Tag Archive | corn

Super-Crunchy (Baked!) Chicken Tenders

Hi there friends! How’s your week going? There are a couple of special birthday’s being celebrated back home  in my family this week, so first and foremost:

Happy 85th birthday to my dear Boppa…
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…and Happy 28th birthday to my oldest sister Christie:077
I love you both SO much! 17 days : –)

Anyway, this week is what I consider to be one of the most tiring weeks of the year as a student: “study week.”  I am trying to stay positive, rested, energized and hydrated. So far, so good! However, in the midst of studying for four finals, there is very little time to cook. At first, I was unsure if I’d even be able to make one or two decent dinners, but it just so happens that a little box I received in the mail a few week ago would save my life on weeks like this!
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Last month, I was contacted by Alex at Little Box of Yum, an Australian-owned company, and I was immediately intrigued.  Little Box of Yum is just what it sounds like: A little box of yum delivered to your door each month. I’m going to do an entire post devoted to the box I received, but essentially how it works is that you subscribe for what’s called a ‘Discovery Box’ which contains a variety of diverse food items each month. Each month you’ll receive a new box with new items, and included along with your box of items is a Discovery Booklet, which helps you learn about the food and the people who make it. Little Box of Yum also features recipes throughout the month on their website and Facebook page using the food in the boxes in order to give you ideas and inspire you to use the products.  It’s perfect for busy people who don’t always have the time to explore markets or shops for new products. Plus, I’ve found that it’s perfect for making a simple meal feel like a gourmet one!

The first product I tried from my box was a sauce called ‘Roza’s Sweet Mustard with Apricots & Macadamia Nuts’. I love mustard, and I adore apricots and macadamia nuts so I had high hopes for this. The ingredient list is minimal and it’s gluten/dairy free too, which is a plus for people with those intolerances! I used the Discovery Booklet for some inspiration, and decided to make homemade chicken fingers, using the mustard as a dipping sauce. All I had to do was combine the mustard sauce with two spoonful’s of natural yoghurt. That’s it! So simple.
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I don’t know about you but as a child, I loved chicken tenders. Although I still love them, as I’ve gotten older and smarter with my food decisions I prefer to bake my own rather than order a fried option out at a restaurant. Plus, when there are so many healthy and tasty breading options available at the store, who needs to fry them anyway? I stumbled across this Kellogg’s Cornflake Mixture at the store last week, and snatched it up immediately.
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You probably don’t know this about  me, but cornflakes hold a special place in my heart. You see, for six summers growing up I worked at an ice-cream shop and BBQ barn with some of my closest friends, including Monique! One of the most popular things we served at the BBQ was “cheesy potatoes” which boasted a cornflake topping. So when I saw this at the store, I obviously HAD to have it.  Plus, I don’t have a food processor in Australia, so rather than crushing my own cornflakes (which you could easily do to make this topping!) this pre-made mixture made my life during finals 100 times easier. I decided to combine my love of cornflakes with my love of panko crumbs to make some super-crunchy baked chicken tenders, and we loved them. These are simple, delicious, and far-more nutritious than any fast food chain out there!
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Super Crunchy Panko & Cornflake-Crusted Chicken Tenders
1lb lean chicken tenders
1 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup Kellogg’s Cornflakes Mixture (or make your own by using a food processor!)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Salt (to taste, if needed)
1/2 cup wholemeal flour (or any flour would do)
3 egg whites, whisked

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit (or 218 degrees Celsius).  Line baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
2)  Combine panko crumbs, cornflakes mixture, salt and pepper into a shallow mixing bowl. Then place flour in a shallow mixing bowl, and whisk the egg whites in another mixing bowl. Assemble the bowls in a row: First flour, then egg whites, then panko/cornflake mixture.
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(I used egg whites, but this is an old picture!)

3) Clean your chicken, and then begin breading it. Roll it in the flour, then the egg whites, then the panko mixture. Then place on baking sheet. Repeat these steps until you’ve covered all of the chicken.
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4) Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes on each side, flipping in-between, until browned.
5) Serve along with steamed veggies of your choice. We opted for carrots, along with some fresh corn, too!
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While we definitely loved the chicken, the Roza’s Sweet Mustard with Apricots & Macadamia Nuts Sauce was easily the hit of the meal. It paired perfectly with the crunchy chicken, and made me feel like I was eating gourmet chicken fingers in mere minutes!

Thank you so much to the folks at Little Box of Yum! If you’re interested in learning more about Little Box of Yum, visit them here.

Well, I’m off to study. Have a good day, friends!

Do you subscribe to any food delivery services? If so, what? If not, would you consider?
I’m definitely considering subscribing to Little Box of Yum. I think this will help add variety to my meals and force me to try new things!
Do you like “healthy” chicken tenders?

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tex-mex inspired sweet potato shepherd’s pie

Hey friends! How’s your weekend going? I’m off to work shortly for my last shift of the weekend, but wanted to share this recipe just in case anyone is in need of an idea for their Sunday-night dinner. This is the casserole recipe I highlighted on Thursday that I am slightly obsessed with. I ate it for 3 days straight, which saved me A LOT of time on the cooking front last week. Less cooking time=more study time, which is just what I needed!

I’m guessing shepherd’s pie probably isn’t a “new” recipe to you, but I switched this up a bit to include a tex-mex twist on the traditional recipe. Quite simply, all I did was make taco-seasoned meat (I used a reduced-sodium taco seasoning packet, but Kelly makes a great-sounding, healthier homemade version!), added-in steamed carrots, peas and corn, and then topped it off with homemade mashed sweet potatoes. Voila, a casserole was born in under 30 minutes. 
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My favorite thing about this casserole was the combination of sweet potatoes and taco meat. Honestly, I now understand why Mexican restaurants sell sweet potato fries. (I really never understood it in the past, I always thought chips and salsa were much more menu-appropriate!) However, the flavors and spices go so well together. I am hooked!

Tex-Mex Inspired Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Ingredients:
1lb. lean ground beef (I’m sure ground chicken or turkey would be excellent, too)
1/2 onion, diced
1 packet reduced-sodium taco seasoning (or homemade like Kelly’s)
1 cup steamed peas
1 cup steamed corn
1 cup chopped, steamed carrots
3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, chopped, steamed,and mashed
1/4 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese for topping (or any cheese)

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or 204 degrees Celsius) and spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. (I used a 12 x 9 pan.)
2) I prepared my vegetables first to get that step out of the way. I chopped up about 3 carrots, and then placed the carrots, peas, and corn in the vegetable steamer with a little bit of water. Then I chopped up the sweet potatoes and placed them to the side in a bowl with a little water, and covered it with plastic wrap. Lastly I chopped the 1/2 onion to add it to the taco-meat.
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**Side note, how cute is this purple vegetable steamer my Mom got me for Christmas this past year? LOVE!!!

3) Next, using the stovetop, sauté the onion and then prepare your meat according to the taco-seasoning packet.
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4) While your meat is cooking, steam the vegetables in the microwave. Then, steam the sweet potatoes. (I always steam my sweet potatoes by chopping them up, adding a little bit of water, covering them with plastic wrap and placing them in the microwave because I love how easy it is). Since I used about 3 large sweet potatoes, I cooked these on high-power for about 5-6 minutes. Once they seemed soft enough, I mashed them in a large mixing bowl, and added a bit of butter and cinnamon.

5) Finally, I layered the meat, the vegetables, and the sweet potatoes into the casserole dish, added shredded cheese to the top (Thanks to Brandon for shredding it!), and cooked it for about 15 minutes, or until slightly browned.
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This was delicious, and it lasted for days! I’ll be making this again soon, I’m sure of it.
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Are you a shepherd’s pie fan?
I am, but as I’ve grown older I much prefer it with sweet potatoes!
Ever order sweet potato fries at Mexican restaurants?
I will be now!

Springtime Shrimp and Quinoa Salad For One

Hey there! How was everyone’s start of the week? Mine was nice and busy, starting with a 5:30 a.m. boot-camp, followed by a day full of classes until 6 p.m. Needless to say, it was a long day, but still a good day. Sometimes after long days, I want to go straight to bed. However, being in the kitchen is truly one of my favorite parts of every day, and last night was no exception. As tired as I was, I could not wait to make dinner; it was all I could think about! Honestly, I have been craving a good salad for months. It might sound funny, but salads as a “meal” are so popular in the U.S.A. and offered nearly everywhere,  whereas  restaurants around us in Australia don’t seem to offer many salads on their menus, if any at all.  So a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon a certain salad recipe at one of my favorite blogs, Iowa Girl Eats, I bookmarked it immediately. I knew I had to make it, or at least attempt a similar version.  I’m only cooking for one this week since Brandon is gone for work, so I cut down the quantity of her original recipe, and I adapted the ingredients to fit what I had available.

This salad incorporates cooked shrimp for protein, quinoa tossed with feta cheese as the salad base(another excellent protein source), and additional mix-in’s of corn, avocado, roasted broccoli and roasted chickpeas, and blueberries for a pop of color.  All of this is drizzled in a lemon and olive oil based dressing to top off the salad. I loved every bite of this! It is filling, but very light.  A perfect salad for the start of spring!

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Springtime Shrimp & Quinoa Salad (for one)
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats Superfood Salad
Salad Ingredients:
1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I used gluten-free, organic)
8-10 cooked shrimp (I got mine at the seafood counter, pre-cooked with tails on)
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/4 avocado, diced
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup roasted broccoli
1/4 cup roasted chickpeas
2-3 Tbsp. of crumbled feta cheese (or the cheese of your choice)

Dressing Ingredients
1 lemon, squeezed
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
salt & pepper

Directions:
1) Cook 1/2 cup quinoa, following the package directions. I cooked mine in 1 cup of boiling water, and simmered it for about 15 minutes, until it was fluffy.
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2) While the quinoa is cooking,  prepare your salad ingredients. First, I set my shrimp on ice in the fridge to make sure they were nice and cold for the salad. Then, I chopped the avocado, cooked the frozen corn for about 1.5 minutes in the microwave, and got my other ingredients out of the fridge, including roasted broccoli, chickpeas, and blueberries.
***Keep in mind, you could add virtually any fruit or vegetable to this. I added what I already had in the fridge, so it was even simpler to make. Set these ingredients aside.
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3) Now make your dressing by combining the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper, and whisking them together in a small bowl until combined.

4) Once your quinoa is cooked, add the feta cheese(or your cheese of choice) and stir. Then prepare your salad. I started with the quinoa as my base, then added in the toppings, and finally the shrimp. Drizzle with the lemon dressing, and you’re all set!
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I enjoyed this so much, I’m seriously debating making this again for dinner tonight. The sweet lemon dressing paired with the textures and flavors of the fruit and vegetables, along with the fluffy quinoa, was a perfect meal to round out a long day.  I have leftover quinoa, so it just may happen again tonight!

What are your favorite salad ingredients?

Appetizer obsession

Appetizers (or entrees as they say in Australia) tend to be my favorite food choices at dinner parties, holiday gatherings, and sometimes even restaurants. I think it’s because most appetizers, at least in my opinion, tend to be unique compared to the main meal options, come in smaller portions so it’s perfectly acceptable to order more than one, and you’re able to pick-and-choose as you please. Is anyone else out there guilty of over-eating appetizers during the holidays?  I know I am, but I’m not dwelling on it simply because I over-ate my favorites. These were the things that were worth the splurge to me, and since I was only home for two weeks, I sort-of had the  “I live in Australia and miss my Mom’s cooking more than anything, so I’m eating whatever I want”  mentality.  A few appetizers I splurged on included my Mom’s mushroom spread, Kenyon dip(a family recipe),  broccoli slaw, kielbasa casserole, oyster crackers and last but not least, cowboy crack dip. It.was.glorious.

While the majority of our appetizers are family recipes made around the holidays and remain the same year after year, the cowboy crack dip listed above is an exception. The recipe was given to my Mom and me last year by one of my dearest friends Julia after we tried it at her house, and now we don’t throw a party without it. It’s that good. Don’t ask me the story behind the name but it fits. This dip is addicting. SO addicting. So take it from me, you’ve been warned. If you’re looking for a quick dip that’s nutritious and delicious, make this now. The best part is, there’s no baking required. Chop chop, lets go!

Julia’s Cowboy Crack Dip
Ingredients
-1 can black beans
-1 can white shoe peg corn
-1 ripe avocado
-½ red onion
-2 plum tomatoes
Ingredients for dressing
-1/4c. olive oil
-1/2c. red wine vinegar
-½ tsp. Cumin
-½ tsp. Black pepper
-½ tsp. Salt
-3 T sugar

Directions:
1. Drain beans & corn and place in large mixing bowl.  Chop onion, tomatoes, & avocado into small pieces. Mix all together in bowl.

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2. Now whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, cumin, pepper, salt, and sugar in a separate bowl until well blended. Then, pour dressing over mixture.

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For an appetizer, serve this with chips, crackers, vegetables, or eat it straight from a spoon(that’s how I like it best!). It’s even delicious on top of fresh greens. This can take the place of a salad dressing and is a great topping choice thanks to the protein from the black beans and the healthy fats from the avocado and olive oil. Plus, the longer it sits and soaks in the dressing, the better it tastes. I wish you luck on making it last in your house…it lasts two days at most in this one!

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What’s your favorite appetizer?

Crockpot mexican chicken stuffed pepper medley

Well, that recipe name is a mouthful…sheesh. Sorry about that. I really don’t know what to call it, but I promise you this was a delicious (and nutritious) meal . Since Brandon graciously bought me a crock-pot upon my arrival, I’ve been trying to use it once a week for two reasons: 1) because it’s so darn easy, and 2) so that he can’t say I don’t use it! Hahaha just kidding kind-of..not really.

Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed using a crock-pot for no-fuss dinners, but it’s particularly coming in  handy here in Australia due to the god-awful humidity we’re experiencing.  As much as I love cooking and baking, I can’t say I thoroughly enjoy it in 90 degree+ temperatures, so my crock-pot is coming to the rescue!

This week, chicken breasts were on sale (Amen), so I knew I wanted to make something that incorporated this source of protein. After searching Pintrest for inspiration, I stumbled across a “skinny chicken taco” recipe that I just couldn’t pass-up. After making a few tweaks of my own, and deciding that I’d incorporate it into "stuffed peppers” for dinner,  here’s what I assembled. 

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Keep in mind, you can make your own tweaks to this recipe; crock-pots are so versatile, that’s one of my favorite parts about them. If you don’t have kidney beans, use black beans. If you don’t have chicken, use beef, etc. Use what’s in your cupboard! This helps make it a budget-friendly and a waist-friendly meal.

Crockpot Mexican Chicken Stuffed Pepper Medley
Ingredients
-2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
-1/2 onion, chopped
-1 16 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or your bean of choice)
-1 10 oz can salt-reduced diced tomatoes
-1 jar salsa (I used mild, but spicy would work too!)
-1/2 jar tomato sauce ( you can use the whole jar, but this is all I had)
-1 10 oz. bag frozen corn
-1 packet reduced-salt taco seasoning
-3-4 chicken breasts
-about 1/2 cup reduced-salt chicken broth (use enough to cover the chicken)
-1 TBSP of chile powder (optional—this is if you want it spicy!)
-Peppers for stuffing (optional)-I bought 3 large green and 1 large red
-Brown rice (optional)
-Part-skim shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions
1) Spray crock-pot with cooking spray, and turn it on (I forgot to turn mine on for 20 minutes, this is why I’m reminding you!) Chop sweet potato and onion.  Then add these, along with remaining ingredients through the taco seasoning, to the pot. Mix to combine.
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2) Clean your chicken breasts, then add them to the top of the pot (just mesh them in with everything else).  Then, add the chicken broth so that the chicken breasts are mostly covered with liquid.
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3) Cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 10 hours, stirring every hour or so, until chicken is cooked and fork-tender. Side-note: our crock-pot is new and ridiculously fast, so mine was done in 4.5 hours. Depending on your crock-pot, you may need 6+ hours, just judge the time based on the chicken.  Once tender, remove chicken and place in a bowl. Shred with two forks, then place back in crock-pot and stir-in. Turn off crockpot, and if you’re ready to eat now, dig in! This would be great as-is topped with low-fat cheese, and stuffed into a wrap, on a salad, or by itself. I wanted to stuff green and red peppers with the medley, so I’ll outline that next.
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4) Turn your oven to 400 degrees (about 204 degrees Celsius). Wash your peppers, then cut tops off and remove cores from inside. Assemble on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
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5) I had brown rice on hand that I needed to use up, so I added a small layer (about 2-3 tablespoons) of that to each pepper as a base. Then I filled each to the top with the crock-pot Mexican chicken medley, and topped each with part-skim shredded cheddar cheese (or your cheese of choice). Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly.

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6) Let them cool for a few minutes, and then enjoy! We ate ours with a side of steamed cauliflower and a garden salad. Healthy, nutritious, deeeelicious. The best part about this meal is the amount of leftovers you’ll have…perfect for lunch or dinner.  Hope you like it as much as we did!
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Summer-Inspired Veggie Pizza

I know it’s not technically summer yet, but I just have to share this recipe with you. Have you ever had corn on pizza? I hadn’t…and now I never want pizza without it!

As a vegetable-lover, if I make pizza at home, 9 times out of 10, I’ll make a veggie topped pie. And if I order pizza at a restaurant…9 times out of 10, you guessed it, I order veggie. So I didn’t think much of it when I was scouring an old issue of Cooking Light  for pizza recipes, and stumbled across a veggie pizza. However, the addition of corn in this recipe had me intrigued. So I went for it. I bought corn on the cob (already shucked was the only available…shameful, I know!), red peppers, zucchini, summer squash, and onion…and this summer-inspired pizza was born.

The hardest part of this recipe is chopping the vegetables. After that, it’s a piece of cake. Make this, you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients

-8 ounces store-bought pizza dough ( I used whole wheat)
-Cooking spray
-Store bought tomato sauce (I used fire-roasted tomato, Classico brand)
-Olive oil to coat pan
-2 garlic cloves, crushed ( I used a Tbsp. of minced garlic)
-1 cup sliced onion
-1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
-1 cup chopped summer squash
-1 cup chopped zucchini
-2 ears corn
-1 tablespoon cornmeal
-3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese ( I combined this with 3-cheese Italian)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 425° (or temperature your dough specifies). Chop all vegetables.

2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat, spray with cooking spray. Add 2-3 teaspoons olive oil to pan, swirl to coat. Add garlic to pan. Then add onion, squash, zucchini, and bell pepper; sauté 5 minutes. (I always add I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Spray, too). Add salt and pepper to taste while sautéing. Cut corn from cob; add corn to vegetable mixture.

3. Scatter cornmeal over a lightly floured surface; roll dough into a circle on prepared surface. Transfer dough to a baking sheet; top with layer of tomato sauce ( I used about ¾ cup). Sprinkle with cheese, then top with vegetable mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cut into 8 slices.

Unfortunately, this was such a hit, there were no leftovers. So what did I do? I made it again less than a week later. It is so so addicting.  If you don’t feel like pizza, just make the vegetable sauté. I made it as a topping for my lunch salads last week, and it was fantastic!

What’s your favorite pizza recipe?