I use my fair share of chicken breast when making my work lunches on any given week – it’s a lean protein that always leaves me feeling full, satisfied, and energized – and it’s so easy to dress up with any flavor, especially as the seasons change. Over this relatively chilly spring that’s been hanging over NYC – the high is supposed to only be 59°F on Wednesday, JUNE 7TH – I’ve been using many warming spices when dressing my breasts…heheh…such as turmeric and cumin. If the weather won’t bring that summery feeling to our city right now, I’ll at least jump start it with some bright summery flavors.

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This recipe is a take on an Inspiralized recipe from last month, Lemon-Herb Chicken with Roasted Artichoke and Zucchini Pasta with Feta. I made it a handful of times and it’s delicious! I am a huge fan of spiralizing my vegetables and do it multiple times a week; it’s great for meal prep! That being said…sometimes…I’m too lazy to pull out my spiralizer and my urge to use my big chef’s knife to chunk up some vegetables gives me more satisfaction. Ha! So this recipe is a non-spiralized adaptation of that original excellent spiralized recipe. I ditched the feta and added some different spices, but the magic in both recipes, I believe, comes from the vegetables. The liquid from them helps keep the chicken breast incredibly juicy; as I use boneless for this recipe, keeping in moisture is very important, as bone-in chicken does yield a naturally moister meat.

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This is great for meal prep because a 12 – 16 ounce chicken breast will yield four 3 – 4 oz. servings of chicken and a nice serving of vegetables for each; I do supplement mine with some more vegetables or a grain, which is my hot tip to you! Some brown rice, quinoa, or riced cauliflower would be an awesome accompaniment!

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Baked Chicken with Artichoke, Lemon, & Zucchini in all of its meal prepped glory!

Baked Chicken with Artichoke, Lemon, & Zucchini
(Adapted from the Inspiralized recipe for Lemon-Herb Chicken with Roasted Artichoke and Zucchini Pasta with Feta)
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

– One 3/4 lb. – 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
– 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided into two 1 tablespoon servings
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
– 1 large or 2 medium zucchinis, rinsed and diced
– 1 cup canned quartered artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1 teaspoon turmeric
– Salt, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– A rectangular baking dish works well here, such as an 11″ x 7″, though a small square baking dish (8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″) will also work well.

– A good “duh” statement, but if you can’t find quartered canned artichoke hearts, buy whole ones and quarter them yourselves. If you buy artichoke hearts marinated in oil, it’s up to you whether you want to rinse off the marinade or not; I prefer to use canned artichoke hearts that come packed in water.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 400°F.

2.) Place chicken in baking dish and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper and spread / massage into chicken breast. Don’t forget to wash your hands once you’re done! (Infection control!)

3.) In a large bowl, toss zucchini and artichoke hearts with lemon juice, garlic powder, and turmeric until well combined. Place vegetable mixture on top of chicken; vegetables should cover as much chicken as possible.

4.) Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165°F. Remove from oven; if some of the artichoke pieces have slightly browned or crisped, that is fine! (And delicious!) Allow chicken to sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Slow Cooker Chicken with Tomatoes & Onion

Slow Cooker Chicken with Tomatoes & Onion

I am a wonderful meal prepper…when I have the motivation to do it. Some Sundays, I am running and raring to go, at least three days worth of breakfasts and lunches made for work in a two-hour span, neatly stacked in my fridge in coordinated containers. Other Sundays, I’m exhausted and think aloud, “I am going to rack up a lot of points on my Sweetgreen app this week.”

With this slow cooker recipe, I have no excuses not to meal prep. It’s all too easy!

Slow Cooker Chicken with Tomatoes & Onion

There isn’t much else to say, so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Tomatoes + Onions + boneless chicken breast = an amazing shredded chicken that gets you four meals, easily.

Get down on your knees and praise your slow cooker. Give it a nice big kiss, though preferably wait until it’s cool enough.

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Slow Cooker Chicken with Tomatoes & Onion
(Yields 1 average-sized boneless chicken breast’s worth of shredded meat)

Ingredients:

– 1 boneless & skinless chicken breast
– 1 15-ounce can chopped or diced tomato, with juices
– 1 large white or yellow onion, roughly cut
– 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
– Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) Add all ingredients to slow cooker and turn on to High. Cover and cook for 3 hours.

2.) Remove chicken from slow cooker. Shred chicken with two forks. Add shredded chicken back to slow cooker and stir into tomato and onion mixture. Cook for an additional 15 minutes before turning off slow cooker.

3.) Eat immediately! If storing for meal prep, place chicken in container(s) along with some of the tomato and onion mixture to keep the chicken moist, and allow to cool slightly before placing in fridge. Chicken should stay edible for up to five days.

hello fresh product review

Product Review – Hello, Fresh!

If there is one thing that this blog and its accompanying social media outlets have proven, it’s that I know how to develop and create some great recipes. I’m not trying to be self-congratulatory (HA!), but I’m just stating a fact. Still, with recipe development comes the inevitable stages of trial and error. As much as I don’t want to admit this, I have definitely bought too many products that I have wasted. If I buy too much hamburger meat, I’ll wrap it up and freeze it, thinking to myself, “I can thaw this in a month and make some meatballs or toss it into some chili!” Six months later, I’ll come across that frozen aluminum-foiled covered brick beneath my pint of Sea Salt Caramel Talenti, heave a heavy sigh, and pitch it into my trash bin. So many zucchinis and avocados have met their unfortunate end in my kitchen, though I can only hope that my composting has given them a second life someplace else. I don’t like to waste food, and I’m sure I’m currently preaching to the choir. I try as hard as I can to buy what I use and use all that I have. Still…I’m not always perfect.

Hello Fresh, I welcome you with opened arms.

Hello Fresh is fantastic because it’s fool-proof and efficient. I recently received three meals from them: Steak and Brussels Sprout Stir-Fry, Spicy Pork and Kale Soup with Udon Noodles, and Cauliflower Pancetta Mac and Cheese.

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Post-election, without getting too preachy, virtually all of my friends were feeling rather down and out about the state of our country. With all of these boxes of food and my stomach, unfortunately, not big enough to ingest it all by myself, I thought, “Wouldn’t a little potluck meal boost our collective spirits a bit?”

As for the Spicy Pork & Kale Soup, I kept that for myself. However, I decided to break out the Steak and Brussels Sprout Stir-Fry and the Cauliflower Pancetta Mac and Cheese to share with the masses, complemented with an array of roasted vegetables and additional jasmine rice on the side. Also…mimosas. We had a LOT of mimosas. Ha! (Hey, it was Saturday afternoon. It’s all good.) And should I mention the vegan apple cider donuts and (non-vegan) chocolate donuts I ALSO made? I think it goes without saying that my calves were killin’ me the next day! Cooking for multiple hours while entertaining is strength and cardio. *phew*

hello fresh product review

I am a very concrete person, so I loved two things about these Hello Fresh boxes. One, the colorful and informative instructions left little to question. I appreciate transparency and clarity in recipes. Hell, I’ve looked back at old recipes of mine on this blog and have edited them after thinking, “…wait? Does that make sense?”

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Two, the ingredient portions were exact, so no ingredient was wasted. It was all down to a T! In the mac and cheese box, I literally got one tablespoon of flour to make the roux with! I appreciated exact vegetable and meat portions, especially. Nothing was wasted, which made me feel good.

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As for the taste? Superb! Well-developed recipes with exact ingredients and precise directions beget a perfectly seasoned dish. If you follow what’s written, you’re guaranteed to consume a delicious meal!

hello fresh product review

My wonderful yet voracious friends ate all of the mac and cheese before I could photograph it, and I can’t even be mad at them. Ha! It was collectively inhaled! As for the stir-fry, everyone was very pleased, as well. The meat was tender, the vegetables obtained a nice smoky char, and it wasn’t overwhelmingly salty, even with the addition of soy sauce.

While I am all about making my own meals about 99.99% of the time, I don’t think I’d necessarily discount using Hello Fresh again in the future! Some of the meals they put together are unique and have ingredients that I can’t easily get at my well-stocked C-Town. (i.e.: My C-Town does not have a single udon noodle in sight. Ha!) As I type this, I’m perusing their menu for next week. I’m seeing gems like Pork Larb over Jade Rice and Tuscan Ribollita. Wow! Rather than search high and low for a single Thai chili pepper or waste money on an entire bottle of sesame oil that I’d rarely use, I could get it all, perfectly portioned, in one box.

Ahhhhh, wonderful simplicity! It doesn’t get much better than that.

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A smattering of my friends digging into the Hello Fresh potluck, with mimosas and donut ingredients in the foreground, and one friend practicing her yoga n the background. It’s always good to stay centered prior to a big meal!

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DISCLOSURE: The fine folks at Hello Fresh provided me with complimentary meal boxes to cook and review. I’d like to thank them for their generosity and making the stomachs of quite a few people very full and happy. All opinions shared in this post are my own.

pork stuffed baked apples

Pork-Stuffed Baked Apples

Perhaps it was the fact that I was at my alma mater, Bay Path University, for 10 year college reunion this weekend – I’m an undergrad alum for the Class of 2006, a graduate alum for the Class of 2014, and $47k in the hole with SoFi. Ha! – but as I was taking that long boring bus ride back from Hartford to Manhattan, I was conjuring up all sorts of ideas for new recipes. Perhaps being back at school stimulated the ol’ brain synapses. I can’t tell you what spurred this idea. I was simply playing a matching game within my head. I thought, “Apples…pork…pork chops? No. That works, but I need to do something more interesting. Maybe sausage and apples? Maybe I could find ground sausage to stuff inside of the apples? YEAH!” Admittedly, I realized that I had started to talk aloud to myself as I caught a fellow busmate giving me a marginally amused sideways glance.

pork stuffed baked apples

As I arrived back in Manhattan 20 minutes ahead of schedule, I still had a long ride home; when you live above 168th Street and the A Train isn’t running above 168th, that makes for a fun commute home. *myeh* By the time I got to my beloved C-Town, there was no ground sausage to be found and the cheap price of ground pork made me say, “Whatever! I’ll dress this up my own way.” (i.e.: I was actually cranky, hangry, and not in the mood to shop around.) After I ascended the stairs to my 4th floor walk-up with my backpack, my overstuffed Madewell tote, and two grocery bags, I was feeling bushed yet inspired to create this recipe. I was surprised how quickly this meal came together! From start to finish, this took about 45-ish minutes, and its 30 minute baking time was perfect; I took a post-travel nap and let my iPhone’s alarm wake me up. Let’s be honest: What’s better than waking up to hot food?

pork stuffed baked apples

Okay, perhaps a few things, but this is what worked for me at the time. Ha!

pork stuffed baked apples

(P.S.: Please forgive the mediocrity of these photos. My professional camera’s card went a little wackadoo after I had already started to prep and bake, so I did the best I could with my iPhone 6S and decent-enough natural lighting. Haaa. I’m hoping to re-shoot more salivary gland-inducing photos in the near future.)

Pork-Stuffed Baked Apples
(Makes 4 – 6 servings)

Ingredients:

– 2 – 3 large baking apples (I used Rome)
– 3/4 pound ground pork
– 3/4 cup carrot, finely diced
– 1/4 turnip, finely diced
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 teaspoons honey
– 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter

Before We Get Started…

– I used turnip in this recipe merely to switch things up a bit; I would have probably used celery if I had any, but I didn’t, nor did I want to buy a big bag! That being said, you can switch up the turnip for celery, if you have it.

– I highest suggest using Rome apples; they yield a soft flesh when cooked for 30 minutes, but still hold their shape when cut into.

– If any pork mixture remains, store in the refrigerator for future use; if you don’t use it in apples, its great added into tomatoes for a makeshift tomato sauce!

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375°F.

2.) In a large frying pan, cook pork over medium to medium-high heat; allow to cook through completely and break up until finely crumbled. If there is excess fat, drain, if preferred.

3.) While the pork is cooking, cook carrot, turnip, and garlic in olive oil or butter over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes or until vegetables have softened. If vegetables start to turn brown, reduce heat.

4.) When vegetables are finished cooking, add to pork mixture, along with salt and honey. Mix until thoroughly combined.

5.) To prepare apples, leave skins on and slice in half. Scoop out seeds with a spoon, and continue to scoop out enough apple to allow pork to be stuffed into it. Once scooped, carefully spoon pork mixture into apples, being sure to fill the space.

6.) Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and eat immediately; store any leftovers! (This is meal that does save well for some work day lunches!)

slow cooker carolina style pulled pork

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

This Christmas, Santa blessed me with two staples of every amazing kitchen: A Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and a slow cooker. Here I was, for years, mixing batters with an electric mixer, or by hand, like a sucker. Oh, and who knew I could just plop three pounds of meat into a metal pot, pour some broth and spices onto it, turn a switch, walk away, then have a meal six hours later?

Amazing times we live in.

I do have to laugh, because I am a person that adores cooking and going through the process, no matter how lengthy it may be. Trust me: I’ve spent 2+ hours on certain mornings just to make eight bagels. For years, I thought creating meals in a slow cooker was an easy way out. I’ve learned better. Just as I love to make soups en masse to freeze so I’ll have some lunches for the weeks ahead, I can use my slow cooker to make meals with purposeful leftovers at a low cost. For this recipe, the only items I needed to buy were the pork butt, apple cider vinegar, and tomato sauce. Those three items cost me $8.33, and with about six cups of pulled pork yielded, that knocks it down to about $1.38 a cup! (Note: In true NYC fashion, I got the vinegar and tomato sauce, both Goya, from my local bodega for $1.89 combined, the transaction completed while the new bodega cat weaved in and out of my legs.)

On the day I chose to take the ol’ girl out for a spin for the first time, this lil’ guy named Jonas came to visit, but he was kind of rude and made me spend a lot of my day inside.

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Well, I really can’t complain about cooking this up, can I?

slow cooker carolina style pulled pork

slow cooker carolina style pulled pork

slow cooker carolina style pulled pork

slow cooker carolina style pulled pork

Props to my roommate Sally’s mother for sending along some ideas for rubs and sauces. This pig did not die in vain. Our stomachs gave it a very happy home.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
(Makes…a lot of servings [roughly 6 cups])

Ingredients:

– 2 – 3 pounds pork butt (shoulder), bone-in or boneless

Rub:
– 2 tablespoons chili powder
– 1 tablespoon ground cumin
– 2 tablespoons brown sugar
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1 tablespoon paprika
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 1 teaspoon ground pepper

Sauce:

– 1 & 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
– 1/2 cup tomato sauce
– 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 tablespoon brown sugar
– 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon ground pepper

Before We Get Started…

– The measurements in this recipe can be adjusted; the measurements in this recipe are suited to accommodate those using a 3-quart slow cooker.

– The rub can be applied right before cooking, though I highly suggest applying the rub and letting the pork sit for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

Directions:

1.) Place pork shoulder on cutting board; if using a bone-in pork shoulder and are planing to leave the fat layer on the pork, score with a knife. Otherwise, discard outer fat layer. If using boneless pork shoulder, cut into several large pieces, roughly fist-sized.

2.) Combine all dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Apply rub to pork, thoroughly covering the surface. Allow pork to sit for at least four hours before cooking. (See note in Before We Get Started… for rub suggestions.)

3.) In a large bowl, combine all sauce ingredients and whisk until incorporated.

4.) Place pork in slow cooker; pour sauce on top of pork. Cover with top. Turn slow cooker on high and cook for six to seven hours.

5.) Carefully remove pork from slow cooker and place into a large bowl; allow to cool for 15 minutes. Use two forks to shred pork apart; discard of any larger pieces of fat. Bone, if bone-in pork is being used, can be discarded or saved for other uses (bone broth, et al).

6.) Ladle 1 to 1 & 1/2 cups of the remaining sauce remaining in the slow cooker onto the pork and allow to sit.

7.) Serve pulled pork as you please!