Friday, August 10, 2012

Astoundingly Easy Home-Made Chicken Nuggets (Baked)

It was one of those rainy, messy days in NYC today, and I guessed that the kids would be thrilled to have some simple fare like Chicken Nuggets and fries (Baked Yam "Fries" in this case.) The prep time is less than ten minutes, and overall, you can have a meal ready in less than a half hour from start to finish if you're looking at some salad and pasta to go with this meal.

One pound Chicken Breast (about 3 breast pieces organic free-range chicken, in this case)
One Egg
One cup panko breadcrumbs
Lemon juice
Salt or some Salt-Free Seasoning such as Mrs. Dash's seasoning
  •  Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees C
  • Cube the chicken and season - the kids like tossing in the teaspoon of salt, and three tablespoons of lemon juice, quarter teaspoon turmeric and the dash of pepper (careful on that last one - it's always dicey!)
  • I usually put the chicken in a leak-proof tupperware box so the kids can enjoy shaking it about to coat the chicken
  • Beat one egg - another kid-friendly exercise
  • In a bowl, take about a cup of panko bread crumbs and season with about two teaspoons of Mrs. Dash or Salt, and some pepper (optional)
  • Line a baking dish with foil and spread a half teaspoon of olive oil on it
  • Dip the chicken pieces in the egg, then coat with the seasoned panko
  • Place them on the baking dish, with a little space to breath. Bake at 450 for 15 to 20 minutes, turning over mid-way to ensure they nuggets are uniformly cooked and browned
These were positively reviewed by the kids, even in comparison with some of those crazily addictive fast food joints...and no deep fryer came within a mile of these nuggets!!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fairytale Eggplants: Baked Panko-Stuffed Eggplant

One of my new finds during a morning walk last week was the Columbia Green-Market, on Broadway right outside the Columbia University gates at 116th Street. It's a rare gem of a Green Market - with local farmers, many of them organic farmers, bringing in their wares and displaying them on make-shift stalls. In the case of some of the more unusual produce, they helpfully have instructions for cooking some of their rare produce.

I just had to grab a bunch of these little eggplants - the name itself made it irresistible: Fairytale eggplants. These finger-length eggplants set my creative juices flowing, and below is a recipe that I pulled together from "stuff in the pantry." It's also a quick and easy recipe - tool about 15 minutes from start to finish.

12 to 15 Fairytale Eggplabts
One cup Panko Breadcrumbs - in this case I had some whole wheat style Panko by Ian's
One egg
One and half tsp Ginger powder
One and half tsp Garlic power
One tsp turmeric
Quarter tsp pepper
Two tsp salt
Olive oil

The ingredients came together when K, my son, basically raided the kitchen cupboard and said..."on, let's try this, and this...." OK, I may have vetoed some of the suggestions!
  • Start by getting the oven or toaster over heated to 450° C
  • In a bowl, mix the panko, ginger powder, garlic powder and salt together
    The kids loved the tactile experience of having to be gentle enough not to crush the crumbs, but also through enough to make sure all the ingredients mixed together
  • Beat the egg, turmeric and pepper together
    Another kid-friendly activity!
  • Prepare the eggplants: Rinse and pat dry. Then chop off the green calyx, and gently cut the eggplant from the bottom (the rounded end) crosswise up to about a few millimeter from the end. Think a four-petaled flower - once cut, you should have each eggplant looking like a small stem-less flower
  • Dip each eggplant in the egg mix, letting the mix get into the cut seams or the heart of the eggplant. Then roll the eggplant in the Panko mix, using your fingers or a small spoon to also get the mix into the heart of the eggplant
    Kids enjoy this - they can be extremely thorough, and yes, their little fingers can get a lot of Panko into the seams!
  • Dribble a teaspoon of olive oil onto a lined baking sheet and spread for a uniform coating, then place the panko crusted and stuffed eggplants an inch apart and bake for 10 minutes
  • Serve hot and crunchy!

Honey and other goodies at Health Nuts store

One of my fave stores on the UWS is the understated Heath Nuts store on 98th and Broadway. I remember being ecstatic to have them around when we discovered the multitude of allergies my daughter had. It's a cornucopia of gluten-free, corn-free and soy-free foods - the perfect antidote to Big Food! One of the big hits at home was the Raw Honey from Pennsylvania Apiaries that D&I picked up there recently.

I'd always been challenged with the kiddies on the honey front. They didn't enjoy the processed ones I'd buy at the grocery. This Alfalfa Honey, on the other hand, is officially a "disappearing food", i.e., I look away for a second and it's gone. With more texture than store-bought honey and a gentle sweet taste, I use the honey in my morning coffee...yes, it's amazing...and the kids plaster their pancakes in it. See more about the Apiary here at their Facebook page- they don't seem to have an easily discoverable website. Better yet, swing by Health Nuts and snag a few bottles for yourself. I'm thinking of a honey basted lamb later...more on that soon!