Monday, September 26, 2011

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers

*I had a request over 2 weeks ago to post theses chicken fingers. Sorry it has taken me so long, hope you enjoy!

Mmmmm, crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside, these chicken fingers were pretty perfect; aside from the fact that there was coconut involved-which I love! We couldn't get enough of these, they were a big hit at our house, kids and all! I loved dipping them in the sweet chili sauce; the contrast was a great combination. To use some of the leftover coconut milk, I served the chicken with this Thai Coconut Rice, as well as some sweet peas.

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2)
1 large egg
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
sweet chili sauce

Trim off fat from chicken breasts and cut them into strips. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Set up your breading station on the counter, using either 3 plates or bowls, set in a row. At the end, place your baking sheet, either sprayed with cooking spray or lined with a silpat. In the first container, combine the flour, salt and pepper. In the second, whisk together the egg and coconut milk. In the last container, combine the panko with the shredded coconut.

Bring your chicken over; dredge each piece lightly in the flour, shaking off any excess. Next dip it in the egg/coconut mixture, then the coconut and bread crumbs, pressing lightly to make sure it sticks to the chicken. Lay each piece on the baking sheet. (When putting your chicken pieces through the breading station, it is helpful to use one hand for the wet and one hand for the dry. That way, your fingers don't get stuck with all the breading on them.)

Bake chicken strips for about 12-15 minutes or until no longer pink. Serve with sweet chili sauce (readily available on the Asian aisle of most markets).

SOURCE: Adapted from Budget Bytes

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tomato Basil Simmer Sauce

*I thought this was another fitting post for the end of the summer. If you're like anyone else, tomatoes are busting out of your garden about now and you're running out of ideas to use them for. Try this sauce, you'll love it. And if you've canned all you can can, you can dry your tomatoes and call them sun-dried tomatoes; they're pretty posh in the store, but cheap and easy to make at home.

I've been canning my own pasta sauce for a few years now. I've experimented with different pouch mixes, where all you have to add is basically the tomatoes, as well as doing everything from scratch, chopping an dicing every last veggie and herb. I have two favorites that I really like now and they are completely different. The first is Mrs. Wages Pasta Sauce pouch mix; I believe it is readily available in most markets near the canning supplies. I love that all I have to is add the tomatoes to the mix (well after all the work of blanching, peeling and chopping in the food processor- which is really not that bad). I like the flavor of the pouch, but my husband wasn't as fond, so I started trying actual recipes from scratch.

I came across this Tomato-Basil Simmer Sauce last summer and made a batch then. I really liked it and even got a thumbs up from my hubby; so, this has become my other favorite. Since it's a basic sauce, it's not really much more work than using a pouch; all you're really adding is herbs and spices to the tomatoes. I love the fresh, clean taste of this sauce. It's not overly seasoned, so apart from using it as-is for a light pasta dish, you can still dress it up with Italian sausage to make a more complex sauce.

The recipe only makes about 6 pints, which is probably a good-sized batch for beginners. However, if I'm going to can, I'm going to CAN! I like to can my pasta sauce in quarts and make about 12 quarts worth at a time. If you decide to multiply the batch and do more, make sure you check your measurements WELL and even then add the spices a little at a time to make sure it tastes to your liking. I made the mistake of adding WAY too much black pepper once and although the sauce tasted good, it gave you that kick in the back of the throat right after.

For more information on basic canning you can check out the Ball website or grab the Ball Blue Book of Canning at your local grocery store or Walmart. I love this book, I call it my canning bible. I've used it a ton and well-worth the $5 or $6 it costs to purchase.

Tomato-Basil Simmer Sauce
Makes about 12 cups sauce (6 pints)

12 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 25 tomatoes), blanched and peeled
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp kosher salt or 4 teaspoons salt
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup lightly packed assorted fresh herbs (such as oregano, thyme, parsley, or Italian (flat-leaf) parsley), chopped
6 Tbsp lemon juice

Cut peeled tomatoes into chunks and add some of the chunks to the food processor. Cover and process until chopped. Transfer chopped tomatoes to a 7- to 8-quart nonreactive heavy pot. Repeat chopping remaining tomatoes, in batches, in the food processor. Add all tomatoes to the pot.

Add brown sugar, salt, vinegar, and black pepper to the tomato mixture. Bring to boiling. Boil steadily, uncovered, for 70 to 80 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced to about 12 cups (making sure you have enough to process 6 FULL pints) and is desired sauce consistency. Remove from heat; stir in herbs.

Spoon 1 tablespoon lemon juice into each of six hot, clean pint canning jars. Ladle sauce into jars with lemon juice, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims; adjust lids. Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 35 minutes (start time when water returns to a full boil). Remove jars; cool on wire racks.

SOURCE: Better Homes and Gardens

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cool Zucchini Slaw

*I know, I know, I just signed off the other day. I forgot I had this ready to post and I couldn't leave you at the end of the summer without it. I've made it a couple of time recently and just love it!

Since I don't have my own garden this year, I haven't had to deal with zucchini and summer squash coming out my ears like I have in the past. However, I was given a bunch of it all within a couple of days and needed a new idea of how to use it. My kids won't really eat it cooked and I'll just say it's not my husband's favorite vegetable. So, I thought about making a raw zucchini salad and thought a slaw would be perfect. I found this recipe right away, made my own little tweaks and came up with this wonderful, fresh, slightly crunchy and definitely tasty salad. So, if you're looking to use up what's left in your garden, look no further!

Cool Zucchini Slaw
For the slaw:
1 1/2 pounds zucchini and/or summer squash, (about 3 medium), grated
1/2 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, very thinly sliced (I just used a small amount of a red onion)
1 large granny smith apple, peeled and grated
1 large red or green bell pepper, julienned
2-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate
drizzle of olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Shred the zucchini/squash, as well as the onion and set it in a colander for about half an hour to drain out some of the liquid. Once drained, add the zucchini and onion to a salad bowl, and add the apple pepper and fresh basil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary. Pour over slaw and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


If you can't already tell (by the amount of salads I've posted lately), I love salads and I love to eat them in the summer when everything is so fresh. Last summer I discovered this Greek Panzanella which I absolutely love, but I recently re-discovered this more traditional panzanella (in my ever long list of bookmarked recipes) that is wonderful and just as delicious. If you are unfamiliar with the word panzanella, it's Italian, basically a leftover bread salad. Typically panzanellas don't sport lettuce but I like to throw it in because I'm all about getting your daily greens, and this seemed like a no-brainer to me.

This recipe comes from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, so you know it's gonna be good. I only expect the best from her and she ALWAYS delivers. I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do.

For the salad:
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 tsp. salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 English cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
1/2 - 1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped

For the vinaigrette:
1 tsp. finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp.freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion and basil. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

SOURCE: Ina Garten

Monday, September 5, 2011

Crunchy Asian Salad

This was a super fun salad to make and eat! It's not difficult in any way, nor are there complex flavors or ingredients. What makes this salad extra special and tasty is the crunchy topping. What fun texture and flavor to add to a simple salad.

I've used both romaine lettuce as well as green cabbage, for a little variety, although most any lettuce or cabbage will do. I've also kept the veggies simple, but feel free to add more.

Crunchy Asian Salad
For the topping:
1 pkg. ramen noodles (flavor packet discarded)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds

For the salad:
1/2 small head green cabbage, shredded
1/2 head romaine lettuce, shredded
2 red peppers, julienned
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
6 green onions, thinly sliced

To prepare the topping, crush ramen noodles and add to a small frying pan pan with butter, sesame seeds and almonds. Cook until golden brown, stirring often. Remove to a small plate or dish to cool.

Add all salad ingredients to a large salad bowl and toss to evenly distribute veggies. Serve salad on individual plates, adding salad dressing and topping as desired.

Notes: I used the vinaigrette from this salad because I had leftovers. You could easily just throw together equal parts of rice vinegar and canola oil, a splash of sesame oil, sugar and soy sauce for another quick and easy dressing.

SOURCE: Adapted from Your Homebased Mom

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Souvlaki Chicken Salad Sandwich w/ Roasted Red Peppers

I haven't made chicken salad for quite a long time. In fact, I can't even remember the last time I ate it! I like it ok, but I'm not a huge fan of anything, so I try to stray away from it. I came across this recipe a few weeks ago, I don't even know how, but it so intrigued me. Chicken salad with NO mayo and all the Greek flavors I absolutely love; I say WIN! And oh, was this a winner. My husband took it to work the next day for lunch and raved about how good it was too.

The chicken I used in the salad came from this chicken I roasted earlier the same day. I did use the pan drippings, as the recipe states, the first time I made the salad. The second time I made the salad, I pulled the leftover chicken from the freezer and just used olive oil instead and it was still yummy. Seriously, this is the best sandwich I've had in a long time. You've got to try it!

Souvlaki chicken Salad Sandwich w/ Roasted Red Peppers
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. drippings from roast chicken (optional), or a drizzle of olive oil
2 Tbsp. red onion, finely diced
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
2 small roasted red peppers, sliced in fourths, lengthwise
baby spinach leaves
sandwich rolls or bread

In a small bowl, mix together chicken, oregano, garlic, drippings, onion, feta, salt and pepper. Check for seasonings and add more, if necessary.

To assemble, slice sandwich rolls and put about 1/4 cup of chicken salad on the bottom half of roll. Layer a few spinach leaves on to of the chicken, then top with a fourth of the roasted red pepper and the top half of the sandwich roll. Enjoy!

SOURCE:Adapted from Closet Cooking
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