Cooks Exchange

Cooks' Exchange: Make Dad feel special with homemade dinner

Sunday is Father's Day, and some sons and daughters will be treating their dads to a restaurant dinner while others will be making their dads' favorite foods.

Readers have shared their dads' preferences or what they like to cook with their dads. Today, bear with me as I share my husband's favorite dish that I cook and a couple of my late dad's favorites.

Allen, my husband, is probably one of the easiest men for whom to cook. I'll ask what he wants, and he always replies, "I don't care. What do you feel like fixing?"

Sometimes, I say I don't want to cook, and that's OK, too. We go out to dinner or call for takeout. More often than not, I cook four to five nights out of seven.

His hands-down favorite is cheesy chicken. It's baked chicken breasts that have been dipped in beaten egg and rolled in a mixture of Italian bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic and Cheddar cheese. The nice thing for me, the cook, is that almost any side dish works with this chicken. Mashed potatoes, wild rice, Brussels sprouts, spinach soufflé and more are good with this.

CHEESY CHICKEN

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 egg

Salt and pepper to season chicken breasts

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon fresh minced parsley

2 teaspoons melted butter

Beat egg. Sprinkle salt and pepper over boneless chicken breasts. Dip in beaten egg, then in mixture

of bread crumbs, cheeses, garlic powder and minced parsley. Place in baking dish coated with nonstick spray. Drizzle melted butter over chicken breasts. Bake 40-45 minutes or until chicken breasts are done.

Now, my dad was another story. My dad and I didn't have a lengthy relationship. I got to know him only after I turned 40. He and my mom divorced when I was 7, so I don't have those warm, fuzzy memories of growing up with Dad.

We got a late start on memories. Mexican food was his favorite. On one visit, I prepared crawfish enchiladas that he really liked.

When we visited in Colorado, Dad fixed his favorite breakfast food, SOS. I know many retired military men will remember that dish. This chipped beef dish is the only meal that my dad ever prepared for me.

CHIPPED BEEF ON TOAST (SOS)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1- 1/2 cups warm milk

1 (8 ounce) jar dried beef

Pinch or two of cayenne, depending on how much heat you want

In medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour all at one to form a roux. Whisk in milk, a little at a time, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until thickened. Bring to a boil, stir in beef and cayenne, heat through and serve on toast.

-- Recipe from All Recipes Magazine

ENOLA'S CRAWFISH ENCHILADAS

3 tablespoons reduced-calorie margarine

1 cup finely chopped onions

1/3 cup chopped bell pepper

1- 1/2 cups evaporated skim milk

1/2 cup reduced calorie soft-style cream cheese

2/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 teaspoon ground oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 cup peeled crawfish tails

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions

2 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeno pepper

1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

4 corn tortillas

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the margarine. Add the onions and bell pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the milk, cream cheese and cottage cheese; cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to simmer, and add the oregano, salt and white pepper; cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning.

Add the crawfish, green onions and jalapeno; simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Added half the mozzarella and cook 1 minute. Set aside.

In a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat, brown the tortillas for 1 minute on each side. Place each tortilla on a serving plate and divide the crawfish-cheese filling into equal portions and spoon into the middle of each tortilla; fold the tortillas in thirds across the filling and turn them seam side down. Top with the remaining filling, sprinkle on the remaining mozzarella cheese and serve immediately.

Nutritional data: 270 calories, 8 grams fat, 53 milligrams of cholesterol.

-- From "Enola Prudhomme's Low-Calorie Cajun Cooking"

A must-try cookie

Penny Denmark of Long Beach, Miss., makes the most unusual cookie that is one of the best I have ever tasted. This is an easy cookie that would be a good Father's Day treat. My husband loves them, and even my daughter, who doesn't like nuts in cookies, was caught sneaking these.

"My hubby likes to put them in the freezer for a while. They pop out so well. I hope they come out good for you," Denmark said.

GRAHAM CRACKER COOKIES

In cookie sheet with a lip, break about 2- 1/2 packages of graham crackers. Fill the cookie sheet with the crackers. I break them in small triangles or use two crackers. Denmark uses cinnamon or plain.

Sprinkle about 2 cups chopped fine pecans over the crackers.

Melt 1 stick butter and 1 stick margarine (Denmark uses Land O' Lakes) and 1/2 cup sugar and bring to a slight boil. Mixture will be rather frothy. Stir all the time. Spoon this mixture over the pecans and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Let cool.

For shrimp lovers

A client of my husband's sent me this Cajun shrimp casserole to share with readers.

CAJUN SHRIMP CASSEROLE

Very small amount liquid crab boil

1 stick margarine

1 stalk celery, chopped fine

1/2 cup onion, chopped fine

1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped fine

1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 cups cooked yellow rice

1 can Cheddar cheese soup

1 pound shrimp

Bread crumbs

Sauté celery, onions and bell pepper in margarine. Add tomatoes and mushroom soup. Cook for 15 minutes. Add Cheddar cheese soup, little bit of crab boil and shrimp. Cook for 15 minutes. Add a little water if mixture is sticky. Add rice and mix well. Put mixture in casserole dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Wanted: Salsa recipes

Readers, Terrie and James Walker are looking for hot and mild salsa recipes to put those fresh tomatoes to good use. Please send in your favorite recipe.

Andrea Yeager, can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and takes requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

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