April 29, 2009

Almond Crusted Chicken

My MOMS Club had our monthly "Mom's Night Out" at a franchise place called Dream Dinners. Dream Dinners was nice enough to do a free preview night for our group, in which we got to make and bring home one of their signature 3 serving dinner entrees for free. How it works is that you go and assemble meals that you choose (the quantities and prices are based on a minimum order packages of their 3 or 6 serving meals and their menu changes monthly). Then, you schedule a time and go and assemble all your meals at once, with Dream Dinners providing all the ingredients, packaging, and cooking directions. When you get home you have a packaged meals to put in your freezer and pull out anytime you want. It's a pretty ingenious concept...saving both time and money for busy people who don't always have the time or inclination to cook. When I was working, I would have been all over this place...it would have been perfect!!! Alas, now I am a stay at home mom with plenty of time to cook. I have a well stocked pantry and I love to cook myself, so I don't think Dream Dinners would be cost effective or convenient for us (the store is quite a few miles away from our house). However, I think it is something that other people could benefit from, and I am glad I went to the preview to check it out. The meal that we prepared was this Almond Crusted Chicken, which was really simple to put together. They gave us samples of the finished dish, so we know how the final dish is supposed to turn out. Needless to say, it was very yummy!

So, I chose to make this meal tonight because it is flavorful, but there is not a whole lot of ingredients or spices to throw my stomach into a tizzy. It is tasty enough to be satisfying, but still fairly benign in flavor. I am hoping it won't upset my weak stomach. Dream Dinners gave us a sweet and sour sauce to pair with the chicken, but I think I am going to skip it, and just make the chicken without the sauce. I think the sauce would actually be too jazzy for me, right now. I am actually shooting for this meal to be a little on the bland side. I think I might serve this with some plain roasted potatoes, and some roasted zucchini and yellow squash. (By 'plain roasted' I mean with salt, pepper, and olive oil). Hopefully, this meal will help coax my sick belly back to being normal.

Almond Crusted Chicken
Adapted from: Dream Dinners

3 chicken breasts
¼ cup of egg substitute or separated egg whites
¾ cup of Panko bread crumbs
¾ cup of sliced almonds
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of black pepper
Cooking spray
2 gallon sized zip top bags
sweet and sour sauce for dipping(optional)

Place chicken breast in a large zip top bag with egg substitute (or egg whites). Seal bag and turn until all chicken is well coated and set aside. In a separate bag add: Panko, almonds, salt, and pepper. Shake to combine and set aside. Now, take chicken bag and drain off excess egg mixture and remove the chicken. Then, add chicken pieces to the second bag with the Panko/almond mixture (discard the first bag that had the raw chicken and egg in it). Seal bag and shake to coat chicken.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray. Place coated chicken in casserole dish. Place excess breadcrumb/almond mixture on top of each piece of chicken. Spray tops of chicken with additional cooking spray. Cook chicken uncovered for 5-10 minutes, then cover with foil and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked (internal temp. of 165 degrees F). Serve with sweet and sour sauce on the side, for dipping (optional).

The Result:
This was yummy, but I had an issue with the almond topping. The almonds kept burning! At one point, I had charcoal on my hands. I ended up scraping off some of the original topping and replace it with new sliced almonds. Ugh. I will admit, I was definitely off of my game last night. I really haven't cooked in four days, so I was completely out of practice. Anyway, I solved my little burning dilemma by covering the dish with foil for half of the cook time. After that, everything turned out as it was supposed to! Yeesh! Overall, this is a simple and yummy dinner that I will probably make again on my own.

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