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Let’s Cook: Fixing a Cooking Calamity

By Chuck Repnow - | Mar 6, 2021

The World’s Easiest Chicken By Lenny Hodenfield, in the Rainbow Valley Lutheran Church cookbook, rural Ray

There are many calamities that can test a household-especially now with all the concerns with COVID-19. For example, a household member forgets to set the trash can out on the curb on trash pick-up day, or how about the routine of looking for a cell phone or keys? Many of us have been dismayed to discover an empty milk jug has been placed back in the refrigerator. I recently heard a woman telling how a paint can tumbled off her laundry room shelf and opened up because of the vibration from the washer. Rumor has it that this paint brought on some colorful conversation! But all of these are merely small potatoes compared to the daily question that is asked in homes all over the world, “What is for supper tonight?”

This crisis has peaked in the past year when the options for dining out are limited and sometimes one is even too exhausted for take-out. In our home, the words “I want a homecooked, hot meal” are as frequent as are cars moving back and forth on University Avenue.

We all know that there is nothing as sumptuous as a homecooked meal. The simple fact that someone has taken the time to prepare a meal demonstrates their care and love for you.

Even with my creative powers, I will have to admit there are times when I simply run out of ideas. As a parent, there are always expectations tied to consistently bringing forth tasty meals at the mere drop of a potholder. A go-to meal in our home is “eggs,” but lately that it not ‘Egg-actly’ working! You know what I mean.

It goes without saying that I enjoy cooking and especially the preparing of the meal. I take interest in how carrots from the same bag can have such different texture and grain, why some of the largest onions when diced are mild and some little ones can have your eyes flowing like a river, why some eggplants are the same color as NFL football helmets directly to the east of North Dakota.

I ponder things like this just for the heck of it. Having the desire to continue on this deliberate path rather than throwing in the towel (or the whisk?), we have launched a new plan to better handle that daily question of “what is for supper?” Our game plan centers around our favorite meat. Lately the response has been chicken. It does make the planning much easier and there are tons of chicken recipes to try which in itself is energizing. Why not cover some new ground that could lead to fresh menus? Chicken whole, cut up or made into tenders is the most versatile meat that you can place in your shopping cart.

Here are a few chicken recipes that we enjoy, and they are easy to make. Don’t chicken out on trying them!

————The World’s Easiest Chicken

By Lenny Hodenfield, in the Rainbow Valley Lutheran Church cookbook, rural Ray

4 cut-up chicken breasts (or selected pieces of your choice)

1 15-oz. bottle Russian dressing

1 small jar apricot jam (approx. 10 oz.)

1/2 envelope onion soup mix

Arrange cut up chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Combine Russian dressing, apricot jam and onion soup mix and pour over the chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. For best flavor, keep basting chicken with the mixture throughout the baking time. This serves 4 to 6

————Laidback Oven-Barbecued Chicken

Believe it or not, I picked this recipe off an empty bourbon bottle. It was back in the day when I recycled attractive bottles into mini lamps.

1 14-ounce jar of your favorite barbecue sauce. (We like the hickory smoked flavor)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon bourbon

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Various chicken pieces to equal 3 to 4 pounds

Pour barbecue sauce into bowl. Add soy sauce and bourbon to the empty sauce bottle shake it well-your hips too! Combine with barbecue sauce that has been laidback in your vintage green Pyrex bowl. Add mustard and blend well. Cover chicken with sauce and marinate at least 4 hours, turning if only convenient. During this time period, kick back, read a book, watch an old movie, or write Aunt Millie a letter. This is the beauty of this recipe-you get to have some time off your feet!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer chicken to a baking pan and baste with marinade early in the baking process. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 45-to 55 minutes depending upon chicken size.

It is important to know that after raw chicken has marinated in any kind of liquid, that liquid is as unsafe to consume as raw chicken! However, you can baste the chicken very early in the cooking process, because the marinade will get cooked with with the chicken. This will serve 4.

———-Easy Chicken in Wine

We enjoyed this chicken while touring in California wine country several years ago. The restaurant gladly presented us the recipe when we asked.

3 to 4 large chicken breasts halved

1 cup dry red wine

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon oregano

Place chicken in a single layer in shallow baking pan. Combine remaining ingredients in small bowl and pour over chicken. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight, spoon sauce over chicken occasionally. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover chicken and sauce with foil and bake for 1 hour. This serves 6 to 8.

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