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Yummy and Easy Dinner Delight

Panko Parmesan Chicken Strips

Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or use nonstick baking spray. Working on a large cutting board, cut 4 large chicken breasts into long strips, about 5 per breast; sprinkle each piece with a little salt and pepper. In a small bowl, break 2 eggs and whisk gently. In a medium bowl, add 1 cup of panko bread crumbs, ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, and ½ teaspoon salt. Line up the bowls on your counter so you have the chicken on the left, then the egg bowl, followed by the panko mix, and finally your baking sheet. Dip the chicken into the egg and shake off excess, then into the panko, and place on baking sheet. Repeat for the remainder. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until fully cooked through and lightly golden. Serve with family favorite dipping sauce.

Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

To a medium-sized pot of salted boiling water, add 1 pound trimmed green beans and boil for 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Pour into a colander in the sink and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, then pat dry with clean kitchen towel. Heat a large 10-inch frying pan over medium heat and add 1 generous tablespoon of butter and 1 generous tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil until melted and hot. Add 2 large diced shallots and turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the shallots cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to take on color (about five minutes).  Add a pinch of salt. Do not allow the shallots to burn, but you want them to have a deep golden brown color. Add the green beans to the shallots and stir until the beans are coated evenly and heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Caesar Salad and Homemade Croutons

Dressing: In a blender or food processor, combine ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 clove garlic, minced, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Blend on high until well mixed. With the machine running on low, slowly add ½ cup olive oil in a thin stream and blend until emulsified. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning to taste. Set aside.

Croutons: Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, mix 2 cups 1-inch cubed day-old bread with 3 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon dried parsley and thyme, or your favorite dried herbs. Lay out the coated bread cubes in a single layer and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or evenly toasted.

To assemble the salad, cut and wash romaine leaves from 2 small romaine heads, and toss with dressing and croutons in a salad bowl. Shaved Parmesan is optional.

Raspberry, Pecan, and Coconut Bars

Preheat oven to 350° and spray an 8-in square pan with baking spray. In a large bowl whisk together 1½ cups of whole wheat pastry flour, 1¼ cups old fashioned oats, 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and ½ teaspoon baking soda. Add 1 cup of toasted and chopped pecans and 1½ sticks of melted butter and mix until well combined. Press the oat mixture into the prepared pan and top with 1 cup of raspberry preserves or jam, smoothing out over the pressed crust. Top with remaining oat mixture leaving it crumbly rather than pressed. Bake for 45 minutes or until evenly golden. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares and save in an airtight container. These make awesome lunch box snacks!

Jenny Tremblay West began her career as a pastry chef and currently teaches cooking in Richmond. Jenny, her husband, and their two young boys live in Church Hill. She has worked in food for more than twenty years and is a kitchen coach and personal chef with Caper.
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