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1.22.2016

Better Bakery Artisan Melts and Guilt-Free Baked Ranch Zucchini Chips Recipe

 
This blog post was sponsored by Better Bakery, but the opinions are completely my own. 

As a busy mom, I am always grateful to find good things that make life easier.  It is a challenge to find pre-made food that is both reasonable in price and tasty, so I find myself cooking most everything from scratch.  Since my family is also health-conscious, I also find that cooking my own meals is the only way I can trust what is going into my meals.  Unfortunately, scratch cooking takes more time, which does not always help with the balance most busy moms need to get through the week. 


Enter Better Bakery artisan melts!  These are frozen food products that you can find in your local grocery store (more on that below).  The difference is that these sandwich melts are hand-crafted in small batches with real ingredients (like the ones I would use if I was making them myself).  The result is something that doesn't taste like re-heated frozen food once baked at home, but without the higher price tag of the fresh, pre-made meals in the grocery deli! 

For this review I tried two different type of Better Bakery artisan melts: Cheese & Pepperoni Pizza and Chicken & Bacon Club.  With the melts being made with great ingredients, I decided that I needed a wholesome side dish to accompany them, so I decided to go guilt-free and make some homemade baked zucchini chips on the side.  You will find the recipe for my Baked Ranch Zucchini Chips at the end of this article. 

I was able to find Better Bakery products in my local HEB grocery store (though they also carry them at Kroger, Wal-Mart, and other retailers) in the "quick meals" area of the frozen food section.  Click here to find a retailer that sells Better Bakery items near you.



The price for the package was great considering it included two large melts (they are 25% bigger than the average pocket sandwich), and made even better with this coupon from the Better Bakery website.  Click here to print the coupon and save $1.50 on Better Bakery artisan melts.

Finding an all-in-one lunch like this made shopping easier (especially with these two trouble-makers), as I didn't have to hunt for multiple ingredients:

The package instructions included oven-baked or microwaved options for preparation.  I decided to go with the oven option, which takes longer, but was worth the wait. 

First, I tried the Chicken & Bacon Club.


This was really good.  The breading seemed fresh (not chewy like bread can sometimes be when frozen and re-heated), and the meat tasty.  I was a little surprised in the overall quality.  I am not sure I have had a pre-prepared, frozen meal like this where the bacon tasted this fresh.  I would try this again, for sure.  The kids loved it too!

Next, I tried the Cheese & Pepperoni Pizza.


I personally liked the Chicken & Bacon Club better, but this was also really good.  It reminded me of pepperoni pizza rolls that you can get at some pizza parlors, but with a crispy baked breading as opposed to a chewy, doughy wrap.  The parmesan and seasoning blend sprinkled on top was a nice complement to the mozzarella and pepperoni on the inside.

The freshness and care put into the lunch entrée demanded more than some re-heated, frozen fries as a side dish.  I decided to make some homemade zucchini chips to go along with them.  I decided on a ranch flavor to complement both the club and the pepperoni pizza melts.  Since I decided to bake the melts, I also decided to make the zucchini chips better by baking them.  These low-fat zucchini chips were satisfying, but without the guilt!

Baked Ranch Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (1 oz.) package ranch dressing mix
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced to 1/4" thick pieces
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Mix salt and pepper (to taste) with flour in a shallow bowl. 
  • In a second bowl, beat the two eggs.
  • In a third bowl, mix ranch dressing mix and bread crumbs.
  • A few at a time, dredge zucchini in the flour mixture, then dip in the beaten eggs, making sure to coat completely.  After dipping in the eggs, press the zucchini circles into the bread crumb mixture, coating both sides, before placing onto prepared baking sheet, until the entire baking sheet is full.
  • Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the zucchini circles on the baking sheet.
  • Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes.
  • Move the baking sheet to the broiler, and broil for 1-2 minutes until desired crispness.
  • Let zucchini chips cool slightly before serving. 

When dipping the flour and egg-covered zucchini circles into the ranch and bread crumb mixture, it is helpful to press the zucchini into the mixture to make sure both sides are evenly coated.

Once the baking dish is full, sprinkle parmesan cheese on the zucchini circles, then place onto the center oven rack.

The final result are guilt-free, baked zucchini chips that are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.  The tangy ranch flavor pairs nicely with Italian or American-flavored sandwiches.
You'll want to share this recipe and pin for later when zucchini season is in full swing.  In the meantime, don't forget to download your coupon and try a Better Bakery artisan melt yourself! 

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