Friday, February 4, 2011

Quick Change Chicken

Snow? Ha!
We scoffed at snow.
Snow was not going to keep us cooped. Not us - we had a plan.

Because the rest of the week would be crazy-busy, my husband and I decided we'd carve out a little time Tuesday night and go out to dinner. They'd predicted a blizzard, but we figured we'd opt for somewhere close and be able to make it home before it really got bad.

But Mother Nature had other plans. The storm started right on schedule, whipping snow into little tornados of white, severely limiting visibility. My husband's place of work closed. We were staying in! And... no chance of grilling, either!

Uh-oh. What to do? We had a couple of veggie side dish leftovers, but nothing that could even remotely resemble an entree. Now what?

My first "Quick Change" of the evening. Take inventory: I had chicken breast filets in the freezer. Lucky for me they weren't full breasts, because that made them that much quicker to defrost.

But then what? I pulled out a couple of cookbooks, but nothing looked all that great. I had a pound of fresh mushrooms (what is it with mushrooms lately?), some dried onion soup mix, bread crumbs and wild rice. Surely I could come up with a casserole with those ingredients!

What I wouldn't have given for some cream of chicken soup right then. But I was out.

What follows is my improvisation. One that turned out spectacularly well, and garnered lots of compliments throughout dinner. I was pleased enough to write it all down so I can make it again. Soon!

There's another quick change in here as well. More on that in a moment...


1.5 lb +/- chicken filets. You can use whole boneless chicken breasts, but you'll have to adjust the cooking time. Or just cut the breasts into strips first. I kinda liked the serving size.

2 eggs beaten in a medium bowl

1 cup Panko crumbs

1/2 pkg of dry Italian salad dressing mix


1 pkg dry onion soup mix

1 lb of fresh mushrooms, sliced

On a plate, or in a medium bowl, combine dry Panko crumbs (heck I had them left over from last week, why not use them!) with the dry dressing mix. Set aside.

Melt about 2 -3 Tbsp of butter in a good-sized frying pan, and just as it gets hot, dunk the chicken filets in the beaten eggs, one at a time. As soon as you pull each filet from the egg, dredge it through the panko mixture then place it immediately in the hot frying pan. Continue until all filets are done. Brown one side, turn, brown the other side. Don't cook through, just get it nice and crispy on the outside.

Combine half the mushrooms with the dry onion soup mix. Place it in the bottom of a 10 x 14 glass casserole dish. Add chicken. Top with remaining mushrooms. Dot liberally with butter. I probably used half a stick.

Place in a 350 degree oven until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms merge with butter and begin to cook.


It was at this point, our eldest daughter texted to say that her place of work was closing for the evening and she was coming home. You need to understand that this daughter does not like mushrooms. Not at all. For me to serve her such a heavy mushroom entree would be ... well, a disappointment.

Not to worry. The chicken was just about done, so I moved the filets to a separate plate and returned the mushroom/butter/onion soup/leftover crumbs-that-fell-off back to the oven. I warmed up our leftover veggies and I'd also made some wild rice to complement the chicken.

Perfection. Robyn never knew I'd cooked the chicken with the mushrooms, which my husband and I used as a side dish. She and my husband both raved about the chicken. It was juicy, tasty, and crispy on the outside. They kept saying how great dinner was.

I felt pretty good. Heck, I hadn't even planned to cook at all that night, but with a little improvisation, and a few quick changes - dinner was served!

You probably can't really make out the chicken in there, but we forgot to take that last "Ta-da!" picture before we started eating. Fortunately, my husband remembered.

Sometimes foodie experiments don't turn out so well. Lucky for us, this one was great!


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  1. I like the way you improvise, Julie Hyzy!

  2. Sounds wonderful. How hot was the oven?

  3. Sometimes the best dish is improvisation.

  4. Thanks, Laine. Improvisation makes it fun!

    Anonymous - oops! I had the oven at 350. I'll put that change in now. Thanks!

    Dru - isn't that the truth!

  5. I'm hoping your daughter doesn't read this blog! LOL!

    Your chicken sounds great! Panko breadcrumbs are so terrific. I love that you finished the chicken in the oven.

    ~ Krista

  6. Julie, we must remain flexible, right? Life can come at your fast. Or in this case, snow. Great recipe. Love mushrooms!

  7. Nice post! Congrats on surviving the great white snow-dump. Love the pic of your buried grill, lol. There's something really cozy about being snowed in and having to make do with pantry items. Brava to you for coming up with a delicious, last minute recipe -- AND for being a great mom, too, by giving Robyn an alternate version.

    TGIF! Stay safe and warm,
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  8. Very impressive to someone who always carefully follows what the cookbook says to do. Sounds like the perfect meal for snow days. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  9. Krista - I think I'm safe this week. And if she finds out ... Ooops!

    Avery - Flexibility and Improvisation are my middle names LOL!

    Thanks, Cleo. A friend of mine was horrified. She thought our grill had been left out by accident. But we use it year round.

    Thanks Erika - I find cooking to be so much more fun when I play!

  10. *can't* scoff at snow, Julie! Just say no to scoffing! I can't believe the huge amount of snow in your Your improvisation was pretty and tasty! Thanks for the recipe. :)

  11. Loved your story, Julie. Great saves all around!

    My motto lately seems to be "Everything's better with mushrooms", as I toss them with reckless abandon into darn near every dish!

    BTW, we're snowed-in again,too!

  12. What a great result, Julie! And your secret is safe with us.

  13. The chicken sounds yummy! I was pondering your post and I was thinking - "big time authors don't have time to make dinner and do laundry and mundane things like that do they?" - I guess I have this idea that you don't have a real "life" away from writing. It's great to know that you do both!