Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cheap Bastid's Pizza Chicken!

Last week’s Top Chef Las Vegas is on for about the umpteenth time and it reminded me that today is Foodie Tuesday. I was going to start doing some things this week on school night dinners.

You know, it’s totally possible to have a family meal together every night. There’s no need to call Chili’s for carry-out or troop over to Quiznos. With just a bit of planning you can have a meal ready to go in a half hour pretty much every night. You’ve got to plan your meals in advance and do things like taking things out to thaw the night before and put them in the fridge. You’ve got to do your grocery buying with menus either in mind or in hand to make sure that you have the ingredients on hand.

At all times, my freezer contains 4-5 lbs. of ground beef in 1 lb (or less) bags, bottom round roasts, boneless loin chops (2 to a bag with some individually wrapped), pork shoulder roast, chicken legs & thighs broken out in bags with about 4 pieces each, boneless/skinless chicken breasts, Italian sausage, a couple of pounds of bacon and a frozen pizza. That’s my basic load and I keep it replenished when the meat is on sale. Is this giving YOU any ideas of what you might be able to cook using some of the meat in my freezer?

One other thing before a recipe—try starting this school year with 2 new rules at dinner time:
#1 Lose the bottles or cans of beverage at the table. Go to milk, juice or water poured in a glass. It’s healthier. We all drink too much soda.

#2 Everybody eats the same thing. Not chicken breast for Mom & Dad and mac & cheese for one kid and SpaghettiO’s for the other kid. If a kid just won’t eat something they can either leave the table without dinner (don’t worry they won’t starve) or they can go and fix their own PB&J and clean up after themselves.

Sermon’s over. Let’s cook something. Today, I’ll give you a super simple recipe that I “invented” for what we always called “Pizza Chicken”. It’s always been a favorite of my kids and my daughter reports that she makes this at least every couple of weeks at her home. Why did I call it “Pizza Chicken”? Simple, kids love pizza! It made them totally willing to try it and once they did, they loved it. Obviously, this was a “required” recipe in “Dad’s Cookbook and Kitchen Survival Guide”.

Pizza Chicken
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 can tomato sauce
4 oz. Shredded mozzarella cheese
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano

Put 2 tablespoons cooking oil into a medium skillet and heat on medium high. Add the chicken breasts to pan, season with salt, pepper and garlic and let brown on both sides (should take about 4 minutes per side). Season the breasts as they cook with salt, pepper and garlic.
Pre-heat oven to 375. Put tomato sauce in a bowl and add garlic, oregano, basil and salt and pepper. When breasts are browned, transfer to a baking dish, pour tomato sauce over them. Cover with mozzarella and then sprinkle parmesan on top of that. Bake in 375 oven until cheese it turning golden (about 20 minutes or so). Remove and serve on bed of spaghetti or fettucine. It’s that simple. If you want, add some chopped onion and bell peppers while you’re browning the chicken to give some additional depth of flavor.

Wow, isn’t that easy! And, it’s a 30 minute meal if you’ve made sure to thaw out your chicken breasts ahead of time. This sounds like one of the super easy recipes you get out of a magazine but it’s something I “invented” almost 25 years ago when my kids were young. It’s good, tasty and with the mozzarella, just a bit gooey. Add the parmesan for just a bit more flavor.

What’s this going to cost? About $3 for the chicken, about $1 for the tomato sauce and
About another $1 for the cheese. Total for 4 people is about $1.25 each.

That’s the Cheap Bastid way—Eat Good, Eat Cheap, Be Grateful

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