Mealtime can be a chore and over time a monotonous one.  When was the last time you tried a new recipe?  Like an actual full on entirely new main course for dinner?  If you’re like me…then it’s been awhile.  A really long while.  Why? Because my husband and child are picky eaters.  I can count on one hand the number of vegetables my husband will willingly eat, and I would still have some fingers left over.  My daughter…I’m hoping it’s mainly a texture thing that she’ll outgrow at some point.  While my husband will entertain my cooking experiments, I can’t always justify in my mind the expense of various new ingredients to try a new dish. But I can justify tweaking a common meal with the contents of my spice cupboard.

We eat a lot of chicken.  Like 5 nights a week.  There are only so many ways to cook chicken.  Baked, boiled, steamed, fried, grilled; anything else is basically a combination of these 5 cooking techniques.  What can change plain bland chicken into a new family favorite? Seasonings.  You can easily pick up a seasoning packet in any grocery store you walk into nowadays, but I prefer homemade blends that I can tweak to my own taste.  I also prefer blends that use common spices; unless I’m in love with a particular dish, why purchase a single use spice?  One homemade blend that has become a staple in my kitchen is my Homemade Chicken Seasoning.  It’s a moderately spicy blend that works great with either fried or baked chicken.

Homemade Chicken Seasoning

2 Tbsp. garlic powder

1/2 Tbsp. salt

1 Tbsp. onion powder

1 Tbsp. chili powder

2 Tbsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. pepper

1/2 Cup Autry House Chicken Seasoned Breading Mix

Blend all ingredients in a small bowl being sure to mix well, set aside (this makes roughly 1 cup of seasoning which should be enough for 6-8 chicken breasts depending on size).  Take desired number of chicken breasts and pound with a food mallet to an even thickness, roughly 3/4 to 1 inch thick.  To coat the chicken you can either:

A. Place one chicken breast in a gallon ziplock, add 1/4 cup of seasoning and shake to coat. Remove chicken from ziplock and give it a shake to remove excess seasoning.  Set seasoned breast aside and repeat with remaining chicken, adding additional seasoning as needed 1 Tbsp at a time.

B. Place 1/4 cup of seasoning in the bottom of a shallow pan and place chicken breast on top.  Press lightly into seasoning, and then flip the chicken to coat the other side.  Make sure sides are also coated, set seasoned breast aside and repeat with remaining chicken, adding additional seasoning as needed 1 Tbsp at a time.

**Note: After using your initial 1/4 cup of seasoning, add sparingly to your coating container (ziplock or shallow pan).  Any seasoning left in the original small bowl you mixed your spices in can be saved.  Once it’s touched the chicken it’s “contaminated” and should be thrown out once all the chicken is seasoned, nobody wants salmonella poisoning.

Let your seasoned chicken “marinate” for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken has absorbed the seasoning (meaning you don’t see any dry seasoning spots).  There are several ways to cook your chicken, each one is delicious, so chose the method that works best for you.

  • If you want to bake your chicken, place it on a greased cookie sheet and cook at 350*F for 25 minutes (or until internal temperature reaches 165*F). Take out and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
  • Steaming is a healthy alternative, and pretty much guarantees your chicken won’t dry out.  Cook according to your steamer directions, making sure to check for an internal temperature of at least 165*F.
  • To pan fry your chicken,  use just enough oil to cover the bottom of a 12-14 inch skillet.  Heat oil to medium-high, or roughly 350*F.  Fry each seasoned chicken breast for two minutes on each side, then place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Place chicken of a baking rack and bake at 350*F for 20 minutes (or until internal temperature reaches 165*F).  Take out and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

So that’s one of my family’s favorite meals.  It’s a fairly versatile seasoning mix too.  It’s pretty tasty on white fish fillets, just sprinkle on top prior to popping in the oven.  Boneless pork chops? So delish, I bake them just like I would the chicken.  Homemade seasoned fries?  Just cut your potatoes into your preferred shape (traditional “stick” fries, cubed, sliced into rounds, whatever you like really), place them in a ziplock and add the seasoning one tablespoon at a time and shake to lightly coat. Fry or bake until golden brown and tender.  Seriously, some of the best fries you will ever taste.

Do you have a favorite homemade seasoning?  Let me know in the comments, I’m always on the look-out for a new chicken seasoning to try!