• 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

I don’t know what triggers childhood memories, but for me, they somehow always revolve around food.

I know how surprised you must be.

Hold your laughter, please.

When I was a child one of my favorite things to do was to enjoy dinner at a friend’s home. Actually that hasn’t really changed.

I was alwasy fascinated by the interactions of other friend’s families. Just like at my house, the family dinner table was an important part of their day.

Tracie DiFonzo was one of my childhood friends. Her mom, Jean, (or Mrs. Soares as I lovingly called her) made a wonderful spaghetti sauce. I can still see her standing over the stove, stirring her sauce and smiling down at me.   I’d ask her what she was making.

She would look at me with a cute smile…

“Elise, would you like to stay for dinner?”

Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly impose. (That’s what I thought, but of course did not say. Instead I would say, YES! out loud).

Eating at my friend Lisa Ruggerio’s house is another childhood memory I have.

I think I was probably in the fifth grade, maybe?

One day after school I went back to Lisa’s house. Lisa and her two sisters (Linda and Terry) always pitched in around the house. (They were really nice girls). This also included helping their mom with dinner. That evening the girls were making pork chops. This was the first time I discovered how flavorful Shake ‘n Bake was. I had never had it before.

Fast forward, say, a few decades. Today I had four thick-cut pork chops that needed some attention.

I suddenly remembered the pork chops I enjoyed that evening at the Ruggeiro home. They were so good.

I decided to try my hand at making my own version of Shake ‘n Bake with ingredients I already had in my pantry and spice drawer. It was so easy and delicious and the flavors reminded me of the fun I had with my childhood friend.

Lisa later married one of my hubby’s buddies, Ken. We knew they would make a great couple.

Homemade Shake ‘n Bake

Like the boxed kind, this homemade recipe creates a crispy exterior and juicy interior. It is delicious!

Instead of placing everything in a bag, I placed my breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl. With the bottom of my large wooden rolling pin, I crushed the breadcrumbs just a bit. I stirred together all of my dry ingredients and then added the oil. I stirred the mixture and then coated both sides of my pork chops in the mixture and placed them on a baking sheet. I guess you could shake the ingredients in a plastic bag with your chops, but I just figured, it’s in the bowl so just press into the mixture.

I baked the pork chops for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Your cooking time will vary depending upon how large your cut of poultry, pork or seafood is.

Do you have any childhood memories of enjoying meals at a friend’s house?