Friday, February 4, 2011

Healthy Dinners: Shhhh, It's A Secret!

Super Chicken Nugget BoyImage by San Diego Shooter via Flickr
Can you keep a secret? Oh, I KNOW you can!

 Especially when it comes to ways to sneak veggies into our kids or make healthier versions of our favorite takeout.  So, let’s sit and chat in whispers, shall we?  During high school, my husband worked at KFC, and learned all sorts of stuff about making their perfectly crispy, golden, chicken.  

Today, he very graciously shared his home version of the ultimate kid food . . . chicken nuggets a la KFC ‘style’.  I might add a couple thoughts.  It’s pretty easy to switch the white flour for a blend of Panko, bread crumbs, some wheat flower, etc.  Whatever works best for you.  Nolan makes these for the kids just about every week and our 5 ½ hear old wildly cheers them on every time, as she is a die hard chicken nugget fan.  Luckily, these are easy, quick and totally kid friendly.

Now let’s move on to secret number two.  Did you know I often switch cauliflower for potatoes and mash them?  Cauliflower is lower in starches, higher fiber, and I have yet for my husband and kids to figure it out.  So, you get two secret recipes today!  Mashed cauliflower . . . ahem, potatoes and chicken nuggets.  Luckily these two can cook up in about the same time, if you time yourself well, both are super easy.  I hope you like mashed cauliflower just as much as we do!

Mashed Cauliflower
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 t butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper
  • ¼ tsp each dried dill and thyme
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    1. Steam the cauliflower for 10 minutes until very tender.  You can do this in the microwave, honestly. 
    2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and garlic.   Once the garlic becomes fragrant and tender (after about 5 minutes), add the milk, red pepper, salt, pepper, tender cauliflower and mix until combined. 
    3. Then you can mash this with a potato ricer, your blender or food processor, however you usually mash potatoes.  If they feel a little runny, add less milk

Chicken Nuggets a la Liebert

About 1 lb. of boneless chicken (breast, thighs, strips, stir fry cut, it doesn't matter)

1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon mustard powder OR 1 tablespoon yellow/Dijon mustard

1 cup white flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
black pepper
dried basil
mustard powder
garlic powder
onion powder
(About 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each seasoning here)

1. Prep and marinate chicken at least 30 minutes before cooking, prefer 2 - 4 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 400, spray baking sheet with cooking spray
3. Prep flour mixture in large bowl or gallon plastic bag
4. Bread chicken pieces in flour mixture and place on baking tray. For "extra crispy", get breaded pieces wet in marinade
and rebread (so, bread twice).
5. Spray pieces with cooking spray or place a small piece of butter on top of each. This is necessary to make them crispy
and golden.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, flip pieces, back another 15 minutes.
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