Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets

Face it, you sometimes eat your kid's chicken nuggets. They're good! You know you're always buying the frozen variety to use in a pinch. Now here's your chance to make your own--and know exactly what goes inside.

Joey describes these chicken nuggets as the crispiest thing he's ever eaten. You don't even notice they aren't fried!  The chicken inside is juice and delicious, the outside is flavorful and the novelty of making mini chicken bites at home never gets old. This is a great recipe for kids to help with too! Get out your favorite dipping sauce folks!

(I made 20 nuggets with this list of ingredients, the original recipe with the same portions makes 12...)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 eggs
1 C panko bread crumbs (found in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores)
1/2 C flour
1/3 C parmesan cheese, shredded
1 t vegetable oil (the recipe actually calls for 1 T but I only used 1 t and it worked fine)
coarse salt
cooking spray
your favorite dipping sauce - we used bbq sauce
3 shallow bowls
1 cooling rack that fits (or generally fits, mine fits slanted) into a rimmed baking sheet

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the panko in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.  Pour into a shallow bowl. Add cheese, 1/2 t salt and oil and stir to combine slightly
2. Salt the chicken on both sides and then cut the chicken breasts in half and then into nugget sized pieces, set aside
3. Pour the flour into a shallow bowl. Pour the eggs into a separate shallow bowl and whisk to break the yolks and combine slightly
4. Spray the cooling rack with cooking spray and set inside your rimmed sheet. Increase oven temperature to 450.
5. Set up your dipping station--chicken, bowl of flour, bowl of egg, bowl of panko mixture, pan. Dip chicken into flour and shake to remove excess, then eggs *shake*, then panko and set on the rack.  I used tongs to do this so my hands wouldn't get all gross but it was slow going--this is the most time consuming part of the recipe.
6. When all chicken is coated, bake for 12 minutes, turning nuggets halfway through.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce!

Watch the video for an even better idea of how to make this super simple dish!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Marinated Skirt Steak

 Hello Summer!  The weather here in SoCal has gotten warmer lately and it seems like summer is upon us.  In addition, my favorite grocery store Sprouts has been selling summery selections for a reduced price and that makes me think of having summer right now!

Tonight I wanted to eat at home but didn't want to spend all day slaving in a hot kitchen. Sprouts didn't let me down with this $5.75 meal for two.

This meal is simple and fast. I happened to have a few hours so I threw the skirt steak in a marinade of homemade Italian dressing--you know the kind you can get in the packet that sometimes comes with a dressing bottle? I purchased that salad dressing kit a few weeks ago in preparation for an upcoming baby shower in which I need the vessel.  I did the reduced oil method of the marinade. I also described it to my salad-hating husband as a "vinegar & oil marinade with a mix of Italian seasoning" shh don't tell; he liked the marniade and the steak and thought it had a nice flavor but he couldn't place it!  If he can't tell it's dressing either can your family, they will think you slaved away in the kitchen when in fact this meal takes minutes to prepare.

~1lb skirt steak (1/2lb per person is my measurement and we always end up with a little leftover)
1 recipe Italian dressing (dry spice packet, 1/4 C + 3 T water, 1/4 C vinegar, 1/4 C oil)
1 gallon sized ziploc bag
2 corn cobs
1/2 watermelon
1 orange
3 massive strawberries (or about 6 regular strawberries, but we found these massive ones at the Farmer's market last week)

1. An hour or so early or you could probably do this in the morning, prepare dressing directly in the gallon sized ziploc bag by propping the bag up in a drinking glass.  Close the bag and shake to combine. Add skirt steak and marinate in the refrigerator, at least an hour, or up to all day.
2. Heat the grill to high heat. Place the corn on the grill over direct flame and cook turning 4 minutes.
3. Prepare the fruit salad by segmenting the orange, cutting the watermelon into small cubes and slicing the strawberries.  Place in a bowl in the refrigerator until dinner is ready. I like cold fruit, if you don't leave it on the table.
4. After you've cooked the corn about 4 minutes, add the steak to the grill over direct flame.  I used tongs to pull mine right from the marinade bag and straight to the grill. Cook the steak for 2 minutes per side or possibly less depending on how thin your steak is.  Continue to cook the corn until browned and warm.
5. Slice the steak and serve

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pork Chops with StirFry Vegetables

I have been getting the Everyday Food Magazine for years and have always loved it. Then when we got an iPad, I was thrilled with the extra features the ipad version promises including videos and step by step pictures.

Recently, Sara, the editor in chief has started a series of videos that come to me via email each morning.  The video series is a feature of "dinner tonight" and provides quick and easy dinners that you could make even if you were coming home from work and had to have the kids in bed by 7.

As you have probably noticed, I haven't done much cooking lately and have really been jonsing for a homemade meal.  I decided tonight was the night and whipped up this recipe in a matter of minutes (12 total I think).  I really liked the meal.  The vegetables were gussied up just enough to make them taste a little bit different, the pork chop was flavorful and cooked perfectly.  Joey thought the texture of roasted bell peppers (from the jar) was a little strange but I liked them because I have had them before--he thought they didn't provide much in the way of texture.  If you have that same issue you could easily omit the peppers or throw in some raw ones or another quick cooking vegetable like asparagus or um...something quick cooking and colorful of your choice!

The recipe is for 4, so I reduced the quantities at the store in my head based on what we usually eat. Also if you are adding a jalepeno, I recommend looking for a small one and mincing it instead of just rounds.  Our stirfry was very spicy because the jalepenos they sell here are supersized.

Recipe & Video
For 2
Recipe reprinted here in case they take it off the website and I want to make it! (:()

2 bone-in pork chops
2 T olive oil divided
1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled with a spoon and roughly chopped
1/4 lb green beans cut into 1 inch pieces
3/4 bunch scallions, whites chopped; greens cut into one inch pieces
2 roasted peppers from a jar, chopped into medium pieces
1 jalepeno (chopped or cut into rounds, you can remove the seeds if you want)

1. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the pork chops liberally. Heat a large skillet on high for 2 minutes. Add 1 T olive oil and move the pan to get the oil all over.  Add the pork chops. Cook on high 4 minutes per side or until cooked (but for me the 4 minutes per side was perfect)
2. Meanwhile, cut up all the vegetables
3. Remove pork chops from the pan and keep warm on a plate in the microwave (don't turn it on, just leave them there)
4. In the same pan add the remaining 1 T olive oil and reduce heat to medium high.  Add beans, whites of scallions and ginger and cook until beans are crisp tender about 3 minutes.
5. Add jalepeno, scallion greens, salt to taste and bell peppers and cook about 1-2 minutes more until peppers are heated through. Serve vegetables and pork chops together.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Coconut Key Lime Pie

 Easter dessert is always our challenge.  This year, the main challenge was that we didn't decide what we were going to make until the week before Easter and then we tested it and then made it all again the next week. By that time, I was already tired of our choices and didn't end up eating any of our desserts at the actual Easter celebration (luckily nobody noticed cause that would've been just weird).

The first dessert we made for our smaller group of just 14 people was coconut key lime pie.  This pie was perfected in our second try by really reducing the amount of whipped cream topping from the amount that Martha Stewart used in the recipe because on the first pass our pie and whipped cream were of comparable texture.  We also added some flavoring to the cream because we felt it was boring on top of the pie just as is--it was sort of useless.  This pie was a cinch
put together and a big hit with the family.  It really does need time in the refrigerator before digging in so try to make this pie ahead and let it set first. The coconut flavor wasn't very strong which but just a little hint of it was nice.

Coconut Key Lime Pie
adapted from Martha Stewart

For the Crust:
6 oz Graham Crackers
3 T sugar
1/4 t coarse salt (I used regular salt the first time and Joey used coarse the second time, there was no difference)
5 T unsalted butter, melted

For the pie Filling:
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (13.5oz) unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 C bottled key lime juice (or fresh!)
1 T lime zest (we zested some key limes)
7 large egg yolks

For the whipped cream:
1 t lime zest
2 t key lime juice
1 C heavy cream
2 T powdered sugar

For Decoration:
2-3 T toasted coconut
1 key lime's zest

1. Preheat the oven to 350
2. In a food processor pulse the graham crackers until course sand. Add all the other ingredients and pulse until combined and the crackers seem wet
3. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie tin. Bake crust 12 minutes until dry looking and slightly more golden.  Let the crust cool while you make the filling
4. Reduce oven temperature to 325
5. In a bowl combine all the ingredients for the pie filling until mixed together well. Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake 40 minutes until set but still a little wobbly in the middle.  Cool on a rack until room temperature and then move to the refrigerator.
6. Meanwhile, toast 2-3 T sweetened coconut flakes in a small dry frying pan over medium heat.  Toss the coconut so it doesn't become too browned on one side.  Remove from heat when most coconut is browned and cool, then store in a ziploc bag.
NOTE:  We made our whipped cream 1 1/2 days before Easter dessert and it turned out fine, stored in the refrigerator without re-whipping. However, if you feel the desire to make it right before, feel free.  Whip cream
7. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, juice & zest on high until stiff peaks form about 3 minutes.
8. Spread whipped cream over just the center of the pie leaving an edge of filling to see.  Sprinkle toasted coconut and remaining zest over the pie and chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Steak with Spicy Chipotle Mango Sauce

Have you watched that show Worst Cooks in America on the Food Network? It takes a bunch of cooks who's families think they're terrible at cooking and teaches them to be chefs in bootcamp training.  These cooks really go from terrible to good--it's pretty impressive actually.  One thing that they encourage the cooks to do on the show is to make up recipes based on what they've learned or what the celebrity chefs have just shown them.  Even though I consider myself to be a pretty good cook, that is not something I know how to do really. I am good with recipes.

So today, after watching the second to last episode, I decided to channel Vinny and try to make his steak sauce recipe that he uses in that episode.  I might have changed it up a bit but I think I got the general idea.  I thought that this sauce added a lot to the steak and was delicious.  Joey didn't really agree with me but I will let you make up your own mind!

*disclamer* this sauce looks a bit gross so if you are opposed to gross looking things tasting good this is not for you

A take on Vinny's Chipotle Mango Sauce

For the Sauce:
1 T vegetable oil (i am totoally out of olive oil)
2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (although if you're afraid of heat you may want to put more like one)
1/3 C cilantro leaves
1 mango, peeled and chopped
the juice and zest of one lime

For the Steak:
NY strip steak or other of your liking
salt & pepper

For the Potatoes & Carrots
6 red potatoes, cut into small chunks
3 carrots cut into rounds or half moons to be similar to potatoes
olive oil

1. In a food process, pulse all the ingredients for the sauce until combined.  Add oil last and only add if you want a little more liquid.
2. Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
3. Heat the grill to medium-high heat
4. In a large, edged sheet pan toss carrots, potatoes, salt and about 1-2 t of olive oil or until everything seems coated.
5. Put the potatoes in the oven and bake, stirring once for about 35 minutes until crispy and carrots start to blacken
6. Rub the paprika, salt & pepper on the steaks.  Place on the grill over the flame and sear 2 minutes per side.
7. Turn off one of the burners and set the steak over that space. Grill without flipping until temperature reaches 130-135 degrees
8. Remove steak to plate and let rest while you prepare the plate.  Serve steak with sauce on the top or on the side