Tuesday, February 24, 2015

dinner roulette

I typically don't shop with a specific recipe in mind. Sometimes I will have a certain food I want to make, like steak, and shop/build around it. Other times I am looking at whats fresh and different.

There are rare occasions I go in craving something, like bbq chicken pizza, or with a mission to make one of Mikes faves like meatloaf (which..I have not made in ages. ::mental note::.)

But my normal routine is to pick up a few basics and then peruse, letting my mind wander and linger over ingredients. This usually causes me to spend three times as long in the store and make multiple trips to the produce section, always so far from the butcher.

However this method produces some great meals on the fly and allows me to cook to my mood and not get my heart set on a dish if the specific ingredients aren't available or fresh. Sometimes it also causes me to come up with multiple ideas and become completely indecisive on that nights meal.

One night I came home with ingredients for two dinners and just laid them out for Mike.

"You pick."

His eyes lit up and he played his first game of dinner roulette.

It was a win-win because he just ate the second option a few nights later but it made dinner fun again.

I had another such trip to the grocery store again yesterday. With my new funemployment (more on that in a later post) I have promised more blogging and lots of home cooked meals on the table when Mike gets home from work, so I texted him some clues and let him pick what to come home to.

Option one: a twist on a childhood favorite with a bit of a healthier spin.

Option two: an italian classic remade into individual portions.

He chose option one, which turned out to be baked chicken fingers, zucchini chips and creamy, gooey mac and cheese. (Use the comments section for any guesses on what option two was!)

Is this always a practical option? Nope! But it sure is fun.

baked chicken fingers
1 pound of chicken tenders or breasts, sliced and portioned out
2 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
1 cup of flour, season as you like (I used some cayenne, salt and pepper)
1 and a half cups of breadcrumbs, season as you liked (I used the same as the above)
1 tbsp of olive oil for drizzling
  • pre-heat oven to 425
  • setup your breading station: flour in a bowl, then egg/milk mixture, then breadcrumbs. 
  • dredge each chicken finger in flour, shake off, then egg wash, then bread crumbs
  • place on a baking sheet with a wire rack (if you don't have the wire rack you can skip, or line with parchment paper)
  • drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for 12-18 minutes (depending on thickness), turning once--the outside should get crisped and cooked up
  • serve immediately or leave in a 200 oven to keep warm; serve with your favorite dipping sauce
zucchini chips
3 zucchini, washed well and sliced thinly (I used a mandolin, you can also use a food processor attachment or slice by hand, but that will give you a less even slice)
salt and pepper for seasoning
olive oil for drizzling
any other seasoning you wish!
a few spritz's for cooking spray
  • line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray
  • toss zucchini chips on and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and any seasoning you like
  • cook in oven (can be cooked at 425 at the same time as the chicken) until crisp and slightly browned--about 10 minutes
  • do these in small batches and keep warm wrapped in foil
  • serve immediately
tip: go easy on the olive oil--just a small drizzle is fine because mine took forever to crisp up since  I soaked them too much.

You can find my mac and cheese recipe here.

Let me know if any of you try out dinner roulette to switch things up!