Skinnified Sunday: Rachael Ray’s Pesto Presto Chicken

So because I still love recipe modifying and I still think skinnify is a cute term, Steve and I have decided to do Skinnified Sundays. The name is pretty self explanatory–we take a recipe and make it healthier better. To find our Sunday recipes, we pick a cookbook from the pantry, and both open to a bookmarked page (when I get a recipe book I usually go through and mark all the ones I want to try) and whichever recipe looks better, that’s what we go for.

So I picked up my Rachael Ray “Look and Cook” book that my mom got me for my birthday (thanks mom–it has produced lots of deliciousness!) and I opened to Pesto Presto Chicken and announced to Steve that I won before he even got his turn :O) He looked at the recipe and didn’t even open a page himself. It was decided. Actually, I was pretty surprised by how mostly healthy it was (good job Rachael Ray!), but of course saw a few things I could tweak.

To start the night off, we opened a pumpkin beer (I’ve been whining for days about how I want pumpkin beer) and a vanilla porter

I hoped the pumpkin beer would be…well…pumpkinier. The vanilla was dangerously delicious.

Next we made the pesto

Winston wondered when I was going to drop some

Then got the chicken ready to go

When my food comes out looking fantastic, I pose and gloat and say “Taaaadddaaaa!” How do I have friends again?

DINNER! (I also made a salad with no recipe–sorry! Essentially romain, part skim mozz, basil, fat free croutons, tomato, cucumber, fat free balsalmic. It was also yummy.)

Pesto Presto Chicken original recipe:

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 5 1/2 ounces boursin cheese, garlic and herb
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesiano-reggiano cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 slices tomatoes

My Swaps:

  • Roasted unsalted pistachios for pine nuts (-calories, -$$, +protein)
  • 4 oz herb goat cheese + 3 TBS low fat ricotta cheese for boursin cheese (-calories, -fat, +yummy goat cheese flavor)
  • Asiago cheese for parm (-$$)
  • I only had room for 8 tomato slices–those must have been some big chickens!

The results? Ummm YUM! I would absolutely make this again for guests. It was my first time making pesto, and my first time using one of my fav wedding presents–my red Kitchenaid food processor (thanks Janie!). For those of you who don’t know, before Thanksgiving of 2009, Steve surprised me with the sparkly red Kitchenaid stand mixer I had been drooling over–and not even as an early Christmas present–as a “just because” present. Jealous yet? I totally married the most amazing man in the world :O) Anyway, ever since, I have been mildly obsessed and every other appliance has followed suit in Kitchenaid and in red.

Have you ever seen a food processor in action? It is magical. So was the pesto. Plus, pesto with no oil? Sign me up!

New Recipe

Skinnified Rachael Ray’s Pesto Presto Chicken

yield 4 servings

  • 3 tablespoons pistachios, roasted
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 oz herb goat cheese
  • 3 TBS low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated asiago or any hard Italian cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 6 oz each
  • 8  slices vine ripened tomatoes


1) Heat oven to 450 degrees.

2) In small bowl of a food processor, combine pistachios, cheeses, basil and parsley. Process until smooth, scraping down sides of the bowl half way. Set aside.

3) Butterfly the chicken breasts.

4) Divide the cheese mixture equally between the chicken.

5) Fold like a book.

6) Place on a non stick baking sheet (I foiled and sprayed with nonstick spray–less dishes=happier Ari!)

7) Top with tomato slices.

8) Bake for approx 20 minutes, until browned and chicken is cooked throughout.

9) Let meat rest for approx 5 min, and enjoy!

And of course there has to be dessert. I was inspired by the sweet potato sitting on my counter. Sweet potato cupcakes. Yes please.

I love how round the tops turn out!

Original recipe (from

  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup bourbon

My swaps:

  • 1/2 the recipe. I don’t need 24 cupcakes sitting in my house.
  • Splenda brown sugar blend for brown sugar (-calories, -sugar)+unfortunate fakey crap–I’m so on the fence about fake sweeteners!)
  • Non fat vanilla greek yogurt for butter (-fat, -calories, +protein)
  • Egg whites for whole eggs (-fat, -calories, -cholesterol)
  • Whole wheat pastry flour for all purpose flour (+fiber, +protein)
  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk for whole milk (-fat, -calories)
  • Add cinnamon (+yum)

New recipe

Skinnified Bourbon Sweet Potato Cupcakes

yeild 12 cupcakes

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 TBS firmly packed splenda brown sugar blend
  • 3 TBS non fat vanilla greek yogurt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I didn’t half the vanilla–I LOVE vanilla!)
  • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 TBS unsweetened vanilla milk
  • 1/2 cup cooked sweet potatoes
  •  2 TBS bourbon


1) Preheat oven to 350

2) Mix dry ingredients

3) Mix wet ingredients

4) Combine

5) Evenly divide between 12 lines muffin tins

6) Bake for 12-15 min until a toothpick in the center comes out clean

I liked them more the next day. Weird right? They’re good, but I must admit they are probably better with real butter. However, my 14 year old brother ate 3 in a row, so they obviously didn’t taste too healthy :O) Clementine asked for one, but sweets are bad for puppies. When I said no, she made this face.

I didn’t make a “frosting” til the next day and never got a picture–whoops! But here’s what I did

Bourbon Maple Glaze

  • Powdered sugar
  • Tiny drop bourbon
  • 2 tiny drops pure maple syrup
  • Milk of choice until desired consistency

In case you’ve never made a glaze before and think they sound fancy, let me explain. All you do is take a bunch of powdered sugar, add liquid very small amounts at a time, and whisk together until your desired glaze consistency. Generally that liquid is milk. Tada.

Oyyyy! That was a long poooossstttt. I have to work on my wordiness :O) Happy Labor Day friends!


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