1 protein – 1 vegetable – 1 fruit
I suppose I’ve always known the importance of planning my meals, but it hit home harder than ever these past two weeks. My daughter, you see, is a bit of a songbird, and we decided a few months ago to enroll her in a local musical theatre program. This past weekend was her production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and it was VERY demanding on our time as a family (yes, I cried when I saw my baby on stage, but that’s another story). For at least a week, we were constantly on the go, and I needed to come up with some “TV dinners” that wouldn’t throw me off plan.
There are many dishes that you can prepare and put into individual freezer-safe containers–like this Chicken with Apple Chutney–which you can make with your favorite apples (one of my favorite fruits to enjoy in the fall and winter). Take out what you need the day before you need it and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Then reheat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes and eat. For families on the go, this is an especially good strategy because everyone can have something different. Plan four or five meals for the week and spend one day cooking, packaging, labeling and freezing. To make things even easier, be sure to include the food portions on the label AND the date you made the dish (it’s best to consume your “TV dinners” within three months).
Also, a few people have asked me why my recipes call for the “flattening” of chicken breasts, so I wanted to share a little bit about that technique. As for the “how”: Place a trimmed, rinsed and dried piece of chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap or into a zip top bag. Using a FLAT meat mallet or rolling pin, gently hammer the chicken until it thins out a bit and is a consistent thickness all the way through. Why? Because the chicken will cook faster AND retain more moisture. Chicken breasts have a thick end and a thin end, and by the time you’ve cooked through the thick part, the thin part is dry and rubbery. This is a simple technique that will help your chicken to cook faster and more consistently, so it remains juicy and delicious! While not a required step, I encourage you to give it a try…you’ll notice the difference.
- 2 apples, cored, peeled and cubed
- 10 green onions, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. Splenda® Brown Sugar Blend
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
- 1/4 tsp. Morton® Lite Salt
- 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
- 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle chili powder (can be spicy, adjust according to taste)
- 1/2 tsp. Morton® Lite Salt
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 2 six-ounce chicken breasts, pounded gently between two sheets of plastic wrap to flatten
- Zero-calorie cooking spray
- Fresh parsley leaves (optional)
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray and add apple. Sauté 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add green onions and the next six ingredients (through allspice). Add up to 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and keep covered.
Combine chipotle chili powder and next four ingredients (through black pepper). Spray chicken breasts lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle spice mixture over chicken. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat grill pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until done.
To serve, top chicken with apple chutney and sprinkle with minced fresh parsley, if desired.
Makes 2 servings