Bacon-Cheddar Chicken Tenders

Bacon-Cheddar Chicken Tenders

Bacon-Cheddar Chicken Tenders

Kids love chicken nuggets or chicken tenders, but how about adults?  Do you love them, too?  I know I do, yet I hardly ever think to make them.   With the laid-back holiday weekend just past, I wasn’t doing any heavy-duty cooking.   I just wanted to eat foods that were easy, and able to lend themselves to a picnic on the back porch.   No fancy serving dishes, or china plates with this meal.

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So with a package of boneless chicken breasts on hand,  I cut them into “fingers” and came up with this way of cooking them in the oven that resulted in crispy cheesy chicken dippers that were so easy to make and seriously delicious to eat.  These are friendly to kids and adults alike.  They can be used for snacking or as the basis for a whole meal, as I did here.  They were served with my mashed potato salad, celery and carrot sticks and ranch dressing to dip them in.  Mr. D. thought they were wonderful, and claimed the left-overs for his lunch this week.   What was the perfect dessert with this meal?   Brownie sundaes, of course 🙂

BACON-CHEDDAR CHICKEN TENDERS

Yield:   4 servings

Ingredients:

Line up pans in the order chicken will be dipped.

Line up pans in the order chicken will be dipped.

  • non-stick pan spray
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain panko crispy bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese, about 2 oz.
  • 1 (3-0z.) jar cooked real bacon bits
  • 1 pkg. uncooked chicken tenders, or skinless, boneless breasts, cut into strips
  • Ranch dressing for dipping, or make a chive and sour cream sauce, or
  • For sauce with a kick to it, try equal amounts mayo and sour cream plus add some sriracha sauce to it.

Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 400*F.  Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray.

2.  In a shallow foil pan or bowl, place the flour;  in another similar pan or bowl, place the egg.  With a wire whisk, lightly beat the egg with 1-2 teaspoons of water.

3.  In another deeper container, place the panko crumbs, cheese and bacon bits.

Panko, bacon, cheese mixure.

Panko, bacon, cheese mixure.

Dip the chicken first into the flour to coat, then the egg, and then into the crumb mixture, turning to cover all sides.  Place chicken on the cookie sheet.

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4.  Bake 15 – 20 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and bread crumbs are golden brown.  Serve with dipping sauce.

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SOURCE:  A major adaptation of a recipe from Pillsbury

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Kielbasa Apple Skewers

Kielbasa-Apple Skewers

Kielbasa-Apple Skewers

Whenever our family gets together for a holiday gathering we usually start around mid-afternoon, but dinner is not served for several more hours.  Of course, everyone is hungry so we always have appetizers, and each of us brings one to share.  These were part of my contribution to the family gathering.  Bonkers awesome is what they were.  The men just loved them, and all that I brought disappeared in a flash.  Had I anticipated how good these would be I would have prepared more.

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Even when our main entreé is ham, I like to have kielbasa for Easter as well.  So I thought these appys would be a good way to work it in.  I used a precooked kielbasa that weighed about 1 pound, and warmed it through before cutting it up for the appetizers.  I paired it with Granny Smith apples because of their tartness.  I did not want a sweet apple.  The dipping sauce I made consisted of light sour cream,  whole-grain mustard and horseradish.  These were hearty enough to quiet the “hungries”, but not heavily laden with fat and calories.

Dipping sauce, all made, and its ingredients.

Dipping sauce, all made, and its ingredients.

These can be put together at the last minute by simply slicing the kielbasa, slicing up the apples, match them up in pairs, thread onto  skewers, and serve with the dipping sauce.  Easy.  Beautiful.  Deeeelish!

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KIELBASA APPLE SKEWERS

Yield:   I made about 36 skewers with the quantities given below.

Ingredients:

  • 1   (1-pound) precooked kielbasa, warmed through in a saucepan with some water, or grilled.
  • 1 -2 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced or cubed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons, chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1.  Slice the kielbasa into 1/4-inch thick slices.

2.  Cut the green apples into thin slices or small cubes.   Thread kielbasa and apples onto skewers. (toothpicks)

3.  In a small mixing bowl,  stir together the sour cream, parsley, mustard, horseradish and salt.

4.  Arrange the skewers on a serving tray and serve with the dipping sauce.

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SOURCE:   Adapted from Food Network Magazine

 

The Ultimate Homemade Mayonnaise

Homemade Mayonnaise

Homemade Mayonnaise

Today we are making mayonnaise.  I had never tried to make my own mayo before this, but when I came across the recipe it looked so easy I just had to try it.

Mayonnaise is a condiment that I think we all take for granted.  It’s always there in the refrigerator when we need/want it.  But have you ever given any thought to what goes into mayonnaise?  It’s basically egg yolks and oil blended together to form an emulsion plus a little vinegar, salt and pepper.  Commercially prepared mayonnaise contains stabilizers and other additives to extend its shelf life, but we don’t need all those extra things.

Let’s face it mayonnaise contains a lot of fat.   My guy, Mr. D. loves mayonnaise slathered on his sandwiches.  No matter that I try to reduce the amount of fats (and calories) in the foods I prepare, he often overturns my best efforts by (over)using mayonnaise.  I’m just wondering,  is that a guy thing?  Because I know several other guys who love mayonnaise, but I don’t see that in my women friends.  Any comments along those lines?   Hmmm?

Back to the task-at-hand:  making mayonnaise.  I like the fact that I can make a small amount.  I’ve had the experience where I’ve purchased a large jar of mayonnaise and after a while, even though it’s refrigerated, it starts to have an “off ” taste, as the oils get old.  By making your own, you can make variations in flavor too, thus saving the cost of buying all those name-brand items like chipotle, smoky ranch, wasabi, or Dijon mayonnaise.  These lively flavored spreads can really change a sandwich from ho-hum, to WOW!    So let’s make our own.  It’s cost-saving, you control what’s in it, and you can have a variety of flavors in small amounts.

HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE

Yield:    Makes 3/4 cup

All it takes is canola oil, egg yolks, white vinegar, and salt and pepper.

All it takes is canola oil, egg yolks, white vinegar, and salt and pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup canola oil ( or olive oil, if you prefer)
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)

Directions:

1.  Place a medium bowl on a non-slip surface, such as a silicone baking sheet or a damp dish towel.  In the bowl, whisk egg yolks until light and frothy.

Beat the egg yolks till light and frothy.

Beat the egg yolks till light and frothy.

Slowly drizzle in 2  1/2 teaspoons oil, continuing to whisk until yolks become paler and thicken, about 40 seconds.  If oil begins to pool rather than emulsify, stop drizzling and whisk yolks vigorously before adding any more oil.  Then add remaining oil in a slow drizzle, continuing to whisk.

Start to drizzle in the oil while beating the yolks.

Start to drizzle in the oil while beating the yolks.

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Continue beating while slowly adding the rest of the oil.

Continue beating while slowly adding the rest of the oil.

IMG_6757IMG_6758      The mixture will become quite thick.

2.  Whisk in the white vinegar and salt.   Add white pepper if desired.

Transfer mayonnaise to a clean container with screw top, or cover with plastic wrap, and keep refrigerated.

I just made about 3/4 cup mayonnaise.  It was Fun!!

I just made about 3/4 cup mayonnaise. It was Fun!!

Hint:  Try adding some Dijon mustard, about 1 – 2 teaspoons to the above recipe, and use in egg salad.  So good!!

FLAVOR VARIATIONS:

1.  HORSERADISH:  Stir in 1/4 cup drained, prepared horseradish, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.

2.  CAPER-DIJON:  Add 1/4 cup drained, chopped capers and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.

3.  FRESH HERB:  Fold in 1  1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 teaspoons chopped tarragon, and 1 teaspoon chopped thyme.

4,  CHILI-LIME:  Mix in 1  1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon lime zest, and 2 teaspoons each of honey and chili sauce.

5.  BACON – CHIVE:  Combine with 3 slices finely chopped cooked bacon and 1  1/2 tablespoons chopped chives.

6.  BARBECUE-BACON:  add freshly cooked and crumbled bacon plus 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce for a unique dipping sauce.

SOURCE:   Adapted from Country Living