Many readers have made the same plea for help. Their burning concern?
What to do with those boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the freezer.
Pharmacist Dennis Treado, a father of two and native of Sylvania, Ga., says, "Make sandwiches."
His specialty sandwich has landed this nine-year Augusta resident a spot as the third finalist in our Southern Living Cooking School Show recipe contest. He calls his creation Mr. T's sandwiches, and as the real Mr. T would say, "I pity the fool" who doesn't like them!
Mr. Treado's combination of diced chicken, chopped onion and mushrooms seems simple, but the liberal addition of seasoning salt and lemon pepper brings this sandwich into a new category of flavor. The mixture is sauteed, then spooned onto buttered, toasted hoagie rolls that are spread with a bit of mayonnaise. Add some sliced provolone cheese, and you have a creation that rivals the best Philly cheese steak sandwich.
Mr. Treado grew up in a cooking family and cooks a lot at home. His parents used to own a restaurant in Sylvania, "an old-fashioned Southern type of restaurant, with some New England thrown in because my father was from Connecticut," he said.
But his sandwiches are his own creation and were a hit at his daughter's 16th birthday party. They were so popular with the 12 teen-age girls who attended that he had to make copies of the recipes for their parents.
His recipe is quick on its own, but when you're in a real hurry you could substitute a cup of frozen, chopped onions for the fresh. The frozen onions have more liquid than fresh and will need to be cooked until the liquid evaporates.
Sliced fresh mushrooms, available in the produce department, also will cut preparation time. Or, quickly cut your mushrooms using a hard-cooked egg slicer. Simply remove the mushroom stems, then place one mushroom at a time in the egg slicer, and the gadget will do the slicing for you.
Although Mr. Treado's sandwiches were a hit with his daughter's friends, this is the perfect sandwich for an evening of "male bonding" in front of a football game or around a poker table. Side dishes could include steak fries, potato chips or deli potato salad and fresh vegetables with ranch dressing.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 large onion, chopped
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1-2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 hoagie rolls
8 slices provolone cheese
Cut the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and seasonings and saute until chicken pieces are beginning to brown but are not cooked through. Add the chopped onion and sliced mushrooms and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are wilted and the chicken is cooked through.
Spread the melted butter on the sliced hoagie rolls and toast. Divide the chicken mixture evenly among the bottom halves of the hoagie rolls. Top each sandwich with two slices of the cheese. (The sandwiches can be heated under a broiler to melt the cheese.) Spread the top rolls with a bit of mayonnaise and place over cheese. Slice in half and serve.
Makes 4 sandwiches.
* If using individually frozen chicken breasts, run each under cold water for a few seconds, and microwave uncovered for 2 minutes on high.
Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send her an email to email@example.com.