With the holidays right around the corner Jeff and I have been working on taking off a few pounds in advance of facing all the wonderful food that is so hard to resist this time of the year. Mostly we’ve been grilling and eating simply during the week and then making one really nice meal each weekend, but that gets boring pretty quickly so I brought out my trusty Weight Watchers cookbooks to liven up our weekday meals. A while back I joined WW and lost 30 pounds. The program really works, but it does require vigilance, which as much as we like to cook sometimes slips away in the sauce. So back on track for this home chef.
One of my all time favorite recipes from WW is this goat-cheese stuffed baked chicken from WW’s Simply Delicious cookbook. The crispy, Panko-crusted chicken filled with a gooey concoction of goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, green onions, and basil tastes divinely decadent but is only 284 calories per serving (6 points in WW lingo). You will not think you’re dieting when you bite into this chicken.
2 ounces goat cheese
2 oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, patted dry and diced
2 scallions, minced
1 tbls. basil, chopped
1 tbls. kalamata olives, diced
2 tsp. thyme, diced
¼ cup Panko crumbs
2 (½ lb.) whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 tsp. reduced calorie mayonnaise
1 ½ lb. pounds of baby spinach, rinsed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a pan with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick spray. Combine the cheese, tomatoes, scallions, basil, olives and thyme in a bowl, mashing with a fork until blended. Place the Panko crumbs in another dish.
Lay the two whole chicken breasts flat on a cutting board covered with a plastic wrap ( do not separate the breasts, leave them whole). Cover the breasts with another sheet of plastic and pound them until they are about ¼ inch thic). Spread the cheese mixture on one half of each of the whole breasts. Fold the other side of each chicken breast on top of the cheese mixture until it is covered (you'll secure it in a minute with toothpicks).
Spread 2 tsp. of the mayo over each breast and then sprinkle with the Panko crumbs. To secure the cheese mixture inside each chicken breast weave three tooth picks through the edge of each breast to close them up. Spray the tops of the chicken lightly with nonstick spray and bake until the chicken is cooked through and crust is golden, about 40-45 minutes.
When the chicken is almost done, place the spinach in a large steamer basked set in a saucepan over 1 inch of boiling water. Cover tightly and steam until spinach just wilts, about 2 minutes. Slice the chicken on the diagonal while the spinach is cooking. Put some spinach on a plate and top it with two slices of the chicken (each chicken should produce 4 slices).