Baked Chicken Parmesan & Zoodles

My parents got married on May 16, 1954 in Ridgewood, NY.  I have no idea what the weather was that day, or who was in my mother’s bridal party beside her twin brother Walter and my father’s only sister Catherine.  I do know that my mother’s gown was in the style of Princess Grace and borrowed from her girlfriend.  I do know that they were both very much in love that day and that’s never changed.  I also know her parents, especially her mother, didn’t approve of my father because he was an Irish Catholic.  My grandparents had hoped my mother would marry someone better, but what they didn’t realize was that she married one of the best men ever.  If they only knew how he cares for her now, as he did their entire marriage, they’d surely change their thinking.18A6340E-D300-4DBA-B749-7201A859A55C.jpeg

Sixty four years later my mom lives in a full time care center, not by choice but by necessity.  My mom has Alzheimer’s, a degenerative brain disease that robs one of their memories and ability to function.  For ten years my dad lovingly cared for mom at home, including feeding and diapering her himself.  It wasn’t until there was no other option, that he agreed to place her in the care center.  Even though she has no idea, he goes and sits there with her every single day.  He still feeds her, even though there are people there who can do so.  He brings nice outfits for the aides to dress her in and makes sure her hair is done.   Though many have criticized him for sitting there each day, there is truly no place he’d rather be.  If you’ve ever read the Notebook, you know how the story goes.  It’s heartbreaking, yet so inspiring at the same time.62F3421B-2D38-4C2C-8B27-BC97E5BF133D.jpeg

I see so many sad people when I visit the care center.  One gentlemen never married and has no family to care for him.  He placed himself in the center to live out his remaining years.  Another, after eight years in the care center, still talks about how he is getting better and will be going home soon.  He has no idea that his wife will never be taking him home again.   Not too many people come to visit these long term patients, only the rehab patients seem to have visitors.  Believe me it is extremely hard for me to go there and visit.  I dread it and some weeks it takes me a few days to not feel depressed.  When we visit we always bring Sonny along because the people there love seeing him.  We always seem to end up with other patients sitting with us when we visit, but we really don’t mind.  Like my dad, I know that there’s no place I’d rather be.

 

 

Today, after so many days of dreary gray skies and rain, the sun made a comeback.  When I went outside this morning, I couldn’t believe how hot and humid it was.  Yesterday, we had heat on in the house and today we need air conditioning.  Cooking is very therapeutic for my after my visit to the care center.  Music, wine and cooking are the best medicine to get me out of my funk.  Today, I decided to make my husband’s favorite dish today, Chicken Parmesan.  I decided to try to lighten it up though and make a somewhat healthier version.  I used chicken tenderloins instead of full breasts and baked them instead of frying.  The tenderloins were just the right portion to eat 4-6 ounces of chicken, which is all you really need.  We both felt the chicken was super tender and delicious and it cooked a lot faster too.  Swapping out the pasta for zoodles also helped to lighten up the meal.

I made a pot of Sunday Sauce this morning to use in this recipe.  I did not make meatballs as we were eating the chicken today.  I did put some hot sausage, removed from casing, into the sauce for flavor.  Recipe for Sunday Sauce can be found by clicking here – Sunday Gravy

I made the zoodles about two hours before we ate them.  I cut them in half today (after spiralizing) to make them easier to eat, as they come out very long.   Zoodles really are awesome and honestly make me feel like I don’t miss spaghetti.  The consistency of them raw works best for me.  Recipe for zoodles can be found by clicking here – Mother’s Day

FE76AFDD-C108-4D2A-94DF-C243275E3318.jpeg

Baked Chicken Parmesan & Zoodles

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast tenderloin (1 lb. package was enough for two with leftovers)
  • Panko
  • 2 eggs
  • Fresh mozzarella sliced into strips

Directions:

  1. Cover baking tray with aluminum foil and spray lightly with olive oil spray
  2. Mix two eggs in flat bowl dish
  3. Place panko in second flat bowl dish
  4. Dip chicken in eggs, then panko and place on oiled tray
  5. Spray all chicken lightly with olive oil spray
  6. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and place in cooking tray with sauce in bottom
  8. Top with mozzarella strips and cover with aluminum foil
  9. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes covered.
  10. Serve immediately over zoodles and add sauce as needed.9F17D2BF-6920-45A3-BA91-3347DC9A42E5.jpeg

79883623-8AAA-4459-851A-2611967F1A46.jpeg

 

Mother’s Day

I come from a long line of strong women.  My grandmothers Maria and Catherine were both strong, determined women who faced hardship in their lives.  They both modeled for me how to persevere and overcome obstacles with grace and dignity.  My mother was also a strong woman.  She was married in the 1950s at a time when most women did not work outside the home.  She was a stay at home mother to my two brothers and I and fully embraced her role as our caregiver.  Our house was always spotless and our life was pretty much stress free.  Mom found her true love when she was quite young and that has lasted over 60 years, in sickness and health.  She loved my dad more than anything and put him and us kids first every day of her life.

My brothers and I grew up loved and cared for even though we didn’t always have a lot.  We did always have dinner on our table and clothes on our backs.  We also always had unconditional love, as my mother put us first always.  Becoming a grandmother was the happiest time in my mother’s life.  I believe that is because my mother was a born nurturer.  She had endless patience with my children, probably more than she had with my brothers and I.  As long as they were able, my mom and dad made the trip out to my house every Sunday without fail to spend time with us and eat Sunday dinner.

Unfortunately, those days are gone now.  My mom suffers from Alzheimers and doesn’t know her own family anymore.  That is so hard for most people to even imagine or understand.  Many tell me that deep down she knows who I am.  I tell them she does not.  They tell me a mother’s heart could never forget.  I tell them it can.  At this point, she does not even know my dad, her husband of over 60 years, who sits with her every single day without fail.  I can’t think of a worse fate for my mother, who so loved her family, to suffer than this.  So, on this Mother’s Day I look back on the many wonderful memories of Mother’s Days gone by.  I can still see my mother and aunt cooking Roast Pork and potato balls in the kitchen, their tables perfectly set with china and crystal and  the house filled with kids and laughter.  These are the memories I hold tightly to these days.12A65D94-C375-4989-9400-F327E1F805D0

These days it’s just my family coming over for this holiday.  I know I’m supposed to celebrate and enjoy the day, but it is a hard day for me so we keep it simple and relaxing.  Today’s rainy weather was just perfect for this kind of low key day.  My daughter made it home first showing up before 8:00 this morning.  We went to an early yoga class together to prepare for our day.  Following that we came home and had a nice breakfast.  As we began to prepare for our Sunday sauce, my son arrived.  My other son was not able to come home this weekend and we missed him a lot.  We spoke with him on the phone and I’ll be going down by his house in a few weeks.  With the sauce simmering on the stove we all settled in to play some board games.  Today’s game choice was Scrabble since the rain kept us inside the house.

Today, we decided to have our traditional Sunday sauce (recipe can be found here Sunday Gravy).   Since I’m doing mostly plant based recipes these days, I decided to forgo the spaghetti for my plate.  I had two beautiful zucchinis that I purchased yesterday and pulled out my spiralizer and made some zoodles.  My daughter made a pot of spaghetti for anyone who wanted, but many ate the zoodles too.  They were delicious and worked perfectly with the sauce and meatballs.  I ate the zoodles raw, but you can certainly boil for a quick minute if you want them warmed.  I found the sauce warmed them up just enough for me.  Topped with parmesan, this was the perfect Mother’s Day meal.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Zoodles & Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 2 large green zucchini (washed, not peeled)
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Cut ends off washed zucchini
  2. Place into the spiralizer and spiralize
  3. Catch zoodles in salad basket and place over sink to drain
  4. Sprinkle zoodles with salt and let sit for approximately 20 minutes.
  5. Store zoodles in the refrigerator in a covered container lined with paper towels. The zoodles will release additional moisture as they sit in the container in your fridge.  The paper towel will absorb the moisture.
  6. Let zoodles come to room temperature before serving, or boil for one minute.

B2637945-14BF-492C-9A3F-E74927172724.jpeg

This is the spiralizer I use – Paderno World Cuisine.  (Click photo to view)

Spiralize for Strength

Now that I’m moving back into my training cycle, it’s time to get serious about my nutrition.  Proper nutrition is just as important, if not more, than the actual training I need to do.  Fueling properly improves my chance of enjoying the runs and having the energy to complete the distance.  Without it my body will not perform at the level I need and I know full well that feeling of running with cement shoes on my feet.  I’ve been a rather bad girl this winter as I recovered from my broken toes.  It’s time to clean up my act and get back to fueling my body properly.

Being a self proclaimed veggie hater, I’m always looking for ways to sneak those needed vegetables into my day.  Last year I purchased a spiralizer and began experimenting with all different types of veggie noodles.  I tend to play it safe and use zucchini most often as it’s pretty bland and doesn’t overpower recipes.  I can’t say I won’t ever eat pasta again because my love affair with homemade pasta runs deep.  I can say it’s a great options for many recipes that allows you to have the texture of pasta without the grains.  Most veggie noodles can be eaten raw or lightly cooked making it a great choice for weeknight meals.  What a great way to sneak those vegetables into the day.

Today I read this article, which I found to be excellent. It really sums up the process of making veggie noodles, including benefits and cooking suggestions.

http://blog.paleohacks.com/gluten-free-noodles/

Give it a try!  You never know which veggie noodle you’ll like.  I’ve discovered I do like red beets, something I swore would never touch my lips.

Here’s the link to the spiralizer I originally purchased and the fancy one I just got a super deal one.  The inexpensive one works just fine and I’ve used it for over a year.  I just wanted a better one because it has more options.

 

This one is a thing of beauty and I leave it on my counter as I use it often.  Super heavy and well made.  It is expensive, but a great investment for the foodies in the group.  You’ll use it for so many salads this summer, as well as your veggie noodles.

What are your favorite veggie noodles? Share your recipe and ideas below.