Then reality rears its head and there you find yourself. Or rather, there I find myself.
The 5 o'clock witching hour has come and my kiddos are h-u-n-g-r-y. If I'm good, I will have put something in my handy-dandy crock pot and voila! Dinner is served and I rock as a mom. Usually it is so NOT happening. I'll get distracted by whatever---my attention span is that of a gnat--and dinnertime will sneak up on me. And in my head I act surprised that there even is a dinner time.
Don't scoff. I know that more than one of you has looked at the clock, surprised that it is that time again.
Those surprises are the times I wish I could cook like my mom or grandmother. They can go to the pantry, find a few things and put a really good dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. No, they're not Rachel Ray. They're better. They have those standby recipes in their heads and can make changes on the fly when they are out of an ingredient.
My grandmother could make biscuits for my granddaddy and herself from scratch. She'd make 4 biscuits each morning. From scratch. And her measurements included sayings like "a little bit" and "put them in a hot oven". I still love her red-eye gravy (For non-southerners, it's coffee added to the pan that you've cooked sausage in. The coffee kind of deglazes the pan and you end up with a brown, sausage-y/coffee gravy. Yummy on biscuits) and no one ever learned to make her fried apple pies.
I'm so Type A that I have to follow a recipe. DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THE INSTRUCTIONS. This is the mantra that goes off in my head when I'm cooking. I'll be the one who sends my kids to the store to get (insert missing ingredient here) if I find I'm out of it in the middle of a recipe. They've gotten used to it. It happens more often than not at my house.
But the reason for this post is to share with you all the one recipe I have that requires no measuring and can be made for any number of people. It is liked by all ages and has been the requested birthday dinner of The Younger Daughter for years. It can be put together in a snap and the kids can help. Heck, they can pretty much do the whole thing and you can go and watch your TiVo'ed episode of Live with Regis and Kelly. See how great this recipe already is?
And here it is. Baked Parmesan Chicken.
You'll need a stick of butter, Italian seasoned breadcrumbs OR plain breadcrumbs and some Italian Seasoning, garlic salt, pepper, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and boneless chicken tenderloins or breasts.
You'll need a hot oven. (Hi Grandmother!) As in 350 degrees. While it is preheating, get a large pan. I'm making enough to feed my family of 5 plus extras for lunch tomorrow, so I'm using a 9x13" pan. Put one stick of butter in the pan and let it melt in the preheating oven. (See how we're multi-tasking? We are so good!)
While the butter is melting, get the chicken chopped into bite sized pieces.
Pour the breadcrumbs into a pie plate. I find that the raised edges help keep the breadcrumbs from making a huge mess. **Note: If you have plain breadcrumbs, just add some Italian seasoning to the breadcrumbs and mix around. I just used what I had in the pantry.** Add the Italian seasoning, garlic salt and pepper to the breadcrumbs.
|I had plain breadcrumbs. I'm adding a scant handfull of seasoning.|
Grate some Parmesan cheese and mix into the breadcrumbs. I love that microplane. Makes me feel like I'm Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. She rocks. But anyway.....
By now the butter is melted and it's time to make our assembly line. Chicken, butter, breadcrumbs, new baking dish.
Coat the chicken in the butter using tongs. Raw chicken is gross enough. Let's not touch it too much, huh? There's my helpful hint for the day. Next coat them in breadcrumbs and put in the baking dish. See? How easy is that? And like I said, the kids can totally do this meal.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.
If you're feeling special, put them on a stick. Anything on a stick is extra special. I wasn't feeling special, so here's what they look like out of the oven. Yummy!! (excuse the extra brown part...the breading got a little too brown. There was no chicken there. The rest of the chicken should be the golden color.)
So to recap- home-cooked dinner that the kids made, minimal dishes, and bonus- I got to watch my Regis and Kelly while folding laundry.
Multi-tasking makes me feel like a rock star.