It’s dinnertime, and your family is hungry. You open the pantry door and … gasp! There is nothing but a random selection of canned fruit and a jar of pickles. It’s a kitchen emergency! Sounds like another drive-thru dinner for your family tonight.
When good intentions to make a home-cooked meal turn into a fast-food frenzy or an emergency grocery store run, it’s time for a kitchen intervention. Cookbook author and mother of two Jennifer Chandler has been there, and she’s here to help make those emergency food runs a thing of the past with organizational tips, shopping suggestions and guidelines for making your kitchen work for you.
The Southern Pantry Solution
In The Southern Pantry Cookbook: 105 Recipes Already Hiding in your Kitchen (Thomas Nelson, October 2014, $26.99), Jennifer has created a go-to guide for getting your kitchen stocked and organized so you’re ready at any time for any meal or unexpected dinner guests. Southern cooks are no strangers to making their kitchens work efficiently with the ingredients and equipment they have on-hand. And Jennifer wants to make sure your kitchen is outfitted to yield the most delicious results possible, always.
With lists divided up by dry goods, canned goods, produce and refrigerated items, you’ll be equipped to make meals like peanut-y fried chicken strips with maple-dijon dipping sauce (recipe below), pimento cheese biscuits with country ham, red beans and rice, and peaches and cream popsicles. The only thing missing is the stress of last-minute grocery shopping. And with a section on freezer favorites, you can always have a home-cooked meal on-hand, even if you don’t have time to cook.
Jennifer’s pantry shortcuts, variations and substitutions can help make cooking dinner a breeze. Armed with her suggested ingredient list and pantry essentials, you’ll always have enough food on-hand to prepare delicious and satisfying meals at a moment’s notice. Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can rest assured your family is eating a wholesome meal that comes straight from the heart, not the hamburger hut!
Peanut-y fried chicken strips with maple-dijon dipping sauce:
One of 105 recipes in The Southern Pantry Cookbook. Take Jennifer’s suggested shopping list, included in the front of her book, to the grocery to prepare your pantry with staple ingredients and avoid dinner dilemmas!
- Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce: ½ cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, ¼ cup real maple syrup, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Chicken Strips: 1½ cups panko bread crumbs; 1½ cups cocktail peanuts; 1½ cup all-purpose flour; Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper; 3 large eggs lightly beaten; 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds); Vegetable oil for frying
- To Prepare Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard and maple syrup.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To Prepare the Chicken: Preheat the oven to 350 dgrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the breadcrumbs and peanuts in a food processor and process until finely ground.
- Place the mixture in a shallow bowl.
- Place the flour in another shallow bowl and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Place the beaten eggs in a third shallow bowl.
- Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.
- Slice each chicken breast lengthwise into 4 or 5 strips.
- Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Working in small batches, lightly dredge both sides of the chicken in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.
- Next dip the chicken in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off.
- Then dredge the chicken through the peanut mixture, evenly coating on all sides.
- Place the prepare chicken on a prepared baking sheet or cutting board.
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven pour enough oil so that there is approximately a 1-inch layer of oil.
- Over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot.
- In batches so as not to overcrowd the pot, cook the chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
- Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Transfer to the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Serve warm with the dipping sauce on the side.
Freezes well: The prepared but uncooked chicken fingers freeze well. To prevent sticking, freeze the chicken fingers in a single layer on a baking sheet before placing them in a container or freezer bag. When you are ready to cook the chicken fingers, no need to thaw. You can fry them frozen.
Meet the Author
Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class with Le Grand Diplome and a Mention Tres Bien in Pastry from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tenn., and a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant and the author of Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling and as of this month … The Southern Pantry Cookbook.
Jennifer has several book signings coming up:
- October 23 at 6:30 p.m. at Booksellers at Laurelwood (387 Perkins Road Extended, Memphis)
- October 30 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Women’s Exchange (88 Racine St., Memphis)
- November 6 from 5-8 p.m. at the Palladio Group Holiday Show (2169 Central Ave, Memphis)
- November 22 from 1-3 pm. at Whole Foods Market (5014 Poplar Ave, Memphis)
- December 11 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Cooking Class at Salud! At Whole Foods Market (5014 Poplar Ave, Memphis)
- December 13 at the Memphis Farmers’ Market Holiday Market (Central Station, corner of South Front Street and GE Patterson in Downtown Memphis)
All images in today’s post provided by Justin Fox Burks.
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