KItchen Wit & Wisdom: Bring on the berries

Cathi Litzenberger offers a recipe for a salad that uses dried cranberries while the Okanagan awaits the arrival of local strawberries

It’s only been a few days of this cool weather but already I’m missing our sunshine. It’s said that, “April showers bring May flowers.” How about April suns bring April fun? May can look after its own darn flowers! I want sun and warmth now.

Since I’m stuck inside today, I’ve tried a couple of new recipes. If you’re like me, you’ll love the crispy baked chicken. It is a little high in calories but that can be softened by serving it with a brown and wild rice pilaf and a spinach salad.

Imported strawberries have been arriving en masse at grocery outlets, I suspect because they need to make the bulk of their sales before local berries are in season. After all, who will buy imports when locally grown strawberries are far superior in flavour and nutrients to imports. While we’re waiting for local berries for that spinach salad, how about trying the recipe below. It’s made with dried cranberries, toasted almonds, and baby spinach leaves.

Crispy Cheddar Chicken

1 small box Ritz crackers

2 lbs. chicken tenders or 4 large chicken breasts

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup whole milk (or buttermilk)

3 cups cheddar cheese, grated

1 tsp. dried parsley

Sauce:

1 – 10 ounce can cream of chicken soup

2 tbsp. sour cream

2 tablespoon butter

Crush crackers. If using chicken breasts and not tenders, cut each chicken breast into 3 large pieces.

Pour the milk, cheese and cracker crumbs into three separate small pans. Toss the salt and pepper into the cracker crumbs and stir the mixture around to combine. Dip each piece of chicken into the milk and then the cheese. Press the cheese into the chicken with your fingers. Then press the cheesy coated chicken into the cracker crumbs and press it in.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and lay the chicken inside the pan. Sprinkle the dried parsley over the chicken. Cover the pan with tin foil and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove the tin foil, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the chicken are golden brown and crispy.

In a medium sized sauce pan combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and butter with a whisk. Stir over medium high heat until sauce is nice and hot. Serve over the chicken.

Serving suggestion: Serve with a rice pilaf and a spinach salad.

Cranberry Spinach Salad

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered

1 pound spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces

1 cup dried cranberries

2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

1 tbsp. poppy seeds

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tsp. minced onion

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook and stir almonds in butter until lightly toasted. Remove from heat, and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, and vegetable oil.

In large bowl, combine the spinach with the toasted almonds and cranberries. Toss with dressing mixture just before serving.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.