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

Directions

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

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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

Directions

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.

Baked Brie with Apples and Caramel

Baked Brie with Apples and Caramel

A few days ago, my sister and I did a cheese night. Now that she is settled in their epic winter residence, we decided it was time to do another cheese night. We did one last year where the baked brie with blueberry compote was the highlight of the evening. It is a nice time to catch up without my kids, over excellent food. This year though, baby had to tag along since I am still exclusively breastfeeding. She just played on a blanket on the floor. She is only just rolling around, not mobile at all yet. I am fine with that! I like knowing that I can set her down and she’ll still be there if I leave the room for a minute. And she can’t talk yet, so there is no interrupting our conversation.

Baked Brie with Apples and Caramel

When I saw this recipe on my blogroll, I knew that I had to make it for our cheese night. With homemade caramel sauce, of course. This was so amazing. Definitely on the sweet side, but still so good. I ate more than my share of it.

Let me break this cheese down for you; first you bake the brie to make it warm and gooey-delicious. Then, you sauté some apples to make them soft and sweet. To serve, you spoon the apples over the baked brie then drizzle caramel over the top. We devoured the cheese with some lightly flavored fennel crackers. Need I say more?

Baked Brie with Apples and Caramel

Yield: About 8-10 servings

  • 1 (8 oz.) wheel of brie
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons caramel sauce

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the wheel of brie on a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the middle is soft.

While the brie is baking, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the chopped apples and brown sugar. Cook , stirring occasionally, until apples are soft, about 5 minutes.

Remove the brie from the oven and carefully move to a serving platter. Spoon the sautéed apples over the brie. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Serve immediately with plain or lightly seasoned crackers. (Carr crackers are an excellent choice.)

Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad

black bean, corn and avocado salad

I know, this is more like a summer dish, but I couldn’t resist. With all this crazy sweet consumption happening, I have been trying to make dinners particularly healthy. I have had this recipe bookmarked for ages, and it fit the bill for one meatless option for the weeks menu.  Even though vegetables are not in season right now, this was still bursting with flavor and so addicting. I may have sat down with the bowl for lunch the following two days and eaten it all by myself. With my favorite blue corn chips, of course.

black bean, corn and avocado salad

My husband is not a huge avocado fan, but he still really liked this. I served this over grilled chicken (yes, I still grill in the winter. Especially since there is no snow on the ground right now), and it was killer! I would definitely recommend doing that! Then of course, you can eat any leftovers with chips. This is a wonderful, healthy and quick option for any meal or snack!

Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad

Yield: about 8 servings

  • 1 (15 oz. can) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 avocados, pitted and cubed
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels, or frozen and thawed corn
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the beans, red onion, avocado, corn, and tomatoes.  Add in the lime juice, olive oil, and salt, and gently toss to blend.  Gently mix in the parsley.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Honey Yeast Rolls

honey yeast rolls

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is next week! Yesterday, there was a super cute Thanksgiving celebration in my daughter’s kindergarten class. Each parent brought in a different dish and we all sat down and ate together after the kids sang a Thanksgiving song. So cute. I contributed the sweet potato and butternut squash mash that we all love so much. We have quite a few butternut squash left from our garden harvest this year, so it worked out perfectly!

Having an early Thanksgiving made me start thinking of recipes to share before the big day that you all might be interested in. We are celebrating our own little Thanksgiving tomorrow. Of course, my husband has requested his favorite blueberry pie. I will also be whipping up the beloved mashed potatoes, and several other delicious things. What is your favorite dish for Thanksgiving? Is it something traditional? Or something totally out of the ordinary?

These rolls are something that you may want to make as a side for your Thanksgiving. They are my absolute favorite rolls. They are soft, moist, with a hint of sweetness. The addition of sea salt sprinkled over the top right before baking makes them divine. I have been making these rolls for years, and they always get eaten immediately. The perfect compliment to any dish. If you need a make-ahead option for these rolls (to make Thanksgiving day less stressful), head over to Annie’s Eats to see how she recommends doing it.

Honey Yeast Rolls
Yield: about 10-12 rolls

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105-115˚ F)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 1/2-4 cups bread flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons honey

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and warm water.  Add the honey, oil, salt, and egg and mix well.  Add 3 cups of the flour and mix just until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. Switch the paddle for the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, incorporate the remaining 1/2 to 1 cup of flour a few tablespoons at a time. Continue kneading on low speed for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with oiled plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes.  Punch the dough down and divide into 10-12 equal size pieces.  Shape each piece into a smooth ball and place into a round, lightly greased 9- or 10-inch round baking dish, spacing evenly. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Mix together the melted butter and honey, and brush the tops of the rolls with the mixture. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown.  Cover loosely with foil and continue to bake about 10 minutes more, or until the the center of the rolls registers 190˚ F on an instant-read thermometer.  Let cool slightly before serving.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from A Cookie a Day

Oven Fries

Oven baked fries

Fries are always a favorite in my house. I don’t make them very often, but when I do, everyone comes running. They are my favorite side to a big ol’ juicy burger. (Hello drive-in’s anyone?). After seeing a version for baked fries instead of fried, I had to try them immediately. Who doesn’t love a healthier version of our favorite fried weakness? These are crispy and delicious. Just the way fries should be!

Oven Fries

Yield: 4 servings

  • 3 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise into 10-12 even wedges
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon vegetable or grapeseed oil

Directions

Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 475ºF.

Place the potatoes in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, coat a large rimmed baking sheet with 1/4 cup oil and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Drain the potatoes and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Toss the dried potatoes with the remaining teaspoon oil. Place on the baking sheet in a single layer. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the bottoms of the potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15-20 minutes, rotating pan after 10 minutes.

Flip the potatoes with tongs, making sure to keep them in a single layer. Continue to bake until the fries are golden and crisp, 7-10 minutes longer. Rotate pan as needed if fries are browning unevenly. Drain briefly on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Source: The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

sweet potato fries

Sweet potatoes are a favorite of mine. I think I have expressed that several times by now. These fries are no exception. I love how they are slightly crisp with a soft texture inside. I could eat handfuls of these. Oh wait, I usually do! These are fries without the guilt. They are baked instead of fried, which is always a healthier option. And sweet potatoes are crazy good for you. These make a great side dish to burgers, or occasionally I’ll make them for finger food for our movie night. Delicious!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Have ready a non-stick baking sheet.

Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3-5 long spears. Place them on the baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Spread the sweet potatoes into one layer.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly over the potatoes.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn with a spatula. Bake for 5-10 minutes more, until lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve hot.

Source: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, by Ina Garten