Poultry

Pineapple Barbecue Chicken Foil Packets

Pineapple Barbecue Chicken Foil Packets  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s finally Friday! To celebrate I’m sharing these Pineapple Barbecue Chicken Foil Packet. Yes, I know it seems weird to celebrate with a chicken dish, but this dish is worth celebrating. Remember when I posted the Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes and I said the healthy homemade barbecue sauce was so good you would be seeking out recipes to put it on? Well, that’s what I’ve been doing! Have you tried my barbecue sauce yet? No?? Make it this week! I promise it’s so delicious you will be shocked you’ve never made homemade barbecue sauce before. You will also be very, very happy to eat it without any guilt since there’s no refined sugar or preservatives.

Pineapple Barbecue Chicken Foil Packets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Barbecue and pineapple is such a classic pairing that I had to stick the two together for these foil packets. I also loaded them with veggies so you could have a quick and easy all-in-one meal. Cooking in a foil packet is a great way to keep everything inside moist as it cooks. All the sauces and juices get trapped in the packet, which helps concentrate the flavor and make everything tender.

Pineapple Barbecue Chicken Foil Packets  |  Lemon & Mocha

I used green beans, red bell pepper and zucchini for some variety, but you can swap with your favorite seasonal vegetables. Just make sure they aren’t so big that they might not steam through, like big florets of broccoli, or too small that they will turn to mush, like really thin asparagus.

Pineapple Barbecue Chicken Foil Packets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Another advantage to cooking in a foil packet is that clean up couldn’t be easier! On a side note, I’ve been wondering about the impact my aluminum foil usage in the kitchen is having on the environment so I did some research. This article from The Kitchn explains that a lot of towns will accept aluminum foil in the recycling bin if it’s been rinsed and they have a link to check to see if your town or city allows you to toss rinsed foil in with your single stream recycling. So awesome! Unfortunately my town excludes aluminum foil from recycling, but many of the towns I checked do so hopefully mine will soon as I would happily rinse and recycle my foil, which is still a super easy cleanup! In the meantime, I’m going to start rinsing and reusing my foil to cut back on my waste. Any bit helps!

Pineapple Barbecue Chicken Foil Packets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Okay, back to this sweet and juicy chicken dish! You can eat it as a meal in-itself like Matt and I did, or it would also be fantastic with some rice. If you don’t have too much leftover liquid in your packets (see the recipe – the zucchinis and chicken release some water and juices) then you could serve the rice family style and just let everyone scoop some into their packets. This is a great way to serve a healthy chicken dish for a crowd because you can prep all the packets ahead of time and just throw them in the oven when everyone arrives. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend – and don’t forget to try this barbecue sauce!

Pineapple Barbecue Chicken Foil Packets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Pineapple Barbecue Chicken Foil Packets
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the chicken
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 thin portions
  • ⅔ pound green beans
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • ½ zucchini
  • 8 sliced rings of pineapple
for the barbecue sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste, about 6 ounces
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons molasses
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions
for the chicken
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lay out 4 pieces of aluminum foil that are big enough to completely seal in the chicken, set aside.
  2. Prep the veggies. Trim the green beans. Cut the bell pepper into slices about ½” to ¾” thick. Cut the zucchini into thick rounds then halve.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Put 1 breast on each piece of aluminum foil and slightly fold up the sides so nothing with spill out. Divide the green beans, red pepper slices and zucchini wedges between the 4 packets, nestled the vegetables on either side of the chicken. Top the chicken with some barbecue sauce, making sure to save some for serving. Then place 2 pineapple rings on each chicken breast. Fold up the foil packets to tightly seal, place the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  4. When opening the packets, be very careful because of the steam and the hot liquid in the packets. There will be liquid from the chicken and the zucchini. Remove the contents of each packet to a plate, top with additional barbecue sauce and serve.
for the barbecue sauce
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
Notes
For the chicken, I halved 2 chicken breasts lengthwise to get 4 thin breasts.
You can grill these foil packets instead of baking them if you would prefer. I have not tried grilling them so I’m not sure on the exact timing it would take, but make sure to flip it halfway through - and that your foil packet is sealed extra tight!

 

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Wednesday everyone! I just had the best week with my Aunt Elaine, Uncle Pete and goddaughter, Mikaila. They came to visit Matt and I for a few days last week and we spent two packed days exploring Boston. I’ve lived here my whole life and learned all kinds of things I never knew about our city. I also discovered a store on Newbury Street with the cutest patterned dresses and tops – priorities!

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Their visit got me even more excited for my family’s annual beach week; if that’s even possible. For those of you that don’t know, every year my extended family has a beach week down at the Delaware shore. Last year my Aunt Dottie made a salad for lunch to bring to the beach and it was so pretty I had to take a photo and post it on Instagram. When I was trying to think of something healthy and refreshing to post for 4th of July next week I immediately remembered my aunt’s salad.

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

This is a Red, White and Blue Spinach Salad loaded with sliced turkey, strawberries, blueberries and feta cheese. You can easily customize it to your own preferences by swapping grilled chicken for the turkey – or even leaving it meatless. Same with the berries and cheese. Not a feta fan? Use goat cheese or mini mozzarella balls. Swap raspberries for the strawberries and blackberries for the blueberries! It’s totally up to you.

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The best part about this salad, both for how it makes it look and how it makes it taste, is the berry balsamic vinaigrette. I love the rich color the dressing gets from the berries. I especially love that you can really taste the berry flavor in the dressing and it pairs so well with the balsamic vinegar. If your berries are really ripe and sweet you might not even need the agave or honey as an additional sweetener.

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The dressing has only five ingredients and could not be any easier – or more delicious! Toss it with the spinach salad and you’ll have some berry happy 4th of July guests. Sorry, I couldn’t resist! So go ahead and use all the berries to enjoy this salad all summer long!

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Red, White & Blue Spinach Salad
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 10 ounces spinach
  • 12 slices deli turkey meat (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries
  • ¾ cup blueberries
  • ¾ cup feta cheese
for the dressing
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup quartered strawberries
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon agave or honey, if needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Place the spinach in a serving bowl. Rip or cut the deli turkey into pieces. Top with the strawberries, blueberries, feta cheese and turkey.
for the dressing
  1. Place all the ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until combined, about 40 seconds. If your fruit is very ripe and sweet you may not even need the agave or honey - give it a taste without it first if you would like then add if you feel it’s needed. If you want to strain out the blueberry and strawberry seeds you can using a fine mesh strainer, but they didn’t bother Matt or I. Season with salt or pepper to taste. Feel free to thin out the dressing more with some olive oil if desired. Drizzle over the salad or serve alongside the salad when ready to eat.
Notes
If not serving right away, wait to put on the quartered strawberries and turkey. The dressing is best the day it is made.

 

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

How many posts have I started with, “I’m so excited to share this with you!”? I think that’s okay though because I only ever share recipes here that I think you NEED in your life so it makes sense for me to always be excited! These Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches have me really excited for several reasons, but mostly because the chicken salad is just damn delicious! Now, as many of you know, I am mayonnaise obsessed. At least half of you are probably cringing right now (I know Matt is!), but I’ve just always been hooked. Mayonnaise and healthy don’t exactly go together so I challenged myself to make a mayo-free chicken salad that wouldn’t make me miss the mayo at all. Well, as mayo-free as possible – I did throw in just one little tablespoon of mayo (which is less than a teaspoon per serving). Sorry, I can’t help it!

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

I was completely prepared to hate this chicken salad. I thought with subbing in plain Greek yogurt that would be all I would taste and that it would be okay, but not a solid substitute for the classic. I was so wrong and I’m so excited about it! I didn’t miss all the mayo one bit! The apple cider vinegar, Dijon, parsley and scallions give this chicken salad so much flavor and the crunch from the apple and the almonds keeps it from being anything but boring.

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

Another reason this chicken salad has so much flavor packed in is that I used grilled chicken. I love grilling chicken in the summertime and this sandwich is the perfect reason to throw a few extra chicken breasts on your grill. Matt hates chicken salad because he doesn’t like mayo and even he was chowing down on these!

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

The chicken salad tastes great on its own or on a green salad, but my favorite way to eat it is as these Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwiches. I love using locally baked sourdough bread as a healthier option. I am allergic to oats and most multigrain breads have rolled oats, oat flour or oat fiber in them. Although sourdough is similar to white bread in terms of calories and carbs, it is usually made with no sweeteners or oils, doesn’t require extra preservatives and is higher in protein. A lot of people also find it much easier to digest due to the lactic acid present as a result of the baking process. I also love how it’s soft and chewy with a bit of a tanginess to it. It holds up really well to this chicken salad and tastes so good with a little bit of fresh arugula for some added green veggies. I hope you enjoy this one! If you try a recipe, don’t forget to let me know how it was in the comments – I love hearing from you all!

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich  |  Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Open-Faced Chicken Salad Sandwich
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the chicken salad
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, grilled, about 2.5 cups cooked
  • ½ cup diced apple
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup sliced scallions
  • ⅓ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
for the sandwich
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 cup arugula
  • Carrot and red pepper slices for serving, optional
Directions
for the chicken salad
  1. Dice the chicken. Toss in a medium mixing bowl with the diced apple, chopped almonds and sliced scallions. Add the yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, Dijon, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir well to combine.
for the sandwich
  1. Put the sourdough bread on 4 plates or in 4 meal prep containers. Divide the arugula between the 4 slices of bread. Top with the chicken salad, dividing between the 4 slices of arugula topped bread. Add carrot and red pepper slices to container, if using.

 

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

I don’t remember how I stumbled across this recipe, but I am so glad I did. When I first saw it I knew I needed to make it immediately. The whole concept of Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs is genius! Basically the crunchy chicken meatballs take the place of both the croutons and the protein in this Caesar salad. What?! I know, I’m boggling your mind right now.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

The chicken meatballs are rolled in crushed croutons before they are baked so they are crispy and full of crouton-y goodness. These are anything but ordinary chicken meatballs. In addition to the crispy exterior, the meatballs are loaded with all the makings of a delicious Caesar salad. Instead of breadcrumbs we use more crushed croutons and instead of egg or oil we use Caesar dressing. There’s also Parmesan and scallions involved.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you can’t find ground chicken you can use ground turkey instead. I’ve made it both ways numerous times and it’s always delicious. If you want to talk about a tried and true recipe, this is it. I’ve been making this dish regularly since 2009; that’s almost 10 years of Chicken Caesar Salad Meatball perfection! I first made it for my roommates and we all devoured it. After college, it was immediately put on Matt’s and my regular dinner rotation and has stayed that way ever since. I especially love this salad when the weather is warm like this and now that we have a big toaster oven I just make them in there instead of heating up the whole kitchen with the oven.

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you’re having leftovers you can eat them cold, but I always heat the meatballs a little before putting them on top of the salad so you get a nice mix of the warm crunchy meatballs and the cold Caesar salad. Since you are using crouton crumbs both in the meatball and on the outside tasty croutons are key for this recipe. I love the Trader Joe’s cheese and garlic croutons. They are so addictive! When I crush the croutons I like to keep a few bigger chunks since they add to the texture of the crispy outside. You might have noticed from the photos, but the Caesar dressing I usually use isn’t the thick and creamy one you normally see, although you can certainly use that. These were made with the Trader Joe’s Caesar dressing, which is a more oil-based Caesar dressing. Either way, I know they will be delicious!

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chicken Caesar Salad Meatballs
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the chicken caesar meatballs
  • 1 lb lean ground chicken
  • 1⅓ cup crushed croutons, divided
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons caesar dressing
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
for the salad
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Caesar dressing
  • Additional fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Directions
for the chicken caesar meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside. Place 1 cup of the crushed croutons in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, the remaining ⅓ cup of the crushed croutons, scallions, parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper, being sure not to overmix.
  3. Divide the meat mixture into 4 sections. Use each section to roll out 3 chicken meatballs. Roll each meatball in the bowl of crushed croutons before placing on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have 12 chicken meatballs. They are big!
  4. Bake the chicken meatballs for 15 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and bake for another 15 minutes.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the caesar salad. Cut and wash the lettuce then toss with the caesar dressing and extra parmesan cheese. I usually plan on 4 cups of romaine lettuce per person. The amount of dressing and additional Parmesan is up to you!
  6. When the chicken meatballs are cooked, let them cool for 5-7 minutes before serving on top of the caesar salad.

Recipe adapted from blog Canaderican, which no longer exists.

Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

I am so excited to share this healthy meal prep lunch with you! It is also great as dinner, but Matt and I love having these Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes for make-ahead lunches. Since I usually cook dinner the last thing I want to do is make lunch a big production. Quick and easy are key lunch qualities. I also don’t like having the same salad or sandwich for weeks on end and bonus points if the meal is hot! Something about a hot meal at lunch makes me look forward to it so much more. Anyone else? It’s okay, I’m probably the only weird one.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although you can certainly use store-bought barbecue sauce to make this even easier, I am obsessed with the quick and tasty barbecue sauce I came up with for these stuffed sweet potatoes. I am always looking for ways to make lunch healthier so I figured a homemade barbecue sauce would be a great way to control the sugar, sodium and preservatives going into this dish.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

To make the homemade barbecue sauce, everything is brought to a boil then simmered for fifteen minutes. That’s it! The sweetness comes from molasses and maple syrup so there is no refined sugar involved. Wanting to eliminate refined sugar and reduce sodium is also why I made the bulk of the sauce with tomato paste and water instead of ketchup. Don’t worry, between the added Worcestershire and other seasonings I promise you would never know it isn’t store-bought barbecue sauce. In fact it’s so easy and delicious you will definitely find yourself seeking out recipes that use barbecue sauce just so you can eat some more.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

The sweet and tangy barbecue sauce gets tossed in with the shredded chicken before being stuffed into tender roasted sweet potatoes. A little sprinkling of mozzarella cheese and some chopped red onion and you have arrived at lunch perfection. These Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are very filling and keep me stuffed until dinnertime, pun definitely intended. I cannot wait for you to try this recipe, especially the healthy homemade barbecue sauce!

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

On a side note, I love these new meal prep containers I got on Amazon. They are really secure – Matt commutes to work on public transportation and brings his lunch to work in his bag so they get tossed around and have never spilled. They are a great size for lunches or make-ahead dinners and they are dishwasher safe, which is key in my house. They also are freezer-safe and you can’t see this because I didn’t post a picture of the lid, but they have a little microwave vent at the top. Also, they look awesome for my photos! You can buy them here.

Meal Prep Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Barbecue Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the barbecue sauce
  • 1 small can tomato paste, about 6 ounces
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons molasses
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
for the chicken & sweet potatoes
  • 4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried well
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 4 tablespoons shredded cheddar or mozzarella
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • Chopped parsley for garnish, optional
Directions
for the barbecue sauce
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
for the chicken & sweet potatoes
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a small baking pan with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Pierce the sweet potatoes 5-6 times each with a fork. Lightly rub the sweet potatoes with oil (I use olive oil and a paper towel) then bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before carefully cutting a slit in the top of the potatoes.
  3. Toss the shredded chicken in the small saucepan with the barbecue sauce to coat. Divide the sauced chicken between the four potatoes and stuff in the center. Top each potato with 1 tablespoon of the shredded cheese and some of the red onion and parsley, if using. I cook these for make-ahead meals so the cheese gets melted when I microwave them, but if you are making and eating right away you could toss them under the broiler for a minute or 2 to melt the mozzarella.
Notes
I leave my shredded chicken pretty chunky instead of shredding super fine. It’s less time consuming and I like having larger chunks of chicken so it doesn’t taste like all sauce.

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