I love cooking and experimenting with recipes, but now that I am 5 1/2 months pregnant, I have been focused on creating recipes that are easy and quick to make without too many ingredients. My goal is to have a healthy meal that is ready in less than 45 minutes. That is how I came up with today’s recipe – Italian Chicken and Zoodles.
Usually, I try to make everything from scratch, but here I offer some substitutions to make the cooking process a little quicker. This is something that I know will make a big difference for our family once our precious little one makes their appearance. Another thing I always like to do is try and add a few more vegetables into the recipe whenever possible. I find that adding vegetables to dishes is a great way to get kids or picky eaters to add some more veggies to their diets.
Today’s recipe starts with sauteing some of my favorite veggies (green bell pepper, onions, and mushrooms) in olive oil. Adding extra veggies to a sauce is an excellent way to up the nutritional content of a dish. It also tends to be a great way to disguise veggies if you have any picky eaters in the house that you are concerned about aren’t getting enough veggies in their diet.
When I’m sauteing veggies for a sauce, I like to allow them to cook long enough that they are soft, and most of the water content has been cooked out. This way, the additional veggies don’t water down the sauce.
While the veggies are cooking, I brown and cook my chicken in a frying pan. My trick for cooking chicken thoroughly in a pan without it drying out is to use chicken tenders. Since they are smaller pieces of meat, it is easier to cook in a pan than a chicken breast. However, if you only have chicken breasts on hand, you can slice them up to chicken tender size.
Seriously – how juicy and delicious does that chicken look!
Yes, the fork and knife are on the plate because I just had to try a bite before adding it to the meal later. And it was totally worth it 🙂
I stuck to rather basic seasonings for the chicken to help it meld better in the overall dish. While the chicken is cooking, I added salt & pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder. Make sure to season both sides of the tender to really get a great flavor in every bite.
Once the chicken has been cooked through, remove it to a plate, and keep warm while the rest of the meal cooks.
Once the sauteing veggies have been thoroughly cooked, add in your favorite jarred pasta sauce to warm through. Typically this is where I like to use a homemade sauce to minimize the amount my food has been processed, but a jarred sauce saves a ton of time. You also maintain the nutritional content of the dish using jarred sauce. One caveat to using a jarred sauce…
READ the label!
Some jarred sauces will add extra sugars. Look for a sauce that is tomato-based with minimal ingredients added.
While the sauce is warming, I like to cook my zucchini noodles in the pan I used to prepare the chicken. I add a little bit of olive oil and allow the zucchini noodles to absorb all of the tasty browned bits that are leftover from cooking the chicken.
You do not have to cook the zoodles; however, I find I prefer their texture after they have been cooked.
This is another step where I bought pre-prepared food to help minimize the time invested into this dish. For today’s recipe, I bought the zucchini noodles, or as I call them, “zoodles” already spiralized in the produce section of the grocery store. I still plan on investing in a spiralizer for my kitchen to continue to experiment with recipes. But if you are looking to spend shorter amounts of time cooking. Then buying the pre-prepared zoodles is totally worth it.
To assemble the plate, add the sauce over the zoodles. Then top with 2-3 pieces of chicken.
I like to serve this meal with garlic bread. In the case of this picture, it is hot dog bun garlic bread.
To make the hot dog garlic bread, top the bun with butter and garlic salt and toast in the oven at 375 until browned. While this may not be the healthiest option for garlic bread, I believe part of overall healthy living is to minimize our food waste. And somehow, any time I buy hot dog buns, I have a couple leftover. I found this to be a great and tasty alternative use for the buns.
Hope you all enjoy this recipe!
Italian Chicken and Zoodles
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 8 oz button mushrooms
- 2 tsp olive oil divided
- 1 lb chicken tenders
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 jar pasta sauce
- 12 oz zucchini noodles
- Chop the yellow onion, green bell pepper, and button mushrooms.
- Add 1 tsp. of olive oil to a medium sized pot and turn to medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables and saute until soft with most of the water content evaporated.
- Heat 1/2 tsp. of olive oil on medium-high heat in a fry pan. Place the chicken tenders into the heated pan and season with half of the seasoning mix (salt & pepper, italian seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder). Once the chicken is about half-way cooked through, turn over the chicken and top with the rest of the seasoning mix.
- Once the chicken has been completely cooked, remove to a plate.
- Add the jarred pasta sauce to the sauteed veggies. Cook on low until warmed throughout.
- In the pan the chicken was cooked in, add 1/2 tsp. of olive oil and the zoodles. Cook on medium heat until zoodles are cooked and have absorbed the browned bits from the cooked chicken.
- Top the cooked zoodles with the sauce and 2-3 pieces of the chicken. Serve with garlic bread if desired.