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

Chicken Taco Salad

Taco Salad

For some strange reason, I have never been big into the taco salads. Perhaps the idea of eating greasy hamburger in a salad isn’t very appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some taco meat, but in a taco. All I can imagine is the lettuce getting wilted, warm and greasy. But maybe that’s what makes them so appealing? I don’t know.

A few weeks ago, I had an “aha!” moment. Why not use seasoned chicken in place of the hamburger! I know that I am way behind on the taco salad wagon. But, when I menu planned, I was SO excited to make taco salad. I de-boned a couple of chicken breasts that I have stored in our freezer, seasoned them, and cooked them up. The chicken mixed in with loads of veggies, served with corn chips, was the perfect meal in my books. It was exactly what I was looking for. I mixed up a little tomato and lime dressing to drizzle over. Delicious! I couldn’t wait to have it again for lunch the next day.

The chicken makes this meal that much healthier. But, if you want even healthier, bake the chicken instead of pan frying.

Chicken Taco Salad

Yield: about 6 servings

For the chicken

  • 2-3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • about 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, chili powder, garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

For the dressing

  • 1 large tomato, cored, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

For the salad

  • 9 oz. romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, cooked and cooled
  • 1 tomato, cored, seeded and diced
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled (if not organic), and diced
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • corn chips for serving, or broken taco shells

Directions

Season each side of the chicken breasts with the all spices and salt and pepper (I just do a healthy sprinkling of each). In a large pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter in the oil. Once the butter is melted, place the chicken breasts in the pan. Cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides and completely cooked through, about 8-10 minutes per side. If the chicken starts to burn, turn the heat down and cover. Place the chicken on a cutting board and let cool slightly before dicing.

To make the dressing, place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth. Pour the dressing into a small pitcher or jar, cover, and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble the salad, spread the chopped lettuce on a large platter or bowl. Gently mix in the corn, tomato, avocado, carrots, cucumber, and diced chicken. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top. Scoop the salad into individual bowls. Crush chips over the salad and drizzle dressing over the top. Serve.

Island Bakes Original

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

It’s amazing how my love of pasta has grown and developed over the years. As a kid, I only really liked pasta with butter and a large serving of parmesan cheese. And nothing else, thank you very much.

Now that I am an adult, I have come to appreciate the amazing things you can do with pasta. One of my favorite combinations is pasta with chicken. Chicken being my favorite choice of meat, that really comes to no surprise.

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

This summer I purchased a cookbook that is all pasta recipes. I couldn’t wait to read through it and see what goodies were in there. I have made several recipes from it, and so far, they all have been excellent. This one particularly stands out. I have made it twice already! The garlic really shines through in a lovely light sauce. The chicken is tender and flavorful. I decided to swap out the arugula for spinach because I am really not a fan of it. My husband, who occasionally has a blind eye for left overs, came home for lunch the following day and finished off the dish! It is super tasty, really easy, and loved by all in my family. This recipe makes it an easy and great way to vamp up a pasta dinner that could otherwise be boring.

 

Pasta with Garlicky Tuscan Chicken

Yield: About 4-6 servings

  • 3 (6-8 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 12 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 lb. penne
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place 1/2 cup flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken through the flour, shaking off any excess. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, just until smoking. Carefully lay the chicken in the skillet and cook until well browned, about 6-8 minutes. Flip the chicken over and reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until the chicken registers 160ºF with an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a plate and tent with tin foil.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the now empty skillet, along with the garlic and shallots. Cook over medium-low heat until softened and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes and remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in the wine and broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cook at a simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened and measures 2 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in 2 cups of the garlic sauce, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and spinach. Stir until the spinach is wilted. Add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, thinly slice the chicken on the bias. Divide the pasta between individual serving bowls. Lay the chicken over the top and drizzle remaining 1/2 cup sauce over each bowl. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese.

 

Source: Adapted from The Pasta Revolution

Grilled Chicken with Garlicky Green Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Garlicky Green Sauce

October seems to have decided to become early September. It has been 60 degrees for several days in a row. This is unheard of people! Of course the hurricane that went by us way offshore is pushing up a lot of the warm air. It’s just weird because in September I was pulling out all the winter hats and mittens because it was high 30’s every morning. And I just put our down comforters on our beds! I can’t seem to keep up with the temperatures these days. But that is New England for you! As the saying goes, “Don’t like the weather? Wait a minute!”

Grilled Chicken with Garlicky Green Sauce

I have been taking advantage of this warmer weather to squeeze in some more grilled dinners. (Of course us Mainer’s tend to use our grills all winter.) When I saw this recipe for grilled chicken with a delicious sauce, I jumped at the chance to make it. My parsley has flourished this summer and I haven’t been able to keep up with it. So a sauce that uses a large quantity of it was a perfect way to use up some before it dies in the cold weather that is bound to come eventually!

The sauce was an excellent addition with the chicken. Especially to hide the fact that I over cooked the chicken. That’s why I usually make my husband grill. Ha! I made grilled flatbread to go along with the dinner, which was perfect for dipping into the sauce as well. (I totally took that great idea from Annie!) The sauce is definitely worth the extra step. Although, who are we kidding? All you have to do is throw it all into a food processor or blender and the machine does all the work! That’s a win in my book!

Grilled Chicken with Garlicky Green Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

For the chicken:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the sauce:

  • 3/4 to 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • 4 scallions, green parts only, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons low fat mayonnaise
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons low fat greek yogurt (or mayo)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

In a shallow dish or plastic bag, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined. Place the chicken breasts in the dish with the marinade, turn once to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Heat a grill to medium-high heat. While the grill is heating, make the sauce. Combine the parsley, scallions, lime juice, garlic, mayonnaise, and greek yogurt in a blender or a food processor. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken to the grill and cook, turning once, until nicely browned and the internal temperature registers 160˚ F on an instant read thermometer. Remove to a plate and let rest a few minutes before serving with the green sauce.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Chicken and Rice Soup

Chicken and Rice Soup

Last week, my husband was feeling a little under the weather. And the nights have become much cooler. It was 42º when I got up this morning! Fall is definitely here. So, to remedy a tired, not-feeling-so-great husband, and cooler evenings, I decided to make a soup. What is more comforting than chicken and rice soup? Maybe only having delicious homemade sourdough bread to dip into it. (I promise to share that recipe soon. And trust me, you don’t want to miss it!)

This is a hearty, belly-filling soup. This is the perfect comfort food for those chilly days. And it will surely put a smile on anyone feeling under the weather.

Chicken and Rice Soup

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2-4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, or 3 1/2 Tablespoons dried
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • a pinch of thyme
  • 1 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

Directions

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place the onion, carrots and celery in the pot. Cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and herbs. Bring to a boil. Add the rice and chicken. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer until the rice is tender, about 35-45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Source: Lily’s Cafe Cookbook, Revised Edition by Kyra Alex

End of Summer Herby Chicken Chili

End of Summer Herby Chicken Chili

What is it about a big pot of fresh veggies that is so appealing? When I saw this recipe, I knew that I needed to make it immediately. It worked out perfectly because I had several squash sitting in my fridge needing to be used up. I love the idea of basically throwing a bunch of vegetables into a pot then letting it cook until delicious. All the flavors blend together while cooking, but you can still taste the individual vegetables in each bite.  It makes a pretty large pot too, which is perfect in my opinion. I gave a bowlful to my dad for him to have for dinner, and we still had enough leftovers for the next night! I served the chili with honey cornbread muffins and shredded cheddar cheese. (The muffins were okay, but a little too sweet in my opinion.)

End of Summer Herby Chicken Chili

End of Summer Herby Chicken Chili

Yield: 8-10 servings

  • 4 Tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper sprinkled on both sides
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh jalapeño pepper
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • corn kernels cut from 4 large ears of fresh uncooked corn
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 oz. chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • juice and zest from 1 lime
  • 1 cup chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used parsley because that’s what I had the most of)

Directions

In a large heavy duty soup pot or French oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts and sauté until golden. Turn the chicken over and sauté the other side until golden. Then turn heat down to medium, cover the pan with the lid, and cook just until chicken is no longer pink inside, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and set aside.

Return the pot to the stovetop and heat to medium-high. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion, peppers, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini and yellow squash and sauté an additional 5 minutes. Add corn, tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Stir to combine. Heat until bubbling and then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken breasts and add to the pot, followed by the fresh lime juice and zest. Right before serving, stir in the fresh herbs. Adjust to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve with shredded cheese and cornbread, if desired.

Source: Adapted from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Island Chicken

Island Chicken

Since my daughter’s birthday was last weekend, we let her chose her cake and dinner that she wanted. She requested chicken, mashed potatoes, peas and corn. I was very impressed. Chicken is my favorite type of meat, so I was pretty excited for the dinner myself. I knew that a marinade was in order, and this one is my favorite. It is incredibly easy and full of flavor. You can even prepare this in the morning before heading to work. The perfect, easy, weeknight meal.

Island Chicken

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, butterflied

Directions

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a mixing bowl or large airtight plastic bag.  Whisk or shake well until the marinade is mixed.  Add the chicken breasts to the bowl or plastic bag so that they are covered by the marinade.  If using a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap.  If using a plastic bag, press out all the excess air and seal the bag tightly.  Refrigerate and marinate for 3 hours, or up to 10 hours.

When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and pour the excess marinade over them.  Bake in the oven until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 170° F, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats