Diced! First Round – Christian – Vanilla Wafer Crusted Chicken, Honey Herb Cream Cheese Lettuces Wrap with Cherry Drizzle

Today we have an entrant for the first course of the Diced! competition. Contestants were instructed to create or find a recipe for an appetizer, soup or salad containing the following ingredients: Dried Cherries, Cream Cheese, Chicken Breast and Nilla Wafers (or another vanilla flavored wafer). They were instructed to make their dish and create a blog post about it, including pictures. You can help determine who advances to the next round. After the last post, I will post a poll where you can vote for contestants to move on. Vote for the post you like the best. You can vote because of the inventiveness, the yummyness, the use of ingredients, the quality of the writing and pictures or for any other reason. The poll will be active for one week only. Check back and vote. In the event of a tie, the Ranting Chef will choose who advances. More information about Diced! can be found here.

Today’s contestant, Christian is a 38 year old guy-leaving his career and on his way following his dream to become a chef. He loves food, his wife and  being a dad, not in that order! Here’s Christian….

Amuse Bouche Concept

Nila wafer Crusted Chicken/Honey Herb Cream Cheese

Lettuces wrap w/Cherry drizzle


1ea                                        Breast of Chicken skinless

1 cup                                      Nila Cookies

1 cup                                      Cream Cheese

1bn                                         Fresh herbs (parsley, chives, basil, thyme – whatever you have)

1tbl                                         Honey

1 cup                                      Dried Cherries

2 cup                                      Water

½ cup                                     Dates

12 pc                                      Hearts of Romaine


Salt and Pepper to Taste

My brief Story:

My name is Christian Barnes I am an amateur want to be professional Chef at the moment.  I’m 38 years old and have been cooking since I was around 8 years old.  While most boys were out playing sports or laying around watching sports I was in the kitchen with grandma, mom and my Italian aunts helping prepare the daily overdone, gigantic Italian meals.  They taught me, homemade pastas, soups, breads, desserts.  Thinking back on those times now brings a tear to my eye as most of the women have passed on. I hope they know they molded me into the man I am today; I couldn’t have loved something more.

I got swayed off from becoming a professional chef early on by other higher paying jobs that I have made a career out of for the last couple decades pretty much.  When I was 18 I was signed up at a culinary school it was the obvious choice for me with my background.  I loved the thought of graduating with my degree, the adventure of traveling and learning other cuisines, meeting other chefs, seeing the world, it was all extremely appealing to me and plausible at such a young age.  In my ear were people saying you’re never going to make any money, dumb profession, food industry sucks….blah blah…well I was stupid and listened.

Now many years, a wife and three kids of my own later (twin 4 year olds (Boy, Girl) and new 6 month old little girl) I’m ready to accept my destiny and pursue that degree I’m in the midst of gaining.

Please enjoy the first course in DICED! Competition I have made an Amuse/Appetizer for you I simply call, Creamy Cherry Chicken lettuce Wrap. It’s sweet and savory, very delicious I recommend trying it.



My ingredients (except chicken)!  Went to high end store not thinking, silly overpaid for all…UGH!


The cherries for me were the perfect sauce reduction ingredient to add great flavor to my concept.   So I thought I’d try and Yield about 12 of these so I used:

–          1 cup cherries and 2 cups of water throw it in the pot and crank the heat.


The idea here is something I love to do is pretty much create a thicker ESSENCE (flavored water) sauce for meats and fish, chicken.  I figure anyone can add sugar, or use processed juice to create a flavorful sauce.  I try and let the fruit speak for itself, they have plenty of flavor on their own.

Get it boiling…..then turn down and simmer it for about 10 minutes or so…you want to see the cherries break down, being dried may take a bit longer but these didn’t, happened rather fast.


Once you let the water and cherries marry itself remove it and toss in a vitamix or whatever you have handy to puree it….

Dump it back in your pot, should look something like this, thick and gooey sauce….


Let’s turn on the heat a while longer and were going to add in a couple ingredients.  The Cherries are tart so let’s drop in a TBL spoon of Honey and let that swim around in there a bit.  Now were going to strain it.

Should be about 1 cup in there….


Lots of the cherry chunks and thick puree are going to clog the strainer or Chinois so use your whisk and press it to get all the juice.

Now we put it back in the cleaned pot, a nice clean smooth juice and were going to reduce it down to about ½ cup or less.

At this point I use a pitted Date mixture I have in my fridge for these moments you pretty much to the same procedure with the dates to create this concentrated sweet liquid ingredient to add into these type sauces to not only flavor/sweeten them but it will thicken the sauce as well.

My sauce is then done and added to a squeeze bottle for better control in my presentation.



The chicken was pretty simple I took a chicken boneless skinless breast and cut into tenders and placed them on cutting board.

I took about a cup of the cookie wafers and chopped them up in my food processor:


Then not using flour or egg I just coated the chicken in the wafer crumbs and tossed in the pan I had ready with the hot oil.  Salt and pepper


My goal was to get nice coloring on then and then I threw in the toaster oven to finish.  I tend to do that with Chicken I seem to have more control over it and they always come out juicy.



While the chicken is finishing in the oven I quickly put together my cream cheese mixture.  The key here is keeping the cream cheese out of the fridge long enough to get to temperature where you can mix it easily.


Then take 1TSP honey and dice up the fresh herbs you have ready and throw in the bowl, little salt and pepper and using a fork mix it up until blended.   Pretty simple but really punches up the plain cream cheese.image012

Finally were going to put it all together.  Cut up the hearts of romaine into 10-12 pieces.  Place a dollop of cream cheese mix on there, couple pieces of chicken that we cut on a bias for presentation.  Drizzle on some of your cherry sauce this should not be hot, cold is better.  Garnish with some cherries you have leftover and you have a perfect bite to enjoy before dinner.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: appetizer, Cheese2, Chicken, Diced!, Fruit, Guest, Recipes

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at rantingchef.com

3 Comments on “Diced! First Round – Christian – Vanilla Wafer Crusted Chicken, Honey Herb Cream Cheese Lettuces Wrap with Cherry Drizzle”

  1. alisitaliankitchen
    June 11, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    This looks scrumpcious! A must try!


  2. July 1, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    Merci pour ce Blog joli. C’est tres bien.



  1. Diced! Round One Voting Closing Tomorrow | Rantings of an Amateur Chef - June 19, 2013

    […] Christian – Vanilla Wafer Crusted Chicken, Honey Herb Cream Cheese Lettuces […]


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