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Wheat & Brown Sugar Crusted Chicken Sandwich

22 Jun

A few weeks ago my mom, Keira and I took a drive to Albany, NY to visit my grandma and help her move in to my aunt’s house. After we arrived there Friday afternoon, we spent the rest of the day moving things here and there, organizing and getting ready for the more labor-induced Saturday that was quickly approaching. By 6pm we were starving. And so Omi (my gma), Maria (Mama Roy), Aunt Susie, Keira and I set out to find some grub.

“Oh look!” says Maria excitedly as we begin to approach a cute little bar/restaurant called The Ginger Man. “There’s my old stomping grounds!”

[Stomping grounds? Nerd alert…]

Then she talked enthusiastically about how she and her friends used to “hang there” when she was in high school. The twinkle in her eyes was unavoidable. There you have it – we would dine at The Ginger Man.

It was in an interesting location – sandwiched between two multi-family homes that were obviously used for housing University of Albany students. I was skeptical at first but figured I’d go along with it – for Maria.

I ordered the Hazelnut Crusted Chicken: A thinned chicken breast coated with finely ground hazelnuts on grilled focaccia bread with lettuce, tomato, basil mayo and roasted red peppers. My mouth is watering as I type this. It. Was. Un. Be. Lievable. The side of sweet potato fries didn’t hurt, either.

To this day, I still think about this dish. And so I decided to do my best to replicate it however instead of using a hazelnut coating, I used whole wheat flour and sweetened it up a little with some brown sugar. I also used red pepper hummus in place of the mayo to make it even healthier. And finally, because I didn’t have any focaccia rolls, I used whole wheat Kaiser rolls instead.

Serves 2


1 large chicken breast, sliced in half lengthwise

¼ cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tbsp red pepper hummus

2 tbsp roasted red peppers

2 slices provolone cheese

A few slices of red onion

A couple lettuce leaves

A few slices of tomato

2 whole wheat Kaiser rolls


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  On a plate or in a shallow bowl, mix together the flour and brown sugar and set aside.

3.  Wash and dry chicken thoroughly then coat both pieces well with the flour and brown sugar mixture.

4.  Place the chicken in a baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes in your preheated oven.

5.  While chicken is cooking, toast your rolls and start assembling the sandwich with your lettuce, tomato and onions on the bottom half of the roll.  Spread hummus on the top half of your rolls.

6.  When chicken is done cooking, cut each piece of chicken in half so that both pieces fit nicely on your roll.  Top with roasted red peppers  – which truly take this sandwich to the next level – and provolone cheese and then add the “lid” to your sandwich.

7.  Try very hard not to scarf this brilliance down… savor every bite!

I added a little ketchup to mine.... holy perfection.

I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow… because yes, I made enough to carry on this meal into tomorrow afternoon.  MMmmm… enjoy!

– Alex

Chicken and Shrimp Drowned in Veggies

21 Jun

I feel like it’s been sooo long since the last post but there’s a good reason for it:  The Sliva clan went to a wedding over the weekend and then celebrated Father’s Day so it was certainly a pretty busy weekend.  The wedding was great – we all had a really good time just all being together.  It’s tough to get ALL the sibs together (and they’re significant others) in one room at any given time!!

Jaxon & Alex

Mr. & Mrs. Bear

The whooole gang... minus Keira Bedeira

Meg (Jimmy’s girl), Jim Bob, Andrew (sister Dan’s man), Jackie, Mom, Dad, Bridgey Boo, Alex & Mike

All the girlies plus lucky Andrew

Yup, a good time was had by all…. between eating (fantastic) food and drinking (yummy/sinful) cocktails, we were in for a good cleanse in the days to come… which brings me to my next recipe: chicken & shrimp covered in veggies with a lil’ whole wheat pasta.

I’m going to give you just a rough idea of what I did because I really didn’t measure anything – just threw it all into a pan and brilliance was made.


Some chicken, cubed into bite-sized pieces

A good handful of uncooked shrimp

Lots of red/green/yellow bell pepper slices

3 or 4 Asparagus spears, chopped into thirds

Red and white onion slices

A little bitta garlic

A splash of white wine

A squirt or two of lemon juice

A healthy handful of fresh basil, chopped

2 oz cooked whole wheat spaghetti

A sprinkle of Pecorino Romano cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste


1.  Make the spaghetti according to package directions.

2.  Sautéed the peppers, onions and chicken in the garlic, white wine and lemon juice until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes or so (depending on how big your pieces are).  Add the shrimp and cook until pink.  Add salt and pepper and toss.

3.  Add cooked pasta, toss together and throw it into a nice big bowl.  Add basil and cheese.  Dig.  In.  YUM.

There’s nothing like a big bowl of colorful, crunchy, vegetabely (yup, new word in our book) healthiness to get back on track for the week!  Bon Appétit!

Happy (5-days-early) Father’s Day

14 Jun

Tonight we celebrated Father’s Day early because, as mentioned in my dessert post for tonight, the next few days will be busy and we’ll be spending the whole weekend at home with our parents and Mike’s siblings.

After my run this morning I did a fun round of P90X kickboxing (or Kenpo, as Mr. Horton calls it) and since I’ve done it SO many times, I really only need to watch the DVD for guidance.  And so, while Kenpo plays on Keira’s portable DVD player, Giada plays on the big T.V. behind it.  Tony Horton on mute.  Giada on loud.  Now that’s more like it.

Now, I’m not a fan of Giada’s recipes.  I’ve tried making her dishes before in the past and I always find myself adding something here or subtracting something there.  Her recipes to me are never just right.  She’s more entertaining for me than she is an inspiration.  This morning was a different story.  She made short rib lasagna rolls that looked a-maz-ing.  I had never been more genuinely intrigued by her before.  There I was, counting reps, kicking and punching the air, and all the while drooling over this dish she so effortlessly is whipping up before my eyes.

That right there did it for me.  After some breakfast and morning cartoons with the goofball we headed to the grocery store to pick up everything I needed to replicate these short rib lasagna rolls for the Bear’s special Father’s Day dinner.

I cut the original recipe in half since it was only meant to feed Mike and me so here’s exactly what I used..



1 tbsp. olive oil

1.5 pounds beef short ribs

2 tsp. kosher salt plus extra for seasoning

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

A couple pinches of rosemary

1 cup red wine

1 cup beef broth


1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 packet (10-ounce) frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed of excess liquid

2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. kosher salt plus extra for seasoning

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper plus extra for seasoning

6 lasagna noodles

Cooking spray

1/2 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Olive oil for drizzling


For the ribs:

1.  In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Season the ribs with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Add the ribs to the pan and cook until brown, about 4 minutes each side. Remove the ribs and set aside.

2.  Add the onions, garlic, and rosemary.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the onions are translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.

3.  Increase the heat to high, add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add the beef broth and ribs to the pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until the meat is very tender , 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

4.  Remove the ribs and set aside until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.  Discard the bones and cooking liquid.  Using 2 forks, shred the meat.

For the filling:

1.  In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low.  Add the cheeses and whisk until melted and the sauce is smooth.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the spinach, basil and garlic.

2  Place the shredded meat in a medium bowl and pour the spinach mixture on top.  Add the salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix until combined.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.

3.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

4.  Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

5.  Spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Lay noodles flat on a dry work surface and Spread 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the filling mixture evenly along each noodle.

6.  Roll up and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and filling to make 6 lasagna rolls.

7.  Spoon the remaining marinara sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan.

8.  Drizzle with olive oil, and bake until the lasagna rolls are heated through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.

Hot and sizzling finished product straight from the oven!

I naturally paired this with Mama Roy Salad which happened to compliment it oh so deliciously well.

All the flavors blended beautifully together... melted in my mouth.

First words out of my husband’s mouth post-first bite:  “Out of this world.”

Chew.  Chew.  Swallow.  Breathe.

“This is like restaurant good.”

Chew.  Chew.  Chew.  Chew.  Breathe.  Swallow.

“Are you going to become a chef now?”

Need I say more?

And so, to all the dads out there in the world who miiiiiight just be reading this:  Here’s to you, Dads.  Happy (early) Father’s Day.

– Alex

Chicken & Sweet Potato Rainbow Skewers

8 Jun

I have had this dinner planned for tonight since yesterday morning when I went to the grocery store.  It is such a summery meal made of mostly peppers and red onions onions with some chunks of chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce and sweet potato cubes.  Holy healthy!  Let’s get started!

First I preheated my oven to 350.  Then I washed the chicken breasts and cut them into small chunks.  I marinated the chicken with teriyaki sauce for about 30 minutes.  While the chicken was marinating I chopped up a yellow, red and green pepper as well as a whole red onion and put each of them into their own bowls for easy skewing!

I also zapped a small sweet potato in the microwave for about 3 minutes and cubed it.

By then it was time to assemble the skewers and which way I liked.  There was no particular order, just played around for a bit until the skewers were nice and full.

I placed them on a baking rack, little salt, little pepper, and into the oven they went for about 20 minutes.  The finished product was absolutely awesome.  Nice and crunchy peppers and onions, juicy chicken and sweet, sweet, sweet potatoes!  This meal covers just about every desire one could have in a summertime meal.

There are only 2 skewers here on my plate but they were so tasty that I went back for a third!

– Alex

10-Minute Tilapia with Mixed Veggies

7 Jun

I am a seafood fanatic.  I haven’t met a tuna, scallop, salmon, cod, haddock, flounder, shrimp, etc., etc. etc. that I didn’t enjoy sinking my teeth into.  In fact, I originally wanted an all-seafood wedding… but that didn’t fly with my beef-and-potatoes-loving husband of mine.

Tonight was a tilapia kind of night for me.  There really isn’t anything special about this dish at all – and it doesn’t even look that pretty but it’s extremely easy to make and so beautifully flavored that it just seems more special than it really is!

All I did was cook the tilapia fillet in a pan with dry white wine and fresh lemon juice over medium heat.  I salted it sparingly and peppered it too.  I also added a dash of lemon pepper seasoning to both sides.  I then moved it to the oven where I broiled on high for about 2 minutes and voila!  A delicious lemony tilapia was ready in just minutes.  Paired with some steamed carrots and broccoli made this dinner light, tasty and above all: healthy!

Aren't the colors great??

– Alex

Quinoa Jambalaya

2 Jun

I found this New Orleans-inspired recipe in my June 2011 Oxygen magazine but omitted the shrimp because Jackie is allergic to shellfish (have you even confirmed that with the doc yet??  You’re missing out, sister!).  Feel free to add as much shrimp as you like, though if it doesn’t kill ya!

The “new thing” everyone’s talking about and eating these days is quinoa (keen-wah).  Though it looks like tiny pasta, it’s actually protein-packed grains.  I made this for lunch today.  It was my first time eating it but it definitely won’t be my last.

Ready in 30 minutes – Makes 2 servings

1 tbsp canola oil

1/2 onion

1 zucchini

1 red bell pepper

1 garlic clove

1 low-sodium chicken sausage, sliced into 6 rounds

1/4 cup dry quinoa

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 can fire-roasted tomatoes

1 green onion, sliced thinly

Sea salt & pepper, to taste

1.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Chop onion, zucchini, bell pepper & garlic.

2.  Add chopped vegetables and sausage to skillet and saute for about 5 minutes.

3.  Add quinoa and toss to coat, about 2 minutes.  Add broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

4.  Add the chicken sausage and cover the skillet with a lid.  Cook for another 5-10 minutes or until sausage is cooked through.  Top with green onions, salt and pepper.

5.  Enjoy!

Nutrients per serving:  Calories: 400, Total Fats: 15 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Carbohydrates: 39 g, Dietary Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 9 g, Protein: 24 g

(Recipe retrieved from: Oxygen Magazine, June2011 issue .   Kennedy, R.  (June 2011). Quinoa jambalya. Oxygen Magazine, vol. 14, (6). Canusa Products Inc.)

– Alex