Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to cook. I don’t find it a chore but enjoyable. My earliest memory of cooking was when I was about three years old, maybe four. My grandmother raised us on the counters and I still find it very comfortable to sit on a kitchen counter as the food is slowly making its magic. I remember sitting on the counter one day (I don’t remember what the event was that caused the family gathering) and Ma told me that my job would be to stir the corn on the stove. I knew not to touch it because it was hot and I was very careful. It made me feel like if I managed to screw this up (which there was no way I could) the whole dinner was ruined so I did my best. I have been in the kitchen ever since.
My parents encouraged my brother and I to learn to cook, which wasn’t a difficult task given the fact that we all love to cook. Growing up, my mom would tell us that if we didn’t want what she was fixing for dinner, we could fix something else, but she wasn’t going to do it. Bryan and I learned how to use the microwave and toaster oven at a fairly young age.
As I grew up and my food allergies became more and more apparent, being in the kitchen became a regular habit for just about every meal. I cannot just pull anything off the shelves at the grocery store and not worry about how my body is going to feel after I eat it. I have to read every label and know every ingredient. This has helped me to better understand processed foods. I like eating as fresh as possible and try to every chance that I get, but buying fresh, organic foods is expensive.
I have eaten God only knows how much bread, plain toast, over the last month with me being sick. I hardly cooked because I didn’t want to even think about food. That is very odd for me, even being sick. I can feel like I have the stomach flu, about to throw up at any moment, and crave vanilla icing. Pure sugar, I know but I have been there where I have eaten almost an entire container because that is all my body wants. This time being sick, plain toast was the only thing that sounded good and that my stomach could tolerate. I knew it wasn’t the best thing to eat with a sore throat but I was careful.
So yesterday at work, I started thinking about the various foods sitting in my fridge and pantry that have been neglected for a month. I knew that I had some left over gluten-free croutons that were getting very stale, but were still in its good date. My food-induced daydream became a movie playing in front of me of every step I would need to make this dish. I have been trying to eat more protein because that seems to be the key to keeping my migraines at bay right now. So tonight I decided to make this daydream a reality.
The thing I love the most about cooking is taking all of these various foods and ingredients and being able to blend them into something wonderful is incredible to me. I mainly love one pot meals. Tonight I took two chicken breasts, patted them dry with a couple of paper towels, coated them with the crushed croutons that I mixed with a little salt, pepper, herbes de provence and dried garlic flakes. I then dipped them into two beaten eggs and back into the crouton mix. I cooked them over medium heat in a skillet with just a little olive oil and turned them once after about five minutes. Once cooked for another five minutes on the other side, I place a couple of pepperjack cheese (soy cheese for me) over the top and covered both chicken breasts with a can of plain, diced tomatoes and a can of fire roasted tomatoes. I slightly covered it and let it cook for about ten minutes until all of the moisture from the tomatoes had evaporated. I actually burnt the bottom slightly, but I knew that I could just cut it off. I forget how good my non-stick skillets are. I also made mashed sweet potatoes with salt, pepper and herbes de provence.
Oh my God! It was better than I expected for the first time making it. I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture. I devoured it before I could get one. The second chicken breast doesn’t look as good as the first because it had the most burnt spots on the bottom. The next time I make this I promise I will take a picture. The chicken and sweet potatoes went so well together because you had the savory from the tomatoes and chicken mixed with the sweet of the potatoes. What surprised me the most was the face that the crouton crust didn’t get soggy with all of the moisture from the tomatoes because I didn’t drain either can. I will definitely make this again. It was very inexpensive to make too.