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Baking Projects + Winning Chicken Dish + Artichokes

It’s going to be a good week.

I kicked it off by looonnngggg overdo catching up with some of my dear friends with lengthy phone calls on Sunday night. I have several fun events to attend this week and I’m heading to Chicago on Friday for a girl’s weekend. I’ve also got lots of good stuff planned for the blog including…

– Yoga headstand video tutorial
– Paleo banana bread recipe
– Flourless oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe
– Weekend workout challenge

Backing up a bit…

My Sunday was really nice. It was the most relaxed day that I’ve had in months. I started it by teaching my Sunday morning hot class at the studio. Then I had a a nice lunch with some friends at Whole Foods before coming home to tackle some baking projects. I was determined to perfect the Paleo banana bread and I succeeded! I also made a batch of oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.

I took a 90-minute hot class later in the afternoon with my favorite teacher. It felt so good to be in the room with her amazing energy and to sweat everything out. I don’t think I’ve sweat that much in a practice in a very long time. I came home from class and immediately showered and made a refreshing mocktail. I was dreaming of what I’d put in this about 45 minutes into class! My mocktail was a mix of Cran Raspberry La Croix seltzer water, pomegranate juice and grapefruit juice with a lime.

I made a really great dinner using what I had in the fridge. I started by sautéing zucchini and red and green peppers in a skillet with olive oil. I seasoned the veggies with a sprinkle of salt, cumin and jerk seasoning. I seasoned the chicken with a dry rub of cumin, salt and jerk seasoning and then seared it in a separate skillet on both sides. (I could have done this all in one big skillet for simplification but I had two smaller on hand so that’s what I used.) While the chicken and veggies were sauteing, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. I placed the veggies in the bottom of a glass baking dish (I didn’t quite cook them all the way in the pan) and then placed the browned chicken on top. I baked it all for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken was done in the center.

I served the chicken and veggies with leftover black beans and rice. I wasn’t expecting too much from this dinner but it was awesome! If you struggle with cooking whole chicken breasts I cannot recommend the skillet sear + oven finish method enough. My chicken turns out juicy and perfectly cooked every time. It works so much better than trying to cook the breast exclusively in the skillet. Unless I pound the breasts thin I always find that the outside gets overly brown and tough before the inside gets fully cooked, despite what temperature I cook them at. This method also frees me up to either finish up my side dishes or clean up the kitchen while it finishes in the oven. One last little chicken cooking tip…instant read thermometers are very useful for texting doneness of chicken (and all meats). You want your chicken breasts at 160 degrees.

One last meal to share with you. Today I had a turkey sandwich on sourdough for lunch along with some strawberries and a steamed artichoke. I LOVE artichokes and they were beautiful at the store last week. I steamed this one on Sunday and placed it in the fridge to enjoy this week. I dipped the leaves in a strange combo of light mayo, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice that my mom introduced me to when I was a child. I’ve been eating them that way ever since!

Chicken breasts…what’s your favorite way to prepare them?

Artichokes…love ’em or leave ’em? What’s your favorite dipping sauce?

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Angie April 29, 2013, 6:45 pm

    All that food looks great! I have always wondered how you prepared your delicious looking sandwiches. This one looks like it is cold, but with melted cheese. How exactly did you prepare it?

    • 2
      Jen April 30, 2013, 10:37 am

      so…here’s how i usually assemble sandwiches.

      preheat broiler, toast bottom piece of bread lightly, spread with mayo and mashed avoado and then layer sandwich toppings. top with a slice of cheese and place under broiler while top piece of bread toasts in toaster. remove when cheese is melty and top with other slice of bread.


  • 3
    She Rocks Fitness April 29, 2013, 6:54 pm

    Cannot wait for the banana bread recipe! LOVE artichokes but it has been so long since I have had one and kind of like the sound of your odd dipping sauce. As far as chicken breasts go. I usually bake them, but love them grilled during summer.

  • 4
    Brandi April 29, 2013, 6:55 pm

    Can’t wait for the recipes! 🙂

  • 5
    Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin April 29, 2013, 6:59 pm

    Hate preparing chicken – but love eating it! Ha. And I have been eating artichokes since I was a kid too but my mom always gave them to me with caesar dressing? Random but it’s the only thing I dip them in now!

    • 6
      Jen April 30, 2013, 10:38 am

      oh i’ve never tried that but can see how it would be really good!

  • 7
    Elizabeth April 29, 2013, 7:17 pm

    LOVE artichokes!!

  • 8
    zoey April 29, 2013, 8:22 pm

    YEEAAHHHH…… Head stand. Head stand. Head stand. All together now. Head stand!

    i heart you.


  • 10
    Advocarerunner April 29, 2013, 9:01 pm

    Blech on artichokes. I do like chicken but typically don’t make the whole breast. I mainly liked it chopped up in salads, on flatbreads, chicken taco salad, etc.

  • 11
    Ali April 29, 2013, 9:13 pm

    OK, now I need to go eat dinner! All of this food has got me literally salivating.
    I absolutely love artichoke hearts, however, I have yet to make the whole artichoke from scratch. That’s something I would like to try sometime soon. Does the whole artichoke taste similar to the heart? If so, I am sure I will love it. 🙂

    • 12
      Jen April 30, 2013, 10:40 am

      you just eat the leaves of the whole artichoke. you scrape them through your teeth – weird but delicious. it tastes a little different…little earthier but yummy! i usually trim the sharp edges of the leaves and then steam it for about 20-30 mins or until tender.

  • 13
    Tara | Treble in the Kitchen April 29, 2013, 9:25 pm

    I can’t wait to see what your paleo banana bread is! I have two very dead bananas on the counter just waiting for a recipe 🙂

  • 14
    Ja @Ja on the RUN April 29, 2013, 9:25 pm

    Everything looks yumm!!
    I like my chicken breasts grilled!!! Love artichokes! 🙂

  • 15
    Heather April 29, 2013, 9:44 pm

    Chicken is one of my favorite weeknight things to cook. I just saute it in olive oil for about 5-6 minutes on each side. Perfect every time!

  • 16
    Jo (livingmintgreen) April 29, 2013, 10:23 pm

    Yum! I’m going to try that chicken method. Have you tried shredding cooked chicken breast in a stand mixer? It’s my fav ‘chicken trick’ – perfectly shredded in like 2 seconds. 🙂
    I usually dip artichoke leaves in melted butter + lemon juice. So good.

    • 17
      Jen April 30, 2013, 10:41 am

      i haven’t! thanks for the tip. that sounds easy and delicious!

  • 18
    Molly April 29, 2013, 10:58 pm

    So excited for the recipes! I agree that the skillet followed by oven method of cooking chicken breasts yields some of the best results. That’s what I did tonight! I love artichokes out but have NEVER cooked them at home. Thanks for the inspiration – I will have to add to the menu next week!

  • 19
    Katja April 29, 2013, 11:08 pm

    I have been reading your blog for a few months now, and really enjoy it, always looking forward to the next new post. Thanks for sharing, and for giving so much inspiration! Hope you have a wonderful & fun girl’s weekend in Chicago! It has been my home city for the past 8 years, after moving here from Germany… Can’t wait to hear more about it later….

    • 20
      Jen April 30, 2013, 10:42 am

      thank you so much for reading katja! i’m gald you’re enjoying my blog! i’ll blog all about my chicago trip.

  • 21
    Emily April 30, 2013, 12:20 am

    I just tried your chicken method for the first time the other week and it did work perfectly! I browned the chicken in the pan, put it in the oven, then sauteed my veggies in the leftover chicken schmutz in the pan. It was DELICIOUS.

    • 22
      Jen April 30, 2013, 10:44 am

      yay! glad it worked well for you. don’t you love using the leftover pan drippings to season veggies. yum!

  • 23
    Julia April 30, 2013, 9:41 am

    I can’t believe you use that sauce for your artichokes – I use something similar for artichokes except I sometimes trade in soy sauce for the Worcestershire (depends on what I have on hand) and I usually mix in some wasabi. It sounds strange, but is so good! Asparagus are also good dipped in the sauce 🙂

    • 24
      Jen April 30, 2013, 10:45 am

      haha! i love mayo…not scared of it. i like to make wasabi aioli similar to what you describe to top tuna steaks with. doesn’t sound strange to me at all!

  • 25
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles April 30, 2013, 10:34 am

    I never really think to use artichokes, except in dip or pastas!

    I usually just bake my chicken breasts in the oven. I’ll have to try your method sometime!

    • 26
      Jen April 30, 2013, 10:45 am

      do try it – you get that nice brown sear on the outside of the chicken that you don’t get from just baking.

  • 27
    Angie April 30, 2013, 1:31 pm

    One more question for you…..and this one is off topic, but I noticed you have the Practice Freely top in the pink/coral color combo from Lululemon. I really love this top and am considering buying one but most of the recent reviewers are saying that the bottom of this tank stretches out really bad after washing (or sweating) and loses its shape. I was wondering if you had this problem with that top???

  • 28
    Courtney April 30, 2013, 1:45 pm

    Everything looks so good! I love roasted artichokes with olive oil and salt and pepper. They go great on homemade whole wheat veggie pizzas or in veggie dishes. Yum!

  • 29
    Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers April 30, 2013, 4:18 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed yoga. I had a really relaxing Sunday, and it was just what I needed. I think the rain in CLT really helped.

  • 30
    Kate April 30, 2013, 9:13 pm

    I’ll be in Chicago this weekend too! (Granted I live in one of the suburbs, but I don’t make it to the city nearly enough.)
    If you’re looking for a good place to take a yoga class while you’re in town, check out Moksha Yoga.

    • 31
      Jen May 1, 2013, 6:06 pm

      thanks for the recommendation on yoga! i’m leaving all the planning to my friends who are from there/live there but i’ll ask them about this place!

  • 32
    Erica May 1, 2013, 9:46 am

    I will be in Nashville this weekend for a bachelorette party 🙂 yay for girls weekends! I also prepare my chicken by browning it first then finishing it off in the oven. But, my absolute favorite way to eat chicken is by cooking it in a slow cooker. I will be making chicken enchiladas tomorrow night and my chicken will be slow cooking in delicious sauce while I’m at work. All I have to do is come home and shred the chicken, put into a corn tortilla, add cheese and bake in the oven for 20 min or until the cheese is melted.

    • 33
      Jen May 1, 2013, 6:03 pm

      so fun! i LOVE nashville. such a fun city. i love shredded slow cooker chicken too. it is so yummy in enchiladas!

  • 34
    Michael May 3, 2013, 8:32 am

    That chicken looks delicious!

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