Sunday, November 30, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Dipping Sauce

My blog assignment for this month's Secret Recipe Club was The Pajama Chef, which is written by a lady named Sarah.  This is kind of off topic, but have you ever met someone and felt like you've seen them before?  I swear, Sarah looks exactly like someone I know, but I can't think of who it is.  I even wondered if Sarah and I have met before at some point!

In any case, Sarah's blog has lots of yummy recipes.  So many that I actually made three recipes from her blog this month!  These chicken nuggets, which I made two or three weeks ago, but also her amazing Ginger Apricot Cranberry Sauce and her Mixed Vegetables Mornay.  I made the last two for Thanksgiving and am still enjoying the leftovers.
I decided to make Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets because the recipe looked so different, and different things intrigue me. My only changes here were to season the raw chicken with a bit of salt and pepper, and I turned on the broiler for a couple of minutes at the end of the baking time so the nuggets would brown a little.

These nuggets were really good!  The honey flavor was quite prominent (though far from overwhelming) and the crunch from the panko bread crumbs was delightful.  The dipping sauce is great, too, and would probably be very good with baked french fries served on the side.  I served mine with Green Beans Amandine (another SRC recipe!), which was yummy for sure, but fries just go with chicken nuggets, don't they?  I should probably add that long after the nuggets were gone (side note, they reheated fairly well), I still had leftover dipping sauce and kept looking for things to dip in it because it's so good.  It's like a creamy, mild honey mustard with a bit of BBQ flavor.
Next time I make this recipe, I'm going to try using mustard instead of the balsamic vinegar in the honey-vinegar mixture you dip the chicken into before baking.  We couldn't taste the balsamic vinegar at all (I think it mostly served to thin the honey a tad), but mustard would surely be noticeable.  I would also like to try cutting the chicken in half as described in the recipe, but then just cutting each half into 2 or 3 pieces instead of lots of small nuggets.  My husband ate his chicken with a fork anyway and this would be faster!
I would really encourage anyone who makes this to use panko bread crumbs vs any other kind.  This was the first time I used panko, and they were in the baking aisle with other bread crumbs.  In the past I've tried baked chicken with other bread crumbs, and panko is so much better.  It's so crunchy!

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Dipping Sauce

for the sauce:
1/2 C mayo
2 T honey
1 T barbecue sauce
2 t yellow mustard
1 t lemon juice

for the nuggets:
1/2 C honey
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 C panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
1 lb chicken breasts
Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until smooth, cover, and refrigerate while you make the nuggets.  You could even make this the night before, it tastes best after it's had time to sit!
Preheat oven to 375 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together the honey and balsamic vinegar in a cereal bowl.  Measure bread crumbs into another cereal bowl.
Cut the chicken into nuggets.  To do this, slice the breasts in half lengthwise so you have two thin halves, then cut them into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste.
One or two pieces at a time, put the chicken into the honey mixture on both sides, and let any excess drip off.  Press both sides of the chicken pieces into the bread crumbs, gently shake off any excess, and arrange on the baking sheet.  Repeat until all nuggets are coated.
Bake chicken until cooked through, about 30 minutes.  If the crumb coating isn't toasted, turn the broiler on just long enough to make the bread crumbs light golden.  Make sure not to walk away because they could burn quickly!
Serve chicken nuggets with dipping sauce.
Yield: About 4 generous servings

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stuffed Pepper Soup

For some reason I've never made a stuffed pepper recipe worth repeating.  They've never turned out gross or anything, just not anything special.  I'll undoubtedly try more stuffed pepper recipes in the future because I love them when done well, but it's not very urgent because this soup has amazing stuffed pepper flavor!  This was dinner last night, and it was one heck of a dinner.  The recipe is simple for sure, but extremely tasty.  Everything just works together really nicely.  My husband and I made it together.  Our new kitchen is so much bigger than the old one and we had a lot of fun cooking this.  We made Garlic Butter Dips to go with it.  We just loved this soup, my husband even handed out a rare 10 out of 10 rating.

This recipe is from AllRecipes.  I made a few changes, namely more bell pepper, garlic, crushed tomatoes instead of diced, and more broth (since crushed tomatoes have thicker juice than diced).

Stuffed Pepper Soup
1 Tbsp butter
1 lb ground beef
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 C chicken (or beef) broth
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 t dried thyme
1/4 t dried sage

for serving:
1 C uncooked rice
fresh minced parsley

Place butter in a large pot and melt over medium-high heat.  Add ground beef and break it up with a spoon.  Add bell pepper and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until meat is cooked through and onions are translucent.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Drain fat if necessary.  Stir in broth, tomato products, and seasonings, bring to a boil, cover pot, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Let simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

After 30 minutes, steam rice in a separate pot.  Meanwhile, continue to simmer the soup.  To serve, either stir the rice directly into the pot of soup (only if you're planning to eat all the soup immediately), or scoop individual portions of rice into bowls and top with the soup and a sprinkle of minced parsley.

Yield: 6-8 main dish servings