Cheesy Chicken

Attention!  A reward is offered to anyone who can convince my son that there’s more to food than pasta! 

While we are waiting for that miracle to happen, my family is being stuffed with carbs almost every other day.  Jem likes them hot, plane, with lots of butter.  We try to add some color to our plates.

Here is an excellent make-ahead recipe – crunchy and cheesy outside and juicy inside, very well complimented by a serving of gemelli. Calorie heaven!

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  • 1 cup bread crumbs*
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 6  boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


Mix together bread crumbs, cheeses, and pepper.  Dip chicken pieces in melted butter, then in cheese mixture.  At this point I like to freeze extras for future use (wrap each bundle in plastic, and place in freezer bags).


Thaw completely.

Preheat the oven to 350⁰ F (175⁰ C).

Place chicken in large, shallow baking dish

Bake uncovered for 1 hr, until chicken is crispy.

Yields 6 servings.

Serve over your favorite pasta with your favorite tomato sauce!

* Unless you can find real bread crumbs without additives, or you are making your own, try Japanese bread crumbs “Panco”, the ingredients are much less scary looking than generic grocery store horrors, and they do provide an extra crunch

Mandarin Ginger Chicken

The baby displayed a fondness for mandarins! Wonderful!

Naturally, the husband brings home all the mandarins he could get from the farmers market. Wonderful!…

We ate some of them… Juggled with others…  I added a few to the tonight’s dinner, and the citrusy twist made it just perfect.

Here is a yummy 30-minute dinner idea

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  • 3/4 lb chicken breasts or thighs
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbs grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 mandarins, peeled,separated into segments, and cut in half
  • 1.5 cup of assorted vegetables (I had sweet corn, green beans, onions, and sweet peas)


Combine the first 5 ingredients in a zip-lock bag and let marinate in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Chop vegetables, if needed.  Peel the mandarins, separate them into segments and cut each segment in half (I also peeled some skin off).

Heat a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté vegetables for about 3 minutes, set aside.

Sauté the chicken on medium-high heat until browned. Turn the chicken over.

Pour the sauce used to marinate chicken in the pan, bring it to a boil.  Add the vegetables and mandarins.  Cover the pan and steam cook for about 2 minutes.

Slice the chicken and serve with the vegetables over brown rice, sprinkle with some red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.

Russian mom – the master of deception

Just in case getting my kids high on sugar wasn’t impressive enough, I have another great parenting “No-No” to brag about – I lie to them.  Well, technically, it’s not quite lying; it’s more of manipulating… as long as you are paying attention to the details.

Here is how it works.  My son is an extremely picky eater.  It seems he survives solely on bread and pasta.  The only meat he eats is charcoal grilled pork.  It’s almost impossible to make him try anything new.  So, as I’m making my chicken dinner, I keep asking James if he wants any pork and then I serve the chicken and rice to him.  Guess what, if it looks charcoaled enough, he’ll try it! Of course after the deed is done, some honesty doesn’t hurt, you know, technicalities…

Anyways, here is a “pork” dish that has high success rating among my kids.

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  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 0.5 tsp black pepper
  • 1.5 tbs soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbs fish sauce
  • 1.5 tbs canola oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2.5 lbs chicken thighs


This is a great make-ahead meal.  In fact, I just froze 3 extra batches.

Place the first 6 ingredients in a zip lock bag and mix them well.  Add chicken thighs.  If freezing, lay flat in the freezer for up to 3 months; otherwise let marinate in the fridge for 12-24 hours.


If the chicken was frozen, thaw before cooking.

Preheat the broiler to 500 F.  Grease broiling pan with cooking spray. Place chicken thighs on it and broil for 5 minutes.  Turn the pieces and broil for another 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with cilantro and/or green onions.  Serve over rice with Vietnamese soy sauce and fresh cucumber.

Drunken Goat Sandwich

It feels so warm and cozy when you pull a freshly baked loaf of bread from your oven.  Probably the smells remind me of my grandmother’s house.  My tireless babushka managed to build a perfect home with a capital “H”.  All of us –  her daughters, sons-in-law, grand-kids, and great grand-kids will always call her house our Home for as long as she is there.  I still remember waking up in the mornings to the aroma of her pirojki, with fire cracking in the old-style furnace.  These scents and these feelings live in my House of Dreams. One day I will be waking up my kids or grand-kids with freshly baked goodies in my own home… 

 …for now though, I’m just happy practicing in the rental!

So, I prepped a walnut raisin loaf yesterday and left it in the fridge for the final raise.  We have a serious problem with this bread.  It’s so tasty, we cannot stop eating it!  That’s a LOT of carbs to be consuming at once…  So, I have a wonderful plan to fill our tummies with healthier goodies while still enjoying the carbohydrate heaven.    

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  • 2 slices of walnut-raisin bread
  • 2 tsp goat cheese
  • ½ tsp fresh cranberry sauce
  • ½ cup mixed baby greens
  • 1 tsp vinaigrette salad dressing
  • ½ chicken breast
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • ¼ thinly slices onion
  • 1 slice of bacon, cooked
  • ¼ thinly slices bell pepper
  • A few slices of English cucumber
  • Lemon peel


Toast the bread

Season the chicken and grill  for 4-6 minutes until ready.  By the way, I love my George Foreman with removable plates – so easy to clean!

Mix the salad greens (as well as cucumber, pepper, cucumber, and onion) with the salad dressing

Spread goat cheese on one of the toasts, spread cranberry sauce over it; top with chicken (and bacon), and cover with the greens.

Add some lemon zest on top.

Spray the grill with oil spray and grill the sandwich one more time.

Serve with fresh greens like carrots and cherry tomatoes, I also added steamed broccoli.

Trim your waistline with yoga and cabbage!

I got my calorie counter in place and ready to roll!  The first challenge on the way to skinny me – bribing my kids with ice-cream this morning to get them smile for the Christmas photographs.  Oh… that ice-cream looked so good!   

And the happy-smiley-looking-at-the-camera-shot:

“You wish, mom”…

Mommy stayed strong and didn’t touch the ice-cream!  The kids won yet another battle – I didn’t manage to get a single image of them both smiling and looking at the camera at the same time!  

So, tonight’s plan is to load the kids on the husband and let them enjoy Russian Story Time (heh heh heh!  With Dave’s 5-word Russian vocabulary it’s going to be interesting…).  Meanwhile I’m going to be making myself gorgeous for 90 minutes at Ocean Avenue Hot Yoga!  The best way to lose 2 lbs in 1.5 hours!   If you never did hot yoga, and interested in trying, here is my  advice.  First of all – drink a lot.  I usually have about a gallon of water throughout the day before the class.  One more tip – don’t eat anything for 1.5 – 2 hours before the session.  With these two tricks it’s almost guaranteed you will enjoy the torture!

Here is a light yet delicious dinner idea for tonight. By the way, I find that is an excellent (and free!)  way to help you track your calories!

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  • 1 small cabbage, shredded
  • 2 mid carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 mid apple, peeled, cored, and shredded
  • Salt, pepper, sukanat or sugar to taste
  • 1/3 long English cucumber, diced
  • 1/3 bunch cilantro
  • ½ bell pepper
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1 lb chicken breast, diced
  • ¼ cup peanuts, slightly crushed
  • Chow Mein Noodles (optional)


Mix the first 3 ingredients with a little bit of salt, sukanat or sugar, and pepper in a large bowl and push with your fist for about 1 min to let cabbage juice.

Add the next 3 ingredients

Make a dressing by combining lemon juice, honey, sesame oil.  Taste it before pouring over to make sure it’s not to sweet or sour, modifying the quantity of ingredients to your taste.

Sprinkle the salad with sesame seeds

Separate the mixture in half.

Pour the first half over the salad and let stand.

Preheat a medium frying pan and grease it with sesame oil.  Sauté chicken pieces on it until browned, add crushed peanuts, mix on the pan for about 30 sec, and pour over the rest of juice/honey/oil mixture.

Serve hot chicken on top of the cabbage salad.

Sprinkle with Chow Mein Noodles if you wish.

Yummy and healthy!


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