Macaroni Grill 1 Million Meals Recipe: Deconstructed Chicken Parmesan Bake

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1 in 5 AMERICAN children struggle with hunger. Take a moment to let that stat sink in. We have children. Can you imagine? But there is hope.

This month, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, in partnership with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is doing something pretty spectacular.  You see, for writing this post and sharing a favorite Italian recipe, Macaroni Grill is donating 500 meals to children who need them for participating bloggers. Soooooo awesome!

Want to know what you can do to help?  There are three easy ways!

1. Give: Go into a Macaroni Grill restaurant (you can click here to find a location closest to you) and with a $2 donation, and you will receive $5 off your next visit now through 9/30/12.

2. Share: Share an image from their Facebook Gallery, and for every image share, Macaroni Grill will connect a kid with a meal.

3. Tag: Tag an Instagram photo or tweet of your Mac Grill experience with #macgrillgive and for every tag, they’ll connect a kid with a meal.

For more about this campaign, visit  Now here is our recipe!

We have been lucky enough to have my mother-in-law, a.k.a Lorayne (maiden name Paoletti=Italian!) in town visiting this past week and she made this delicious dinner for our family.  With the back to school madness upon us this Deconstructed Chicken Parmesan Bake is an easy weeknight dinner (no breading or heavy labor involved!)  Serve it with some simple spaghetti and salad and it’s great for entertaining as well!

Her recipe called for boneless skinless chicken breasts but we subbed in boneless skinless chicken thighs – if you haven’t tried them, do!  They are less likely get dry as chicken breast can and are more nutrient dense.  Their fat content is a bit higher but only a little bit of that is the unhealthy saturated fat.

What you Need:

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or less if you don’t like spicy)

12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (or 6 boneless skinless chicken breast if you aren’t feeling adventurous)

2.5-3 cups prepared Marinara Sauce

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 8 oz package shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, divided

1 5 oz package garlic croutons (she used the big artisan ones which I really liked, but you could use smaller croutons to make it easier to cut)

Ready, Set, Cook!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic and red pepper flakes.

Arrange chicken in bottom of the dish and pour marinara sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle basil over the marinara sauce and top with half the mozzarella cheese, followed by half of the parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle on the croutons, then top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Make sure to cover the croutons enough with the cheese to protect them from burning.

(If making ahead: at this point you can put in the fridge until you are ready to bake but be sure to pull out of fridge at least 20 mins prior to baking to let come to room temperature a bit).

Bake in preheated oven uncovered until croutons are golden and the chicken is cooked through about 45mins – 1 hr (depending on how big your chicken pieces are).  An instant read thermometer should read 160 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken. Enjoy!

{Noni got her orig recipe from but we made some edits.}


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Wish This Conference Newbie Luck at BlogHer ’11!

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Today I am heading down to San Diego for BlogHer ’11 for my FIRST blogging conference EVER! Yes, I am a total conference newbie. It’s hard to believe I have been blogging for three years and haven’t hit the conference circuit yet. But the timing couldn’t be better with a new site design coming soon!

For those of you reading that are non-bloggers, you might be wondering, what does one do at a blogger conference!?

Well, seeing it’s my first one, I am not completely sure, but what I do know is there will be thousands of fellow women bloggers (and some brave men too!), lots of bloggy friends, cool brands, tons of educational sessions, parties galore and I am told a little swag. Love it.

Getting ready to go this week has been a tad stressful, some of which is due to the the fact, that although extremely convenient, I am also packing up my two kids to spend 3 days with my in-laws who happen to live in San Diego. It never ceases to amaze me the sheer amount of STUFF that is required to pack for two little humans ages 2 and 5.

But I am hoping that magically, I will find all of us packed and in the car driving to San Diego at some point today. Wish me luck on this, I need it!

I also think I got a tad stressed because of the unknown. In doing some research to prepare for what I should bring and wear, I started to get a little overwhelmed by the articles and buzz.

Then I forced myself to take a step back, relax, take a deep breath and focus on the three things I want to get out of BlogHer: education, networking and connecting with friends.

I think if I can focus on the community aspect and just enjoy myself, it will be an awesome experience.

And speaking of friends, I am rooming with Tera from Tera Rae Stephens, my fabulous blogging hairstylist and her friend Beckey from Hippo Brigade. Do you think rooming with a hair stylist means I am destined to have fabulous hair for the conference!?  Tera? Thoughts?

I won’t be posting tomorrow as I will be up to my ears in learning all kinds of new, fabulous stuff!  I can’t wait to come back and launch my sparkly new site with some fresh ideas.

And to the bloggers reading this…comment below if you are attending!  I hope to get to connect with you!

Have a  fabulous weekend everyone!  In the meantime, please wish me luck!

XO Jen


Friends, could you spare 30 seconds to vote for Tiny Oranges?  You can vote 1 x a day through 8/11!  We are currently in 1st place THANKS TO YOU but competition is fierce with all these awesome mom blogs so I need your help to keep us there!! THANK YOU! Smooch!


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