Monday, January 30, 2012

Veggie battered chicken nuggets!

Everyone has them- tons of cook books lined up on the book shelf, never used and taking up too much space. Taking a cue from other blogs I've read in the past, I've decided to cook through my cookbooks and find an arsenal of recipes that I can fall back on those what on earth should I cook nights. I will be trying out new recipes twice a week and sharing the best of them!

This new commitment has also been spurred on by a few badly tested recipes I found on Google or Pinterest lately- the worst comment so far has been from my husband, "Thanks for cooking dinner, but ummm this pasta sort of tastes like potato salad." I figure recipes found in cookbooks will have been tested better and therefore better overall.

So, to start things out, tonight I tried a recipe from a cookbook my mom gave me for my birthday last year, "Deceptively Delicious," by Jessica Seinfeld. The premise is that you are supposed to slip veggies in puree form into foods for extra nutrition and so picky children will eat what you put in front of them. While I'm not sure I agree with this- how are kids supposed to learn to like veggies if you hide them- some of the recipes look pretty good. Although I may hold the line on brownies that have carrot in them. In any case, we had some chicken tenders in the fridge and an enormous bag of spinach in the fridge, so we made her version of chicken nuggets.

These chicken nuggets pack quite the healthy punch given the bad rap they get sometimes- only pan fried, with a whole cup of pureed spinach and a half cup of flaxseed meal. Surprisingly, I actually HAD flaxseed in the house from when I made nursing cookies ( for my sister-in-law when our adorable nephew was born a few months ago, but if you don't, I think most nice grocery stores sell it (we got ours from Central Market, my favorite place everrr). I think these could also work for vegetarians if you did it with cubes of tofu.

The process was pretty simple: puree tons of spinach til you get a cup worth (didn't even bother cooking the spinach), mix that with an egg, and then dip small pieces of the chicken into the egg/spinach mixture and then the dry coating. All came together in less than half an hour, and we ate it with sauteed zucchini and red pepper on the side for extra virtuous veggie healthiness. My only beef (or chicken, such as it is) with this recipe is that they looked absolutely nothing like the picture:

Jessica's nuggets look totally perfect and totally normal. If I had been serving these to my kid, instead of hubbie who doesn't mind eating veggies anyway, they would have been like, "Ewww, Mom! Why is my chicken green?!" Here is what my nuggets looked like pre and post-cooking.

However, don't judge these little bites by their distinctly green outsides. Me, hubbie and two visitors all agreed that they were quite yummy. Here is the recipe:

Servings: Serves 4
  • 1 cup whole-wheat or white or panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup broccoli or spinach or sweet potato or beet puree
  • 1 large egg , lightly beaten
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenders , rinsed, dried and cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, flaxseed meal, Parmesan, paprika, garlic and onion powder on the paper or foil and mix well with your fingers.

In a shallow bowl, mix the vegetable puree and egg with a fork and set the bowl next to the breadcrumb mixture.

Sprinkle the chicken chunks with the salt. Dip the chunks into the egg mixture and then toss them in the breadcrumbs until completely coated.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the oil. Place the chicken nuggets in the skillet in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the pan, and cook until crisp and golden on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Then turn and cook until the chicken is cooked through, golden brown and crisp all over, 4 to 5 minutes longer. (Cut through a piece to check that it's cooked through.) Serve warm.
Found a copy of the recipe online at:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The wonderful uses of felt!

One of my favorite places to wander endlessly and get ideas is Hobby Lobby. I told my husband recently that if I could, I would decorate our whole house with stuff purchased here. He says he would be happy for me to do so assuming I "stick with a theme." Apparently my decorating style, such as it is, is too random for his taste.

In any case, on a recent trip, I came across the felt aisle. While I normally would dismiss felt as being sort of elementary school, this felt had SPARKLES and FLOWERS and other such wonderful things on it, and I had to buy some even though I had no purpose for it whatsoever.

Not long after, we went to a fundraiser for soldiers where you were supposed to make Valentine's and care packages to send them. There was this truly enormous box of random broken jewelry that had been donated from a local store called Charming Charlies that I guess you were supposed to rip apart and put on your card. Although I made lots of sparkly cards for the soldiers, I was also interested in how much of the stuff I found in this box of goodness could be rehabilitated.

Which gets us back to the felt. Amongst all the jewelry, I found a satin pink headband and a silver hair clip that had been de-nuded, and I decided that this was the perfect place for my felt to find a home. I cut out some cute shapes and hot glued them right on. Turned out super cute and cost me about fifty cents total.

My other felty project was to create Valentine's day coasters. I am a big dork and love having coasters to match the season, but so far I have not found any Valentine's coasters at the store. Guess other people out in the world don't feel the same way. This project was equally simple- just traced the inside and the outside of a roll of duct tape, cut away, and then sewed them together with my sewing machine. All together the headband, clip and coasters all took probably 45 minutes!

I have a few more goodies that I found in the magic box that I will be posting in days to come, so keep on the lookout. What else should I do with my sparkle felt?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I have been wanting to start a blog for a long time. Didn't get the gumption up until recently, when I made Sweet and Sour Meatballs when we had some friends over the other night. I wanted to "pin" this recipe to share with others, but there was no picture, hence the new blog post!

This was a favorite family recipe, but I didn't have the recipe handy. Dug up one from and modified it a bit so I could put my yummy little meatballs in the Crockpot. These guys turned out just how I remembered them. The sauce is made, oddly enough, with a mixture of grape jelly and Heinz chili sauce. Sounds kind of weird, but trust me on this one.

One modification that I made to the recipe was that I used half a pound of ground turkey and half a pound of natural ground pork. I am not a huge beef fan, but I often find straight turkey meatballs unsatisfying. The half and half combo worked really well! The recipe called these "cocktail meatballs," but we served these as our entree with homemade double baked potatoes and a nice salad. It would be an excellent appetizer as well, but I would probably double the recipe.

Forgot to take a picture of them when I had the whole bunch done, but here are a few of the leftovers.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Serves four

1 lb. ground meat- I did half pork and half turkey
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 tsp. chopped parsley
1/4 onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper

1 (12 oz.) bottle Heinz chili sauce
1 (10 oz.) jar grape jelly
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. soy sauce

Put sauce ingredients in the crock pot on low. Plan to let the sauce sit for about an half an hour before you put the meatballs in so everything has time to meld together. Meanwhile, mix the meatball ingredients together with your hands and make medium size balls and put them on greased cookie trays. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

When the sauce has melded together, toss in your meatballs. Stir every half hour or so til you serve them. I left them to sit for about two hours before serving so they had time to soak up the sauce.