Easy Recipes for Stay-at-Home-Dads: Chicken Cordon Bleu

I grew up on the east coast in several New York City area suburbs and my family was typical of the 1960’s era. My father worked in the city’s advertising jungle while my mother stayed home to care for the family. She had a penchant for cooking that, while today would be enviable, was not readily appreciated by my younger brother or me. As kid who were starved for hot dogs and Tater-Tots, how many times a week can you have curried lamb, shrimp scampi or beef stroganoff without going on a hunger strike?

Fast forward to 2011, when I was recently reminded of my childhood while thinking about what to make for dinner. As a stay-at-home-dad I certainly want to make my contribution to the family (since, currently, it is certainly not financial) but I do get concerned when my son and wife ask me after a two-hour tour in the kitchen “can’t we just have hamburgers sometimes?” Yes, there’s a fine line between feeling that sense of culinary accomplishment and getting something on the table they’ll eat.

One strategy I have found that keeps everyone happy (including myself) is the use of what we called in our insurance business sessions “rebranding.” For them, it may be hamburger without the bun and gravy on the side, for me it is salisbury steak; beef frajitas become “those things you liked at the Mexican restaurant last week”; while chicken cordon bleu is translated as “chicken breast with some cheese and ham.” This latter recipe is today’s meal de jour.

Ingredients:

½ chicken breast per portion (my wife and I eat 2 portions while one seems to suffice for our son)

Sliced Swiss cheese

Sliced deli ham

Salt

Pepper

Italian-flavored bread crumbs

Toothpicks

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Using a kitchen mallet (a useful addition to your kitchen tool box) pound each half breast until it is about ¼ inch thick.

Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken, then place a piece of cheese and a piece of ham on it.

Roll the breast up into a log and close with a toothpick.

Please the chicken into a greased baking dish and sprinkle with some bread crumbs.

Bake for about 40 minutes until the chicken juice runs clean when pierced with a fork.

I was pleasantly surprised when I first made this for my wife and myself (my son’s portion was without the ham and cheese). When he saw his was different than ours he wanted to swap pieces. Last week, however, my son asked if I could make “that chicken with the ham and cheese thing.” “Oh, you mean Chicken Cordon Bleu,” said my wife offhandedly. So much for rebranding.

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