I recently came up with the coating mix for this recipe when I found some pretzel sticks in my cupboard that I forgot I had. They weren’t fresh enough to eat on their own, but they weren’t stale either. I decided to crush them and eventually use them in a coating mix of some kind. I looked online for ideas and as usual, I came up with my own version that combined a couple of recipes.
The sauce is strictly my own concoction! Last spring, I came across Lemon Pie Filling in a bulk food store. I asked the clerk if I could try a bit before buying and she gave me a small spoonful. It was delicious! Great lemon flavour with just the right mix of tart and sweet. The best part was that it was a fraction of the price of the canned version or the powdered mix that is normally bought. The clerk told me that it can keep well in the fridge for weeks! I bought a large container and have been eating it ever since – mostly in desserts or on toast. Actually I’m almost finished my second container and recently bought a third.
Over the last several months, I’ve been playing with creating various types of sauces using the pie filling as a base. The sauce for this recipe came to me recently and luckily it turned out great on the first try!
Crusted Chicken Breasts in Citrus Sauce
• 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3-4 ounces each)
• 2 Tablespoons margarine, melted
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/4 teaspoon basil
• 1/4 cup finely crushed pretzels
• 2 Tablespoons finely crushed almonds
• 1/3 cup unsweetened orange juice*
• 1/3 cup lemon pie filling**
• 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
• 3 Tablespoons Kraft Mandarin Orange with sesame dressing
Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 1 litre casserole dish with Pam and set aside.
Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts, removing any excess fat. In a small shallow dish melt the margarine and stir in the garlic, onion and basil. In another small shallow dish combine the pretzels and almonds.
Dip the chicken breast in the margarine mixture to coat then dip in the crumb mixture, coating thoroughly. Place in the greased casserole dish and repeat with the second breast. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top of the coated breasts. Drizzle any remaining margarine mixture over the breast. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until almost done.
While the chicken is baking, combine the orange juice, pie filling, lemon juice and dressing.*** When the chicken is almost done, pour over the chicken breasts and return to oven to finish cooking and until sauce is hot and bubbly.
Serve with baked potatoes, brown rice or a whole wheat pasta and a steamed green vegetable or a tossed salad.
* I’ve used 5 Alive rather than orange juice.
** The lemon pie filling can be purchased in bulk at almost any bulk food store for a fraction of the price of the canned variety and keeps in the fridge for weeks!
*** Since the pie filling is so thick, I find that it is easiest to measure the 1/3 cup orange juice into the bottom of a one cup measure then add enough of the pie filling to bring the juice up to the 2/3 cup level. I then add the lemon juice and dressing and stir carefully with a small whisk.
This recipe can easily be multiplied to serve 4, 6 or even 8 if you wish. Just be sure to increase the size of the baking dish so that all the chicken breasts lay flat in a single layer.