Monday, June 30, 2014

Healthier Chicken Nuggets

Yummy note: My kids LOVE chicken nuggets. If they could have chicken nuggets for every meal, I think they would. So with the frequency it seems to come up in meal planning at our house, I wanted to make an alternative option for their processed chicken nuggets. We've been making chicken nuggets/strips like these, but they often bring up the fact that these chicken nuggets aren't quite the same as the processed ones, aka the texture and shape is different. So when I came across this recipe from MOMables a while ago, I thought i would give it a try as we've never tried using the ground chicken. Wow, it was a hit! The looks of these won them over and we've been using it for several months now. It is the best to try especially if you are looking for the same feel and look of processed chicken nuggets but on the healthier side. I have modified the seasoning a bit from the original posted here, as my kids have some allergies to watch out for, so we eliminated the parmesan cheese and just used more breadcrumbs in place of that. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make them ahead of time and freeze them and keep them ready for those quick meals to reheat and serve. I love how the texture of these homemade chicken nuggets is very similar to that of the processed chicken nuggets that they love. The biggest complaint my oldest child had was that the nuggets didn't get crispy enough for her, so I'm working on that technique still. But they really taste awesome, both for big and little kids ;) we even made a batch into larger chicken patties to have for chicken sandwiches. 



 Healthier Chicken Nuggets 
Recipe adapted from http://www.momables.com/lunchbox-wars-4-chicken-nuggets/

Ingredients: 
Chicken mixture: 
1 lb of ground chicken 
1/4 cup of old-fashioned oats 
1/2 tsp of chicken seasoning (we like to use this
pinch of salt/pepper
optional: if the mixture seems too wet and not forming into shapes well, add in additional 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers 

Coating: 
1/2 tsp of chicken seasoning 
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1/4 tsp of black pepper 
3/4 cup of breadcrumbs 
optional: add in grated parmesan cheese 

Directions: 
In large bowl, combine chicken, oatmeal, and seasonings and mix well. Moisten hands to prevent the chicken mixture from sticking to your hands and form about 1 tbsp of the chicken mixture into a ball and then flatten into your nugget shapes. You could also press the chicken mixture into a cookie cutter for shaped nuggets to make more appealing for the kids. (note, this takes some time to do though, I wouldn't advise it, unless you have some patience :) as the meat can get stuck to the cookie cutters. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs with remaining seasonings for the crumb coating. Press nuggets into crumb mixture and toss/pat down crumbs to coat evenly. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place nuggets on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Spray the top of the chicken nuggets with cooking spray for a crispier coating (optional). Bake 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken nugget, turning once halfway through. 

The biggest complaint my kids have sometimes with these baked nuggets is that they don't really get brown or super crispy. If extra browning or crispiness is desired, you could place the nuggets under the broiler for a couple of minutes or pan fry them at the end of cooking. If you opt for the freezer method, freeze the raw chicken nuggets on a cookie sheet, to avoid them sticking together. Once they are frozen, put them in a container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer until you’re ready to bake, Make sure you add an additional 5 minutes or so to the initial cooking time to make up for the frozen chicken nugget to bake thoroughly, as it is raw chicken and you want to make sure to cook it properly. You could take a temperature of the chicken nugget if you wish, and it should be about 170 degrees to be cooked thoroughly.

These nuggets start with simple ingredients.

Steps to make easy healthier chicken nuggets, similar to pre-packaged processed chicken nuggets. 




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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Caprese Bites

Yummy note:
This month's Secret Recipe Club selection was amazing. Everything on the Authentic Suburban Gourmet's website was just picture perfect. Lisa is one of these people I would love to go over to her place and visit with, and or course, be one of those lucky guests to be invited to one of her festive dinner parties. She has had her blog up for many years now, starting back in 2009, and her photography skills have always been pretty top notch which truly makes her blog so appealing. I often look back at my fellow bloggers at their earlier years, as you can see how they progress and how the blog changes, especially in the digital age, people often switch to different photography styles. But Lisa's is picture perfect- since the beginning, so hats off to Authentic Suburban Gourmet. I mean she has dishes on there that I'm not a fan of, and typically wouldn't eat, like these Deviled Eggs, but the way she photographed them, made me want to try it out almost! The eggs looks so dreamy like frosting!  I knew I wanted to feature something from her Friday Night Bites series, as she had several delectable recipes that I had a hard time selecting from. So I did what any of you do, and try out a few :) I'll feature the Caprese Bites recipe, with some inspiration from this recipe as well, as my kids like pepperoni better than salami. 



Caprese Bites


original located here 


Ingredients: 
12 small mozzarella balls
12 basil leaves
12 slices of pepperoni or salami
12 cherry tomatoes
24 toothpicks
Extra virgin olive oil Sea salt or Fleur de sel

Directions: 
Cut the cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls in half, the short direction. Then, slice the basil leaves in half lengthwise. Finally, cut the pepperoni and/or salami in half. Next comes the assembly- Put the cherry tomato next to the mozzarella ball, it should form like a small ball when put together. Next wrap the half basil leaf and half salami or pepperoni around that. Secure caprese bite with a toothpick. Continue to assemble bites. Once all are assembled, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt for tasting. This makes about 24 appetizers.
 
Yummy Note:
I had some fresh basil growing abundant in my garden patio planter, so I thought this was a perfect fit for this caprese bites recipe. 


Some more basil hanging out on my windowsill. Did I mention I really like fresh basil? ;) 



The key players - mozzarella, little cherry tomatoes, basil, pepperoni or salami, a quality extra virgin olive oil, and some sea salt. 


Look at these fresh ingredients, ready to be assembled into a delicious appetizer.


Now the tricky part, wrapping the basil and pepperoni/salami around those little buggers!


All cute, almost too cute to eat. Ok, really, it's ready to be devoured :) Finish off with some evoo and sea salt.





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