Friday, February 6, 2009

What's For Dinner?

I haven't posted anything about cooking lately. Strange, because I spend a good part of every day deciding what to make for dinner, reading recipes, talking to my online "foodie" friends, and cooking. I really do enjoy cooking and baking and I'm constantly looking for new recipes to try. Sometimes, though, I'm just too busy or tired to make anything that requires more than 10 or 15 minutes prep time. I prefer to make most meals from scratch, but everyone cheats now and then, don't they?

I'm not a huge fan of fast food. I had a cheeseburger from McDonalds recently that tasted like rust. It was so bad I couldn't eat it. I don't even want to know what would make a cheeseburger taste that way, and I probably don't want to know!

Of course, there are always pre-packaged prepared foods, but I don't like most of those. I'm convinced that some of them are 100% synthetic and contain no actual food. On the bright side, there are a few that I really do like and keep on hand most of the time. My favorite is Tyson Homestyle Chicken Tenderloin Fritters.These are not the precooked, heat and eat variety you find in a bag in the freezer section of the supermarket. I'm referring to the 5 pound food service pack available at warehouse clubs. They are prebreaded (or is it prebattered?), but not precooked. Also, they are whole pieces of chicken, not chopped and formed.

We first bought this product a few years ago when another customer in Sam's Club told my husband it was the best chicken she had ever had. We grabbed a box and decided to try them ourselves. It wasn't until we got home that I realized the directions state that they must be deep fried. I don't have a deep fryer and I seriously dislike heating up a huge pan of oil on the stove. Instead, I decided to bake them. I bake them at 450 degrees for 40 minutes and they come out perfectly crisp and golden, and without all the extra fat. They are every bit as good as the fried chicken you can get from a restaurant, but cheaper and more convenient. They're great served as is, with dipping sauce or on a bun as a chicken sandwich. I also like them sliced and served over a tossed salad or pasta.

One other prepackaged product that I think is worth mentioning is Zatarains Jambalaya with Cheese. I usually have a box or two on hand. It's fast and easy to make in the microwave.
I generally make it as a side dish without the meat. You do need to alter it a bit, though, or it will be too dry without the added moisture and fat the meat would provide. I up the amount of water to 3 full cups and add a splash of olive oil. Then I microwave it, covered, on high for 23 minutes. I made a triple batch of it for a party a few years ago and it was the first thing to disappear.
Please feel free to share your favorites in my comments! I love to hear everyone else's shortcuts!


Lissaloo said...

We don't have a Sam's Club but I am going to check for the chicken at Costco it sounds really good. One of the kids & I's favorite quick pre-made dinners is the Trident Panko Breaded Alaska Cod from Costco. That with some rice & steamed broccoli, Yum Yum :)

Willoughby said...

That sounds really good, I'll have to look for it. Panko breaded anything is good in my book!!

5thsister said...

I'll have to look for the Alaskan Cod, too! The chicken sounds really good. Quick and easy to prepare too. Great for those busy days!