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Better Than Store-Bought – Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers with Ranch Coleslaw

Chicken fingers are one of those things that you probably have a love/hate relationship with. They make a great snack or party appetizer and without a doubt are one those things that most kids love to eat. I remember when Sean was little and went through a phase that no matter where we were – at home, visiting family or out to dinner – he just wanted chicken fingers. The problem is that so many of the chicken fingers you get in the store, from fast food restaurants or even casual family restaurants just do not taste get, at least to adults. There are lots of different chicken finger recipes you can try out there, but this one from Epicurious.com for buttermilk fried chicken fingers was a big hit. They are easy to make, have great flavor and everyone will love them. And what better pairing to make it a good lunch or dinner item than putting it with some ranch coleslaw from Bon Appetit?

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers

For the buttermilk marinade:

3 1/2 cups buttermilk

3 1/2 cups milk

1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 medium jalapeños, sliced (optional)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2×4-inch strips, or 2 pounds chicken tenders

For the seasoned flour:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

2 tablespoons onion powder

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons ground sage

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Canola oil, for frying

Homemade or store-bought ranch dressing, for serving (homemade recipe below)

In a wide, shallow bowl, combine the buttermilk, milk, onion, jalapeño, salt, and hot sauce. Add the chicken pieces, cover the bowl and refrigerate it for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Set 2 cooling racks over rimmed baking sheets lined with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated garlic, onion powder, thyme, sage, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

In a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven, pour in enough oil to come up to 2 inches. Set the pot over medium-high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches of 4 to 5 pieces, remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking each piece to remove any vegetables and excess liquid, and dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour. Fry the chicken pieces, turning once, until they are golden and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes total per batch. Transfer the chicken to the wire racks and warm them in the oven while frying the remaining batches.

Serve the chicken fingers with the ranch dressing, if desired.

Ranch Coleslaw

For the Ranch Dressing:

¼ cup buttermilk

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

For the Coleslaw:

3 cups thinly sliced red and green cabbage

1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup Ranch Dressing

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

To make the ranch dressing, stir together the buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, dill, vinegar, and garlic powder in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

To make the coleslaw, toss the cabbage and carrot with the ranch dressing in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate the coleslaw for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld before serving.

For the chicken fingers recipe, I actually cut the amounts in half for the recipe I was making because it seemed like a lot both for the marinade and the flour and I was only making 1 pound of chicken. It worked out well for me as I did not end up with a lot of leftover flour and the marinade did its job very well. The chicken fingers picked up great flavor from the buttermilk marinade and the seasoned flour and had a nice little zing to them from the hot sauce. For the coleslaw, I actually doubled the recipe for the dressing so I could use some with the chicken fingers and have plenty leftover for the slaw. The taste of the dressing is spot on in terms of the ranch you would expect to get and it really makes the coleslaw stand out. I used the food processor to cut up the cabbage and carrots so they would be really fine, but you could easily slice it yourself or even buy a store-bought coleslaw mix to use instead. I just happened to pick up carrots and cabbage at the farmers’ market this weekend and it was a good use for them. The chicken fingers are better anything you can buy in the frozen section of your supermarket or what you will get at restaurants and you get to control the ingredients going into them so you can make them taste how you or your kids will like them best. The coleslaw is a perfect side dish for sandwiches, burgers, ribs, pulled pork (which I will be making this week) and just about any summertime lunch or dinner. I got a picture of the coleslaw but forgot to get one of the chicken fingers. I will make them again to get another picture and post it here.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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A New Twist on Chicken Fingers – Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Fingers

I had made some classic chicken fingers not that long ago along with some homemade dipping sauces and the grocery store was having a really good sale on chicken tenderloins so I picked up another batch of them and was looking for something else to do. Sure, I could have just cut up the chicken and used it for something like a stir-fry or a warm chicken salad, but I wanted to try something else with chicken fingers again. Lo and behold along came the newest issue of Cook’s Country magazine in the mail shortly after and in it was a recipe for pretzel-crusted chicken fingers. I thought this was a good one to try to see if I could get some extra crunch and flavor out of the chicken. The recipe is very simple and only takes a few minutes to make, so you can easily make this anytime you want some chicken fingers.

Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Fingers

6 ounces thin pretzel sticks

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins, trimmed

Salt and pepper

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Process the pretzel sticks in a food processor until they are finely ground, about 20 seconds. you should end up with about 1 1/2 cups of pretzel crumbs. Transfer the pretzel crumbs to a shallow dish. Spread the all-purpose flour in a second shallow dish. Beat the eggs and the Dijon mustard in a third shallow dish.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season it well with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip the chicken pieces in the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip off. Finally, dip the chicken pieces in the pretzel crumbs, pressing on the chicken gently in the crumbs so the crumbs adhere well.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Cook half of the breaded chicken tenderloins until they are golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Adjust the heat along the way if the crust seems like it is beginning to burn. Transfer the chicken fingers to a paper towel-lined plate, discard the oil, and wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Repeat the process with the remaining 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the remaining chicken tenderloins. Serve the chicken fingers with your favorite dipping sauces.

You want to make sure you use the thin pretzel sticks for this recipe and not the thick pretzel rods. The thin pretzels will grind easier and are not as dense and hard as the rods, giving you better crumbs for the crust. You get a really nice flavor from the pretzel crust and just a hint of the Dijon mustard along the way to give them great flavor. This is a great recipe to offer up for the kids who love chicken fingers but want something a little different or as a quick dinner or to serve at a party. You can make large batches of them and freeze them cooked for later use at another time.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

pretzel crusted chicken fingers

 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Appetizers, Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Picnic Fare, Poultry, Snacks

 

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A Treat for the Whole Family – Baked Honey Barbecue Chicken Fingers

For many adults, just hearing the words “chicken fingers” is enough to make them cringe. They immediately think back to the days when the only things their young children would eat were chicken fingers, tenders, McNuggets or whatever else that happened to be called that are sold in the frozen food aisle of your grocery store, at the local fast food restaurant or any of the dozens of family style convenience restaurants around today. While you may not be thrilled with the notion of what you get in those frozen bags, there are plenty of alternatives out there that you can try making on your own that taste good so that everyone in the family will enjoy them. This particular recipe, that I picked up from Sally’s Baking Addiction, covers just that, giving you a tasty chicken fingers alternative that get away from the frying and offer you a baked alternative that tastes great.

Baked Honey Barbecue Chicken Fingers

3/4 cup barbecue sauce (whatever your favorite may be)

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (or more, if needed)

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenders

Nonstick cooking spray

Combine the barbecue sauce and the honey in a large bowl. If you are using chicken breasts, pound the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thickness and cut the breasts into strips. If you are using chicken tenders, cut them in half lengthwise. Add the chicken strips to the bowl with the barbecue sauce and honey and stir so all of the chicken is evenly coated. Cover the bowl tightly and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours. The longer you marinade, the more flavorful the chicken will be.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat or coat the sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the flour. salt, pepper and the smoked paprika in a shallow dish. Pour the beaten eggs into another shallow dish. Pour the panko breadcrumbs into a third shallow dish. Coat each chicken strip with flour, shaking off any excess. Next. dip the floured chicken in the egg and allow any excess egg to drip off. Then roll the chicken strip in the panko breadcrumbs, coating completely before shaking off any excess. Place the chicken strips on the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process until all of the chicken has been coated. Spray each chicken strip with the nonstick cooking spray to help seal the breading to the chicken, preventing the breading from staying raw and allowing it to bake into the chicken strips.

Bake the chicken fingers in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Turn each piece over and continue baking until the outside of the chicken is crisp and the centers of the chicken pieces are cooked through, about another 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the chicken fingers with extra barbecue sauce for dipping.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make a large batch and freeze any extras that you may have to use when you need a quick dinner for the kids or yourself or just want an easy snack. These are perfect for a meal any night with some homemade fries (I made some homemade baked sweet potato fries with ours) or you can use these for any type of buffet when you are having a party and you know kids may be around. They are also great snacks for watching the game or when you have a crowd over. You get good crunch from the breadcrumb mixture and underneath is great flavor from the barbecue sauce and the honey. This is definitely one to remember and you can experiment with this also, perhaps making the chicken fingers ranch flavored instead of barbecue with some spices, or maybe even adding some Parmesan to the breadcrumbs, eliminating the barbecue sauce and substituting tomato sauce to have an Italian-style chicken fingers. There’s lots of room to use your imagination with this one and the best part is you have control over the ingredients so you know what goes into each one, and they are baked, making them a better choice for you.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Who Doesn’t Love Chicken Fingers?

Chicken fingers don’t have to be just the classic kid’s meal. I know plenty of adults who enjoy them as well, but most adults are a little more discriminating about the quality that they like to have. Personally, I like chicken fingers that have good crunch and flavor to them but are not covered with a ton of breading or coating and taste greasy from the deep-frying. It’s a tricky balance, but it can be done if you put your mind to it. I came across this recipe in Saveur magazine for some chicken fingers that looked great, seemed simple to make and even had a nice dipping sauce on the side to make.

Homemade Chicken Fingers

For the Chicken Fingers:

2 pounds, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cunt into 3-inch long by 1-inch wide strips

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups panko breadcrumbs or finely ground fresh breadcrumbs

Vegetable or canola oil, for frying

For the Dipping Sauce:

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon dry mustard powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the dipping sauce, in a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise with the honey, dill, mustard powder and lemon juice. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste and stir together until the sauce is smooth. Set the sauce aside.

For the chicken fingers, in a medium bowl, toss together the chicken strips, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and mustard powder. Set the chicken aside. Place the all purpose flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in 3 separate shallow dishes; set the dishes aside. Pour the oil into a large Dutch oven until it reaches a depth of about 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted into the oil registers 325 degrees. Working in batches, coat the chicken in the flour, shake off any excess, and then dip the chicken in the eggs; shake off any excess and the roll the chicken in the breadcrumbs. Set the chicken aside and repeat with all of the chicken pieces until they are all coated. Working in batches, fry the chicken pieces until they are golden brown and crisp all over, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken until all of the chicken is fried. Serve the chicken with the dipping sauce.

These were very easy to make and came out perfect. They were nice and crisp on the outside and were cooked ideally on the inside. The sauce had some great flavor with the honey and the dill and I also made the avocado ranch dipping sauce I have made in the past as well to give us a choice of sauces. Everyone loved them and these are great for a meal, a party or as an appetizer. I even used the leftovers as chicken for a buffalo chicken pizza I made the next day.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. I have some great side dishes I have tried recently along with a few other dishes that have been great for sharing. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Appetizers, Cooking, Dinner, Poultry, Sauce

 

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A Kid’s Delight – Chicken Fingers & Tater Tots, Homemade

Tonight’s recipes are a kid’s delight (well, my kid’s anyway). Sean likes to get chicken fingers when we got out, and adding tater tots to the meal is just icing on the cake for him. Chicken fingers themselves are pretty easy to make. Some recipes call for frying them, but I have decided to go with one that bakes the chicken to make it a little healthier. It’;s a very simple recipe with not many ingredients.

Chicken Fingers

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt

2 cups breadcrumbs

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch-wide strips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set a rack on a baking sheet and mist with cooking spray. Whisk the eggs, mustard and 1 teaspoon of salt in a shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a second shallow bowl. Dip the chicken strips in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off, then coat with the breadcrumbs. Place the chicken on the rack and bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

A few notes about the chicken fingers. Placing them on a rack over the baking sheet is key, since it lets air circulate around the whole piece of chicken, allowing it to crisp up all over. You can buy chicken tenders pre-cut  already, but they seem to be more expensive than just buying boneless chicken and cutting it yourself. Lastly, you could use any breadcrumbs you choose for this recipe; I am using homemade breadcrumbs, but if I went for store-bought, I would use panko to give you a little extra crunch.

Now on to the tater tots. As I have said, I’ve never made these before. I looked at a bunch of recipes and each one seemed to have both good and bad results, so I wasn’t really sure which one to go for until I found this one from Cook’s Country. It seems simple, basic and looks like it will taste good, so let’s go for it!

Tater Tots

1 cup water

2 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

4 cups peanut oil or vegetable oil

 In a small bowl, whisk the water and salt together until the salt dissolves. Transfer the salt water and potatoes to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until coarsely ground, 10 to 12 pulses, stirring occasionally.

Drain the potato mixture in a fine-mesh strainer, pressing the potatoes with a spoon until dry (the liquid should measure about 1½ cups); discard liquid. Transfer the potatoes to a microwave safe bowl and microwave, uncovered, until dry and sticky, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.

Stir the flour, black pepper and cayenne pepper into the potatoes. Spread the potato mixture into a thin layer over a large sheet of aluminum foil and let it cool for 10 minutes. Push the potatoes to the center of the foil and place the foil and potatoes in an 8-inch square baking pan. Push the foil into the corners and up the sides of  the pan, smoothing it flush to the pan. Press the potato mixture tightly and evenly into the pan. Freeze, uncovered, until firm, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat until 375 degrees. Using the foil overhang, lift potatoes from pan and cut into 1¼ by 1-inch pieces (6 cuts in 1 direction and 8 in other). Fry half of the potato tots, until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally once they begin to brown. Drain the prepared baking sheet, season to taste and place in oven. Bring the oil back to 375 degrees and repeat with the remaining potato tots. Serve warm.

You could take the easy way out and just make a frozen bag of tater tots, but showing off to your kids that you can make them at home is pretty cool on its own :). I am just making some simple steamed broccoli as a vegetable, since it is Sean’s favorite vegetable and this is his meal.

That’s it for tonight. Follow the recipes and you’ll be the hero of the day for the kids. Tomorrow I’ll be making Meatloaf for dinner, which is one of my all time favorites. I have made it before, but it’s a family favorite and turns up on here once in a while. I may vary the recipe a little tomorrow, so check back and see how what’s up. Until then, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!

 

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Poultry, Vegetables

 

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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

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