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One skillet meal that is great for first time meal makers

June 23, 2009
By ALEC RADER, Staff Writer

Venturing out on your own is never an easy task. When money is tight and your stomach is empty, the easy of eating out is a trap that can ensnare even the most enlightened of eaters. Paprika chicken with sour cream gravy and similar one-dish recipes are savers of the empty stomach and wallet alike. Finding food that you can make with the tools you have in the space you have is something that can be achieved. The trick is taking the proper steps.

If you aren't adventurous when it comes to cooking, the best resource you have access to are your parents. Give Mom or Pop a ring on the phone and ask how they made that one dish you couldn't wait to eat when dinner came around. This cannot only save you from falling into the fast food fissure, but it could bring you a little closer to your parents.

Then there are the people that want to try something new that they have made up. This is OK; however, even the most creative culinary minds can hit a road block. When I get "chef's block" and coming up with my own interesting variations on the same boring thing, I crack open one of the various cookbooks on my shelves or hit the Internet. I'll often Google the type of dinner I want to have (i.e. breakfast or Mexican) or the main ingredient I want to use (i.e. chicken or steak). If this doesn't turn any tastebuds to watering, I'll go to one of my standby sites such as Food Network or the like.

Article Photos

Paprika Chicken with Sour Cream Gravy

One of the problems with trying these new recipes, especially when they turn out well, is determining what to have for dinner. Most of the time now, I base my meals on the weather-having things like soups and baked ziti or cottage pie on colder days-or what is on sale at the grocery store. This has served me well most of the time. I have also started filling a three-ring binder with printouts of my creations or Internet search finds. This helps keep me organized and lays everything out nice and flat on the counter or table.

The Recipe

The fried chicken coating is one that not only provides a crispy crunch to the chicken but a delicious flavor to the gravy. Using one can of cream of chicken soup, a family meal is only 20 minutes away. Preparations are fairly simple and can be achieved in the smallest of kitchens. I know this is true because my kitchen is one of the smallest. The one-pan need also makes this a plus for small kitchens and cooks who are just moving out on their own and don't necessarily have the array of cooking vessels they found in their parents' kitchen.

Fact Box

Paprika Chicken with Sour Cream Gravy

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

4 tablespoons butter

1 can cream of chicken soup

2 medium green onions, sliced

8 ounces sour cream

Mix flour, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper and red pepper in a shallow container. Coat chicken with mixture.

Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned. Remove and set aside.

Stir soup and green onions into the skillet. Heat to boil. Return chicken and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until the chicken is throughly cooked. Stir in sour cream.

As for the spices and the flour, these are items that are considered "staples." Don't be shocked when the grocery bill is a little higher than you expected when gathering up staples. A friend asked me my average bill when he moved on his own. I gave him the warning that his first trip, in which he would mostly be buying staples, was going to be one of the more expensive trips.

The first five ingredients of this recipe will be able to be kept on a shelf for months and months and used many times. People in the culinary world suggest splurging on these types of things. I have found, in most cases and at most grocery stores, the store brands of spices and oils are good enough for day-to-day cooking.

The goal of this meal, possibly the first you are making for yourself on your own, is to begin your cooking portfolio. Sooner than you know, you will be cooking dinner for your parents next time you visit. And possibly sooner than that, your friends will be calling when they get off work asking "What's for dinner?"



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