The Perfect First Date Meal For The Culinary Illiterate

The Microwave Generation of the 1990’s has now finished school and stands ready to step forward into the competitive marketplace. It goes without saying that the workplace is a fiercely competitive place but the marketplace most young adults (and, unfortunately, the newly divorced) have the most difficulty with is “formal” dating.

Being a hardened veteran of the dating scene (I didn’t marry until after forty), there are many “tricks of the trade” that I developed that always kept me a step ahead of my sports car driving, surgically built competitors who always were the center of attention as soon as they entered the room.

So, when you find that special someone, step one is to make them feel special. There is an old adage that says, “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” and how true it is. It is simplistic, but men love to be mothered and any woman willing to take the time to make a home cooked meal for him is going to rise on the “dating ladder.” Men who cook, on the other hand, are elevated to the status of “Sensitive Man” and in most women’s eyes “Sensitive Man” is a clear-cut winner in the long term competition with “Flashy Guy”.

So, the answer is a romantic dinner for two at your place but your cooking skills are limited to EasyMac or microwave popcorn. Don’t panic! Below is a recipe that is simple and will make you look like you have been doing this for years. Don’t overlook the obvious though. Clean up your apartment. Light some fresh smelling candles (you can get them at the drug store) or get some fragrance sprays. First impressions are everything and the proper aroma can set the tone for a romantic evening. Enjoy!

Simple Chicken Pepperoni

You will need:

1) A 10″x14″ casserole dish (8″x8″ will do in a pinch),

2) 2 cans (10 3/4 oz.) of Cream of Chicken Soup ,

3) 1 can (10 3/4 oz.) of Campbell’s Ranchero Tomato Soup ,

4) 1 small package of sliced pepperoni ,

5)1 package of dry onion soup mix ,

6) 2 medium sized red peppers ,

7) 1 medium sized green pepper ,

8) 1 large Vidalia onion ,

9) 4 BONELESS chicken breast (completely thawed, if necessary), 9) Corn oil Spray (Pam or the like),

10) A package of flavored rice (Lipton Side Rices are great but, don’t go way out on a limb. Stick with Chicken flavor, Rice Pilaf or something along those lines)

First rinse of your chicken and take a sharp knife and trim away anything that you wouldn’t want to eat (fat etc.) and set aside. Next, take your three peppers (both red and green) and cut the top off of each, just below the stem. Discard the stems and slice each pepper down the middle from top to bottom. Take each pepper half and, using a standard table spoon, scrap out the seeds and the lighter colored portions of the interior of the peppers. Slice these peppers LENGTHWISE in 1/4″ wide strips. When you are done, pile your peppers up, facing basically the same direction and chop across them, making them, each, 1/2 of their original length. Set aside. After that prepare your onion by slicing 1/4″ off both the top and the bottom. Peel the outer skin of the onion off and then slice it WIDTHWISE into 4 or 5 equal portions (1/4″ more or less). Lay these slices flat and slice the “circles” into 4 equal “triangles”. Crumple these up a bit and set aside. In a bowl (large enough to hold three cans of soup), empty your two cans of Cream of Chicken soup, 1/2 of your can of Ranchero Tomato soup and 1/3 to 1/2 of your onion soup mix packet. Mix, with a large spoon, until the color is consistent. Set aside. After that, set your oven at 350 degrees and let it pre-heat.

While your oven is pre-heating, spray the inside of your casserole dish with your corn oil spray, making sure that it is completely covered but not runny. At this stage, take your sliced pepperoni and cover the bottom of your casserole dish. The pepperoni pieces can overlap a bit but, basically lay out the pieces like tile, completely covering the bottom of the dish. Take your onions and peppers and evenly distribute them over the pepperoni. Pour half of your soup mixture over the top of the dish contents. Place your chicken breasts, flat and evenly spaced, over the vegetables. Pour the remaining soup mixture over the top of the chicken and cover the dish tightly with tin foil (with the smaller dish you may need to compress the mixture a bit). Place dish on the shelf closest to the middle of the oven and leave for at least two hours. NOTE-If your dish seems overly full, press the mixture down some and include a cookie sheet or tin foil under your dish in the oven! As the vegetables cook the mixture will “fit” the dish better.

After your two hours is up, extract the dish and remove the tin foil and leave aside to cool for 15 minutes. While you are waiting, cook your rice according to package directions (these things are tough to mess up) and put the finished product in a nice serving bowl. Transport the food to the table, light some candles and wait for the complements!