I know Ellie's mango barbecue chicken left a little to be desired for the husband last weekend, but I still feel like she hasn't let me down yet. So, with a few successes under my belt thanks to Ellie, I thought I'd stick with her for the remainder of the week. I took chicken out to thaw before we went to bed last night, but I had no idea what I was going to make for tonight's dinner. As I ate breakfast this morning, I thumbed through "The Food You Crave" and found her Crispy Chicken Fingers. They sounded so good. Yes, we've had "oven-fried" chicken before - because I simply do not fry chicken - but I've never breaded chicken with cereal before. It's a popular idea, I know, it's just not something I'd tried before.
I was excited I had a recipe all picked out. (I absolutely hate going to work not knowing what I'm going to make for dinner. It makes me feel uneasy - like I have unfinished business just looming over my head all day.) But as I thought about the recipe a bit more, I realized I lacked some of the most-necessary ingredients.
Buttermilk? Um, no. I don't usually have that on-hand unless I have a coffee cake in mind. Corn Chex or Cornflakes? We had All-Bran, another store-brand cereal similar to All-Bran and some crisp rice. I knew I could make one of them work. But honey mustard - or the desire to whip some up for dinner? I think there's a bottle of honey mustard in the fridge, but I have no idea how old it is. Translation: I'm not sure we should actually eat the honey mustard we have. Ellie's recipe wasn't coming together just as I'd imagined, but it still sounded so good; I was determined to make it work.
I eat nonfat plain yogurt just about every day, so I knew we had some in the fridge. (I won't tell you what I eat it with, though, as you may stop reading and never return. The husband thinks some of the things I pack in my lunch are absolutely disgusting.) So, instead of buttermilk, I mixed yogurt and milk; surprisingly, I think it worked just fine. The mixture coated the chicken quite nicely.
And instead of worrying about whether I was using Cornflakes or Corn Chex, I just went with the All-Bran. I'm not sure what the Cornflakes would give the chicken instead - perhaps a little sweetness? - but the All-Bran flakes worked perfectly. Actually, the flakes gave the chicken such a great flavor we didn't even need any sort of dipping sauce.
I didn't tell the husband all I went through to make tonight's dinner come together. I simply told him we were having Crispy Oven-Baked Chicken and sat down at the dinner table. "So?" I asked him. The husband looked across our tiny hand-me-down table and said: "It's really good. What'd you put on the chicken - just All-Bran? That's really it?"
Like the husband, I, too, was surprised Ellie's simple recipe would make such a flavorful dinner. But I'm not complaining. And I have to give her credit: Without Ellie's idea, we'd have been having oven-baked chicken sprinkled with a little mixed-up salt. Again.
Now I'm off to search through the freezer. What shall we whip up tomorrow night, Ellie?