Recipe: Oat-Crusted Chicken with Maple Sweet Potatoes

Punxsutawney Phil is a huge liar.

This past week was a flurry of speculation that Central IL would get anywhere from 6-9 inches of snow this weekend, possibly resulting in school and business closings come Monday. It was the topic of almost every conversation Thursday and Friday, and even sparked a heated debate among some of my husband's students, who became starry-eyed at the idea of just ONE more day of Spring Break.

In spite of this wintery forecast, I was in the "I'll believe it when I see it!" camp. Snow? Sure. 6-9 inches of it? Ehhh... The local weathermen have been so wrong with their dire predictions of late, it's hard to believe anything anymore.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I awoke this morning to a wintry wonderland!

An inch or so of snow was already blowing around on the ground and more was tumbling like tiny, angry, frigid pellets from the sky. But wait...isn't this March?? I, like any other red-blooded American, don't mind this type of weather around the Holidays, but come on! Snow Miser's reign should have been relinquished to his tubbier, hot-headed brother Heat Miser LONG ago.

No, Mr. Snow Miser. NO.
But, for as annoying as this unseasonably cold weather is, the snow is unarguably very pretty. Not to mention the string of cold weeks have allowed lots of cozy couch time to work on photos and other odds and ends without bemoaning all the nice weather I'd be missing outdoors. And, most importantly of all, it affords the happy opportunity to continue making warm, hearty dinners and comfort foods long past the usual expiration of such meals; this is especially enjoyable if you're 24 weeks pregnant and finally able to eat everything you missed out on over the actual winter months! So, I guess it's not all bad.

I got this recipe from an issue of Family Circle magazine that my Mom gave me, and adjusted it a little bit to fit our tastes and portion sizes. It was easy, quick, DELICIOUS, and we still had some leftovers at the end of it all!

Photo from Family Circle Magazine

NOTE: These recipes are VERY easy to multitask. I started with the sweet potatoes as I've found they can take awhile to soften to a nice, mashable quality. The chicken was done right before having to return to mash the potatoes, and cooled perfectly by the time the meal was ready to serve.


Maple Sweet Potatoes
5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 Tbsps unsalted butter
1/4 cup almond milk
Sugar-free maple syrup to taste
1/2 tsp salt

Place sweet potatoes in a medium lidded pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until they are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork.

Drain, return to pot, and mash. Stir in butter, milk, maple syrup, & salt.

Oat-Crusted Chicken
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2-3 tsp chopped garlic (we love our garlic!)
1 Tbsp rosemary
1 Tbsp thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup oat four
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~1lb)
2 Tbsp safflower oil

3/4 tsp salt, divided

In a food processor, combine oats, garlic, rosemary, thyme, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper. Pulse until ingredients are roughly chopped (those chunks of oats really give the chicken breading a nice texture!). Pour into a bowl.

In a second bowl, beat the egg with 2 Tbsp of water. In a third bowl, blend flour and 1/4 tsp of salt.

If necessary, pound chicken breasts to ~1/2-inch thickness. Coat each breast on both sides with flour mixture. Dip into eaten egg, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Finally, coat completely with oat mixture and place on a baking sheet.

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 chicken breasts, cook ~4 minutes. Flip over and reduce heat to medium; cook 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining 1 Tbsp of oil and 2 chicken breasts.


 Here's to a few more days (but only a few) of warm, wintry meals like this!


Recipe: Tasty Dip Trio

It doesn't have to be game day to enjoy these delightful flavored veggie dips! The recipe is simple and straightforward - 3 cups of homemade sour cream base is equally split and flavored separately for a variety of tantalizing tastes. The most difficult task is choosing your favorite of the three!


Tasty Dip Trio

Sour Cream Base
1 container (16oz) sour cream -OR- 8oz sour cream & 8oz Greek yogurt
1 cup Nayonaise soy mayo
2 Tbsp skim milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a medium bowl, blend sour cream, mayo, milk, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Split into three equal portions and flavor as follows:

Spicy Basil

Combine 1 cup of sour cream base with:
2 tsp Adobo seasoning

1 tsp ground Ancho chile pepper 
Dash of cayenne pepper
1-2 Tbsp dried basil, to taste 

Combine 1 cup of sour cream base with:
1-2 tsp minced onion

1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp of Truvia (or 1/2 tsp of sugar)
1 - 1-1/2 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp honey
Dash of nutmeg 

Garden Veggie
Combine 1 cup of sour cream base with:
1/2 sweet red pepper, finely chopped

3 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp skim milk
3/4 tsp garlic powder

Serve chilled with an assortment of fresh veggies. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Vegetable suggestions: sliced red, yellow, and orange peppers; carrots; broccoli and cauliflower; celery.