Whether taking a full class load or working 40 hours a week, among the most frustrating of questions is: Whatâ€™s for dinner?
The first option is to eat out.
But debates with roommates, friends and significant others about which restaurant will fill the hunger void can last forever and result in either multiple trips to multiple locations or unsatisfied diners.
So whatâ€™s the alternative? Cooking, of course.
If the idea of stoves, pots and alien-like whisks and food processors start your heart racing, not to fear. For your convenience, we put together a menu for a three-course meal you can make in an hour … ish (We started heating the oven at 1:23 p.m. Tuesday and had everything on the table by 2:36 p.m.)
Hereâ€™s the menu: Mediterranean salad, Emeril Lagesseâ€™s Oven Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Fingers and 5-minute Chocolate Mug Cake.
Any type of lettuce would work for this â€“â€“ we used a spring mix with spinach, romaine and arugula. Add to lettuce sun dried tomatoes, Klamath olives, pitted or whole, and top with feta cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Oven Baked Pecan – Crusted Chicken Finger
Seemingly difficult to make, these chicken fingers are a crunchy, healthy alternative to the fast food version. To make life simple, buy boneless, skinless chicken tenders and Emerilâ€™s Essence. Youâ€™ll save time by not having to mix the more than seven spices in the Essence by hand. (Recipe courtesy of FoodNetwork.com)
1 cup pecan pieces
1/2-cup bread crumbs (Because Madeline is gluten intolerant, the bread crumbs were left out.)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Emerilâ€™s Essence
2 large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into strips
Chopped parsley, garnish (We couldnâ€™t find parsley at the store, but the tenders turned out fine without.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pecan pieces, bread crumbs and Essence. Pulse for 1 minute to combine. Pour into a shallow dish.
In a bowl, beat together the eggs, olive oil and remaining 2 teaspoons of Essence. One at a time, dip the chicken into the egg mixture then dredge (cover) in the pecan mixture, shaking to remove any excess. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake, turning once, until the chicken is cooked through and the crust is golden, 15 to 20 minutes. (We baked the tenders for about 25 minutes for extra crispiness.)Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer to four plates. Garnish with parsley and serve with the Honey Mustard Dipping sauce on the side.
HONEY MUSTARD DIPPING SAUCE
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Creole mustard or other hot whole-grain mustard
Pinch cayenne, or to taste
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two weeks. (Recipe courtesy of FoodNetwork.com.)
5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake
Mikeâ€™s grandma sent he and his sister this recipe. Though the cakes took more like 8 minutes to make, they are as intriguing and fun to put together as they seem.
In a coffee mug, combine 4 tablespoons flour, 4 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons baking cocoa. Thoroughly mix in 1 egg. Add 3 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons oil, a splash of vanilla, 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional) and some nuts (optional). Put the mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high. The cake will rise over the top of the mug Cake can serve two people, if desired.
Staff photographer Michael Kalush and News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at email@example.com.