Quick Dinner

Working moms and working dads are challenged every day.  On any given day, parents and kids are both worn out by the time they come home.  I have learned that if I sit down, when I come home, I’m pretty much done for the day.  The longer I sit, the more likely I am to order Pizza or Chinese food.  There’s nothing wrong with that but I find more satisfaction by staying on my feet and cranking out a quick, nutritious meal. 

Ironically, the more difficult my workday is, the more likely I am to push through and cook something.  Once I get started cooking I get into a rhythm and the act of cooking becomes therapeutic and strangely relaxing.  The best part is, I get to talk to my family in the kitchen while dinner is prepared and then we all get to sit together and have a meal. 

Ground beef tacos are super-easy to make and they can be accompanied by as much or little as you wish. 

This time it was just my wife and me having dinner.  My kids are young adults now and we don’t all gather for dinner, like we did in the past.  I miss that, but at the same time, I know that’s just the way life works.

After a long day of work, moms and dads don’t want to waste precious time or energy. 

Use every shortcut.  Work efficiently and always make one thing special, or out of the ordinary, and include some sort of fresh vegetables.

No recipe this time…just pictures.  It’s tacos for crying out loud! 

Fried Chicken Therapy

Sometimes I embrace the South with open arms and a willing heart, and this is one of those times.  Of course my willing heart will probably resent the heavy dose of cholesterol that the fried chicken will impart but the rest of me is fully satisfied by this delicious, crunchy delight! 

I like to think that this sort of indulgence is okay, every now and then, as long as it is followed by rigorous exercise and several days of green salads and fresh fruit.  At least that is what my brain tells my arteries and my heart every time I indulge in this sort of foolish behavior.

What is it about recovering from a cold that makes me turn to the most unhealthy foods?  Maybe it’s just my newly awakened taste buds that make me crave the decadent things in life. 

Buttermilk is key here.  Crispy, fried chicken can be achieved by other means but the combination of the buttermilk and the flour/cornstarch dredge makes this chicken stay crispy.

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts

4 Tbs cayenne powder

3 Tbs garlic powder

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups flour

3 Tbs cornstarch

3 cups fresh green beans

¼ cup chicken stock

4 or 5 medium russet potatoes

4 Tbs butter

3 Tbs sour cream

¼ cup whole milk

2 tsp all-purpose Greek seasoning (Cavender’s)

Directions:

Cut the chicken breasts by separating the tender from the rest of the breast.  Place the chicken pieces in a mixing bowl and dust with 2 tablespoons cayenne and 1 tablespoon garlic powder.  Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes.  Cover the chicken with buttermilk and refrigerate for one hour.

Wash the green beans and snip off the stems.  Set aside.

Peel the potatoes and cut into roughly 1” to 2” cubes.  Add the potatoes to a 4 quart pot and cover with water.  Boil the potatoes until they are soft.  Strain the cooked potatoes and return to the pot.  Add the butter, sour cream and Greek seasoning.   You can substitute the Greek seasoning with salt and pepper but if you have never added Greek seasoning to mashed potatoes you are missing a real treat.  There is something so very right about Cavender’s Greek seasoning! 

Add some splashes of milk and beat the potatoes with a fork or spatula.  Add more milk until you get the creaminess that you desire.  I usually use about ¼ cup of milk.  Cover the potatoes and keep in a warm place.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a hot skillet and sauté the green beans for a minute.  Add the chicken stock, turn the heat down to low and cover.  Stir the beans occasionally until they are tender.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

And now, for the chicken!

Mix two cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of cayenne powder and 1 tablespoon of garlic powder to a large mixing bowl.  Whisk until thoroughly blended.  Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture and let the chicken rest in the bowl for 5 to 10 minutes. 

Heat a skillet and add enough cooking oil to fill the skillet about half way.  The oil needs to be good and hot before adding the chicken…350° is just right.

Dredge the chicken in the flour again and add the chicken pieces to the hot oil.  Don’t start messing  with the chicken right away.  Let it cook for a few minutes before turning over with tongs.  Keep turning the chicken until it is golden brown all around.  Boneless chicken breasts cook quickly…maybe 10 minutes total.  Once you think the chicken is done, take a large piece out and cut it.  If the chicken is white and firm in the middle (not pink), the chicken is cooked.  Remove to a paper towel lined platter and keep warm.  Sprinkle some salt on the chicken…because anything fried deserves a little salt. 

Serve hot. 

Eat salads and fresh fruit for the next several days.  Get plenty of exercise and get good sleep!