Monday, February 23, 2009

Hugs & Wham Bams

Look! See? I didn't go to hell in that handbasket, I don't care what they told you.

I know. I've been AWOL a turribly long time and I really do apologize. It was just one of those times when, for no discernible reason, sitting down and yapping about what's been happening here seemed -- I dunno -- totally without socially redeeming value. Or something like that. In any case, here I am, with hugs and coffee, trying to get back in your good graces.

Not that I haven't been busy. Seems like there's always something going on to keep me from playing in traffic. Like, fer instance, I have renewed my sporadic interest in crochet this past few weeks. Mom was great at it and so was my sister. Fortunately, youngest dotter Patti learned from them because I never did enough of either crochet or knitting to even have bragging rights. In fact, I had to have Patti give me some tips when I started up again because, come to find out, there were a couple of basic things I've been doing wrong all this time. It worked out well. I learned something new and she got to feel good because she taught me instead of the other way around. Which tickles me plumb fuschia, that's what.

The occasion is the advent of a couple of brand new great-grandbabies. Yeppers. Patti's oldest son is about to become a daddy and her stepdaughter is about to become a mommy and I'm about to welcome great-grandbabies number five and six, by golly. Which led me to think I could crochet a couple of baby afghans for the kidlets. Of course they might be in kindergarten before I finish the project but, hey, my heart's in the right place.

Adventures in the kitchen are always in progress no matter what else is happening. Which is why I just stumbled onto what is apparently a long-time traditional recipe I never knew about before. Like most recipes, there are seemingly infinite variations but the most basic has been reduced to a three-ingredient wham-bam-cook-and-eat. Have y'all tried Cranberry Chicken? Have y'all done it this way? Lay your chicken in a baking dish. Boneless, skinless breasts or thighs work just fine. Mix together one 16 ounce can of whole berry cranberry sauce, one envelope onion soup mix and one cup of (take your pick) Russian, Catalina or French dressing. Pour the mixture over the chicken and bake at 350 degrees fairyheight for 1 hour. Serve with rice.

Okay, I can't tell you how that tastes because I didn't do it that way. The thing is, whenever a recipe calls for a package of this or a can of that, lately I've gone Googling to see if it's something I can make from scratch for cheap -- and with better control over what's actually in it. Or not in it, like assorted chemicals that will keep it from spoiling until about 2917. Found a couple of recipes that worked out really well.

ONION SOUP MIX: Mix together: 1 1/2 cups dried minced onion, 2/3 cup bouillon powder or granules (I used chicken but you can use beef or vegetable), 2/3 cup onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. (I did not add the sugar.) Store in airtight container. Four to five tablespoons equals one packet of onion soup mix.

CLEAR FRENCH DRESSING: Blend together: 1 cup olive oil, 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar) 4 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon each salt, dry mustard and paprika. Dash of cayenne. (Again, I did not add the sugar. As far as I'm concerned, the cranberry sauce had more than enough sugar already. And if I'd made my own from scratch, it would have had less.)

So I mixed the whole cranberry sauce with the dressing and 5 tablespoons of the onion soup mix, poured it over my chicken breasts and baked it. It smelled like heaven as it baked. How did it taste? Oh. My. God. This is one of those dishes that is too good to be legal. (Peering cautiously out the window to see if the Food Police have surrounded the place yet.)

I had it with rice but one cook mentioned layering Stove Top stuffing in the bottom of the baking dish, then adding the chicken and sauce. That sounds like a dandy variation. Another thing to keep in mind is that the sauce would work wonderfully well with turkey or pork. Something I'm going to experiment with is using it with meatloaf, mixed right in with the hamburger.

But don't take my word for the fabulous meal this makes. Wham-bam one up your own self. You'll see.


Wendy said...

Hi, Dee! Nice to know all is well with you. Gotta try this new cranberry stuff.

Dee said...

Trust me, Wendy. It really is fabulous.

bb said...

With a galley kitchen and the world's smallest pantry at the end, holding pots and pans, I can't do anything but make a grocery list when you do a recipe. Cranberry sauce is only in my cupboard at holiday's. :-)

Congrats on the new member to arrive. Hopefully the afghan will be ready. I could use a pair of slippers. Do you do those?

kate et jim said...

Good to see you, Dee! I thought maybe you had taken off for warmer climates!

This recipe sounds great - I was a little concerned how the onion soup mix was going to meld with the cranberry sauce and french dressing - (I mean it does sound like an odd combo, eh?) But your description of the taste makes me want to try it. (and I'll be making my own dry soup mix, too! That's really handy!)

These cranberry and chicken recipes must be making the rounds lately. I just made a new one last week that involved mixing cranberries in stuffing mix and coating it with a honey mustard and rolling it up like a chicken cordon bleu. Coated with crushed item of your choice. Tasty.

Dee said...

Gee, Bonnie, maybe I could do slippers. I'll have to think on that. (smile)

Kate, I probably should have described the flavor better because, yes, that does sound like an insane combo. It's really more savory than sweet. The taste blend just makes you smile. Your recipe sounds like a wonderful winter day treat, too.