With a new year, comes the resolve to make healthy lifestyle changes. For some of us, it's not too much of a stretch from our regular routine, but for others it's a change that needs some getting used to. This recipe is quick, easy and you can make it as healthy or as decadent as you wish. We made Parmesan/parsley breadcrumbs and used it as the crust for boneless chicken and eggplant served over healthy greens with 2 versions of a vinaigrette. Try one or try both - they won't pack on the calories but they don't skimp on flavor either.
Caitlin's version: Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast over Spinach with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette

This is a great recipe while you're trying to eat healthier but don't want to skimp on flavor either. For the breadcrumbs you can use any kind of bread you have on hand - I've tried just about everything from a baguette to sourdough and Pumpernickle to plain old whole wheat - they all work. As some of you know, my husband and I have been going to CrossFit four times a week for the past month (to try and work off our holiday decadence). We feel great! And let me just tell you that doing 200 squats and 900 (yes, 900) jump ropes is no joke - but we did it! This is a great meal on those kinds of nights - it's super easy and you don't feel like you've wasted your time on squats only to pack it all back on with a rich butter sauce - I save that for the weekend :)

Parmesan Breadcrumbs:

Toast your bread, throw it in the blender with a bit of parsley, some Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Blend and voila!

Note about measurements: I don't do them, I usually just use ratios. Equal parts bread to cheese was too much for me, so I used much more bread to cheese.

Chicken Prep:
Hammer that sucker out flat! I usually pound it out to about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick. It'll cook faster and it tastes better over the greens when it's thin. Dip it in egg/water wash and coat with breadcrumbs. Heat oil (I use grapeseed because it has a higher burn temperature than olive and it also has less cholesterol). Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side until done and sprinkle with a little sea salt. *If you're using a lot of cheese in the breadcrumbs, use more oil because it'll stick to the pan as it cooks.

Throw it all Together With a Vinaigrette:
For the Vinaigrette: whisk together equal parts honey and lime juice. Slowly whisk in olive or grapeseed oil to make an emulsion (use about double from your honey/lime mixture). Add a little salt and taste to adjust any of the ingredients.
Put your greens on the plate - I usually use spinach and some sliced red bell peppers - throw your chicken on top with some shaved Parmesan and drizzle the vinaigrette on top of everything. 
Eat and Enjoy!

If you're looking for a glass of wine, Viognier would be great. If not, sparkling water with a lime.

1)  You've Got to be Kidding Me - A.C. Newman
2)  So He Won't Break - The Black Keys
3)  So Here We Are - Bloc Party
4)  Dirty Life - Ima Robot
5)  Sometimes Always - The Jesus & Mary Chain

Monica's version: Eggplant Parmesan w/Spring Mix Salad
I love eggplant parmesan, even though I rarely make it.  The reason being is that I don't like that most recipes call for frying it to crispy perfection.   

I don't like to fry things unless absolutely necessary. I even oven bake my homemade fries.  So here is my take on a baked eggplant parmesan.  Is it just as yummy as the fried version? Why, yes, yes it is!

Prep the eggplant:

Cut the eggplant in rounds and salt it for about 20 - 30 minutes to remove the bitterness.  This is optional, however, I always prefer to do this in case the eggplant is too bitter.

After that, beat one egg, set aside in a bowl. Prep the bread portion of the breadcrumbs just as Caitlin mentioned. I combined my breadcrumbs with oregano, parmesan cheese, and a pinch of salt.  Dip each eggplant slice in the egg then the breadcrumb mixture.  Lay on baking sheet & top with olive oil drizzle.
Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes or until golden brown & soft in the middle.

Prep the Salad & Vinaigrette:
I decided to make one of my favorite salads to eat alongside my eggplant.  Making it healthier, means no pasta, and substituting those empty calories with a healthy, seasonal salad.  I used a spring mix salad mix with dried cranberries, walnuts, and juicy California Navel Oranges cut into smaller pieces. 

I made a delicious Champagne Vinaigrette to dress the salad inspired by Martha Stewart's recipe: 2 tsp Dijon, 1/4  cup champagne vinegar, 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, pinch of pepper. Whisk it all together, except slowly drizzle in olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

You can opt to eat the eggplant as is, or you can top some slices with mozzarella about 10 minutes before it is done and put it back into the oven to melt.  

I also decided to make an easy marinara sauce, again this is optional.  All I did was mince 4 cloves of garlic and saute in 3 tablespoons of olive oil; then I added a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes with a cup of organic tomato sauce and a few pinches of salt and oregano. I let it come to a boil and simmered it for about an hour on the stove.  It was easy and delicious.

Although there was a bit of prep work involved in making this dish, it was well worth it!  It was the perfect meal for lunch or dinner.  

I made a Mango Spritzer: fill your glas 1/3 full of your favorite mango nectar (I like an all-natural nectar without all the added sugar) and top it off with sparkling water. It's refreshingly perfect!

1)  Listen To My Heart - The Ramones
2)  Peace Officer - Jimmy Cliff
3)  Sweet Talkin' Woman - E.L.O.
4)  Glory Box - Portishead
5)  Cherub Rock - Smashing Pumpkins


Ever make something you've done a thousand times over, but for some reason it just didn't turn out? Frustrating, I know. I've made Stromboli more times than I can count, and it usually turns out the same way. New Years Eve I made a couple different Strombolis to snack on. I just did my thing - make the dough, let it rise, make the filling, roll it out, slap some filling in there, roll it back up, let it rise again and cook. I could probably do it in my sleep. Well, one little stromboli decided it did not want to roll properly and ended up turning into more of a mess than anything else. I admit, I was a little frustrated and took the rolled up mess and kind of threw it on the counter thinking that I had wasted precious dough and filling. While muttering a few choice curse words I stumbled upon my happy accident.

Plan B: I loosely kneaded the dough and some of the salami, cheese and sausage filling and put into my dutch oven in a heap, let it rise again until it filled out the bottom then I cooked it for about 30-40 minutes or so. Voila - it was tasty cheese salami bread that we snacked on New Years day in our jammies while we watched movies and waited for the pork and sauerkraut to finish cooking.

My happy accident...