A Good One

January 23, 2014

Linking up with MamaKat today, answering the prompt: Share a recipe your family loves.


Mama’s Losin’ It


Oh, Chicken Parmigiana, how do I love thee? I love your crisp, seasoned crust. I love your tangy, herb-studded marinara sauce. I love your ooey, gooey, decadent blanket of cheese. I love the saucy noodles that usually ride shotgun on the plate with you.

I love you. Except for one leeeeetle problem.

You are a Calorie Bomb from Hell. Yeah, I know you think you’re all sneaky, because you are chicken–boneless, skinless, chicken at that–which everyone knows is healthy, right?

You little charlatan. You…..Lothario! You seduce us with promises of lean, nutritious protein, add the enticement of a vegetable-studded sauce and then? Ka-blammo! You knock us onto our rapidly-expanding ass.

The proof is in the pudding*. The Chicken Parmigiana entree at the Olive Garden restaurant contains just how many calories, do you think? Huh? I mean, it’s only chicken, right? Wrong. The magic number is: 1,090.

‘Tis true. You can look it up yourself. And that number doesn’t even include the salad and those Crack Breadsticks they serve. 1,090 calories for one meal is seven kinds of wrong, people!

I think I might have a single glass of wine or a Go-gurt left over in the calorie bank after eating Olive Garden Chicken Parm (no salad, no breadsticks. If I eat those, I’ve hit my calorie allotment for the whole freaking day).

But this sucks! I love you, Chicken Parm! What’s a girl–a girl with a firm eye on the size of her backside–to do?

In my case, a girl finds a really kick-butt recipe in Bon Appetit for Chicken Parmesan Burgers. A recipe which, when followed as directed, clocks in at 554 calories. Not bad! If you are on Le Regime, or even a half-assed Regime, you can do like I did and skip the top layer of bread (or skip bread altogether and add a side salad) and make it a knife-and-fork affair.

Any way you dish it up, it will deliver that crave-worthy Chicken Parm taste without the walk of shame in the morning.

Chicken Parmesan Burgers from Bon Appetit serves 4

10 1/2-inch-thick slices French bread (4 inches in diameter); 8 slices toasted, 2 slices (crust removed) diced 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese** 4 tablespoons minced fresh basil, divided, plus 12 large basil leaves 3/4 cup purchased refrigerated marinara sauce 12 ounces ground chicken (white meat) 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 1 tablespoon grated onion 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced 4 large radicchio leaves

Blend diced bread and Parmesan in processor to fine crumbs. Transfer to pie dish; mix in 2 tablespoons minced basil.

Mix marinara and 2 tablespoons basil in a small saucepan. Transfer 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce to large bowl. Add chicken, 1/2 tablespoon oil, onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle with pepper; blend. Shape into four 1/2-inch thick patties; coat with crumbs. Heat sauce over low heat.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook patties until bottoms are crusty, 4 minutes. Turn patties over, top with cheese. Cook 3 minutes.

Cover; cook until cooked through and cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

Assemble burgers with bread, radicchio, basil leaves and warm marinara.

* Proof is in the pudding? Where did that wacky phrase come from, I wonder? That makes no stinking sense.

** Since there are so few ingredients in this recipe, I’m going to urge you to buy the GOOD stuff. Parmigianno-Reggiano from Italy, in the block form. No pre-shredded cheese! The already shredded kind loses it’s flavor in like, a day. Okay, enough harassin’ ya.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara January 23, 2014 at 6:39 am

1090? Cripes.
I remember reading somewhere the calories in one of those Cinnabons and nearly fell off the chair. Never had another one since.
There’s a lunch I like a Neiman Marcus….a chicken salad, and a little orange jello-like souffle thingy. Almost 900 calories where a brie quiche was only 400. My daughter and I couldn’t understand it and finally figured out that the chicken salad came with a muffin (which I never ate anyway, tasteless and cold) and that was the answer. We think.


Jamie January 23, 2014 at 7:12 am

Knowing how many calories is in something has never stopped me from eating it, at least for a special occasion!

Except when a friend showed me how many calories are in a milkshake. RUINED. MILKSHAKES. FOREVER. Don’t google it! Especially not the delicious fast food kind with Oreos and m and ms!


Caitlin January 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm

I’ve been craving chicken parm lately! Thanks for the idea / recipe :)


Alison January 23, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Ooh this is a good one. My husband would totally devour this.


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me January 23, 2014 at 6:16 pm

I know this one. The pudding thing. It dates back to around the 1920s and came into much more common use around the 1950s. But it actually derives from a longer phrase – “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” which dates back to a 14th century English proverb. Basically, it means to test the validity of something by trying it for yourself.

Why do I know this? Because I am a total word and language geek and because my Mom bought me an awesome book one year for Christmas about popular expressions and where they originate. She often finds me little gems like that and I love them! Because then I can answer questions like these.

Not that it has made me famous or anything.

And that is your useless trivia for the day. :)

In the meantime, I have never been a chicken parm fan. It’s not the taste that I dislike – I love it, in fact. It’s that no matter who makes it, the stuff just feels so HEAVY. And so I don’t bother because I hate feeling like I ate a heffalump after a meal. But this could work. Thanks for the suggestion.


S in AK January 24, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Useless trivia makes the world interesting–to me, anyway. : )


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me January 24, 2014 at 9:27 pm

You never know when it might come in handy!


carol January 23, 2014 at 7:28 pm

I DID love the Olive Garden… maybe not so much anymore! All the calories, yikes! I like your idea better. Thanks for calorie down-sizing suggestion.


Tiffany January 23, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Sooooo worth the calories though!


Sherri January 24, 2014 at 10:14 am

Perfectly timed comfort food to heal us all…. and lower call, which is always cool.


D. A. Wolf January 24, 2014 at 10:21 am

Screw the calories! (And my tight jeans.)

You just reminded me how much I used to love this particular dish… (Maybe it’s time to bring it back, even if in a “light” version.)


Biz January 24, 2014 at 10:25 am

I once got a grilled chicken flat bread thinking that was a safe “healthy” choice. Of course I looked it up after and realized it was almost 800 calories!

I need to make that sandwich – stat!! You had me at blanket of cheese!


Dana Talusani January 24, 2014 at 10:39 am


Isn’t that just a pisser? We think we’re ordering “smart” and whammo! Gut-bomb.


Dana Talusani January 24, 2014 at 10:38 am


Thank you! I love word geeks!


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me January 24, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Every now and then that English major is almost useful. :D


S in AK January 24, 2014 at 9:19 pm

There’s a salad I like at TGI Friday’s. The pecan-crusted chicken salad. 1080 calories. For. A. Salad. I’ll grant you, it’s a big mo-fo. But. It’s. A. Salad.


Katybeth January 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Love chicken parm. Looks like a tasty recipe! Will give it a try.


Mary Lee January 27, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I suppose I shouldn’t eat my customary side order of spaghetti and marina sauce with it, huh?

I drive my husband nuts–if chicken (or eggplant) parmesan or baked ziti Sorentina are on the menu, I’m ordering one of those. He can try all that other stuff whenever he wants. He scorns my choice. . . then wants my doggy bag.


Jennifer February 13, 2014 at 10:01 am

That’s a whole lotta calories. Freakin’ pasta. Why must it be so delicious and so bad for you at the same time?


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