THE Italian Hoagie – From a Country Girl

Wow!  I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post.  I have to confess that I had to give myself a bit of a break from the blog world.  Things were getting hectic in our house and something had to give.  There simply wasn’t enough time for this momma to get to everything I love.  Football kind of took over our schedule for the months of September and October.  Tucker and Cade, both had two games per week which meant that Wednesday was our ONLY off day.  Add to that a few rodeo weekends and we were a family who rarely sat still (together) for more than an hour (if that).  There were so many times that I WANTED to blog, but I knew that giving a “somewhat attempt” wasn’t fair to anyone reading it.  So… I left the photo editing and writing for a day when my thoughts were clear.

In the time that I did have at home I tried to cook as much “make ahead” food as I could.  I’d double up on recipes and throw the extra into the freezer for another day.  I now have extra spaghetti sauce, green chile pulled pork, chili and Santa Fe soup all tucked away for a day that I don’t feel like cooking or just don’t have the time.  There was one weekend that I used the crock pot ALL weekend.  If I didn’t know better I’d have thought I was having a MAJOR case of nesting. (Don’t worry, folks, not a possibility.)  Either way, it feels good to know that I have a few back up plans tucked away.

One of my great discoveries for the crock pot came from the back of the box of Lipton’s Recipe Secrets Savory Herb and Garlic Soup/Dip Mix.  I usually use a packet of this in my meatloaf.  It’s the perfect seasoning for it, but I was looking at the box in search of something different.  There was a recipe for Cheesy Garlic Chicken on the back.  It caught my interest and didn’t sound overly “vanilla” as some of these types of recipes can.  The original recipe was meant for the oven, but it said it was crock pot adaptable.  The next night was a 7 o’clock game night for Tuck and I wanted something we could eat quickly before the game.  The next morning I piled a boatload of chicken breasts in the crock pot added the ingredients and let it go.

When I got home the house smelled AHHHH-MAZING!!  As wonderful as this looked I wasn’t really sure what to eat it with.  It had an Italian flare to it and I wasn’t sure what side to pair it with.  When Grady got home he was whining that it was CHICKEN, like many cowboys do.  I reassured him that it tasted wonderful, but I didn’t know how to “plate” it.  That’s when his GENIUS brilliance came out.  “Do you eat it like a sandwich?”, he asked.

The light bulb came on!!!!

That was EXACTLY how we’d eat it!!!  I shredded all the chicken into a baking dish, added some of the juices, topped it with shredded mozzarella and plopped her in the oven to get all melty and bubbly.  Then I took the hoagie buns I had on hand, buttered them and then sprinkled them with a little garlic salt and then toasted them in a skillet while the chicken got happy in the oven.  I topped each bun with a generous heap of the chicken goodness and then added more mozzarella for good measure.  I put them under the broiler for a few minutes to get even happier and then it was time to devour them.

DSC_0184 copyO.M.G!!!!!!!!!  I can’t even begin to tell you how delicious these were.  Grady even apologized for complaining about supper being chicken.  Tucker, my über picky child, gobbled his up.  The dinner table was completely silent.  Music to this momma’s ears!

Now, I know these aren’t REALLY Italian, but for this Midwestern country girl they were my version of an Italian hoagie.  …and a HUGE hit to boot.  Unfortunately, the leftovers didn’t make to the freezer for another day, mainly because I HAD to eat it everyday until it was gone.  I couldn’t help it.  It was calling out to me.

Are you ready for the recipe?

Here you go…

Alisha’s Italian Hoagie

4 (4 oz.) boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 can diced tomatoes (mostly drained)

1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secret Savory Herb with Garlic Soup Mix

1/3 cup water

1 TBSP olive oil

1 cup shredded mozzarella (plus more for topping sandwiches)

1 TBSP grated parmesan

margarine or butter (for toasting sandwiches)

4-6 hoagie buns

garlic salt

Place chicken in the bottom of the crock pot.  (I forgot to thaw mine so it went in frozen.  Worked like dream.)  Pour tomatoes over the top.  Blend together soup mix, water and olive oil.  Pour over chicken and tomatoes.  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 or until chicken shreds easily.

Preheat oven to 350º.  Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Shred the chicken and place in the pan.  Top with juices and tomatoes from crock pot.  Just enough to keep the meat moist.  You don’t want it to be swimming in juices.  Top with 1 cup mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Bake until the cheese it completely melted.  While the cheese is melting preheat a skillet over medium heat.  Butter each side of the hoagie and lightly sprinkle with garlic salt.  Place the hoagies butter side down and toast until lightly browned.

When hoagies are toasted and the cheese is melted on the chicken top each bun with a generous portion of the meat mixture.  Top with additional mozzarella and place under broiler to melt the cheese.

Then…. EAT!!!!!

It’s too easy to simply double this recipe and put half of the shredded chicken and juices in a freezer bag for another day.  This is one of those dishes that only gets better the longer it sits in its juices.

The skinny: These are nearly as bad as I thought they would be.  The following is for the meat mixture only: 1 serving equals 2 oz., calories: 141, carbohydrates: 6 grams, fat: 6 grams, protein: 16 grams, sodium: 499 mg, sugar: 2 grams.

If you add the hoagie bun (200 calories), additional cheese (approx 1/8 cup = 38 calories) and butter for toasting the bun (1 tbsp = 70 calories) your entire sandwich would be 449 calories.  For an indulgence food I don’t think this is terrible, but If you’d like to skinny it down further try it on a skinny bun which is only 100 calories and just as tasty.

So, there you have it.  This country girl’s version of the Italian Hoagie.

Disclaimer: I apologize to all my Italian friends and readers who are embarrassed by my rendition.

Peace, love and hoagie heaven!!!

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