published Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Special-occasion menus can be used for afternoon or evening

Stuffed chicken breast, broccoli casserole, scalloped potatoes, homemade rolls, cranberry-pecan salad and red velvet cake were on the menu at the Chattanooga Music Club's Christmas luncheon prepared by Bruce Clark and Louella Landreth.
Stuffed chicken breast, broccoli casserole, scalloped potatoes, homemade rolls, cranberry-pecan salad and red velvet cake were on the menu at the Chattanooga Music Club's Christmas luncheon prepared by Bruce Clark and Louella Landreth.
Photo by Allison Love.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 bag Pepperidge Farm stuffing, either cornbread or herb-seasoned

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

2 cups Rice Chex cereal

2 cups Corn Chex cereal

Prepare stuffing in a bowl as directed on package and set aside. Do not bake the mixture.

Cut a horizontal slit into the thickest part of each breast creating a pocket. Fill with prepared stuffing mix.

Mix mayonnaise and mustard. Salt chicken, then brush on mayonnaise-mustard mixture to coat each breast.

Crush Chex Mix cereals together, and roll chicken breasts in crushed cereal.

Place chicken breasts on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes or until juices run clear.

— Louella Landreth

Spinach-ricotta Stuffing

1 cup cooked, chopped and drained fresh spinach

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup Gorgonzola blue cheese

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large egg

Combine spinach, ricotta, Gorgonzola, bacon and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Add egg, mix well and set aside until ready to stuff chicken breast.

— Food Network

Broccoli Casserole

2 10-ounce packages broccoli flowerets

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

2 eggs

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 tablespoons minced onions

1 cup crushed Cheez-Its

3 tablespoons butter

Prepare broccoli as directed on package.

Mix broccoli with next five ingredients. Pour into baking dish coated with nonstick spray. Cover top with crushed Cheez-Its and dot with butter.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

— Louella Landreth

Cranberry-pecan Salad

2 3-ounce packages strawberry Jell-O

2 cans whole-berry cranberry sauce

2 9-ounce cans crushed pineapple

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped pecans

Dissolve Jell-O in one cup boiling water. Add cranberry sauce and pineapple with juice. Add celery and nuts.

Mix and pour into dish. Chill in refrigerator until set.

— Louella Landreth

Company's coming! Your home is twinkling in Christmas bling, but what's on the menu?

If you're having friends over for a Christmas luncheon, Bruce Clark and Louella Landreth have an alternative to the standard chicken salad or quiche: stuffed chicken breast. Juicy and flavorful, the beauty of this dish is that it can be "personalized" to suit your taste just by changing stuffing contents.

The pair has prepared lunches for four groups this holiday season, serving stuffed chicken breast along with broccoli casserole, scalloped potatoes, Landreth's homemade rolls, gelatin salad and dessert.

It's a menu that works, they say, for either lunch or dinner, and can be altered to suit the time of day just by changing the side dishes or dessert for lighter recipes.

Best of all, it won't break the grocery budget. The dishes are all staples of Southern cooks, made with basic ingredients, most of which are kept on hand.

Landreth has been the in-house cook at First Cumberland Presbyterian for 15 years, while Clark has been the church's organist for 37 years.

"I started cooking at age 6," says Landreth. "My half-sister and father taught me. I grew up in Meigs County and lived on a farm. Everybody else was in the fields, so I cooked."

Clark has a background in floral design and baking, having worked part-time for Sherrill's Catering in Rossville for 30 years. He says his mother taught him to cook at about age 10 and he helped cook Wednesday night dinners at the former Central Baptist Church in Woodmore, where he was church organist before being hired by Cumberland.

Together, they make a powerhouse team -- he handles table set-up; she cooks, assisted by him. The two only cater parties for the church's groups or outside groups holding their events at First Cumberland.

"Their food is always delicious," says Charlynne Fry, a guest at the Chattanooga Music Club's Christmas luncheon, which the pair catered. "The stuffed chicken breast is really tasty. It's so tender you can cut it with a fork."

For this stuffed chicken breast recipe, she used Pepperidge Farm stuffing (either cornbread of herb-seasoned). However, Clark says other stuffing alternatives might be a broccoli mixture, ham and cheese combo, spinach or crumbled feta cheese. A suggested stuffing recipe from Food Network is included.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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