Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Bulking Up

So, for this new year I an attempting to make my life a little easier by cooking things in larger quantities when I can in order to reduce meal time stress and effort later in the week. My first foray was yesterday and it began with chicken breasts. In reality I just didn't feel like breaking out the vacuum sealer to freeze all the chicken so I figured that now was as good a time as any to try out the bulk cooking thing. I had never been a fan of it because I loathe the idea of eating the same freaking thing all week long. I figured that if I seasoned the chicken a couple of different ways, then the meals I make with it during the week wouldn't seem so monotonous. I wanted to season the meat so that it would be compatible with salads and sandwiches and be good by itself. I also wanted to bake the chicken so it could all go in the oven at once and I wouldn't have to tend to it while it cooked. The fact that I used a disposable aluminum pan also made clean up a breeze. Since I was going for salad and sandwich applications I filleted the breasts. This was probably not the greatest idea unless you are meticulous about getting everything relatively the same thickness. I had a few very thin pieces that came out dry and tough. The thicker fillets were much better texture-wise. So, important lesson. Keep the fillets of equal thickness. Finally the last thing that probably would have improved these is to give them a quick blast under the broiler to crisp up the cheeses in the seasonings. I have a shitty circa 1982 gas range with the broiler drawer on the bottom so the disposable pan I was using didn't fit. Man, do I hate my oven. Hopefully, that no interest loan I gave the government last year will have a return on it that will allow me to buy something newer and a HELL of a lot better. But I digress. Back to the food! I have a feeling that the final product will not go to waste this week and we wont get too tired of eating chicken. I have included the recipes for the two flavor combinations that I used. You simply arrange your chicken in a baking dish in a single layer, spread the seasoning mix over the top of the meat, and bake it until its done. If you wanted to let it sit overnight and bake it the next day I am sure that would work well too.

4 chicken breast halves, filleted to equal thickness

Cheddar Ranch Seasoning

1/2-3/4 C mayonnaise (I eyeballed it)
3 Tbs Ranch seasoning
1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese

Italian Parmesan Seasoning

1/2-3/4 C mayonnaise
1 packet good seasons Italian dressing
1/2T garlic powder
1/2 c Parmesan cheese

Mix seasoning ingredients into a thick paste. Arrange chicken breasts in a single layer in a baking dish. Spread seasoning mix over the top of the chicken. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes until done. If broiling (recommended) remove chicken when slightly underdone and place under hot broiler until tops are crispy and chicken is done.

Serve hot with rice and veggies and use leftovers in salads and sandwiches.

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