Saturday, August 11, 2012

Baked Chicken Nuggets

I keep looking for ways to make chicken because that is pretty much the only meat that we all like here.  And, as with most toddlers, L likes chicken nuggets.  I have found a few recipes for healthier chicken nuggets at home.  Of course, she cannot eat chicken nuggets already made so I have to make them.  This is the easiest recipe I have found so far and it was good.  L didn't eat them but she is going through some teething and tummy issues so she isn't eating much of anything.  Toddlers...  Anyway, J and I liked them so I will continue to make them until she decides to try them.  After I put something on her tray so many times, she will eventually play with it, then eventually eat it.  It's really good, I promise.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite size pieces
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup bread crumbs  (I used my recipe for Italian Bread crumbs HERE.)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (leave out for corn and dairy free)
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Olive Oil Spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a shallow 13 x 9 baking dish (I used a small cookie sheet) with olive oil spray. Pour 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil into a small mixing bowl. In a large zip top bag (or bowl if you don't have bags), mix together bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Place chicken pieces into olive oil and toss chicken to evenly coat. Drop oil coated chicken into bread crumb mixture and coat each side shake in the bag making sure each piece is coated with the crumb mixture. Place all of the coated chicken pieces onto oil coated baking sheet then sprinkle remaining bread crumb mixture over chicken pieces. Bake in center of preheated oven for 10 minutes, then remove from oven, rotate chicken pieces to opposite side and bake an additional 5 minutes (I actually didn't do this step.  I just rotated my pan in the oven).

This recipe was modified from HERE.

Salmon Cakes

This is a dish I actually got from my mom.  She used to cook this regularly when I was young and she still makes it now and then.  It had to be modified in order to be corn free but it was an easy modification that didn't change the taste at all.  This is also one of the foods I cook ahead and reheat for healthy lunches.  We are picky about what can be reheated but this is good.  You can also add fillers to them.  I think I will try shredding zucchini into them next time since we are currently on a zucchini kick.  Carrots?  Spinach?  Asparagus?  The possibilities are endless.  The ingredients and instructions below make five salmon cakes.  If you want to make more to have some for leftovers, it is easily doubled or tripled.  Five is the perfect amount for dinner for our little family of three.  This is also just a base which you could add vegetables to and stretch the amount made by the salmon alone.  However, just the base is good too.  I use what I have on hand for this dish.

olive oil
2 pouches salmon (Canned works too, you just have to remove the bones)
2 eggs
Handful or two of crushed rice Chex cereal (Corn flakes work too.  This is the modification to my mom's original recipe.)
Crushed salted crackers (This could easily be gluten free by using gluten free salted crackers.  I have done this before too since I try to be as gluten free as possible.  There are only a few brands which are corn free so corn free trumps gluten free.)

Mix salmon, eggs, crushed rice Chex and any filler vegetables in a bowl.  If it isn't sticking together, add another egg.  Make patties with the mixture and roll to coat in the crushed crackers.  In a skillet, heat olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, add the salmon cakes to the oil.  Cook on both sides until golden brown.

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

NOTE:  This is not corn-free as is since the cheese is in there.  I am working on this recipe.

As I have mentioned before, I have some picky eaters in my house.  L is actually pretty good about eating vegetables, but she is going through a phase where she refuses to try anything that looks different or is a bright or bold color.  This is a perfect way to neutralize the color and keep a smooth texture.  I think I will try this with other vegetables too.  I've used chopped up carrots in rice before and peas would be good too.  Spinach maybe?  Anyway, here is the recipe...

1 cup uncooked rice
3 cups chicken broth (watch ingredients)
2 tablespoons butter (oil would work too, but use a little less)
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, grated (my blender pureed the zucchini so I will be grating it in the cheese grater from now on)
1 cup shredded sharp or mild cheddar
1 Tbsp. onion powder
salt and pepper, to taste
splash of milk, if needed (mine did not need this)

Pour the chicken broth and rice into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to a simmer.  Simmer, stirring regularly, for 15 - 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the butter, grated zucchini, cheddar, and garlic powder. (Note:  If you are using carrots and prefer to have them tender to be similar in texture to the rice, put the carrot (if shredded or chopped) in the chicken broth with the rice.  You may need to add a little bit more broth) Stir until well incorporated. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir again and add onion powder and salt and pepper to taste. Add a splash of milk if you'd like to thin out the texture a little bit.

This recipe was modified from the recipe I found HERE.