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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Deal Blade: You save, They give!

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I’m sure you’ve noticed the surge of daily deal sites in your email inbox- well we wanted to let you know about a different one- it’s called Deal Blade and when you save, they give!  Doesn’t that just feel gooood?

It works like this: they pair their featured retailer’s deal with a fitting charity and a portion of the proceeds go directly to that charity.  Saving & giving all wrapped into one pretty little discounted transaction!

Here are some of their featured Charities:

Don’t Worry Be Happy Shirts

Friendship Shelter Laguna Beach

Lestonnac Free Clinic

The Pet Rescue Center

LOVING that each deal features a video explaining the details and virtually takes you through the doors of  the featured biz so you can get a feel for the establishment before you buy!

Be sure to sign up for Deal Blade’s deal updates so as not to miss upcoming steals & deals from these local high end products and services:

Vogue Salon in Newport and Laguna Beach ~ Fine Italian Wine
Barolo Café in Tustin ~ Electronics and Gadgets
Extreme Bootcamp in Yorba Linda ~ Espresso Coffee from Pasquini
Julian Hans salon in Laguna Hills Mall ~ Crossfit Laguna Niguel

For you pet-obsessed deal seekers out there:

Starting today on Deal Blade is a special offer at Pet Country located in South Orange County, which specializes in high-end, grain free, natural pet foods.  They even have a refrigerated section for their raw pet foods!

$20 for $50 worth of pet products:

$35 Gift Certificate to Pet Country

Personal ID tag for your pet

Premium Sample of dog or cat food

A portion of the proceeds go to The Pet Rescue Center to help save the lives of dogs & cats at risk of euthanasia.  SUCH an important cause!

Check out this video with the details:

If you have a charity you’d like featured on Deal Blade, click here to learn more!

(Deal Blade is a valued Tiny Oranges Sponsor- we heart a deal site with a heart 😉 )

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The Giving Box

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Recently I heard an awesome presentation at a moms’ group I am involved in on how to raise a child that is a giver. Since we are approaching Thanksgiving I was inspired to share one of the simple ideas that my family has adopted.

It is called “The Giving Box” and what I loved most about the idea is that it encourages regular giving throughout the year and not just at the holidays. This is how it works!

The goal is to include your children in the project so that they feel like they are a part of it. The first step is to make your Giving Box.


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Dana Point Turkey Trot: How to Train for a 5K or 10K Race

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It was my best friend from college that inspired me almost two years ago when she ran her first 10K run in the Dana Point Turkey Trot.

Being a person that could not even run for five minutes at the time, I was in awe of her. Then I was even more in awe, when after having an AWESOME experience at the Turkey Trot, she decided she was going to run her first half marathon that following May and convinced me to start running with her.

Taking up running for me personally has been best thing that could have ever happened to me for my health, both mental and physical. So when the Turkey Trot organizers contacted me to tell me the registration for the Turkey Trot is now open and offered to send an article with expert tips on “How to Train for a 5K or 10K Race” I said, “ABSOLUTELY!”

Seeing that the Turkey Trot is what started my running inspiration, I thought it was only fitting that I sign up to run the 10K race with my friend this year! I am SUPER excited! Let me tell you about this event.

Taking place on Thanksgiving Day morning, the Turkey Trot course offers a 5K race, 10K race and even a 1 mile Kids’ Gobble Wobble (HOW FLIPPIN CUTE), taking you through the beautiful scenery of the beautiful beaches, majestic cliffs and enchanting coves of Dana Point.

Can you think of a better way to start off your Thanksgiving?! Just think about the CALORIES you will burn before sitting down to that stuffing and apple pie!

Even better, the proceeds of the event benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, an organization that helps to distribute food to those who need it in Orange County.

Oh, be still my heart, an event on THANKSGIVING that promotes health, fitness and the giving of food to those in need?  What an incredible experience for the whole family to be a part of!

I am SO in!!!!!!!  Are you?

Maybe it might be your first 5K or 10K.  Maybe like me before I started, you have never run for five minutes in your life.  Do not fear, with so many months advance notice, you have PLENTY of time to slowly ramp up and get in shape.

This awesome article offers 5 great tips on how to train for a 5K or 10K race! I could not more fully agree with all these pointers.  And, a 5K or 10K is the perfect distance to start with {and, of course, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.}

Make the Commitment: A 5K/10K Race on Your Horizon

Signing up to run a 5K (or even a 10K) run is the perfect way to kick-start a fitness routine and/or shed those unwanted pounds. For many beginning runners, the initial training routine can seem daunting. However, there are a few tips to follow that will not only make training manageable, but also fun.

Many beginning runners chose to enter the race world by participating in a recreational run, such as a Thanksgiving Day race. If you sign up to run a Thanksgiving Day race, like the Dana Point Turkey Trot (, start your training program in September to ensure that you are fit and trim for the beginning of the holiday season!

By beginning with a structured and realistic training routine, you will begin to create a healthy and active lifestyle for yourself that you can carry through the holiday season and into the new year, continuing the hard work you put in for three months.

Here’s a list of five essential tips to get you hitting the pavement and ready for the starting line, healthy and injury free.

1. Sign up for the race. I know, I know, you don’t want to sign up until you know how you are going to feel or what your plans might be or if you will even want to run, but don’t wait! Without making the commitment to yourself and registering for the race, it is too easy to give up if the going gets tough or procrastinate until it’s too late. There is no time like the present; sign up before you lace up! It will be the motivation you need to complete your goal.

2. Set a realistic goal.  It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are to anyone but you. Set three goals per race: your big goal, your moderate goal and your minimum goal.  The big goal is the time that may not possible to attain, but the one you’re aiming for. The moderate goal is a time you know will require an all-out effort to achieve, but it can be done. The minimum goal is the time that you must hit.  For example, if my average pace is 8:30 on a typical training day, my 5K big goal may be 23 minutes (sub 7:30 pace), my moderate goal may be 24 minutes(sub 7:45 pace), and my minimum goal may be 25 minutes (about an 8:00 minute mile pace).

3. Create your program. 5K and 10K training plans are available online and can be obtained through a personal trainer, or located in fitness or running magazines.  There are many training plans to choose from, so the trick is to find one that is simple, easy to understand and works for your lifestyle.  The basic training premise should be at least three days of running per week, with additional days of strength and/or cross training.  Once you have your program, write it on a calendar and stick to it!  Training is a matter of commitment. If you are committed, you will achieve your goal. Be committed!

4. Get the proper running shoes.  I cannot stress enough the importance of this.  Go to a specialty running store and get your feet and gait analyzed.  Treat your feet right and they’ll protect the rest of your body.  Running in the wrong shoes or worn out shoes could lead to injury and won’t bring you to the start line, let alone the finish line.

5. Finally, start running! Your training program should include at least one day of speed work, a day of moderate to easy running, and a day with a long run (working up to the full distance). Rest is important as you train and you have to let your body heal after each of your workouts.  To keep your focus and motivation, make sure to mix it up.  Don’t run the same route every time, download a new podcast or album, or try some fartleks (speed plays).

By Laura Ouimet, Dana Point Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, and a marathon/ triathlon coach and trainer. To learn more about the Dana Point Turkey Trot and to sign up, visit

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Blogger Day of Silence for Japan on Friday

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I haven’t talked about the disaster in Japan on my blog as there are really no words that are quite appropriate.

But my heart is hurting for the people of Japan and my prayers have been with the people affected and all those working on the tremendous recovery effort.

When I found out about the Blogger Day of Silence tomorrow, March 18th, I knew I wanted to be involved to raise awareness and show love for Japan. I also want to remind people that every donation counts.

This campaign was organized by Utterly Engaged and Ever Ours.  They have set up a fundraising page for ShelterBox which provides emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies.  You can click here to visit the For Japan with Love page and donate. Every dollar counts.

So there will be no new post tomorrow as I join other bloggers to take a day of silence to recognize the people of Japan and pray for their recovery. See you on Monday…

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