Company Dinner In Under An Hour.......Yes! - Lost jobs and the art of shopping Blog at - 253572

Lost jobs and the art of shopping

Company Dinner in Under an Hour.......YES! 
Oct. 14, 2011 11:39 am 
Updated: Oct. 22, 2011 12:52 am

As an Allrecipes Brand Ambassador, I was recently given the assignment to host a dinner party with some products from Barber Foods. Like many cooks here on AR, I am largely a “scratch” cook so I was a little puzzled & concerned at the prospect of doing a dinner party with a frozen food item.When I cook for company I really like to dazzle them with my creativity. The idea of a pre-prepared main course challenged all my cooking instincts.

Now I have to admit that I did a trial run by preparing two of the products. I did the Cordon Bleu and the Chicken Parmesan. Guess what......I liked it. I really, really liked it! (Oops sorry...starting to sound like an Academy Awards speech) Now the challenge was on. I needed to make a dinner I would be proud to serve my guest. Further, I wanted my guests to have no idea they were being served a frozen entree. My next personal challenge was to make this a company worthy dinner in under an hour. SUCCESS!

So here is how I did the Chicken Parmesan dinner for 6 in under an hour. BTW if you didn't do the dessert, you could plate this and serve in 45 minutes.

Step 1

Pull the chicken breast packages out of the freezer and preheat the oven as directed on the package. Unwrap breasts and put on a baking sheet.While oven is preheating. Grab the loaf of artisan bread I bought at the supermarket bakery and wrap tightly in foil.

Step 2

Open a jar of your favorite marinara and heat in a saucepan over medium (or whatever temperature doesn't burn your sauce)

Step 3

Put a head of romaine lettuce in my salad spinner and wash in the sink. Spin dry.

Step 4

Throw the chicken and the bread (separately) into the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Step 5

Chop romaine into bite size pieces. Chop an avocado or two. Chop a large tomato. Chop some Kalamata olives. I divided these ingredients between individual salad plates, but you could throw it all in a big bowl and serve it family style. Grab a bottle of Creamy Italian dressing and a bag of croutons and your salad is ready to go.

Step 6

Open 2 rolls of prepared Polenta and cut into ½ inch slices. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter to a large skillet & melt over medium heat. Add slices of polenta and lightly brown on each side. (about 5 minutes per side) I left these on simmer to keep them warm while the chicken finished.

Step 7

Grate a cup of parmesan or to make it even quicker, just measure a cup of canned parmesan cheese.

Optional step

Open a bottle of good red wine.

Step 8

When the timer goes off, remove the chicken and the bread from the oven. Let chicken rest for about 5 minutes. While chicken rests, start plating. Put two or three slices of polenta on the dinner plate. Ladle some marinara over the polenta. Slice the chicken breast. (either in ½ inch slices or just in half to show the pretty filling) Sprinkle parmesan on the polenta and chicken. Throw a piece of basil or parsley on the plate to make it “purdy” LOL

DONE.... 45 minutes flat! Now who doesn't wish they could get something done in a hurry that impresses. And please......I know some of you are food purist, but almost everyone needs to use shortcuts where they can. I am sure if we thought about it we could find many shortcuts, from boxes to cans or out of the freezer. We all use those tools at one time or another.

Now here is the optional dessert that I made from Allrecipes Brand Ambassador Milly Suazo. (and NO she didn't ask me to make just looked good and easy) &nbsp;<

I made this dessert early in the morning and it took about 15 minutes to assemble. It did have to bake, but I got in the shower while it blissfully baked away.Chilled them all day and dumped out the custard cups on a plate with a couple of orange slices as a garnish. Lovely, creamy and delicious.

If you are really pressed for time, grab some ice cream or a store bought tiramisu.

Now the best guests had no idea I had just served them a frozen entree. They thought I had stuffed each chicken breast and couldn't believe the work they thought I had done.They even asked for my recipe. I finally admitted that I did not know the Barber Foods recipe but I certainly could share a coupon for the product. They were so tickled and impressed. So was I......

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of Julie McCuiston aka Mauigirl.

Barber Foods Company Dinner
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Barber Foods Company Dinner
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Polenta for the Barber Foods Party
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Coconut Cheese Flan submitted to Allrecipes by Milly Suazo
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Oct. 14, 2011 11:44 am
Looks like another successful dinner at the maui house ;-) looks great!
Oct. 14, 2011 11:47 am
Thanks mis7up. It actually turned into a fun challenge. Literally on the table in 45 minutes. It was tasty too.
Oct. 14, 2011 12:07 pm
I've often wondered about those frozen chicken entrees. I'm glad to know they were good! Now I can feel safe buying them myself :)
Oct. 14, 2011 12:15 pm
Keri, I once tried a Schwans product and I did NOT like it so I was a bit skeptical. I will keep these in the freezer for a quick dinner when need arises. I will post my experience with the cordon bleu too. It was excellent.
Oct. 14, 2011 12:24 pm
Hey, kid, I am one of those purists LOL but this is a great blog and kuddos to you. I HAVE purchased the chicken cordon blue-different name brand as we have M&M meat shops here. I use them-and I don't hang my head. I don't use them often but when I am pressed for time, anything on the table is better than take out (considering I live too far out for delivery and take out is cold by the time I get it home). This is a good idea, we all get on the homemade roller coaster-I am just as guilty as anyone else. Thanks for sharing!
Oct. 14, 2011 12:40 pm
Thanks RNG. I don't know if the product is available in Canada, but I truly can say it was a successful venture. I could not really promote something that wasn't good. I remember when we lived in the country and I missed having a hot pizza delivered to my door :( On Maui....I couldn't afford to have a pizza delivered to the door. LOL
Oct. 14, 2011 12:50 pm
I love your blog, mauigirl! I am looking forward to doing this! Thanks for all your ideas. Sometimes we all need something like this on the spur of the moment.
Oct. 14, 2011 1:05 pm
Marianne, this was so easy and I think it presented nicely too.
Oct. 14, 2011 1:30 pm
I've been using the Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu for years! The only problem I have is the brand is only available at one local store and they price gouge.
Oct. 14, 2011 2:17 pm
Love this mauigirl!!! Fantastic ideas for a quick meal here. I can't wait to try them!
Oct. 14, 2011 2:25 pm
BigShotsMom, I really like the cordon bleu. I tried to experiment with that one and I will post the photo and a quick blog when I have half a day extra LOL
Oct. 14, 2011 2:25 pm
Thanks Valerie, I love polenta and the store bought brand was very tasty and certainly much quicker than my homemade stuff.
Oct. 14, 2011 2:56 pm
Doing my Dinner party tonight...I have the Cordon Bleu and the brocolli stuffed chicken breasts. Thanks for the tips on the chicken...I'm thinking of making a light chicken gravy to have on hand if anyone wants it to pour over the chicken....Will let everyone know how it turns out!
Oct. 14, 2011 3:24 pm
I was actually glad to get this project this month. Yours turned out beautifully, Jules! I was super skeptical...I'm not on a "from-scratch" bandwagon or anything, but I haven't had the greatest of luck, taste-wise, with premade entrees...besides, I just like to make them myself (I know that not everyone has the luxury of time on their hands like I do). I was really suprised that they were acceptable, tastewise, and the other thing that I forgot to mention in my blog and I haven't seen on here is that each entree is under 400 calories and the coating is multi-grain. Don't get me wrong, I'm not really into all that watching calories or using low-fat or anything like that, but that was the one thing about these entrees that really stuck with me. Great job, Jules!!
Oct. 14, 2011 3:39 pm
Hi CindyLepp. I did the cordon bleu with a compote made with fresh cranberries, balsamic vinegar and a little brown sugar. It was tasty with the savory dish. Gravy would be good though too. I love ANY homemade gravy!
Oct. 14, 2011 3:40 pm
Aloha - Now that we have finally found the coupons that FEDEX hid on us, I am going to have to see what I can do with them. That polenta sounds like a great side dish. Great pictures too.
Oct. 14, 2011 3:40 pm
witchywoman, You are so right. I forgot to mention the nutritional info. Thanks!
Oct. 14, 2011 3:43 pm
Aloha Doug Matthews, Thanks, it was a very good side dish. I was just so proud that it was tasty and so quick. How bout you and the Respect the Bird campaign? So cool! I will have to tell everybody that I knew Doug Matthews when he was just a banker.....not a celebrity :)
Oct. 14, 2011 4:22 pm
:) looks great. I gotta find the chicken parm now. I know the store I primarily go to doesn't carry it but I'll look around. These are surprisingly really good.
Oct. 14, 2011 4:27 pm
Linda LMT Thanks! I want to get the apple & brie. I ordered it from the grocery store, but I have no idea how long it takes to get a new product in.
Oct. 14, 2011 4:57 pm
Looks lovely! I can't wait to do my dinner party! Alomst there....almost.....
Oct. 14, 2011 5:05 pm
Baking Nana, Tried to call you today. Hope you are getting a handle on it :) XO
Oct. 15, 2011 2:55 am
Ok I finally tried it, It was just Ok, but I would not buy it again. I would prefer to make it my self with a real chicken breast.
Oct. 15, 2011 6:44 am
KingSparta, I guess different strokes for different folks :) I think my dinner was quite tasty and so quick. Like I said, we all have our favorite recipes. However, many of us are pressed for time and products like this can make the difference between a fast food dinner or a nice family dinner. Thanks for stopping in.
Oct. 15, 2011 8:39 am
Fantastic Blog Julie, Your pictures are beautiful too! I just finished the Crescent recipes and starting to think about the Barber chicken products. I love the idea of serving with polenta. Thanks for the inspiration.
Oct. 15, 2011 8:57 am
BTW, I love the title of your blog too! "Company Dinner in Under An Hour." That's gonna stick with me. Barber Foods should use that as a "tag line."
Oct. 15, 2011 9:01 am
I do have plenty of time, since I am sort of retired. When me and my wife was working we normally had stake since it was quick and easy, I always buy Rib Eye when it is on sale. I am baking chicken now for my dogs. They love baked chicken (58 cents a pound at walmart).
Oct. 15, 2011 9:01 am
LOL, quick Maui sell them the line:)
Oct. 15, 2011 9:01 am
Steak that is.
Oct. 15, 2011 9:30 am
RNG I should huh????? I am a capitalist at heart :)
Oct. 15, 2011 9:33 am
KingSparta...I am retired and work only occasionally on Maui. I did this as a challenge to myself and I hope it inspires working folks on a quick and tasty meal when they are very short on time. Steak is a great & easy meal too. Your dogs are spoiled BTW.....kinda like my avatar Lily :)
Oct. 15, 2011 10:58 am
>> "Your dogs are spoiled BTW" yep they sure are. If I ever go back to work, I would buy them again (that's allot coming from me). Maybe I should have said they are the best frozen meal I have ever had. I just have too much time on my hands. Right now I am Cooking Three things, Chicken for the dogs (Cooling off before I De-Bone), eastern north Carolina pulled pork barbecue for dinner (in the slow cooker), and beef jerky (marinating)
Oct. 16, 2011 9:30 am
I have never seen Barber Foods in my area but will have to keep an eye out for it. Things seem to come around slow here but we eventually get it even if it is just for a short time. Great pictures and great blog Julie!
Oct. 16, 2011 12:36 pm
Soup Loving Nicole. Thanks for the compliment. That means alot from of the best photographers around AR :)
Oct. 17, 2011 11:00 am
Great blog! :) I haven't had my Barber Foods party yet but thats only because I'm having a hard time finding it. Loved your step by step process. Way to go Mauigirl!!!
Oct. 17, 2011 4:30 pm
What a great story we can all relate to! Great to know the Barber product is company worthy. Love how you outlined everything and who knew having company didn't have to be an all day prep process! Checked their website and the Kroger by us has them. Next time I run in, I'll check it out! Thank you!
Oct. 17, 2011 5:23 pm
Good job Mauigirl!! I need to find out where I can buy Barber foods!! See ya soon!!
Oct. 17, 2011 5:48 pm
Kdub, mickdee & Noemi I hope I didn't miss a thing. I was trying to take notes while I made it. It really was quick and tasty. My favorite flavor so far is the cordon bleu though. I am trying to get the brie and apple.....but so far no go :( Thanks for stopping by. See you in Nov.
Oct. 18, 2011 7:03 am
Great blog report Mauigirl! Your pictures are mouth-watering. I enjoyed learning your tips for quick meals for company.
Oct. 18, 2011 8:02 am
Momi, Thanks for stopping by. I am now retired, but I know so many of the cooks here on AR are busy working folks. I did this experiment with those people in mind. Worked great and even if you didn't have company, it would be a very nice meal for a family celebration.
Oct. 19, 2011 7:17 am
mauigirl, that was a great tick-tock you gave, and lovely pics, too. I probably can't do the entrees (I've just written to ask for a GF product list) but your side of polenta sounds enticing. I've never had polenta, but it's a corn thingy, yeah? Describe the taste, please?
Oct. 19, 2011 8:25 am
I love those stuffed chicken breasts. DH does not care for them much but will eat them whenever I put them in front of him. I served the chicken parm ones over buttered parmesan noodles, talk about a cheap and easy meal! I love the cordon bleu as well, that is probably my fave. Although I would prefer to home-make stuff as much as possible there is no shame in making a somewhat pre-cooked/assembled meal here and there, I'd rather spend time with my dog or husband than slave over a from-scratch dinner every night. Sometimes frozen or cereal gives you the ultimate reward of time with loved ones which is far greater reward to me than dinner from scratch... love it, but some things are way more important.
Oct. 19, 2011 5:42 pm
lucylove.......describe polenta hmmmm. Basically cooked corn meal with your choice of seasonings sauteed in butter or olive oil. We love it as a sub for pasta. Bold sauces go well with it too. It is sure cheap to try if you want to experiment.
Oct. 19, 2011 5:45 pm
Ashley, What can I say, except that you are a very wise woman. You definitely have your priorities straight. With your attitude, you will be a very happy lady :)
Oct. 21, 2011 12:01 pm
Thanks, mauigirl. I heard back from Barber today, and sadly, they have nothing that I can eat. Bummer, b/c it sure looks like good food. But polenta I will definitely buy. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff. Thanks!
Oct. 22, 2011 12:52 am
Bummer Lucylove. I am so lucky I don't have food allergies.
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About Me
I have been married for 43 years to the most amazing man on the planet. He is quiet and deliberate and I am NOT. We have one grown son (and his partner) that we adore. Because they work for the airlines they drop in on a flight frequently and we feel so lucky for that. We retired after 30 years at our careers from our native Olympia to Maui and now most recently retreated to Las Vegas to try to ride out this horrendous economy. We bought a small home here and I gutted it and am putting it back together, so I spend most of my time fine tuning the decorating and now I am plunging into a full tropical landscaping to remind us of our beautiful Maui. I miss the PNW, but NOT the weather. Miss the razor clams and the wild beaches of Washington and Oregon. Miss my friends too. Happy to have my friends from Allrecipes though. The four legged critter you see on my profile is a five year old yorkie/bichon who is the greatest little (9 lbs) girl ever. Quiet and calm, but so excited about life.
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My mother used to like to make a big deal out of almost any holiday, so I have followed through with that tradition. Valentine's Day, Christmas, St. Paddy's day, Thanksgiving, Easter, Oscar night are just a few of my favorite cooking traditions. Birthday parties for all my loved ones are something I love to do too.
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The first time I mastered sauce bearnaise, or raviolis from scratch or my first perfect cheesecake or my first wedding catering job or meeting Julia Child (about 25 years ago).
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(See above) Well....Julia was so cranky and rude it ruined my love of I sold all my Julia Child cookbooks (some of them signed) at a garage sale for $1.00 apiece. Now I wish I would have kept them of course. I guess Julia was just having a bad day:( & I was foolish of course.
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