You can’t go wrong with Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken for dinner!
It comes together easier than one might think and is ready in under 30 minutes!

pepperoni stuffed chicken

One thing I really miss about making dinner in the summer is grilling chicken.  Grilled anything really.  So when it comes time to put a little chicken in the menu rotation stuffing it with pepperoni makes me miss grilling season a little less.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is difficult to throw together.  It starts with just a chicken breast sliced in half length wise and pounded thin.  Each chicken breast gets a few pepperoni slices, pinch of mozzarella, a dash of italian seasoning and rolled up before gently tossing in a tray of egg and breadcrumbs.

pizza stuffed chicken

You could serve these to guests straight from the oven or slice them like I did above making it a little easier for the kiddos.  Served with a simple green salad, this dinner is here to stay!

I saw this recipe first from one of my favorite bloggers  who got it out of the Skinnytaste Fast and Slow cookbook.  They HAVE NOT resorted to using their iPhone for photos like someone I know.  Ahem.  Clearly they’re more awesome and dedicated than I am lately (or ever). I like to think they keep beautiful, I keep it real. So I tell myself.

Anyways…

I left out the mushrooms (though I LOVE them) just to make it easier to roll-up and keep everything together when going to slice.  I also omitted adding diced peppers on top but you could certainly include whatever favorite toppings you like.  Personally, you can’t wrong with keeping it simple. 

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Ingredients

  • 2-3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 12-18 slices pepperoni
  • 1/3 cup garlic and herb seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 TB parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c egg whites or 1 egg
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup marinara or pizza sauce
  • finely diced red onion

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use non stick spray and set aside.
  2. In a small tray or plate add the egg and fresh lemon juice and in another the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Set each aside.
  3. Start by pounding your chicken breasts, that have been sliced in half, to about 1/4 in thick. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and italian seasoning.
  4. Assemble each chicken breast with 3 pepperoni's on one end topped with a bit of mozzarella. Roll up the chicken and gently coat with the egg mixture then into the breadcrumbs.
  5. Place each chicken roll up seam side down on your prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven.
  7. Top each chicken roll-up with a spoonful of pizza sauce, more mozzarella cheese and your diced red onion. Return to the oven for 2-5 more minutes or until the cheese is melted and chicken is cooked through.
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Chicken

With the beginning of a new year often comes unrealistic and broad goal setting.  THIS year I will get in shape.  THIS year I will eat better. THIS year I will avoid X and do more of Y.  Even beyond New Year’s resolutions it’s easy to set such broad goals  or keep telling yourself “I’ll start on Monday,” without focusing on the realistic and sometimes wavy path to get you there.

Setting broad goals sets you up for failure.  Thinking you can get from point A to point B along a perfectly straight path sets you up for failure. 

You start out on a Monday (doesn’t everybody say “I’ll start on Monday!”) and after a few weeks of sticking to a routine your schedule has a few hiccups because…life happens…and you abandon it all together.  Maybe not indefinitely but you repeatedly pattern this cycle of starting and stopping.  A little voice tells you to just give up.

Learning to make fitness a lifestyle means a little detour from time to time doesn’t cause you to give up. Perhaps the best analogy to illustrate this is getting a flat tire.  You don’t slash the other 3 because 1 went flat.  You fix it and roll on.

don’t abandon your goal because of a small detour

Setting realistic goals starts with identifying what you’re truly after then making them attainable and measurable!

If your goal is to lose weight what will you do today, this week, this month?  Do you know how much you can safely lose per week?  What will your nutrition look like? How will you track your progress? How will you incorporate weight training?

If your goal is performance based, how much time do you have before your event? Have you broken your training down by each week? Do you have a base of aerobic fitness?  How much time do you have to dedicate to your workouts?

These are just general ideas and certainly not the end-all-be-all of questions or scenarios.  Start by jotting down your main goal and work on developing a realistic plan.

I’ve been working with a handful of clients recently that have entrusted me to train them.  I’m grateful for the experience prior to testing for my Personal Trainer certification because it’s allowed me to apply what I’ve learned and get a system for solid lines of communications developed.

Each client has different goals and each plan is tailored specifically to meet those goals.  There’s no 30 day guarantee to shredded abs program.  There’s also not advice of abandoning ice cream or pizza or any food group for that matter.  There’s resistance training (because it’s fundamental) and cardio (because it’s important) but not a one size fits all approach.

The programs I’ve currently put into place are roughly 12 weeks in length.  Those 12 weeks are delivered 4 weeks at a time with weekly check ins.  Adjustments are made if needed from week to week based on the day to day. That’s how goals are reached.

One of my goals came from discovering a weakness or rather inability I didn’t know I had. 

Recently after finishing my leg routine at the gym I set out to finish with some explosive box jumps.  (If you’re not familiar it’s simply jumping up onto a platform usually 2 feet or higher with both feet at the same time).  I didn’t write a number of sets or even reps in my logbook I set out to perform but rather just planned to do as many as I could, based on how I felt.

That would be my starting place I would build upon.

I grabbed a 2 foot high box and moved it out into the open.  Took a deep breath, squatted down with my hands behind me, ready to explode onto the box.

What happened next seemed like it was in slow motion.

My heels started to come off the floor as my arms started to swing forward and instead of rising up victoriously, I fell onto the box.  My toes never came off the floor.

Turns out I have a fear of jumping onto something with two feet at the same time.  If you need a mental image of what this looks like WATCH THIS VIDEO.

My goal is to master the box jump.  Why? Because my body is capable, it’s my mind that needs the work.

Isn’t that the case with reaching goals sometimes?  We’re often physically capable, but our minds rule our actions.

Start today even if that means starting with something small. Persistence pays off! Consistency wins over perfection. 

Find your strengths and recognize your weaknesses.  It’s all part of your story.

Health & Fitness

Leftover turkey (or chicken) stuffed shells have become a tradition at my house after Thanksgiving.  There’s always leftovers to be enjoyed but these turkey stuffed shells smothered with a delicious white cheese sauce can also be made year round…so don’t wait until next year!

turkey stuffed shells

 It might be hard to tell from the fuzzy photo, but my homemade stuffing I make every year at Thanksgiving has a combination of sausage, celery, apples and dried cranberries. It’s beyond delicious and full of flavor.  However, any boxed stuffing mix will work in these shells and you can always add to it if you wish!

If you don’t have any leftover turkey a rotisserie chicken is hard to beat!  And there will be leftovers from that too for another meal…I’m all about making things stretch!

white cheese sauce

After you assemble all the turkey (or chicken) stuffed shells in the bottom of a casserole dish, you simply cover them in a delicious white cheese sauce.

Did I mention the cheese sauce has wine in it?

Seriously good.

turkey or chicken stuffed shells

That sauce!  As it cooks in the oven making its way into every nook and cranny of the shells it gets a little thicker and further develops in flavor.

This dish is so comforting over the winter months and perfect for entertaining guests.  In fact, that’s how I came upon this recipe!  A friend of mine served this at a luncheon and I knew immediately it would be a family favorite.

stuffed shells in white cheese sauce

Serve alongside some fresh or leftover veggies, corn, or a simple salad.  No matter what you serve with it, the shells will be the star of the meal.  And you may as well put the bottle of wine on the table too…

enjoy!

Leftover Turkey or Chicken Stuffed Shells in White Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups diced leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 1 1/2 cups herb seasoned stuffing mix (or leftovers from Thanksgiving!)
  • 1/2 box Jumbo shells (approximately 15-20)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 TB flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 TB white wine
  • 6 oz. shredded monterey jack cheese (more for topping optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl add turkey/chicken and stuffing. Gently stir to combine and set aside.
  3. Prepare jumbo shells according to package.
  4. While the shells are boiling, prepare the cheese sauce by melting butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Add flour and whisk continually for 30 seconds - 1 minute. Slowly add chicken broth and stir to combine. Add milk and wine. Gently stir and allow sauce to heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lastly add the shredded cheese and stir over low heat until cheese is well blended.
  6. Pour about 1/4 of the sauce into the bowl with turkey and stuffing and stir to combine. Add a few spoonfuls of sauce to the bottom of a 9x13 casserole and begin stuffing shells and placing in dish. Pour remaining cheese sauce over top the shells and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes. Additional shredded cheese can be placed on top if desired.
  7. *If using chicken I recommend using a rotisserie to save time and add flavor!
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Double Duty Dinner Pasta

I’ve wanted to share this recipe for Oven Baked Mexican Sloppy Joes for a few months now.  Listen, this takes sloppy joes to a whole new level of awesomeness.  Words can’t adequately describe their scrumptious perfection.

mexican sloppy joe

Unlike my #1 homemade sloppy joes, these mexican inspired bad boys get tossed in the oven with a heavenly glaze overtop the buns.  The glaze gives the tops a bit of a sweet crunch yet they stay steamy and soft and all melty inside.  I might claim this as sloppy joe perfection, people. 

Now I still love the classic version because it’s delicious without the bun (served alongside some broccoli or piled high on some macaroni and cheese).  BUT, you need both recipes in your life! 

These come together in a snap:  brown the meat, toss in the seasonings, add a can of tomatoes with green chiles and dump it on the bottoms of hamburger buns assembled in your casserole dish.  Slap each sloppy joe with a good ol’ slice of American cheese and…(meet me at the next picture…)

oven baked burgers

…Finish them with a slather of glaze.  Now, this glaze is something that I’m very familiar with because my mom slathers it on top of her famous ham and cheese baked sandwiches, which are made in similar fashion.

oven baked sloppy joes

When they come out of the oven the tops have caramelized a bit giving them a nice sweet and slight crunch.

Notice the bun without sesame seeds? Every party has a pooper and that would be my 6 year old son.  He’s anti seed aka, “weird things on my bun.”

But we love him dearly and I provided a seed-less bun.

sloppy joes

Anyone close to me knows I love breakfast (and food in general).  I wake up and immediately want food.  Weekdays I usually rise at 6:15 and have a small snack, then closer to 8 I have a real breakfast, then usually around 10am I have a post workout snack before lunch…

Why am I telling you this?

Because I discovered a reheated mexican sloppy joe for breakfast is the bees knees!  You know those food informercials that show people taking a bite while awkwardly smiling and nodding their heads?? THESE SLOPPY JOES WILL CAUSE THAT EFFECT!

Well, they did for me.  I love mixing non-traditional breakfast food at breakfast once in a while.

baked sloppy joe

Make these for your family, your next social gathering and hit me with your comments!

Oven Baked Mexican Sloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 10oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles (I use Kroger brand), undrained
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 6 slices american cheese
  • 6 regular size hamburger buns
  • Glaze
  • 2 TB unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 heaping tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, brown beef and onions. Drain and return to pan.
  2. Add garlic, tomatoes, salt and cumin. Allow to simmer 5 minutes to reduce some of the liquid.
  3. While beef mixture cooks, arrange hamburger buns in bottom of 9x13 casserole dish.
  4. In a small microwaveable bowl add butter and cook 15 seconds at a time until melted. Stir in remaining glaze ingredients and set aside.
  5. Spoon beef mixture on top of buns. Add a slice of cheese to each and place the top bun on.
  6. Using a basting brush, gently brush each top bun with the glaze mixture allowing it to coat the sides of the bun a little as well.
  7. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Allow to sit at least 5 minutes to cool upon removing from oven.
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recipe slightly adapted from www.kevinandamanda.com

Sandwich