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I’m a little late…

January 23, 2010

on a few things… 😦

My apologies for it being over a week since my last blog entry.  Ready for my lame excuse?  We’re moving.  Not quite yet, but we’re in preparatory mode for the big move.  (Which is a fancy way of saying the past two weekends have been spent sorting, painting, packing, and trashing.  It’s amazing how much junk two people can accumulate without realizing it!)

Also… it’s three full weeks into 2010!  With each New Year comes talk of New Years’ Resolutions.  Of course, the popular resolution is to eat better and/or lose weight.  Who among us hasn’t thought something along those lines between December 1 and January 1?!  I’m sure up until now, my blog really hasn’t been of much assistance should you be among those with this resolution.

Have no fear… consider me the second wave of defense to shore up that resolution!

(Are you buying it that I have, in fact, been waiting in the wings to swoop in and save the day when McDonald’s and Taco Bell loomed tastily nearby whereas the bland chicken you thawed in an effort to eat healthily at home sounds about as appetizing as the brussels sprouts you were force-fed as a child?…. Didn’t think so!)

Anyway, here is a recipe that I ran across over on Proceed with Caution and instantly knew I had to try.  If you know me, you know I have a love affair with all things olives.  I could eat them any day, every day and be happy.  But with the addition of feta cheese in this recipe, it was instantly put on the short list for dinner!

I imagine this would be downright heavenly with some angel hair pasta sautéed in some extra virgin olive oil and garlic… yum!  I can’t say I’ve tried that, but who doesn’t love pasta and it seems like a natural combination with the Mediterranean flavors of this easy-peasy entrée.

We’ve made this twice now and changed it each time.  The first time, I made it almost exactly as TPOX has listed on her blog (I omitted the salt and the oil as she did except for a quick spritz of extra virgin olive oil on the aluminum foil before arranging the chicken on it.)  The second time, I was curious if the oil would add to the flavors, meld the flavors more, or be non-existant altogether, so I drizzled a little over the top of each portion before crimping the foil.  I didn’t notice a difference and therefore don’t see the point in repeating it next time.  I do prefer just a little salt (I use sea salt, which is best added after cooking but before serving.)  Oh,… and right behind my love of olives comes my second favorite food love – garlic.  I crushed a clove and smeared it on each chicken breast before covering with the toppings the second time around.  Both my husband and I thought it was a good addition.

Now for the best part…this is GOOD FOR YOU.  Can you believe it?  It’s far from bland, and even if you’re a little chicken-breasted out after trying to eat well the past three weeks, give this a whirl.  You might just be surprised!

Mediterranean Chicken Packets

Source: Proceed with Caution, who adapted it from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food

  • 4 Chicken breasts, thawed (I calculated the nutritional info based on four 4 oz breasts)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Ground pepper
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (preferably no salt added)
  • ~8 artichoke hearts (from a 14 oz can)
  • 16 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced (more than TPOX’s 12)
  • 1/2 c. reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled (2 oz)
  • 1/2 t. Italian seasoning (again, preferably salt-free; I used Pampered Chef’s)
  • Sea salt

Preheat oven to 375°.

Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, flatten each breast to an even thickness (~1/2″).

Place four 12″ squares of parchment paper or heavy-duty foil on a work surface.  Spray lightly with cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil.  Place a chicken breast on one half of each square, leaving ~2″ border.  Press a garlic clove through a press and spread across one chicken breast, repeating with the remaining breasts.  Season with pepper to taste.

Dividing evenly, top chicken with tomatoes, artichokes, olives, and feta.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Fold parchment/foil over ingredients and crimp edges to seal.  Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until chicken is opaque throughout, approximately 20 to 22 minutes. (This will depend on the size and thickness of the chicken breasts you used.)  Sprinkle with a little sea salt before serving.

Note: Be careful when opening these packets out of the oven.  (The whole premise of cooking in this manner is to keep the steam in the packet, which results in potential danger when opening the packets with bare hands.)

Ready for the best part?  I wasn’t kidding when I said you can enjoy this and not feel guilty.. here’s the facts:

  • Calories – 289.1
  • Fat – 7.4g (Saturated Fat – 0.4g, Polyunsat. Fat – 0.3g, Monounsat. Fat – 0.3g)
  • Cholesterol – 65.7mg
  • Sodium – 484.2mg
  • Carbs – 18.0g (Fiber – 4.1g, Sugars – 11.0g)
  • Protein – 30.4g

The first time we made this, we cut the recipe in half since there were only two of us; the second time, I made the full recipe and took the two leftovers for lunches.  What a great decision!  After sitting in the refrigerator overnight, the flavors blended so beautifully and tasted so well (even if the olives did bleed a little onto the artichokes and chicken, causing purplish spots where the olives had been.)

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