I admit it. I’m a sucker for gadgets. My weakest moments come late at night, when sleep eludes me, and I get up and start watching infomercials. When I’m really bored, I will even tune into shopping shows and I’m amazed at the stuff I can’t live without.
One of my more memorable purchases was for a fishing “system” that promised strike after strike “guaranteed.” When it came in the mail, I was astonished at all the parts. There were numerous fish-shaped rubber bodies of every color and eyeballs that clamped into these squishy pieces. There were several different-sized hooks that twined into the eyeballs, and just looking at the entire package made me wonder if I could get it figured out to actually tie one onto a line.
Soon enough I was out on a friend’s dock trying to get my pole rigged up with my new “system” while my buddy sat next to me, casting off snide commentary on my senseless gullibility.
Eventually I did get one of these lures rigged up. The thing looked pretty good in the water too. Included in the instruction booklet were also tips on the “technique” of using these baits. Any angler knows a lure is only as good as the sucker on the other end of the pole, and as I jerked and sashayed my line through the water, my buddy only laughed harder. And then it happened—a huge smallmouth bass took the bait like a savage. The cajoling and ribbing shut off abruptly as I reeled in my prize. I had a hard time not slapping my friend in the head with that fish before I released it.
Despite my success with my fishing “system,” you would think my resolve would be a little firmer as far as late night infomercials go. But a few weeks ago, I was once again seated in front of the TV in the middle of the night when a commercial came on for a cooking device that looked like a lidded, mini frying pan. And oh my, did this gadget look good.
The lady doing the demonstrating had several of them going at once on the infomercial and as the little timers dinged off and she opened the lids, everything from stuffed French toast, to ham and cheese paninis, to grilled quiche Lorraine were unveiled. Her helper oohed and aahed over these creations and in my vulnerable late night state, I was easily convinced that I had to have one.
A few weeks ago, the thing arrived in the mail and in a weird and ironic twist of fate, the same friend that had watched me with my fishing “system” happened to visit as I was tearing off the packaging of my new toy. “Not again,” he said with some incredibility as he laughed out loud. I should have just waited for his departure, but I couldn’t. As I read through the recipe booklet that came with the appliance, my friend looked over the little pans and flipper that were included in the package, continuing on with his ribbing about my gadget-itis. Nonetheless, I decided right then to make a couple of chicken cordon bleus which were included in the recipe booklet.
As I took the ingredients from my fridge, the unrelenting barrage of snide remarks and guffaws continued. But I paid it no mind as I put together my dish and then set the little timer for 20 minutes. “Set and forget it,” I said to my friend with a smile and we sat down with a couple of beers to wait for the magic to happen.
And, I am happy to report, my chicken cordon bleus turned out beautifully. As I opened the little lid, my friend was right behind me watching the unveiling, and his eyebrows lifted with surprise.
He must have been at a loss for words because nothing was said as I plated up the meal. And in a gracious gesture of tolerance, I even shared my creation. Once again, his chatter was squashed as we ate, but I kept shooting him sidelong glances to see his reaction to my cooking prowess, ala my new appliance. Like the infomercial helper, only accolades were voiced (even a couple of oohs and aahs) so I feel pretty good about my recent purchase.
With the holidays upon us, perhaps you too are in the market for some new cooking gadgets. Or perhaps you, like my friend, are a skeptic, in which case I am including a chicken cordon bleu recipe that requires the conventional oven method for cooking.
However, if you are an adventurer like me, there are plenty of cooking gadgets out there to entice you: everything from in-house turkey fryers, to rotisseries, to steamers and even soft serve ice cream makers. Believe me, I’ve seen them all.
Which reminds me, I need a nap.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 slices deli ham
2 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. milk
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 Tbs. butter, melted
Flatten chicken to 1/4-in. thickness; top each with a slice of ham and cheese. Roll up and tuck in ends securely with toothpicks. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt, paprika and pepper. In another bowl, whisk egg and milk. Place bread crumbs in a third bowl. Dip chicken in flour mixture, then egg mixture; roll in crumbs. In a small skillet, brown chicken in oil on all sides. Transfer to an 8-in. square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
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