The Five-Oh-One to eat

By Don Bingham

New Year’s celebrations often present us with a time of both reflection on the past and anticipation of the unknown challenges of the approaching new year.

As we were musing over a career of a diversified portfolio—the central threads running through fifty years, plus, have been the worlds of music, ministry and hospitality! How this all unfolds leaves me speechless with the realization that all was God-ordained! I agree with the statement “when you do something you love, you never really ‘work’ at all.” My wife and I loved to entertain from the very beginning of our marriage, and I began to collect equipment, dishes, recipes—things needed to entertain and cater. Our first endeavor was held in an old Victorian home in Chattanooga, Tenn., in a second-story apartment. We were truly novices in some ways; this could be proven by the fact that we were hosting a luau, and I thought it clever to cover the rug in the dining area with straw/hay for the island effect! We spent hours getting the particles out of that rug when the party was over! The menu for that luau was Chicken Curry. 

Photo by Mike Kemp

As the years developed, so did our love for the culinary arts. To shorten the story, a life of training, restaurant owning, cooking school attendance in many of the major 5-star hotels with famous chefs, acquiring Certified Executive Chef status, becoming a member of the American Culinary Federation, and a Certified Culinary Administrator—our paths have led to volumes of experiences and a grand time with the world of cooking and entertaining. 

As a reflection on a long and varied career, we have included the recipes for one of our early menus–one that has become a favorite of many! Happy culinary new year to all!

Chicken Cordon Bleu

6 skinned, deboned chicken breasts (whole)

Bread crumbs, to coat

6 strips of ham

6 slices Swiss cheese

Place strips of ham and cheese between pieces of breasts; roll chicken in melted butter first, then in bread crumbs.

Place chicken breasts on a cookie sheet, line with foil. Bake 350 in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender crisp. (Be careful not to overbake and dry out the meat.) Serve hot, with cheese sauce (recipe below); Serves 6.

Cheese Sauce

4 Tbsp. butter

4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

Dash nutmeg

1/2 cup Swiss cheese

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add in nutmeg and milk; stir constantly until mixture thickens; add cheese, stir until cheese melts. Serve over chicken breasts.

Carrots with 

Walnuts and Honey

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup walnuts

Cook carrots until crunchy. Drain carrots. Melt butter and honey, then add walnuts. Toss carrots in butter-honey-walnut mixture. Serves 4-6.

Baked Almond Rice

2 cups of water

2 rounded tsp. of instant chicken bouillon cubes

1 small onion, chopped

1 stick butter

2 Tbsp. slivered almonds

4 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 cup long grain rice

Bring first six ingredients to a boil; add rice, stir once, cover; cook for 20 minutes on medium heat. Do not lift the lid or stir. (optional: may add 1/4 cup raisins, 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, and/or may substitute beef bouillon for chicken bouillon.) Serves 6.

Don Bingham
Latest posts by Don Bingham (see all)