Graham Cracker Chicken Nuggets

Graham Cracker Chicken Nuggets, also known as “get my weirdo son to eat chicken mission.”
Graham Cracker Chicken 3 I’m reporting that the mission was a success. Any of you that know me well know this a complete feat. Noah has never liked meat of any sort except for deli meat. No chicken, burgers, pork, nothing. He does like seafood so there’s that at least. But I don’t think I’ve ever met a kid that doesn’t like chicken nuggets. I didn’t think they existed. I love chicken so much that I could eat it every day and give up all other meats. Although I would miss a good burger. And bacon. Actually, let’s not think about that. Last week I had a package of chicken and no ideas what to make with it and dinner was quickly approaching. I was scanning the pantry for ideas and thought I would just do simple chicken nuggets with breadcrumbs, but then I remember I used them all for this deliciousness. Womp womp. I figured I could find something else to coat it with instead, like cornflakes. The only cereal we had was raisin bran and fruity cherrios, no thanks. Then I saw the graham crackers that always grace our pantry. Noah would live on graham crackers spread with peanut butter if I let him. I figured this was my best chance to get him to eat the dang chicken for once. Graham Cracker Chicken 2
He saw it and immediately said yuck but the rule in our house is you have to try it. So he did and he said “hey these are actually pretty good, nom nom nom.” And then proceeded to eat 3. That’s a total success in my book and had us all dancing and cheering at the table (because crazy encouragement doesn’t hurt).

The graham crackers lend a definite sweetness to the chicken but it’s not overpowering. The outside gets crispy like a traditional chicken nuggets and they stay moist. They were perfection dipped in honey mustard. An added bonus is they take less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Winner winner chicken dinner. See what I did there?
Graham Cracker Chicken 4
Graham Cracker Chicken Nuggets

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil

1.Heat a skillet over medium heat. Set up a breading station (I use pie plates for this). Place flour in one dish and season with salt and pepper. Whisk eggs in another dish. Place graham cracker crumbs in the last dish, season with salt and pepper.

2. Coat chicken in flour, then dip in egg then roll in graham cracker crumbs. Place on a plate until all chicken in coated.

3. Put olive oil in pan and cook chicken in a single layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden and cooked through. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, honey mustard or BBQ are especially delish.

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Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Pistachio Pesto 4
Pesto is a food of love or hate in our house. My kids and I are big fans but Joel makes gagging sounds just at the mention of it. Dramatic, I know. He was in Boston a couple weeks ago for a work conference and although I hate when he is out of town (especially for 6 days!) it is nice to have the opportunity to make something he despises.
Pistachio Pesto 2
We’ve been addicted to pistachios lately so we had a big bag in the house so I decided to use them in place of the pine nuts in a traditional pesto for a fun twist. Pretty sure I will never use pine nuts again. The pistachios lend a slightly sweet taste to the pesto along with a little punch of salt.
Pistachio Pesto 7
I prefer my pesto with a little bit of texture but blend until you are happy with the consistency. And this sauce isn’t just for pasta. Try drizzling it over roasted or grilled veggies. Or mix it with a little mayo and spread it on your sandwich.
Pistachio Pesto 6
Does garlic breath seem stronger in kids or is it just mine? Man, Noah and Hannah reek after they have had something with onions or garlic. Pesto for dinner? No waiting for bedtime to brush your teeth because child, you stink. And I mean that in the most loving way possible.

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

1 garlic clove
3/4 cup pistachios
1/2 cup basil
1/4 cup parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil
Pinch salt and pepper
8 oz. short cut pasta

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, place garlic, pistachios, basil and parmesan in a blender or food processor and pulse into course crumbs. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, while pulsing, until sauce forms and desired consistency has been reached.

2. Drain pasta and toss with pesto.
Pistachio Pesto 8

Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs

Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 3
I love a pulled pork sandwich covered in barbecue sauce but that takes a lot of effort. We have a smoker so that’s the only way we do pulled pork in our house. It’s quite a process though so it doesn’t happen too often. I was craving it like mad the other day so I decided to try something a little different that would be reminiscent of that delicious sandwich but take a lot less effort.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 5
In come these little beauties. Done in less than 30 minutes and totally comfort worthy. I made a simple, traditional meatball but switched out the ground beef for ground pork. Once they are done they are slathered in that delicious honey bbq sauce I shared on Monday.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 1
I served these alongside some oven baked fries but can you imagine them on a roll with a little coleslaw? Absolutely happening next time.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 4
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs

1 lb. ground pork
1 egg
1/4 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper
1 Tbsp. parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 batch Honey BBQ Sauce

1. Combine egg, panko, salt, pepper and parsley in a large bowl. Crumble ground pork over the mixture and mix until just combined. Form mixture into 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs in a single layer, flipping after they have browned for 1-2 minutes. Cook until no longer pink in the middle. Remove from the pan and toss with honey bbq sauce.
Honey BBQ Pork Meatballs 6

Recipe Updates

As I make recipes that I’ve shared in the past, I’ve been updating photos to help with the appeal of the posts. These are all great recipes but the photos definitely didn’t do them justice. I asked on Facebook if you all would be interested in seeing what I’ve updated lately and I got some positive reviews so here it is. I’m still learning a lot when it comes to food photography but I think I’ve definitely improved! I’ll randomly share these posts after a few recipes have been updated. For now, I have two yummy updates to share with you.

These Broccoli and Four Cheese Calzones are pretty intense. I mean, four cheeses, you can’t really go wrong with that. I originally made this recipe in June 2011, only months into starting my blog. An oldie, but a goodie.
Broccoli and Four Cheese Calzones 4
If it was up to Noah, he would eat these Mini Corn Dogs all day, every day. This recipe was also written in 2011 and has stood the test of time. We don’t fry often but when we do we savor these little nuggets of goodness. The original photos were seriously awful. They were taken at night with my terrible kitchen lighting and the flash on my camera to illuminate them. Definitely not my greatest work! But now they are shining with natural light and have some fun props to add visual interest. Looks like I’ve learned a little something in four years.
Corn Dogs 3
That’s all I’ve got for you today. Let me know if you would like to see more of these types of posts.

Skinny Sweet and Sour Chicken

Low Cal Sweet and Sour Chicken
Sooo, today we have a preschool tour set up for Noah. Did you hear me? A PRESCHOOL tour. Can you tell that I’m kind of freaking out? First of all, nobody told me that enrollment for preschool in the fall started in freaking January/February. So you better believe that when I found out, I promptly freaked out and immediately went on the hunt.

Once the panic wore off, a bit of sadness set in. I can’t believe my baby is going to be in preschool. And although I’m not ready, I know he totally is. He’s smart, charming and a little social butterfly so I know that it will be a great thing for him. When the day finally arrives, I’m going to need a big slice of cake or a cookie the size of my head.

But let’s not think about those things right now. We should stay positive and healthy and not get all teary eyed, ok? Let’s talk about chicken instead.
Low Cal Sweet and Sour Chicken
I have been craving Chinese food in the worst way. Ya know, the deep fried, drenched in sauce kind of Chinese food. But I’m trying to keep on track so I whipped up this skinny version of sweet and sour chicken instead.

This dish definitely leans more towards the sour than sweet but it has just enough sugar to tone it down. The tender chicken combined with the crisp veggies produce a satisfying mix of textures that almost makes you forget it isn’t deep fried. And there’s no guilt.
Low Cal Sweet and Sour Chicken
From start to finish, you can whip this up in less than 30 minutes so I’ll be keeping this one in my back pocket, especially once Noah starts preschool and our days get busier. For those of you that have been through it, any hints, tips or pointers when looking for a preschool? Tell me all you know!

Skinny Sweet and Sour Chicken
recipe from Diet Recipes

2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut in cubes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (6 ounce) can pineapple juice
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 medium green pepper, cut into strips (left these out)
1/2 medium sweet red pepper, cut into strips (left these out)
1 (8 ounce) can unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained
cooked brown rice

1. In a bowl, combine the pineapple juice, sugar, pepper and cornstarch until smooth. Stir in the soy sauce, lemon juice and ketchup then set aside.

2. In a wok or nonstick skillet (or use vegetable spray) until the chicken is browned.

3. Add the red and green peppers and zucchini. Stir until the vegetables are tender-crisp.

4. Pour the sauce that was set aside over the chicken and vegetable mixture. Stir in the pineapple pieces. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened. Serve over cooked brown rice.

Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Mustard Cheddar Sauce

Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Mustard Cheddar Sauce
Pretzels are one of Noah and my favorite snacks so there is always a big ‘ole jar of them sitting on the counter. When I saw this recipe, I knew it had to be in my life. Pronto.

Chicken? Pretzels? Cheese? This is totally up my alley. I made this a few week ago and it was glorious. The crunchy pretzels coating juicy chicken was good enough but then top it with a cheesy mustard sauce? Delish.
Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Mustard Cheddar Sauce
I am totally drooling because since making this I have embarked on a pretty strict diet to lose this baby weight. Womp womp. It actually hasn’t been too bad. I’m using the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to track my calories (1410/day) and exercise. I am a major visual person and love lists so it really helps me to see it all written down. And knowing that something is going to be tracked and calories calculated makes me think twice about what I eat. I just started on Sunday but I haven’t gone over my caloric count yet but it’s been hard. I’m hoping this diet will result in a lifestyle change with mostly clean eating around here.

I’ve been trying out a lot of new smoothie recipes so I will be sharing those with you all soon.
Pretzel Crusted Chicken with Mustard Cheddar Sauce
But back to this chicken….you have to make it. A piece of it would be worth having to eat spinach the rest of the day.

Pretzel Crusted Chicken with a Mustard-Cheddar  Sauce
recipe from Taste and Tell
serves 4

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
about 6 ounces of salted pretzels
salt and pepper
2 eggs
vegetable oil

Mustard Cheddar Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Slice each chicken breast in half (horizontally to make them thin), making a total of 4 thin chicken breasts.  Place each chicken breast in between plastic wrap and whack with a mallet to flatten slightly.

2. Place pretzels in a food processor and process until you have fine crumbs.  Put the crumbs in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.  In another shallow dish, beat the eggs.

3. In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat up the oil, about 1/8″ deep.

4. Dip each chicken piece into the pretzels, then eggs, then back into the pretzels. Carefully place chicken into the hot oil and cook until browned and the chicken is cooked through (about 3-4 minutes per side).

5. Meanwhile, make the sauce.  In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk and the mustard, and cook until slightly thickened.  Stir in the cheese.  Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

6. Serve the chicken with the Mustard-Cheddar Sauce.

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Smoked Pork Chops

Grilled Smoked Pork Chops
Long time, no see huh? I decided to take some time off from this little space of mine to truly enjoy Christmas with my family. Not that I don’t enjoy my blog, but life has been crazy and hectic and stressful lately and I needed some time to focus without my computer calling my name. We are still trying to figure out our new normal as a family of four and with the craziness of the holidays and a death in the family, it was nice to unplug. Those of you that have added a new baby to your family, do you ever figure out a new routine? I feel like it’s never going to happen.

I have to admit, it’s been a hard few months. And I haven’t been able to find much time to get into the kitchen so I haven’t had much to share with you all lately. Cooking is hard when you have a sweet, but demanding 3 year old and a new baby to keep happy. Luckily, Hannah is adjusting and is now ok with being put down for a little while.
Grilled Smoked Pork Chops
But I still find more times than not that I only have a short little window to get something on the table that isn’t a dang frozen pizza. Did you ever think a food blogger would admit to that? Sometimes it’s just easier than dealing with two screaming babies. And I have to admit too, that Joel is usually pretty happy when said frozen pizza is dinner. He has always enjoyed them and pre-Hannah, only got them when I wouldn’t be home for dinner which wasn’t often. And sometimes he just enjoys something “normal” instead of our constantly ever-changing menu. Gah, whatever.
Grilled Smoked Pork Chops
Anyway, these pork chops are incredibly simple to throw together when you just don’t have the time or energy to cook a detailed meal. Since the chops are smoked, all you have to do is soak them in the sweet and spicy marinade for 20 minutes then heat them through on the grill. So easy. You could even throw them in the marinade earlier in the day so all you have to do at dinner time is grill them for a few minutes while you steam some veggies or whip up a quick salad. And with the new year upon us, these can still keep everyone with weight loss resolutions (me included) on track.
Grilled Smoked Pork Chops
Sweet and Spicy Grilled Smoked Pork Chops
recipe from Sunny Anderson

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra for grill
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 thinly cut (about 1/2-inch thick) smoked pork chops

1. Preheat a grill pan to medium-high.

2. In a plastic resealable bag, big enough to fit the chops, mix together the sugar, honey, oil, lime juice, and red pepper flakes. Add the pork chops and let marinate for at least 20 minutes.

3. Remove the pork from the marinade. Lightly brush the grill with oil. Put the chops on the grill and cook until grill marks form, about 2 minutes. Rotate the chops 90 degrees, and grill for 2 minutes more, to create diamond grill marks. Flip and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from grill to a serving platter and serve.