Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 20th
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Hot from Your Oven

dining freshprepFresh Prep Kitchens returns to a retail storefront, this time in Capitola's King's Plaza Shopping Center next to Baskin Robbins. To ensure that your favorites are waiting when you arrive, it's best to order through the website. However, I was at OSH and stopped in to see what was available.

The kitchen was abuzz as employees prepared and packaged ready-to-cook meals. From the refrigerator I selected Dijon-Herb Crispy Chicken Bake ($14.95) with mashed potatoes. I then heard a call from the kitchen that the Chicken Pot Pie ($15.95) was ready. Each comes with a side of vegetables or greens.

Cooking instructions, which are posted on the website (go to the "How this works" tab), are easy to understand.

I preheated the oven, emptied seasoned breadcrumbs onto a plate, dipped both sides of the marinated chicken breast tenders into the crumbs, and placed them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet for baking. I added boiling water to the mashed potatoes, and steamed the broccoli. Dinner was ready in about 30 minutes, and I had spent less than five.

The various courses were packed in zipper bags, which I rinsed for recycling.

The tender chicken was crispy on the outside and nicely seasoned while the potatoes were buttery. This "gourmet dinner kit" was meant to serve two, but with eight chicken tenders and two cups of potatoes, I could easily feed three or four by adding additional vegetables.

The Chicken Pot Pie was even easier. I popped the aluminum pan onto a baking sheet and left it in the oven for 35 minutes, then sprinkled some salad dressing on the greens. Under the flaky browned crust were chunks of chicken breast, carrots and plump peas in a savory white sauce. Again, I thought this tasty eight-by-eight-inch pie could serve four.

Fresh Prep Kitchens, 1601 41st Ave., Capitola, 429-1390. Open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m., and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Visit


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