Chicken with Bruschetta Topping - Makes 4 servings
I had to put this one first because it's my favorite recipe in this book. Like my children, I love them all, but this one just has a special place in my heart (and like one of my children, it happened by accident-kidding!) I'm always mixing and matching ingredients in the kitchen; one day, I mixed up a bruschetta topping but ran out of bread, so I pulled some chicken breasts from the freezer and ecco!
3 ripe plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 medium celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 11/2 pounds)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450ºF. Lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
2. Combine the tomatoes, onion, celery, wine, parsley, oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Set aside while the oven is preheating.
3. One at a time, place a chicken breast half between 2 plastic storage bags. Using a flat meat pounder or a rolling pin, pound the chicken until it is 1/2-inch thick. Season with the salt and black pepper.
4. Arrange the chicken in the prepared baking pan. Spoon equal amounts of the tomato mixture over each chicken breast half, then pour any of the liquid in the bowl around the chicken. Bake until the tomato mixture is hot and the chicken is opaque throughout, 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Transfer each chicken breast half with its topping to a dinner plate, then pour the pan juices on top. Serve hot.
Balsamic Green Beans - Makes 8 servings
These are my specialty-one of my most favorite side dishes. I serve them warm for dinner, and cold for lunch. And even though they don't have strings on them anymore, we still call them "string beans" in my house.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
1. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat.
2. Heat the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper together in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Do not let the mixture come to a boil. Remove from the heat and let stand while cooking the green beans.
3. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander. Transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar mixture, toss well, and serve hot.
String Green Bean Salad
If you have leftover Balsamic Green Beans, you can whip up a quick, delicious, nutritious salad with them. Mix them with a can of tuna, some chopped grape tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon, and a spoonful of low-fat mayo.
Pignoli Cookies - Makes about 3 dozen cookies
These are my absolute favorite cookies. Come to my house bearing a box of these, and you're a friend forever! Pignoli means "pine nut" in Italian. The nuts the cookies are rolled in that make them easy to spot anywhere-but they get the bulk of their flavor from the almond paste. Even though these are cookies (and you should resist eating a whole tray of them!), they don't have any oil, butter, shortening, chocolate, or other diet-busting ingredients. Just one egg white, a little sugar, and delicious, nutritious nuts.
2 (7-ounce) tubes almond paste
11/3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (3 ounces) pine nuts
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or use nonstick baking sheets.
2. Crumble the almond paste into a large, deep bowl. Sprinkle about half of the confectioner's sugar over the almond paste. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed, gradually adding the remaining sugar until the mixture is broken into fine crumbs. Add the egg white and vanilla and beat until smooth and the mixture forms a sticky dough. Let stand for 5 minutes.