Throwback Thursday Dinner #TBTD

It appears the common theme this week is food to feed a busy schedule and a body aching from head to toe as a result of a tough crossfit week.

Giving into the #TBT trend—why not bring back a classic, easy, and make-ahead meal courtesy of my good friend Jules—baked goat cheese salad. This was a simple, flavor-packed meal that my friend Jules gifted to our group of friends just after college graduation, when money was tight and we were developing finer pallets.

This dinner can be easily misconstrued as unassuming—but the real reason to give this a try is its ability to pack a punch of bright flavor, as well as its ease in preparation and storage. I often prepare the goat cheese patties several days to a week ahead of time, seal them up in freezer-safe plastic bags and take them out as needed for dinners, lunches and even appetizers.

These delectable cheese parcels are perfect on top salad greens (from spinach to arugula to romaine) and even with some hearty crackers or veggies for dipping. Let your imagination go wild – or if you are like some workaholics (eh em) you can even choose to eat these sans veggies altogether.

Goat cheeseCulinary creativity does not stop at the peripheral accompaniments to this treat—you can experiment with the type of goat cheese and even the crusty topping. For instance, I often mix up the goat cheese from prepared fresh goat cheese with honey to mixing ad hoc spices (oregano, parsley, rosemary) with plain fresh goat cheese. And if you really put yourself out there, you may want to try swapping out crushed Melba Snacks, with panko bread crumbs—live a little!

So after another killer crossfit workout, consisting of thrusters (awkward term, effective for toning the shoulders and upper back) and box jumps (tough plyometric that somehow makes me smile like a child every time)—it was time for a delicious dinner.

TBT Goat Cheese Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes
Freeze Time: 5 minutes to 5 days

4 oz. fresh goat cheese
1 egg white
1-1 ½ cups Melba Snack crackers, crushed
Salt and pepper
Spices, as needed (use your imagination)
Salad greensGoat cheese salad

Divide and shape the goat cheese into 2 patties. Place the crackers in a plastic bag, sealing tightly and use a rolling pin to crush the crackers into bread-crumb-sized pieces. Set up 2 bowls, placing the crushed crackers in 1 and the egg whites in the other. Dredge the goat-cheese patties in the egg whites, coating evenly, and then dredge in the crushed crackers.

Place the patties into plastic bags and store in the freezer for at least 5 minutes, but they can be left in tightly sealed bags for up to a week.

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the patties on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake until soft, approximately 12 minutes. Place on a bed of greens and enjoy!

A Case of the Mondays: Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

Middle management can sometimes get the best of even the most seasoned workaholic—can’t win with upper management and can’t win with your direct reports—stuck between a rock and a hard place was a term coined from the experiences of a middle manager—if it’s not, it sure feels that way.

Now we all know that when you come home, work needs to stay at work—do not make a habit of bringing your work drama home—well today I brought it all home (thankfully it was just the dogs and I—my boyfriend happens to be half a world away in Beijing for work).

Despite getting home at 4:15 pm (hooray), I sat outside with the pups and reflected upon a turbulent day filled with plenty of double-dealing, hidden agendas and general craziness—typical case of the Mondays in Office Space speak—but instead of reaching for a bottle of vino or continuing the vicious cycle of negativity propagated by one disgruntled employee, I chose to channel the energy into cooking.Chicken 1

Why not eat your feelings right?

After cruising through and feeling less than inspired, I decided to play with some oven-fried chicken—why not cook it out in order to thicken my professional skin—the results—skinless Mexican-inspired oven-fried chicken with a cool ranch dipping sauce.

Spicy Oven-Fried Chicken with Cool Ranch Dipping Sauce
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 2
2 chicken breasts, patted dry
½ cup flour
2 eggs whites
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder

For Cool Ranch Dipping Sauce
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
1-2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Traditional Seasoning

Preheat oven to 415 degrees F and spray with baking dish with nonstick spray

Set out 3 bowls—1 with flour, 1 with egg whites and 1 with panko bread crumbs combined with black pepper, cumin, turmeric and chili powder. Take dry chicken breast and dredge in flour, making sure to get in the crevasses, gently brush off any loose flour before dredging in the egg white mixture. Cover the chicken in the egg white mixture and finally dredge in the panko bread crumbs—making sure to get in the crevasses again. Place on baking dish, being careful not to crowd the chicken.

Bake 20 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 165 degrees F, and let rest 5 minutes before serving

Chicken 2While the chicken is baking, combine the sour cream, chives, garlic, black pepper and Mrs. Dash seasoning in a small bowl, let stand until chicken is ready

Hopefully this boneless, skinless chicken recipe is enough to thicken your skin after a tough day as a middle management workaholic—so pull up your chair, enjoy dinner and let the haters be silenced.

Happy Monday workaholics and keep your heads up!

Start the Spring with Swiss Chard

We are now enjoying the second day of Spring—however—with the temperatures hovering around a balmy 31 degrees and with a little over a foot of snow left on the frozen ground, there’s little hope for green grass, flowers, and chirping birds.

I guess this transitional season is what prompts the inevitable spring cleaning—indoors where it is a comfortable 70 degrees. After a morning full of cleaning, organizing and pining over the summer clothes that would have to remain in storage for a few more long months—it was time for a warm filing meal.

A nice one-pot wonder was the immediate go-to for this afternoon’s lunch (and I was also Ingredientslooking for a way to use the Swiss chard from this week’s organic produce delivery)—Chicken and Rice with Swiss Chard (as loosely adapted from Full Fork Ahead):

• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 4 chicken breasts
• Kosher salt and pepper
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems cut into ½-inch pieces, leaves torn into 2-3-inch pieces
• 1 small (or ½ medium) sweet onion, diced
• 1 ½ cups butternut squash, cubed into 1-inch pieces
• Zest from 1 lemon
• ¼ cup dry white wine
• 1 ½ cups basmati rice, uncooked
• 2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

Pat chicken breasts dry with towel—season with salt and pepper. Heat large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with olive oil and butter. When oil and butter are heated, add 2 chicken breasts—working in batches, allowing them to cook for about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken breasts to plate.

Chicken and rice with swiss chardReduce heat to medium and add garlic, Swiss chard stems, sweet onion and butternut squash. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent (approximately 3-4 minutes). Add Swiss chard leaves, lemon zest, rice and white wine—cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to quick simmer. Reduce heat to a simmer and season with additional salt and pepper. Arrange chicken on top of rice and vegetable mixture. Cover and cook until water is fully absorbed by rice—depending on the brand of basmati rice, this could take between 25-45 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.

This warm bowl of goodness was just enough to do the trick after a long morning—and even spurred some additional prep work for the week—a refrigerator full of mason jar salads, not-your-momma’s oatmeal and left over chicken and rice with Swiss chard.Refrigerator Stocking

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