Oh hi! How are you? Anything new going on over there? Not much? Just that life as you know it has completely shut down? Worried about the state of the world at all? Tampering down a simmering panic attack at all hours of the day and night? Hahahahaha, me too!
Hello out there, world. We’re over here, in our sweet little self-isolation bubble in British Columbia. Four year old’s out of preschool. Husband’s working from home. The show I started a few weeks ago, the one straight out of my dreams that I didn’t even get a chance to tell you about, is on hold til who knows when, along with the rest of the entertainment business (unless you’re a talkshow host apparently, and then you can work from home and continue living out your dream, NOT THAT I’M BITTER). Trips are canceled. Conventions postponed. Family scattered to their own isolation bubbles, available only through a screen when they actually answer our calls (I know you have nothing going on over there, MOM, answer the damn phone). It’s weird, and anxiety-inducing, and sometimes quite hard, the not knowing when our lives will continue. Sometimes we bother counting the days of our self-isolation, but then wonder what’s the point, when there is no set end date in sight? We are at a standstill.
I’m sure much like most of you, especially those charged with entertaining small children throughout the day which surely spans 32 hours and not 24, we spend the time colouring, painting rocks found in the yard, reading books and watching movies. Sometimes we slip out for the occasional forest walk, which is lovely and serene until we run into someone and my son says, “Hi, do YOU have coronavirus?” or worse, yelling at a bald man jogging by, “I know what he DOESN’T have! HAIR!” Most of our supplies get delivered, and we only head to the grocery store if we’re really desperate, which means we’re making do with what we stocked up on when this shitshow began. I think it’s safe to say that eating super healthy has gone out the ol’ window, since comfort food is the only type of food that soothes any of us right now. So I’m making the most out of the excuse for decadence, cooking hearty pastas and breaded chicken and fried gooey cheesy everything, all wonderfully delicious things raising the hell out of my cholesterol levels but bringing back a lot of happy memories in the process.
The friends of ours that are also suddenly stuck at home and unable to do their usual dining out at restaurants for the majority of their meals have started asking me to post more recipes, and since I’ve got nothing but time on my hands, I figured hey! What a great way to pass the prison sentence! The best way I know how to offer any kind of comfort has always been through food, so I’m going to try to share a new recipe every few days while we all try our hardest to get through this little gong show. Sound good?
And hey. One thing I do know (and have to remind myself of daily while deep breathing and trying to ration my Xanax supply) is that this period of time won’t last forever. Things will change. Things will get better. The world will start to heal. And we’ll be able to seek comfort in each other’s company again in person, and have fabulous beach BBQs, and playdates, and farmers markets, and dinners out at our favourite restaurants. We’ll get there eventually. But for now, while we do the responsible thing and stay home, let’s take some comfort in knowing that we’re all in the same boat, and reach out to offer solace in the ways we can.
So let me feed that tummy, friend.
Today I’m going to share one of my all-time favourite trashy dinners, one of the first things I learned to cook way back when. It’s not even that bad for you, really… except for the breadcrumbs, and the butter content. Whatever. It’s delicious. For some reason, this chicken just tastes better with a little honey mustard on the side, since it’s a grown up version of chicken tenders if you will, and therefore requires a dip. And I added the green beans in there because I took a chance and fed them to my child and he actually ATE TWO, which means miracles do still exist. I sorta stole the bean recipe from Wanderlust Kitchen, but the little sauce mixture is delicious on virtually every roasted veg, just so you know. Look at me, broadening your virtual horizons!
Here goes. Make a bunch. Eat leftovers the next day over a “salad” if that’s your thing, or, better yet, on a bun with some mayo and lettuce and tomato. Melt some cheese on that too, why not. Enjoy yourself. We’ll worry about cleaning up our act later.
TRASHY CHICKEN WITH MASHED POTATOES AND GREEN BEANS
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (regular bread crumbs work fine too)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup whole fat plain greek yogurt
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp to a full tsp of sea salt to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb green beans
zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp extra vrigin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Put a lid on it and bring the water to a boil. Once at a boil, the potatoes should take about 15-20 minutes to be fork tender for mashing.
While your potatoes are cooking, in a mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the spices, salt and pepper.
In another mixing bowl, beat the egg with 1/4 cup of water.
Split your chicken into cutlets. Place a flat hand on top of each breast and, from the thick side of the breast, slide a sharp knife into the chicken and cut horizontally all the way through until each breast is split open like a book. Cut each half into two cutlets.
Get a baking sheet and line it with a strip of parchment paper.
Dredge each chicken piece in the egg wash, then the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the crumbs into each piece to adhere. Place on the baking sheet side by side. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil, flip gently, and drizzle with the remaining tbsp of olive oil. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn and bake another 15 minutes more.
While the chicken is cooking, wash and trim the beans. Place on a baking sheet. Mix together the lemon zest, capers, minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle all over the beans and toss them with your hands so they’re evenly coated. Roast in the same oven with the chicken for 10 minutes.
Once the potatoes are fork tender, turn off the heat and drain them, then put them straight back into the hot pot. Add the butter, yogurt, milk, salt, and pepper and mash, mash, mash until creamy. Doesn’t that yogurt make all the difference? You’re welcome. Taste and adjust the salt levels to your liking. Potatoes always need more salt than we think.
To serve, I always like a honey mustard on the side for dipping that chicken. Store-bought is always fine, or make your own by combining 1/2 cup of mayo with 2 tbsp dijon, 3 tbsp honey, a little garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Delish.