Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dinner - Captain Hollywoodland Chicken Strips

I have long been a fan of themed restaurants, which should come as no surprise considering they were all the rage during my childhood. I loved them so much, I even had a little graphing paper notebook filled with theme restaurant floor plans and ideas. Yeah, I was kind of a strange child. (To this day, I would love to own a restaurant and if I could only find that darn notebook, I am sure my younger self would have had some great ideas.)

The idea for these chicken strips comes to us from that fantastic early-90s themed restaurant Planet Hollywood. Sadly, the restaurant went through a bit of a rough patch in the late 90s prompting the close of many branches, including the branches I had attended as a kid.

Fast forward to a couple years ago. Matt and I saw Planet Hollywood while vacationing in Las Vegas. I begged to go have the fantastic Cap'n Crunch Chicken Strips (AKA World Famous Chicken Crunch), so we had them alongside two cocktails and a statue from Terminator. The chicken strips were every bit as tasty as I recalled!

I have always wanted to make something similar at home, so I adapted a recipe that included corn flake cereal to instead contain Cap'n Crunch. The cereal gives these chicken strips that same delicious sweet crunch found at Planet Hollywood.

On a side note, if you have heard (as I did) that Cap'n Crunch was being discontinued, I am happy to say that it is just a crazy internet hoax. I hope you make these chicken strips in celebration!

Captain Hollywoodland Chicken Strips

-1 tablespoon oil
-4-1/2 cups crushed Cap'n Crunch cereal (Crushed it makes about 2-1/2 cups)
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1/2 cup flour
-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins
-2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line large baking pan with foil, brush with oil.

In bowl, combine cereal, onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In separate bowl, combine flour with remaining salt and pepper.

Coat chicken with flour mixture, shaking off excess. Dip into egg, then coat with cereal again. Place on pan.

Bake until golden and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.

Dinner - Lasagna Bolognese-Style

Matt and I were looking for a meal that we could make in a decent amount of time. This meal from Rachael Ray was listed as a "30 minute meal", however it does take a bit longer than that...perhaps 45 minutes to an hour! There is a bit of prep to do with this one, for instance: pre-cooking lasagna noodles and chopping onion and garlic.

This is no traditional lasagna, as it is not formed in layers of pasta and meat sauce. Rather, the noodles and meat sauce in this dish are combined then poured into a casserole dish, topped with sauce and cheese and baked.

It was not a bad meal, and afforded us plenty of leftovers. I could see making this again in the future, as an alternative to traditional lasagna.

If you would like a printable version of this recipe, please see this website.

Lasagna Bolognese-Style

-Salt and Pepper
-1 pound lasagna noodles, broken into irregular pieces
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1-1/2 pounds ground beef (we used ground turkey)
-1 onion, finely chopped
-2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
-1 small carrot, finely chopped
-1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped (we used dried rosemary, a teaspoon or so)
-Sprinkle of ground cloves
-1/4 cup tomato paste
-1 cup white wine
-2 cups beef stock
-3 tablespoons butter
-2 rounded tablespoons flour
-2 cups whole milk
-Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
-Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (sub parmesan or romano if desired)

Cook pasta as directed on package until it reaches al dente.

(If you have a dutch oven, use it now! If not, use your normal pot and transfer to a casserole dish below).

Heat the olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook well. Add onion, garlic, carrot, rosemary, cloves, with a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Stir in tomato paste for 1 minute, then stir in wine for 1 minute. Stir in stock and simmer a few minutes longer.

Preheat the broiler and position rack in center of the oven. In saucepan, melt butter over med heat. Whisk in flour and milk, then let thicken to coat a spoon. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Toss pasta with meat sauce and arrange in casserole dish. Pour the sauce over the top evenly. Top with cheese of your choice and broil in the oven to brown the top.