Jenny’s chalkboard

Every once in a while, my wife and I decide it’s time to take inventory of what food we have in our house, because it tends to start overflowing in the refrigerator(s) and pantry(ies). And by -ies I mean in bags on a shelf in the basement. So I went and took inventory and one thing we had overstock in was frozen chicken breast. I asked my wife what we should make — let’s call my wife Jenny, because, well, that’s her name. She said, “How about we pound the chicken flat, stuff with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and roll them up? I thought for half a second and said, “Brilliant!”

I’ve been the main cook in our house, but Jenny has been cooking 1-2 times per week lately. Still, this recipe was all on me to execute, while she made the sides. Jenny wrote on a little chalkboard, “Tonight: Chicken with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes with a nice array of vegetables.” She was in charge of the vegetables–roasted asparagus and red and yellow bell peppers. I set out to make the main event.

So I cut the chicken breasts into 3-4 oz. pieces and then pounded them flat in a large zip-lock bag. I sauteed some spinach in olive oil and added salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder, and when cool enough added about 1/4 cup of slivered sun dried tomatoes (from a jar packed in oil). Then I placed a small mound of spinach mixture on each chicken breast piece, and rolled them up, securing with a toothpick. Obviously you cannot pan fry them with toothpicks sticking out, so I only used the toothpicks to hold the chicken momentarily together. And it worked!

I heated some olive oil in a large non-stick skillet, and cooked the chicken rolls on each side over medium heat (maybe 8 minutes total) until browned and cooked through. Then I attempted to put the dish over the top. I melted a pat of butter in the pan, added a teaspoon or so of olive oil, then added a little white wine, scraping up the brown bits in the pan. Then I added a little chicken broth and some salt and pepper. As the sauce reduced down, I then added some water and let it reduce more, and then added some lemon juice and parsley, pouring the sauce over the chicken rolls on the plate. Jenny added the “nice array of vegetables” and a new dish was born in Mikey’s (and Jenny’s) Kitchen.


Product review: House Foods Tofu

I know, I know. A food blog geared toward guys talking about tofu? Well, I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff, but its health benefits, especially for weight loss, are real. So when the fine folks who represent House Foods Premium Tofu reached out, I thought I’d give tofu another chance. They touted the prospects of cutting tofu into chunks and grilling it, with House Foods extra firm variety really standing up to the grill, whereas that is not always the case with standard tofu. For you novices, keep in mind that tofu typically comes in the extra firm variety like that, or the softer versions which are more like scrambled eggs (and can be used as such) and can be used as a salad dressing or “cream” soup base.

Anyway, I tried the firm variety, not extra firm, and used it cubed in a miso soup. I should preface this by saying that my doctor instructed me to lose some weight to help bring down my spiking blood pressure, so I’m doing Weight Watchers, which really has come a long way in being more guy-friendly. I mean, Charles Barkley does it, why can’t I? Anyway, this soup kicks ass–you fry some mushrooms in a bit of oil, add some broth along with sliced bok choy, and the tofu. And to make it more flavorful (and with some spice), I sliced some fresh jalapeno and put that in the soup. Delicious.

But wait, this is about the tofu. Well, tofu is the type of food that absorbs flavors, but it’s usually the texture that separates good tofu from not-so-good. And House Foods is good–the firm is firm, and it doesn’t fall apart in soup. It has a nice texture that isn’t offensive. And hey, I’d use it again, and I probably will!


Chicken, bean & spinach stew

Here is one of my favorite recipes that I came up with for my Grub for Guys column on It’s chicken, bean and spinach stew–healthy, tangy, spicy and filling all at once. In fact, have some with some crusty bread and you have a meal. Heh-heh, I said crusty. Anyway, give this a shot and let me know what you think….

So the summer is winding down and you’ve got that spare tire around your midsection. Longer daylight hours and warmer weather usually means lots of burgers, hot dogs, ice cream and cold beer—all delicious, yet all fattening. Well, here is a dish I came up with that is not only good for most diets, but packed with protein and vitamins. And oh yeah, it tastes really good. So this fall, if you’ve got 30-40 minutes to whip something up before the game starts, this stew is an easy and healthy option.

8-10 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed (2-3 breast halves)
1 can Great Northern beans
1 16 oz. bag baby spinach
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic
½ medium tomato, seeded and chopped
½ cup white wine
½ cup chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
red pepper flakes
Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in large, deep skillet. Sautee garlic 30 seconds, then add chicken. Stir fry for about 3-4 minutes or until chicken just starts to brown on the outside. Add wine and stir to loosen brown bits (for you guys who want to impress someone, this is called “de-glazing” the pan). Add spinach and chicken broth. Simmer for a few minutes until the spinach wilts. Add beans, tomato and salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Stir and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until sauce starts to thicken. Serve in bowls topped with Parmesan. Serves (about) four.


Losing that holiday weight

Yeah, I know. This is not what you wanted to hear from a food site right after the holidays. But the truth is, we’re all in need of larger pants after a month of indulging. Heck, I wrote on here a couple weeks ago that I bought bigger pants at Old Navy before going to my favorite Wisconsin cheese store. I’m wearing them now, in fact. So yeah, now it’s time to try and shed a few pounds. Of course, that doesn’t mean this is going to suddenly be a blog about weight loss. But here are a few guy-friendly recipes I posted on
Grub For Guys, especially good if you have a bigger bulge right now…..

After the holiday edition of Grub For Guys that we presented you with, and after all of the holiday meals you no doubt indulged in, and on, you guys probably have a few extra pounds you want to shed this time of year. Well, I know I do. So I’m back on my favorite diet, the South Beach Diet. I’m a big proponent of this diet because it works, and because it’s easy for most guys. We get to eat lots of meat, cheese, nuts, and veggies, as well as a few sugar free treats, and all in all it’s not that hard. Well, sometimes it is, because in today’s world, cutting out bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and anything with sugar is very difficult. So I’m here to give you a few great low-carb options that make life a bit easier when trying to shrink that gut…..

Mikey’s Cobb Salad

4-6 cups shredded lettuce
1 8 oz. strip steak
1 4-5 oz. boneless chicken breast
5-6 slices bacon
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 avocado
1 tomato
¼ cup shredded or cubed cheddar cheese
¼ cup green or black olives
¼ cup pickled jalapeno peppers
Low carb dressing such as ranch or blue cheese
Salt and pepper

Wash lettuce and shred into two large bowls. Sprinkle steak and chicken with salt and pepper and grill over medium-high heat 5-10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and steak is to desired doneness. Remove from grill and keep on a plate covered with foil. Cook bacon until crisp (I use one of those microwave trays that cooks it perfectly every time). Cut avocado in half, remove pit and scoop out flesh. Slice and place on lettuce. Chop tomato and put that on lettuce. Slice egg and divide over salad. Add cheese, olives, and jalapenos. Slice chicken and steak and place on salad. Crumble bacon on top. Serve with dressing. Makes 2 servings, but you can double or triple as needed.

Grilled Buffalo Tenders

1 pound boneless chicken breast tenders
Salt and pepper
Cooking spray
½ cup Buffalo wing sauce (Frank’s Red Hot is great and is very low in calories, fat, and carbs)

Spray tenders lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour wing sauce into a large bowl. Grill tenders over medium high heat until no longer pink and slightly charred on the outside. Toss tenders in sauce and serve with celery sticks and blue cheese or ranch dressing if you like. P.S. Trust me, you won’t miss the deep fried version of wings one bit with this one.

Cheese/Peanut Butter Squares

If you like those crispy cheese/peanut butter crackers, and who doesn’t? I’m giving you a low-carb option that you’re going to love.

4 slices mild cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter

Lay cheese slices on a plate or large cutting board. Spread peanut butter over two of the cheese slices, and top with other two slices. You should now have two large square “sandwiches.” Cut each of these into quarters and serve. Makes 8 squares, but you can easily double or triple this one as well.

Muffaletta Rolls

The best part of the Muffaletta is the olive salad and the meat, right? Well, it’s also the kickass giant Kaiser rolls they use. But we have to improvise here and this is as close as we can come.

10 slices deli ham or turkey, or both
1 cup pimento stuffed green olives
½ cup pickled cauliflower or other pickled vegetables
1 Tbsp. juice from olives
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
Dash of salt and black pepper

Separate meat slices on a large platter. Combine remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined but still slightly chunky. Spread a bit of olive salad on each slice of meat, roll up and serve. (Note: you can also roll up in provolone cheese or combine meat and cheese before rolling up).

Turkey Brat Bites

6-8 Smoked Turkey Bratwurst

Grill brats until glazed and with a few grill marks. Slice into chunks and serve with your favorite mustard for dipping.


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