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Friday, September 5, 2008

Oven Baked Corn Flake Crumb Chicken & Blogiversary Bash Update

cornflakechicken2
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I had a pretty decent childhood, as far as childhoods go. I would even venture to say it was a good one. I had two parents who loved each other - and me. I was enveloped in a nurturing and familiar cocoon of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. And, even though he could be a royal pain in the a$$ sometimes, my little brother was definitely a very cute kid.
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Morris-Park1
(My old neighborhood)
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For the first decade or so of my life, I lived in a predominantly Italian neighborhood in Bronx, New York. I was born there, as was my mother before me. My father was an Italian immigrant who ended up there because that was where almost all of the "paisans" from his home town went, including my mother's parents. It was the kind of place where everybody knew everybody else, and nobody's private business stayed private for very long. As long as you spoke Italian, you were in the loop. We kids never dared step out of line because we knew that no matter where we were, someone who knew our mothers would see us and tell! It was safe. It was secure. It was home. And then, it all changed.
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One day, my parents came home and informed me that we were moving to Florida. Florida? Huh? Of course, I'd heard of Florida, but all I knew about it was that it had lots of beaches, Disney World was there and it was hot! Sure, people took vacations to Florida, but I never realized that people actually lived there! I was devastated! What about my school? What about my friends? What about my life?!?!
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stclar16
(St. Clare of Assisi, my old school)
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The next day at school, I broke the news to everyone that at the end of the term, I'd be off to sunny Florida. There were lots of hugs, tears and commiserations. Oddly enough though, as the word spread, there were also many looks of awe and envy. To my surprise, by lunchtime I had become an instant celebrity! I was always pretty well-liked, but suddenly my popularity skyrocketed. Apparently, Florida was thought of as an exotic locale. Disney World, though still in its early years, was considered to be "the grooviest" place to go. Most families in my neighborhood went on vacations to Long Island or Atlantic City. Even Linda Kramer, whose family had a summer home in the Catskills, had nothing on me. Hmmm. Maybe this Florida thing wouldn't be so bad after all.
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welcometoflorida
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As soon as school let out for the summer, we packed up and headed south. With excitement, tempered by trepidation, we began our adventure down that new and exciting wild frontier called I-95. It was the early 70s. Back then, the interstate system wasn't as complete as it is today, and there were several detours along the way. There were also fewer exits, which meant fewer places to get a decent meal. My mother was never one to leave things to chance, so she packed up a big cooler with enough food to get us back and forth to Florida three times over.
One of the things Mom made was this chicken. I remember Dad pulling off the highway into various rest areas, where we sat around picnic tables and feasted on sausage and pepper sandwiches, homemade potato salad (Italian-style, of course) and this simply made, but very delicious chicken.
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cornflakechicken3
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The name of this dish - Oven Baked Corn Flake Crumb Chicken - pretty much says it all. There's nothing revolutionary about it. To prepare it, all you do is dip chicken pieces in evaporated milk, dredge them in crushed corn flakes, drizzle a little melted butter on top and bake it in the oven. I like to jazz it up a bit by adding various kinds of seasoning to the crumbs, depending on my mood. One of my favorite things to add is Hidden Valley Ranch dry salad dressing mix, but you can really use whatever you like. I've made the corn flake crumb mixture using Good Seasons Italian, chili powder, Parmesan cheese and a number of other seasoning combinations. I also often make it just plain, like my mother used to do.
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This dish is one of my "go to" meals whenever I'm feeling a little blue. To me, it isn't just chicken, but one of my ultimate "feel good" foods. It represents love and family, comfort and security and the knowledge that home isn't just a place where you live, but how you live and who you live with.
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cornflakechicken1
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Oven Baked Corn Flake Crumb Chicken
(Printable Recipe)
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Ingredients:
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2 cups Kellogg's Corn Flake Crumbs (You can use about 8 cups of Corn Flakes cereal and crush them yourself.)
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dry salad dressing mix (You can use any dry salad dressing mix you want.)
1 cup evaporated milk
3 pounds chicken pieces, rinsed and dried (I used a mix of legs and thighs for a total of 12 pieces.)
4 tbsp butter, melted

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Directions:
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Preheat oven to 350° F.
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Place corn flake crumbs in shallow dish or pan. Mix in salad dressing mix. Set aside.
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Pour evaporated milk in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Dip chicken pieces in milk, then coat with corn flake crumb mixture.
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Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or lined with foil. Drizzle melted butter over the chicken.
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Bake for about 1 hour or until chicken is tender, no longer pink and juices run clear. Do not cover pan or turn chicken while baking.
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Serve hot or cold.
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Serves 4-6

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blogiversarylogosmall
Don't forget to send in your party food or drinks for my 1st annual SGCC's Blogiversary Bash. You can find the details here. (Feel free to use my badge too, if you want.) Some of you have already sent in some great dishes and I couldn't be more thrilled! In fact, I'm so excited about this event that I'm going to make things even more interesting. I believe that a party just isn't a party without presents. And, since I have the best readers ever, I've decided that I'll be giving presents to some of you. That's right! Five of my charming and gracious party guests will be selected at random to receive some pretty nifty gifts if I do say so myself. Am I not the hostess with the mostess, or what?
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I'll be revealing each party gift, one at a time, over the next several days. You'll just have to keep checking back here for new updates. I'm such a tease! The first on the list is (drumroll please):
flip_ultra_orange
A Flip Video Ultra! This little baby is fast becoming one of the hottest toys around. It is the perfect accessory for the savvy food blogger. It's a simple to use, pocket-sized camcorder with one-touch recording and digital zoom, that holds 60 minutes of full VGA-quality video on 2GB of built-in memory. Not only that, but it has a USB arm that plugs directly into your computer for easy viewing and sharing. I have one and I love it. Hopefully, I'll get over my camera shyness someday and actually post a video of my own.
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This Bash is gonna rock the blogoshere!!!

46 comments:

noble pig said...

This is my kids favorite chicken too...there is nothing better than the cornflake crumbs! What a great story too!

You should call it "Rest Area Chicken" He-he.

Manggy said...

Ooh, I can just imagine the crunchy coating with the tangy salad dressing (mix)... No wonder you're waxing nostalgic today! Good times, Susan. One of the hospitals I applied to was in Morristown (I'm forgetting right now if I pushed through with Morristown...), so seeing the neighborhood made me a tad excited, heh heh :)

PheMom said...

I think the phenomenon of the kid who is going somewhere new is always more alluring to the ones who aren't having their world change. This kind of chicken has always been my favorite comfort food with mashed potatoes and gravy. I haven't tried baking it yet, but I definitely will now because yours looks wonderful!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Oh, oh, oh!

I want to make this real soon. Crispy, crunchy chicken and creamy, tangy dressing: yummy!

RecipeGirl said...

What a neat story- thanks for sharing a little piece of your life with us! This looks like some great, comforting chicken to make any time :)

The Blonde Duck said...

I love the story and the chicken looks divine!

Nina Timm said...

I have lived in South Africa all my life and all I know about "The Bronx" is what I have seen on movies etc. As a kid I have always been intrigued by this place, so I envy you for growing up there......
Thanks for the chicken recipe....my children will love it!!!!

Maryann said...

Oh! That chicken looks SOOO good!!
I love your memories of the old neighborhood :)

Haley said...

This looks so good! I'm anxious to make it.

Quick question though...the last ingredient is 4 butter, melted...is that TBSP? or 4 of how much?

I just added your blog to my reader yesterday and I'm already loving your stuff!

Loving Annie said...

That sounds really really good. Yummm. I am imagining it right now, with the butter and the ranch dressing mix.... Mhmmmm, biscuits with butter anf honey too, please :)

FFichiban said...

OOOoohhh awesome recipe thhhxx^^! I shall definitely try this but I also need to get cracking on the party food :S

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Thanks, Everyone! Glad you like the chicken. I corrected the recipe to read "4 tbsp melted butter". Apparently, I left out the tbsp part. Sorry!

Noble Pig- "Rest Area Chicken"? I love it! :)

Manggy- Wouldn't it be great if you ended up over here? You'd love all of the great food resources!

PheMom- Oh, yes! Bring on the mashed potatoes! They make everything better!

JS- I'm glad you like it.

RecipeGirl- I'm glad you liked the story. Someday, I'll tell you all about what happened after the move. Talk about culture shock!

Blonde Duck- Thanks! Glad you like them both! :)

Nina- Oh no! Don't go by what you see in the movies. There are actually some lovely areas in the Bronx.

Maryann- Glad you like them both! My memories are from another generation. I know things have changed a lot since then, but I still have a warm spot in my heart for the place.

Haley- So sorry! It is 4 TBSP. I've corrected it on the site.

Thanks for adding me to your reader. I look forward to seeing you around more! :)

Loving Annie- Mmm! Pass those biscuits on over, please! ;)

FFichiban- Glad you like it! Can't wait to see you at the party!

Tanya said...

My parents were born and raised in Brooklyn and also moved to Florida (where I was born) in the mid-70s. Must have been a popular thing to do! That chicken looks SO good! I must try it sometime.

Beth said...

Chicken looks fantastic, will have to try this one

Cakespy said...

It sounds so delicious!! And my grandma grew up in the Bronx too--it's funny because she grew up in an Italian neighborhood, and while she is not at all Italian--she's Irish--everyone thinks she's Italian. :-)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Susan, I loved the story, and this chicken is an old, retro fave. ;-)

Tracey said...

Wow, that chicken looks delicious!! I am bookmarking this one :)

Steph said...

I've always wanted to try to use cereal instead of bread crumbs! The addition of the dressing mix is such a great idea and would totally compensate for the lack of flavour in my regular shake and bakes using bread crumbs only.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Susan, I use to make this back in the day, I forgot how good some of those reto meals were. I have to tell you last night I sat down with a cup of coffee and read this post.You're such a good story teller! I read about your Grandparents and how close you were with them. I love how you went shopping with your Grandma with her foldup shopping cart, and how you still remember all of that today. Makes me want to create memories like that for my Granddaughter even more! Thanks!

Ingrid said...

Hi!
Terrific story! I have one similar...I'm from the Bronx, the Parkchester area. I'm Dad still lives in the Bronx and I have a bus load of family that lives in Manhattan. I moved to FL with my Mom and younger brother. My parents divorced so I split time between NY & FL. Best of BOTH worlds!
The chicken looks delicious and crunchy!
~ingrid

Jude said...

That crust looks so perfect. I just had chicken for dinner but now I want some of yours all of a sudden.

Tartelette said...

I am late to the party announcement but I'l do my best not to be late to the party itself! How fun! Great chicken recipe! With a Southern husband, I can appreciate the non fried version!!

Grace said...

this reminds me of "shake-n-bake" chicken. did you ever eat that? "it's shake-n-bake, and i helped!" ah, good memories. your version sounds much better, and just as easy. :)

Madam Chow said...

I love your story about growing up and moving to Florida. Something similar happened to me, only we moved to South America! And I will have to try this chicken.

Dawn said...

Loved reading about the old neighborhood. Reminds me of my hubbys' old Italian neighborhood in Philly. Almost identical houses like those in your photo. He father stills live there. Even here in Mass. the north end is getting smaller and smaller. (sempre più piccoli e più piccoli), but if you look hard you can still find old-school culture.

Foodycat said...

What a great story! I bet your mum's box of food was much better than anything you could get at a roadside eatery now. Love the idea of sausage and pepper sandwiches.

Maria said...

great chicken and what a fun party! I need to join! Thanks!

Bridgett said...

Nothing is more comforting than crispy chicken and this looks fantastic! I love the pictures of your old neighborhood! What a culture shock it must have been to go from New York to Florida as a child. It was such a fun post to read.

Debbie said...

The chicken looks great. I will have to try that recipe....and soon! Your story is great. I, too, am Italian and grew up on Long Island. I know what you mean about your family living near the paisans...that was a familiar word growing up!!!!!

The DeL Sisters said...

We have picked you for a blog award! Go to our website to find out what to do next!

Aran said...

that is a great way to grow up, surrounded by loved ones. i also grew up in an environment like that. very protected and everyone knew everyone's business. i also left that to move to florida, the difference being that i came here alone. i miss my family terribly... and i also have feel good foods that make me feel safe, like arroz con leche. thanks for sharing your story susan.

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Happy Blogoversary! Your site is great, and you are too. I've left you an award to attest to the fact. You can grab it off my site http://lisasmagicsprinkles.blogspot.com/

Patricia Scarpin said...

You, my friend, crack me up. :)
this chicken is the kind of food that pleases the hubby - and he is so picky!

Heather said...

oh that chicken looks delicious! i love cornflakes on anything!! i love the picture with the one bite taken out of it... made me drool!

Kristen said...

I LOVE cornflake chicken! I haven't made it in awhile.
Happy bloggy birthday! I'm going to check out your event... I think I know just what to bring!

Paula said...

Hey, I'm a fellow daughter of an Italian immigrant! I followed a link from More Than Burnt Toast to your blog, and I was completely entranced by your post. I love the photos of pieces of your childhood. Even more so, I loved the description of your Italian surroundings and my mom (she's the Immigrant) also always packed enough to feed a nation in our cooler. I would have loved a bite of that chicken! One added bonus to your already great recipe is that it doesn't call for flour, which means my gluten free wee one can eat it! GREAT post!

chefectomy said...

Susan,

Not sure where to start as this is my first visit:

1. I live for fried chicken and yours looks yummy - thanks for this post.

2. Your story is so funny as we just re-located to SF Bay Area from San Diego. My little one is going through what you described - it's working out well and judging by your blog, it all came out well.

3. Certainly love eclairs but i LOVE La Duree in Paris. What a nice photo (and a beautiful sweet you made)...

Happy Anniversary,

--Marc

janelle said...

So? Do you still speak Italian? My husband's family is Italian, and when they came to the US were encouraged not to speak it:). My husband re-learned Italian, and now so are my kiddos!

The chicken looks great, by the way.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I remember thinking Florida was the coolest place on earth when I was a kid. I saw it practically as some other country, exotic and beautiful where winter never touched you. Still, if someone told me I had to pack up and move there, I'd be really really sad.

Looks like all's well that ends well though.

I can also remember growing up seeing corn flake crumbs as a chicken coating in all sorts of recipes and then they sort of disappeared and went out of fashion. It's nice knowing people still do that. Do you know I've never tried it? Perhaps it's time.

Deborah said...

This is my idea of comfort food!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I see I'm not the only one with fond memories of corn flake crumb chicken! Many of you also enjoyed it growing up. Thank you for all your great comments and for sharing.

Tanya- The 70s was the beginning of the big Florida boom. Do your parents still live in FL? If so, where?

Cakespy- You're kidding! Do you know what part of the Bronx she came from? We could have been neighbors!

Marie- Thank you so much! You're very sweet. Writing this blog has brought so many of these memories back to me that I haven't thought about in many years. It makes me happy because now I am sharing them with my daughter, who is growing up in a completely different world.

Ingrid- Best of both worlds, indeed! My mom used to take me shopping in Parkchester all the time. We used to go to Cornell's. It was a children's department store. Do you know if it is still there? We used to go see Santa every year in Parkchester too.

Tartelette- I'm counting on seeing you there! It wouldn't be a party without you!

Grace- Oh yeah. Shake-n-Bake was on the menu a lot too.

Foodycat- I'll have to post about those sandwiches someday too.

Maria- You absolutely must come to the party!

Debbie- Gotta love those paisans! My godmother lived on Long Island.

DeL Sisters- Wow! Thanks! I'll check it out.

Aran- It is the European way. It must be so hard for you to be so far from your family. You are far braver than I would be.

Lisa- Thanks so much! I'll be by to check it out.

Kristen- I can't wait. The more, the merrier!

Paula- Welcome and thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. What part of Italy is your mom from?

Chefectomy- Welcome! I'm glad you liked the chicken - and it isn't even fried, so you can eat more of it! ;)

Things did eventually turn out well, but it wasn't easy. Definitely a big culture shock!

I adore Laduree too! It's the ultimate indulgence!

Janelle- I was fluent as a child. After we moved to Florida, I lost a lot of it. Whenever I go to Italy, I pick it right back up. You have to use it or lose it.

Jeanne said...

What a lovely post - you write so vividly about childhood! And isn't it strange how a dish can bring back such precise memories and such tangible emotions. Have already bookmarked it, even though I've never driven to Florida ;-)

Patsyk said...

What a really wonderful post. I love how you shared a bit more about yourself which explained why this simple dish means so much to you.

I'm going to have to make it since I just know my family would love it!

Passionate About Baking said...

That chicken looks more than just good...looks GREAT!! the picture says it all!! I moved loads too when I was young; had to be with a Dad in the Air Force. Schools, farewells, puddles of tears, new friends...when I see my kids growing up in the same school as the years go by I'm kinda glad for them. Change can be so unsettling when you are young! Loved your story!!

caircair said...

After a long search, I finally found your recipe for chicken -- which is nearly identical to my grandmother's (as far as I can remember.) I've been having a craving for her ovenfried cornflake chicken, so I'm thrilled to find the recipe here!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

caircair- I'm so glad you found this! I hope you enjoy it. This recipe has sentimental value for me too. And, it's darn tasty! :)