Baked Chicken Fingers

baked chicken fingers

Right now, my son is going through a bit of a non-eating phase.  All he ever wants is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, despite our best efforts.  (P.S- that is because all I ate/craved while pregnant with him were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!)  The rule in our household is, you eat what is put in front of you, or go hungry until the next meal.  No special, separate meals here!  Once in a while, I will gear a dinner toward the kids just to be fun and knowing that they will clean their plates.  It’s a win-win!

baked chicken fingers

This recipe is definitely for those chicken finger lover/picky kids.  I don’t usually like chicken fingers, although my kids definitely will devour them anytime.  But, when I tried these chicken fingers, I was converted.  They lack the sinking gut feeling of heavy grease, thanks to baking them instead.  The panko makes a wonderful crunchy exterior, but still holds in the moisture in the chicken to make it nice and tender.  Serve alongside a salad and your favorite dipping sauce, and any picky eater will be happy!  (Or non-picky too!)

Baked Chicken Fingers

Yield: 4-5 servings

  • 2 cups panko
  • 2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil, or canola or vegetable
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 3/4-inch strips
  • salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 475ºF.

In a large skillet, combine the panko and oil over medium heat.  Cook until golden brown, stirring often, about 8-10 minutes.  Transfer to a shallow dish.  In another shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  In a third shallow dish, whisk together the egg whites, water, mustard and thyme.

Spray a wire rack with vegetable spray and place over a rimmed baking sheet.  Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper.  Dredge a piece or two of chicken in the flour until coated, then dip into the egg whites, then, press in the breadcrumbs to adhere to all sides.  Place on the greased wire rack.  Repeat with remaining chicken strips.

Spray the tops of the chicken lightly with vegetable spray, then place in the oven.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through.  Serve with desired dipping sauces.

Source: Barely adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, Healthy Family Cookbook


Spiced Red Lentils with Rice

Dal with rice

So, you know those meals that aren’t exactly a showstopper, but taste amazing?  This is definitely one of those dishes.  It really doesn’t look very pretty, or maybe even appealing, but man oh man, it tastes soo good.  And, it makes the house smell amazing.  The red lentils become creamy, perfectly spiced, and just downright delicious.  I love to serve it over cooked white rice.

I have been trying to find recipes to use my fresh garden tomatoes that seem to just keep coming. (I am not complaining!)  This was a perfect way to incorporate many small ones.  This dish is a great, healthy, and quick meal for those busy weeknights.  And, it makes killer leftovers.  Win win!

Spiced Red Lentils with Rice

Yield: About 8-10 servings

For the spice mixture

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if you like spicy, use more)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

For the lentils

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil (or grapeseed, or canola oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils, picked through and rinsed
  • 12 ounces tomatoes, chopped (I used a combination of small romas and cherry tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • cooked white rice


In a small bowl, mix together the spice mixture.  In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Stir in the spice mixture and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds.  Mix in the onion and cook until softened, 5-8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the water and lentils and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer until the lentils are tender and resemble a thick purée, 20-25 minutes.

Off the heat, stir in the tomatoes, parsley, tomatoes, butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Stir gently until combined.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.  Serve over rice.

Source: Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen, Healthy Family Cookbook

Roasted Zucchini and Tomato Sandwiches

Roasted Zucchini and Tomato Sandwich

It’s amazing how quickly summer is passing by.  I feel like I have been in a whirl wind.  I feel so busy, but at the same time, I wonder what I am actually doing.  Do you ever feel like that?  I guess it’s maybe because cleaning/washing dishes, cooking, baby care, running errands, shuttling kids back and forth between day care and camp, and more cleaning seem to consume my entire day.  Oh wait, we can’t forget about laundry!  That is something that never stops.  Well, maybe that and dishes.  Especially since we don’t have a dishwasher right now.

My two girls just had birthdays.  Baby just turned one!! Ahh, where did the time go!  She has been on the brink of walking for probably two months now, but doesn’t want to walk unless I am on the other end encouraging her.  So cute.  And my eldest just turned six.  Say what?!

Enough of my life, and on to these mouth-watering sandwiches.  So, remember how I told you to make those hoagie rolls?  Yeah, well now, you need to make these sandwiches.  That is my request.  It would be even better if you used your garden vegetables! Speaking of which, I went out to weed my garden this morning, and the deer had a field day last night.  Bye bye broccoli!  Needless to say I cursed them the entire time I was weeding.  Darn deer. Ah, I digress.

Roasted Zucchini and tomato sandwich

This sandwich is pretty simple actually.  I seasoned some zucchini and tomatoes, then roasted them until they were tender.  Next, I slathered the bread with homemade hummus (my favorite kind), made a bed of spinach for the zucchini and tomatoes, then finished with a slice of cheddar and Monterey jack cheese.  Fab-u-lous.  And, these make killer leftovers the next day.  These would be awesome to take on a picnic.  Or to work.  Any way you eat these, or any meal, you will love them!

Roasted Zucchini and Tomato Sandwiches

Yield: about 4-5 sandwiches

  • 2-3 medium zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • rosemary, fresh or dried
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • hummus, store bought or homemade
  • hoagie rolls, store bought, or homemade
  • cheddar cheese and/or Monterey jack cheese
  • spinach


Slice the zucchini about 1/4-inch thick.  Place in a bowl with the 2 teaspoons salt and toss to coat.  Let sit at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes to allow the salt to extract the excess moisture.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Remove the zucchini from the bowl and place on a paper towel or clean cloth.  Press another paper towel over the zucchini to blot away moisture.

Place the tomatoes and zucchini on a rimmed baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle granulated garlic, salt and pepper over each slice.  Sprinkle rosemary over the tomatoes.  Place in the preheated oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until softened, turning the zucchini half way through cooking.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

To assemble the sandwiches, slice rolls in half, length-wise.  Spread hummus on both cut sides.  Place a handful of spinach on bottom slice, layer on a few slices of tomatoes and zucchini, then top with cheese and remaining slice of bread.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate for several hours.  Store any unused tomatoes or zucchini in an air-tight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Island Bakes Original

Grilled Tuscan Chicken

grilled tuscan chicken

Now that it is sometimes warm, we have broken out the grill for the season.  I am super pumped to be grilling again.  Chicken is one of my favorite things to grill.  The possibilities are endless.  Marinades are my favorite.  I am alway trying different recipes.  This marinade is a particular favorite.  It is so easy, but so delicious.  You can’t go wrong with rosemary and lemon!

grilled tuscan chicken

I usually mix up the marinade late morning, or early afternoon, then let the chicken sit in it, rotating every hour or so, until dinner.  The longer it marinates, the stronger the flavor will be.  And, even better, you can use any part(s) of the chicken!  I have marinated legs and thighs, and I am sure chicken breasts would be fabulous as well.  This is definitely something you want to throw on the grill this weekend!

Grilled Tuscan Chicken

Yield: about 4-5 servings

  • 3-4 pounds of desired cuts of chicken (you can do a mix or all of the same cut)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 Tablespoon dried
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt and pepper


Combine all of the ingredients, except the chicken, in a large measuring cup.  Whisk until thoroughly combined.  Pour into a large bowl or ziplock bag.  Submerge the chicken and place in the refrigerator.  Let marinate for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours, turning every hour or so.

When ready to cook, heat the grill to medium heat.  Remove the chicken from the marinade, saving the remaining marinade to baste the chicken with.  Cook the chicken, basting with the reserved marinade until the chicken is completely cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Source: adapted from Great Food Fast, by Martha Stewart

Massaged Kale Caesar Salad

massaged kale caesar salad

Do you ever find a recipe that you just absolutely fall in love with?  So much in love that you feel the need to make every.single.week?  Because, if you don’t have it, you find yourself dreaming of it and craving it.  Or maybe I am weird and only do that.

Well, this was one of those meals.  Who the heck would have thought it would be a salad?  Not me!  I’m a sweet lover all the way.  But, this salad knocked my socks off.  (Speaking of which, I wish it were warm enough to wear flip flops again!)  Funny, because this salad is so simple.  I mean really.  All you do is massage the salad for a few minutes with your fingers, then you throw in some homemade croutons (that is a must, they are SO much better than store bought), the mix in some homemade caesar dressing and parmesan cheese. You have yourself a salad!

massaged kale caesar salad

My husband has been requesting this weekly, which is very unusual for him.  Even my daughter chows down on this.  Massaging the kale seems to magically break down the bitter taste, leaving it with wonderful flavor.  And kale is a superfood!  This makes a fabulous light lunch, or a wonderful side.  Go make it today and be happy.  Seriously.

Massaged Kale Caesar Salad

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the salad

  • 1 bunch curly kale, about 8-12 oz
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • croutons
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a large glass measuring cup or jar.  Whisk or shake until completely combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Rinse and towel dry the kale leaves.  Remove and discard the ribs from the leaves, and tear the curly green portions into bite size pieces.  Add the kale to a large salad bowl with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and toss briefly.  Massage the kale leaves for a few minutes until the leaves have become shiny and a deeper green color, about 2-3 minutes.  Add croutons to the salad as desired.  Drizzle about half of the dressing over the salad and toss lightly to coat.  Taste and add additional dressing as necessary, a little bit at a time.  Top with additional grated Parmesan and serve.

Garlic Hummus

Garlic Hummus

Hummus is one of our favorite snacks. My husband requests it quite frequently.  It’s one of those satisfying dips that is very accommodating to many vessels.  It’s healthy, bursting with flavor, and filling. It makes a wonderful after school snack. Creamy, garlicky and delicious. The dip will last several days in the refrigerator.  In fact, it’s better to make ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld. It’s the perfect dip for a healthy snack, or to make for a get together.

Garlic Hummus

Yield: About 2 cups

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 5 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons dried parsley (or 2 Tablespoons fresh)
  • salt and pepper


In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the garlic cloves until minced. Scrape down the sides and add the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and cover. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Source: Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Lentils and Couscous with Zucchini and Carrots

Lentils and Couscous with Zucchini and Carrots

This recipe is something I saw and couldn’t wait for the chance to make it. I’m always on the lookout for healthy, filling recipes. It’s a kind of killing-two-birds-with-one stone type of deal. I made it for myself for lunch because everyone has been on a sort of grumpy dinner track lately. My son doesn’t want to touch dinner at all lately, even if he really likes the dish. The days are cold, long, dark and tiring. In other words, everyone is getting tired of winter. Even my daughter is talking about summer all the time and wishing it was warm. On the upside of the never ending winter, there is more sunlight! Waking up at 6 am to get everything ready in time for the bust at 7:05, I am actually waking up to sunlight! Not pitch black anymore. That always makes waking up much easier. And, it’s still light out at 4:30! Woot woot! Perhaps there is an end in sight? (Actually, I kind of like the snow. But not the cold.)

Back to this dish. It is full of great flavor. And I finally found a use for the pearled couscous I have had stashed away in the pantry for longer than I’d like to think. The lentils are a great filler. And the addition of my all-time favorite spice; ground cumin, makes it all that much better. Yeah, I am kind of obsessed with it. This dish makes a great lunch or dinner!

Lentils and Couscous with Zucchini and Carrots

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 1-2 cups dried lentils (If you like a lot of lentils, use 2 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup pearl (Israeli) couscous
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • dash of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or cilantro


In a small saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water. Bring to boil over high heat. Partially cover, and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the lentils are cooked through and tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Place the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, stir in the onion. Cook the onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic, cumin, turmeric and garlic powder just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth and couscous. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and partially cover. Gently simmer until the wanter is mostly absorbed, about 8-10 minutes. Just before all the water is absorbed, add the shredded carrots, zucchini, cooked lentils and parsley. Stir until completely combined. Let cook for a few more minutes until everything is heated through. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve.

Source: Adapted from Three Many Cooks