The cooks featured in the Sentinel-Tribune’s Cook’s Corners have one thing in common: They’re not afraid
George Loper, who is sharing an appetizer with readers that is party perfect for Christmas or New Year,
said he gets inspiration for dishes from many sources.
"Just from paying attention, being aware, reading, listening, being mentored, trying to remain
teachable, trial and error," he said. "But there’s no substitute for burning a lot of
Chicken Yummies is an example.
The directions call for cooking the bacon, which is wrapped around the chicken, first. It gets another
turn in the oven once it’s paired with the chicken.
When first trying this out, he cooked it all together and the bacon wasn’t quite done.
"I like reading cookbooks just to get ideas. It’s rare that I would follow a recipe verbatim. I saw
something like this and I worked on it," said Loper, who has operated George’s Catering for 10
Loper is constantly churning out new ideas, not only for his business, but for the 150 students he serves
daily at St. Aloysius School on South Enterprise Street.
The secret to feeding kids in preschool through eighth grades meals that are healthy but interesting is
to get creative with the add-ons.
"Sometimes you can add cheese to broccoli and all of a sudden they’ll eat it," said Loper, who
also suggested mixing some brown sugar with green beans or baking French fries with seasoned salt to
appeal to a child’s palette. Earlier this month, a chicken stir fry with rice "went over really
His catering is also creative, he said.
"We’ve all had the rubber chicken and overcooked broccoli," Loper said. "We like colorful
fresh food, fruit salad, roasted (meats and vegetables)."
His specialty is "pretty food, something that’s going to leave a real lasting impression."
The Chicken Yummies’ taste will also linger.
He said the dish has layers of flavors. He described the Yummies: a chunk of chicken breast wrapped in
bacon "gooey-baked" in a mixture of brown sugar, cayenne pepper, chili powder and chipotle or
"It’s one thing to have a hot chicken wing, for instance, but if you can have a chicken that is
sweet, has caramelized flavors, chipotle, as well as savory. You’re hitting the palate on three or four
The four palates are bitter, sour, salty and sweet, he said.
Chicken Yummies is also versatile.
It’s a standout appetizer, but Loper also suggested serving them as a main dish over rice, or with potato
pancakes, or taking a short cut and opening a jar of sweet and sour sauce to add.
He and his wife of 40 years, Lisa, have two children and three grandchildren. Daughter Hannah helps with
the business, and excels at theme dishes and baking, Loper said.
The Lopers first burst on the Bowling Green cooking scene in 1998 when they ran Cosmos, a coffee shop
that served waffles, soups and sandwiches.
He is from Cleveland, graduated from Kent State University and has lived in Bowling Green since 1991.
One Bite Chicken Yummies
Prep time: One hour
Easy to moderate skill level
Cooking time: 40 minutes
2 large chicken breasts, trimmed and cleaned
8 pieces of bacon
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder or paprika
Cut chicken into bite size chunks (a little smaller than a golf ball). Try to keep the chunks somewhat
consistent in size, this way they bake off all at the same time.
Pre-cook the bacon on a sheet at 350 degrees in the oven for about 15 minutes.
It should be loose when taken out, and placed on paper towels to absorb excess drippings and to cool off.
Cut the bacon with kitchen scissors into 2 inch pieces. Wrap each piece of bacon around a chunk of raw
chicken and toothpick it, in and out, to secure the bacon around the chicken.
When finished, drizzle with olive oil and dust pieces with the mixture. For more spicy heat, add more
cayenne. For a sweeter morsel, add less pepper and more brown sugar.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven once the bacon is cooked, and
there is a nice glaze over the chicken chunks. A temperature gauge should register 165 degrees.
Enjoy these right out of the oven or with some blue cheese dressing, yogurt, BBQ sauce, or ranch.
Chef’s Note: For better flavor and texture, I always like to marinade my chicken overnight in 2 cups of
buttermilk (or plain milk with a 1 tablespoon of yogurt and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice).