Breaking Bad Habits, One Meal at a Time

16 Feb

Last night was the ultimate test.  I was tempted to drop by the grocery store on my lunch break and pick up a few things for dinner.  Luckily, I got busy at work and did not have a chance to go.  If you have been reading my blog then you’ll know that I am trying to cook more, and use the foods I already have stocked in my fridge and pantry.  I have developed a habit of going to the grocery store and not using the foods I buy.  I attribute this horrible habit to my indecisive nature.  I can say I want spaghetti for dinner, but end up making meatloaf.  Seriously, it’s ridiculous, and I’ve wasted way too much money and food because of it.

So last night, as I was tempted to pick up my car keys and head out to grab a quick bite (instead of cooking) I stopped and opened the fridge.  Then I opened my cupboards.  I took out a pot and a cutting board, put on some music (I love listening to salsa, while I cook) and got to work.  I had left over mashed potatoes from my valentine’s dinner, and I was in the mood for chicken, which happened to be already thawing in the refrigerator.  I added a few more ingredients, and about 45 minutes later dinner was ready.  With a little self-motivation, I had made dinner, spent no money, and did not let any food go to waste.  Now let’s see if I can do it again tomorrow.

Here’s to breaking bad habits, and finally cooking foods I (we) already have.

Chicken in a Lemon Sauce with Gruyere Mashed Potatoes

Servings: 4

Cook Time: 45 minutes – 1 Hour

Ingredients (Is My Commentary Helpful?)

For Chicken

2 Chicken Breast – as usual I used chicken with the bone in but removed the skin and bones, then sliced the chicken breast in half, leaving 4 thinly sliced pieces

3/4 Cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs

2-3 Tablespoons of Salt

2 Tablespoons of Garlic Powder

1 Teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper

1 Teaspoon of Black Pepper

Olive Oil – to coat the chicken

For Lemon Sauce

2 Tablespoons of Butter – I used Smart Balance

3 Garlic Cloves – Minced

1 Small Onion – Minced

Juice from half of a medium lemon

1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary and Thyme

1/4 Cup Roasted Tomatoes – If you don’t have roasted tomatoes then diced tomatoes will work too.

1/2 Cup of Mushrooms

1 Cups Chicken Stock

1/2 Cup Milk

2 Cups of Fresh Spinach

2 Tablespoons of Flour – Mixed with 4 tablespoons of water, stir to make a paste

Salt and Pepper – to taste

Gruyere Mashed Potatoes

4-6 Medium Golden Potatoes or Red Potatoes – I had both so I mixed them

1 1/2 Cup Shredded Gruyere Cheese – If you don’t have gruyere, use shredded  Swiss or Parmesan/Asiago Cheese

1 Cup Milk

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream – If you do not have heavy cream, just use an additional half cup of milk

1/2 Stick of Butter – You can either use unsalted, but I had smart balance on hand

5 Garlic Cloves – peeled, chopped and minced

Salt and Pepper – to taste

Prep. Time

You can start making the mashed potatoes first as they will take about 20-30 minutes to cook.  In a medium pot, cover the potatoes with cold water, add salt, about 4 tablespoons, cover and bring to a boil.  Cook until they are tender enough to cut or puncture all the way through with a fork.  Drain water, and place back in the pot.  Let the potatoes sit on a back burner (turned off), as you prepare the cheese sauce.  In a medium sauce pan, saute the butter and garlic together for about 3 minutes on medium heat.  Add the milk, and heavy cream, bring to a boil and add the cheese, stirring with a wisk, until all the cheese is blended.  Let simmer for an additional 3-5 minute.  Stir again, before adding mixture to potatoes.  Place the potatoes in a large bowl, and pour cheese sauce over them. I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer with the wisk attachment to blend the potatoes and cheese sauce on a medium high speed for about 5-7 minutes.  If you do not have a Mixer, you can use a hand held, or potato masher.  If you are doing it by hand, you may need to add another 1/2 cup of milk, to get it to a creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken and Sauce

Preheat oven to 375°F

Place aluminum foil on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray or spread about 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto the foil.  Set aside.

Mix bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper in a shallow dish.  Coat the chicken with olive oil and dredge in the bread crumb mixture.  Place on aluminum foil and cover.  Bake for 15 minutes then uncover and let back until golden brown (for about another 10-15 minutes).  If you’d like to speed up the process you can place in broiler (or change your oven setting to a low broil).  YOU MUST stay in the kitchen if you decide to put it in the broiler, it will only take an additional 5-8 minutes to cook and brown.

While the chicken is cooking, you can make the lemon sauce.

In a medium saute pan, melt the butter on medium heat.  Add the garlic, onions, roasted tomatoes and fresh herbs.  Cook until onions are translucent about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken broth and milk.  Bring to a boil, and then add the flour and water mixture.  Stir until sauce has thickened.  Add the juice of half a lemon, and stir in fresh spinach and mushrooms.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Turn the heat down, and let simmer for another 5 minutes, until the spinach has wilted.

Plate the mashed potatoes and chicken breasts, and pour sauce over chicken.  Enjoy!

5 Responses to “Breaking Bad Habits, One Meal at a Time”

  1. Neighbor February 26, 2011 at 6:05 PM #

    Hey girl! I’m trying out the chicken recipe now. I know it will be delish! Wish me luck!

  2. Janae M. February 18, 2011 at 2:29 AM #

    Good job! Though I plan out meals and usually cook what I buy, I am NOTORIOUS for constantly running to the store for ‘a few things’ and I recently added it all up and discovered I was spending up to $200 per month on top of my regular grocery bill on these little trips. Oops! No more of that! So I’m all for cooking whatever is in the pantry. Cool site!

    PS. Yes, your commentary is helpful 🙂

    • OneBigMix February 18, 2011 at 7:28 AM #

      Thanks! I try my best to plan out meals, but am forever changing my mind. It also doesn’t help that I have a Whole Foods and Trader Joes right down the street from my job, making it way too easy for me to stop by and pick up a few things. But, I’m trying to change my ways, for the sake of my bank account.

  3. FinallyFast February 16, 2011 at 4:43 PM #

    I actually find the commentary helpful (I might have to give this a try. The pictures look really yummy!

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