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If there’s one type of food that is always sure to fit my mood, it’s any type of comfort food. Specifically, any type of Italian food. Lasagna? Love it! Spaghetti. You can’t go wrong. Anything with lots of melty cheese? I’m a fan. So when I was dreaming of Chicken Parmesan for dinner a few nights ago, I decided to get to work. Not only to put it on the dinner table by 5:30p (the crazy time of day you eat dinner when you have small children), but to also put a spin on it so that I wouldn’t feel guilty for eating it. Turns out, it was way easier to create a meal for a more balanced lifestyle than I thought it might be!
Why do people like Chicken Parmesan? Let me count the ways. You’ve got the fried, crisp texture. The river of marinara sauce. And of course, the cheese! Both Parmesan and mozzarella steal the show in this dish.
I recently received two packages of Skinnygirl Popcorn that were sitting on my kitchen counter waiting for their moment in the culinary spotlight. (I have a bad habit of leaving ingredients until inspiration strikes.) I love the idea behind this popcorn. Each mini bag contains a single serving – no more overindulging! I’m seeing this as an awesome whole grain snack idea for after school snacks and of course, for our weekly movie night. Not only does it come in a traditional Butter & Sea Salt flavor, but you’ll also find an amazing Salt & Lime flavor on store shelves of your local Walmart beginning September 1st.
Instead of frying chicken for this dish, I instead coated it in crushed popcorn, spices and cheese and baked it until it was crisp. Then came the traditional marinara and Parmesan and mozzarella. To make for easier portion control, I also chose to use chicken tenderloins instead of breast. I began using this cut more after having children as it’s easier for them to eat but also notice I eat less than if given a large piece of chicken that for some reason, I always feel compelled to eat all of.
- 2 bags SkinnyGirl Butter & Sea Salt Popcorn, popped
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- 2 teaspoons garlic salt
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Add popcorn, rosemary, garlic and ½ cup Parmesan cheese to food processor. Process until it resembles course crumbs. Pour into shallow dish.
- In a separate shallow dish, whisk together eggs and water.
- Coat chicken in egg wash and then popcorn mixture. Place in single layer of greased baking pan.
- Bake for 8 minutes on each side or until browned and cooked through.
- Top with marinara, mozzarella and ½ cup Parmesan cheese and return to oven until cheese is melted.
This chicken is great served on it’s own as shown, or if you’d like, over a bed of whole grain pasta. Needless to say, my family went gaga over this one. My husband proclaimed it as one of his new favorites and that’s even after having been reheated twice as he was on call and beyond late getting home. It also had a definite cool factor as well as my daughters couldn’t believe that I put popcorn on the outside of their chicken.
I have no doubt this dish will be seeing some heavy rotation in our menu plan in the weeks to come!