Sesame Chicken with Honey Garlic Sauce

(Becky, the Mama.)

One of my most-repeated cooking mottos is, “It’s all about the sauce.”  Growing up in Texas, pot luck suppers often provided informal competitions for whose mama made the best Bar-B-Que Sauce or home-made Salsa. My palette was set for big flavors at a young age.  And I am still like a kid when it comes to tasty dipping sauces.

One of my favorite flavor combinations are foods that use the following layers of flavor and texture:  crunchy, spicy, savory, garlicky, tangy and sweet.  A tall order, but I think I may have created the perfect irresistible dish that, as we say in the south, “has it ALL going on, ya’ll.”

These spicy oriental style chicken strips get an extra crisp texture by dipping them in a mixture of egg whites and siracha,  then rolling in seasoned flour and cornstarch before pan-frying in healthy coconut oil. 

And wait until you try this sweet garlicky sauce made with honey, soy and a touch of molasses.  So easy and only has to be heated to a boil then simmered for a minute before serving, but the depth and layers of flavor is amazing.

Move over Colonel,  I think I may have given a whole new defination to finger lickin’ good!

Sesame Chicken with Honey Garlic Sauce

 

Serves 3 to 4 people

Ingredients:

½ to 1/3 c coconut oil (may substitute other oil, but this is my favorite)

12 chicken tenders (or breasts cut in 12 tender-sized slices)

2 egg whites

1 T. siracha (or Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce)

½ c. flour

½ c. cornstarch

1 ½  t. Tony’s Cajun Seasoning

1 t. steak or grill seasoning

1 T. sesame seeds (black or white, I used black

For sauce:

½ cup honey

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce

3 cloves fresh garlic grated

1 T. vinegar

1 T. molasses

1 T. sweet thai chili sauce

1 T. bourbon (may omit and sauce will still be delicious) 

Directions:

Heat Oven to 250 degrees.

Melt about 1/3 to ½ cup coconut oil in a large skillet, so that there is about ¼ inch of oil in the pan.  Heat to medium high.

Rinse and pat dry a dozen chicken tenders.   Lightly salt and pepper them.  In a side shallow bowl, mix egg whites and siracha sauce.   In another bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, Cajun seasoning, grill seasoning and sesame seeds.

Using long tongs, dip tenders first in egg white mixture and then in dry flour mixture, then carefully in hot oil in skillet, about 6 at a time.   Turn when golden brown and crispy on one side.  Repeat on the other side.  Put the first batch in a warm oven on a cookie sheet while waiting for next set of tenders to cook

In the meantime, in a saucepan, mix all the ingredients listed for the sauce.   Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally, and then simmer for one more minute.  Let cool a bit before pouring into small individual dipping bowls. Serve each person 3-4 chicken tenders about 3 T. of dipping sauce.   We enjoy this meal with brown jasmine rice and colorful stir-fried veggies as a side dish.  Fresh sliced pineapple makes the perfect  dessert.

(Vegan variation: use a vegan chicken-substitute product, extra firm tofu or seitan instead of chicken.  Substitute egg white with a 3 Tablespoons water mixed with 1 T. flax meal.)

 
 

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The Title: Sesame Chicken with Honey Garlic Sauce

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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


“Healing” Panang Curry 2 Ways — Traditional and Soup

Panang Curry Soup

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Traditional Panang Curry with Shrimp

(Becky, the Mama.)

A sure-fire way to humble yourself is to announce: “I never (fill-in-the-blank)” publically.  (Or worse, “My child will never…..”)   And so when I declared, on Facebook that I almost never get sick, I should have known I was in for it.

For some unknown reason, for nearly a week, day after day, I  forgot to take my daily regime of immune-boosting supplements (fish oil, odorless garlic, probiotics, super green food powder) and woke up one morning feeling as though I was swallowing razor blades.

I went on the attack with liberal doses of all my regular supplements above  plus a couple of more exotic-sounding ones: olive leaf extract and astragalus.  By mid-afternoon my throat had calmed considerably and by nightfall it did not hurt at all.  (I did, however, get the standard stuffy head, runny nose bit – though, thankfully, without fever and it seems to be running its course fairly quickly.)

My husband was also out of town, so I had no choice but to practice good self-care and nourish my body as best I could, all by my lonesome.

In addition to honey-sweetened white tea (more nutrition-packed than green tea) laced with fresh grated ginger, and sips of Feel Good Blueberry Smoothie, I made two pots of healing soup.

First, I made a classic home-style chicken soup, a super quick and easy recipe I’ll share in coming weeks.  The other, is my new favorite “healing soup” – a Thai Panang Curry soup, rich with cancer-fighting and immune boosting antioxidants from the ginger and spices, cruciferous veggies, shitake mushrooms (which contain a compound called lentinan, shown to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight infection and disease) and vitamin & mineral rich kale. Coconut milk, too, has healing properties.  It  contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Afriend introduced me to my first good Thai Panang curry , when she bought us both take-out containers of it during a working writer’s lunch.  It was love at first bite.  It hit all the strong flavor notes I crave: spice from the curry and ginger, slightly sweet and creamy from the coconut milk, a touch of tang from fresh lime, and salty-savory-earthy from the mushrooms, veggies and broth.

It sounds so exotic, but I do not make complicated recipes, especially when I’m fighting a cold, so trust me – this is quick and easy. Feel free to substitute any veggies you have on hand, or enjoy, in this basic recipe.   I’ve included instructions for both tradition curry with rice and also the soup, in the recipe below.

 

Panang Curry with Shrimp

Panang Curry with Shrimp

“Healing” Panang Curry Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 can coconut milk (I prefer whole fat as it makes a creamier soup).

1 ½ cups veggie broth (or chicken broth)  — use 3/4 c  if you prefer to make the thicker curry version

½ small jar Thai red curry (about 3 T – less if you prefer less spice) (This jar of curry is found in Asian section of most groceries now and is small, about the size of a baby food jar.)

1 t. fresh grated ginger (pinch of dried ginger if you don’t have fresh)

1 t. brown sugar

Soy sauce or sea salt  to taste

1 c. rainbow slaw (or broccoli slaw)

1 large clove garlic

1 T. olive or coconut oil

1 T. butter

2/3 c. sliced mushrooms (I used shitake)

1 c. loosely packed, torn kale

1 fresh chopped tomato

2 sliced green onions

Slice of lime

Cilantro (sprig or chopped) and/or basil for garnish

Protein of your choice:  grilled diced tofu, diced or shredded chicken; or cooked shrimp, 1/2  to 1 cup depending on preference.  I use a small amount of chicken in the soup — as I  like the veggies taking center stage in this soup.  You could also sprinkle in toasted peanuts for added protein.  For the curry and rice version I prefer shrimp, about 5 medium shrimp per person.)

Instructions:

Saute garlic with mushrooms, slaw and kale in oil and butter in a deep large skillet until just tender. Dump all the ingredients except the last three (green onions, lime, cilantro or fresh basil ) into a large skillet and simmer until veggies are tender but not mushy. Add chopped fresh tomato last, and stir to heat through.  Ladle veggies and broth into each bowl, then garnish with a sprig of cilantro or basil (or chop it up and sprinkle), some green onions, and a slice of lime to squeeze over and stir in right before eating.

Variation:  To make a more traditional curry instead of soup, use half the broth and put a scoop of jasmine rice in the middle of the bowl before garnishes.  Sauteed shrimp is beautiful, artfully arranged around the rice and on top of the curry.  You can use any veggies you like in place of slaw, mushrooms or kale.  Add slices of cooked sweet potato and pineapple for a creamy pineapple curry.  To add heat, use a few drop of siracha sauce or thai chili paste.

Panang Curry Soup

 

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The Title: “healing” Panang Curry Soup
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Pesto Parmesan Chicken


(Becky, the Mama.)

I was famished after a gym workout this week, and decided to grab a bite to eat on my way home. Cruising through the drive-through lane at Taco Bell, I placed my order for a taco. The voice on the intercom sounded confused, so I repeated my order again, louder and with more clarity. And that is when I actually looked at the menu and realized…. I was in line at Starbucks.

One of my Facebook friends quipped, “So did you ask them to make you a Taco Frappucino?”

Granted, there is nothing appealing about the thought of a Taco Frappucino, but you’d be surprised at how many of my favorite recipes are created because of accidents. Or because I am hungry for a particular something, but out of an ingredient or two, so try to make due with substitutes. Time and again, the substitute often proves to be an improvement on the original recipe.

Such is the case with today’s recipe. Typically, when I make Chicken Parmesan, I use thin cutlets. What I had on hand was a couple of monster size breasts (Yes, my husband could not keep himself from making a few jokes about that) and I was in too much of a hurry to pound them thin.

Secondly, I often dip the cutlets in egg whites and grated garlic before rolling in Panko crumbs and Parmesan. Alas, nary an egg or a clove of garlic anywhere in the house.

That is when I spied a large jar of pesto that I’d purchased at Sam’s Club (it is surprisingly tasty, some of the best purchased pesto I’ve tried). One thing led to another and I ended up covering the breasts with pesto, then rolling them in Panko and grated Parmesan cheese. What we ended up with, eventually, was the best Chicken Parm I’ve ever made. In fact, it was the best Chicken Parmagiano I’ve ever eaten. The chicken inside stayed incredibly tender and when you cut through it, you could see the pretty layer of green pesto, golden Panko, red marinara and white cheese. Now that’s amore.

Pesto Parmesan Chicken

Serves 2 people (with big appetites)

Ingredients

2 large boneless chicken breasts

Salt & Pepper (to taste, to sprinkle lightly on chicken)

2 cups marinara sauce (your favorite bottled brand or homemade)

¼ cup fresh or grated mozzarella

1/4 cup olive oil

1 T. butter

1/2 cup Pesto

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Heat Oven to 400 degrees

Instructions:

Heat the marina in a saucepan until hot.

Put olive oil and butter in a large oven proof skillet and heat to medium high.

Rinse and pat boneless chicken breasts dry. Sprinkle both sides lightly with salt and pepper. Put pesto in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl mix Panko and ½ c. Parmesan cheese. Lay chicken breasts, one at a time, into pesto first, coating both sides of breast and edges thoroughly, and then in Panko-Parm mixture, coating both sides and edges of breasts thoroughly again.

Saute the breasts on both sides until the coating is crispy and golden. You may have to add a little more oil depending on size of breasts and your pan.  (Drain off excess oil, if there is a lot of it, before putting in oven.)

Then put the entire skillet into the oven and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and ladle each breast with ¼ cup marinara, 2 T. mozzarella and 2 T. Parmesan cheese. Place back in the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and chicken breast is cooked but not overly so. (A meat thermometer is helpful here, but if you don’t have one, just cut through the middle of one of the breasts to check for doneness.)


Before serving ladle each breast with more marinara and sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese. This dish is excellent served with a side of angel hair pasta that has been tossed in a little pesto.

Variation:  Use thinner chicken breasts or pound smaller chicken breasts thin.  Put sauce and cheese on immediately after pan frying, and cook in oven only until cheese melts.

Vegetarian or Vegan Variation:
Use a vegan chicken patty (such as Gardien brand frozen chick’n scallopini), tofu, tempeh or seitan instead of chicken breasts. Use or make a vegan pesto (omit the parm cheese in most pesto recipes). The cooking time in the oven following pan-frying may not be needed at all, or just cook for a few minutes with tomato sauce and cheese. Vegans can serve without cheese, or use vegan versions of mozzarella and Parm on top.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Pesto Parmesan Chicken
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Roasted Cabbage & Sausage with Honey Balsamic Glaze

Roasted Cabbage, Sausage and Honey Balsamic Glaze

(Becky, the Mama.)

Cooking or contemplating new recipes has always, for me, been the perfect Angst-Free Zone. I started copying and collecting recipes from my mother and grandmother when I was ten or eleven years old, painstakingly printing them by hand and tucking them into my $1.00 dime store metal recipe box. This activity was pure pleasure for me, an escape from summer boredom and a refuge from bad days at school.

With the election and crazy world events of late, there seems to be debates or conflict or pressure to “believe what I believe!” at every turn. The phone rings in the evenings with political calls; TV ads blare about Whose Fault Everything Is; and even Facebook, normally an Angst Free Zone for me, now feels like one of those awkward family conflicts that you happen to walk in on, and can’t wait to escape from.

So it was with a huge grin that I spied this little e-card on a friend’s Facebook page:

That’s me!  I’m just over here in my Angst-Free Kitchen Corner saying, “Hey! I made cabbage!”   Although,  I must say it was really, really great cabbage.  Sliced in thick steak-like slices and slathered with butter and seasoning.  Then served with grilled chicken-apple sausages and drizzled with a honey-balsamic reduction.

Every good hostess knows that the best way to break up an awkward family debate is to divert attention by cooking something that smells amazing, and looks so delicious that all conversation stops, as wordless lip-licking and tummy-rubbing take over.   This is one of those simple, delicious, comforting meals that could possibly bring about World Peace.   At least at your dining table.

Roasted Cabbage & Sausage with Honey Balsamic Glaze

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Ingredients:

1 head of cabbage

2 T. olive oil

1 T. butter

4 chicken-apple sausage links (I used Johnsonville. Of course you can use any kind of sausage links you like in this recipe. Or for vegans, try Rachel’s favorite vegan sausage: Smoked Apple Sage Field Roast Sausages)

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 T. honey

Grill Seasoning or Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice cabbage in 3/4 inch pieces as shown below.

Put olive oil and butter on a large baking sheet, and place  in the oven for a minute until butter melts.  Using a pastry brush, mix the oil and butter together and spread evenly on pan.  Lay the cabbage pieces on the buttered-oiled pan, leaving space between each piece. Dip pastry brush into excess oil-butter surrounding the cabbage slices,  and brush the tops of the cabbage.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper or grill seasoning, lightly.  Put in oven to roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until the bottom turns dark brown in places.  With a wide spatula, turn over, and sprinkle this side with salt and pepper or grill seasoning as well. Return to oven for another 10 to 15 minutes or until as soft as you like it.

In a small saucepan, mix the vinegar,  honey and garlic together and stir over a low flame.  Cut sausages in half, lengthwise and brush the cut sides with some of the balsamic mixture.

Put on oiled grill pan, cut side down and grill until nice dark grill marks appear and sausage is sizzling hot. Turn over and heat the other side.

In the meantime allow the balsamic mixture to continue to simmer (at medium to medium high heat) until it is reduced by half, and syrupy.

Arrange the cabbage slices with two sausage halves on plate as shown in picture. Drizzle both cabbage and sausage,  prettily,  with about a tablespoon of balsamic reduction. Serve.  (I added a little side of chunky hash browns as well in photo below.)

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The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Roasted Cabbage, Sausage with Honey Balsamic Glaze
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes

Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes

One of my friends, Shirley, who knows me well, posted this picture on her facebook page and said it reminded her of one special person, and wondered if that person might recognize herself. I saw it and immediately claimed it.

If you saw our first post on this blog, you know that I’m famous for burning food. I am a good cook, but I just get distracted easily. So the smoke alarm, for many years, was often our dinner bell. One day my eldest son Zach walked into the kitchen as it was billowing with smoke pouring out of the oven. “Mmm mmmm mmm,” he said, “Smells like mom’s home cooking!”

When my second born, Zeke, was about five-years old, I made him a perfectly browned piece of toast. He took it, walked to the trash can and started automatically scraping it with a knife. “Zeke, Honey,” I said, “You don’t have to scrape it today. I didn’t burn it this time!” He looked at me, his eyes wide, and said, “Oh, I thought we always have to whittle our toast.”

Once when my youngest son Gabe was about twelve, he was home from school, feeling sick. I decided to make him some breakfast and put a pan of bacon on the burner to cook. Then I promptly forgot about it and went to take a nice long bubble bath. If it were not for Gabe’s quick action with baking soda and a pan lid, my kitchen could have easily gone up in flames.

Having heard these stories, and seen enough of my absent-mindedness up close, my husband Greg now hovers near when I cook, constantly asking if I remembered to turn off the stove and oven, ready to spring into action at the slightest smell of smoke. My children would agree that I needed, “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Especially in the kitchen. With Greg on the job, they all rest easier.

Today’s recipe is one that I created last week, and I am pleased to report that no kitchen cabinets were burned and no innocent food was scorched in the creation of this dish.

This easy vodka pasta sauce turned out creamy and delicious with lots of flavor layers going on, from the thin salty pieces of Italian salami to the nice bite of the tomatoes and artichokes, to the smoothness of the melted cheese. I learned to make a simple pasta sauce from a New York-Italian friend of mine: it was just lots of fresh grated garlic, a few chopped fresh tomatoes, and about ½ cup of creamy cheese, like a brie or soft Buffalo mozzarella or even cream or goat cheese (or a combination).  You simply melt it all together over low heat, and pour over pasta. This sauce springs from that basic idea, but I’ve fancied it up a bit.

Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

¼ c. thin Italian style salami diced (any hard salami can be substituted)

1/2 c chopped artichoke hearts (mine were canned in water)

¼ c chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 c. soft white cheese (brie, fresh mozzerela, cream cheese or goat cheese — or a combination)

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ – 1/2  c. vodka (according to your taste)

1 c. crushed tomatoes or 1 c. fresh tomatoes whirled in blender until as chunky as you’d like in your sauce

1 t. dried oregano or Italian seasoning

1 cup chopped or shredded cooked or roasted chicken

Fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese  for garnish

Pasta of your choice, cooked al dente  (save some of the pasta water to add to the sauce) to serve four people

 Directions:

While the pasta is cooking (according to package directions), chop the salami and render out the fat in a skillet until it has crisped a little.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the chicken,  basil and Parmesan) and stir over medium heat until the cheese melts.

Sauce ingredients tossed in pan ready to be stirred and heated

Add pasta water until it is the sauce is at desired thickness. Finally, add chicken and stir until heated through. Serve over pasta, and garnish with Parmesan cheese and ribbons of fresh basil.

Vegetarian Option: Substitute roasted chick peas for meat and add 1 t. smoked paprika

Vegan Option: Sub roasted chick peas for meat, add 1 t. smoked paprika and sub vegan cream cheese like Tofutti for cheeses

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
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The Title: Vodka Sauce with Chicken, Italian Salami and Artichokes
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Chicken Tortilla Soup

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

(The Mama)

Greg and I are in Neskowin, Oregon this week — a tiny little beach town with impossibly cute houses surrounded by brilliantly colored flowers, some blossoms as big as dinner plates.  I hit the beach cooking, barely having time to gather in a car load of groceries before cooking dinner for a dozen on Saturday night (sour cream chicken enchiladas).  Yesterday, I cooked lunch for 22 of Greg’s extended family members dropping by to hug, share stories and sit a spell between strolls to the beach.  Greg lost both of his parents when they were just in their 50’s (our age!) so connections to them now — people and places — are doubly meaningful.  Since Greg and his siblings were young, Neskowin was the family vacation spot and is where all of them return to, as Greg says, “fill our souls.” So while they are filling their souls, I am filling their tummies.

For the lunch crowd, I served sandwiches and tortilla soup, with blueberry-raspberry bars for dessert. It was perfect for a cool, foggy day at the beach, huddled up with people we love.  Plus it makes a bunch!!

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Becky’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

1 seeded red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
3 cloves garlic
2 t. poultry seasoning
2 t. cumin
1 T. brown sugar
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (medium to hot heat level), available in small cans in Mexican and Spanish food section of market.*

1 28-ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes, divided in half
4 cups chicken or veggie broth (divided 1 and 3)

3 to 4 cups roasted chicken, pulled off bone and diced or shredded ( roasted chickens are available in most grocery delis)
1 cup frozen corn
1 zucchini, dice

 

steak or grill seasoning (or salt and pepper), to taste

1/4 cup bar-b-que sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Topping Options:
crushed tortilla chips
grated cheese
chopped green onions
diced avocados
sour cream or Greek Yogurt
wedges of fresh lime
cilantro

Directions

In a blender or food processor put the first seven ingredients (bell pepper through chipotles), half of the crushed tomatoes, and one cup of broth. Blend well.

Pour this mixture into big soup pot and add the rest of the crushed tomatoes and broth.

To this add frozen corn, chicken, and zucchini.

Simmer over medium heat until zucchini is tender and soup is heated through. Season with Steak or Grill Seasoning (or salt and pepper) to taste. To make a creamier soup, you can add 1/2 cup of cream.

To serve, put a handful of crushed tortilla chips in the bottom of each soup blow. Carefully ladle on soup, then top with your choice of toppings.

Vegetarian Version: Use veggie broth, pinto, ranch or black beans in place of chicken. Vegans omit cheese and cream

*I keep the leftover Chipotles in Adobo Sauce in a small Ziploc bag in the freezer and break off what I need to add depth of flavor and heat to other Mexican dishes.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Chicken Tortilla Soup
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-wA
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Better-than-Restaurant Chicken Tenders

In a couple of weeks we’re headed to family beach vacation in Neskowin, Oregon. I’m truly looking forward to it; however,  this is one of those vacations where there will be lots of family rooming in close quarters.  This is fun for a short run, but usually after the third day of this, people began longing for their own space and some start to get a wee bit cranky. It’s a challenge for humans to stay gracious when they lose their normal personal space. One of my friends, author Charlene Baumbich,  confessed after three days of being cooped up with a bunch of women on a retreat: “I’m running out of nice.”

I was visiting on the phone with my daughter Rachel about this subject yesterday.  She is heading to a week of family vacation to a Florida beach –with all the joys and challenges of being in close quarters for a week with lots of people. And an active baby.

“Just in case you start feeling closed-in,  I’ll share how I handled it our last vacation to Neskowin,”  I told her.  “ I knew I was about to get cranky.  I’d been cooking and cleaning and babysitting nonstop, and was getting exhausted from all this ‘vacationing.’ And I was PMSing.  So I went to the tippy top floor, which was three stories high, stepped out on the deck and took a deep breath. I looked out at the ocean and breathed and prayed until I felt calm.  Then I turned to go back inside because the air was turning quite chilly.  And that is when I realized I’d accidentally locked the door behind me.”

“What did you do?” Rachel asked.

“Well, I hollered and screamed but to no avail.  Everyone was in the living room watching a movie, on the first floor.  So I gingerly stepped over the banister and jumped to the roof below.  Then I reached back and grabbed a plastic lawn chair and tossed it off the roof in front of the picture window in the living room, hoping someone would notice.”

“Did they?”

“Well, it took two deck chairs and one lounge chair, but eventually someone noticed it was raining lawn furniture and came to my rescue.”

“So what you are saying, Mom, is that the moral of this story is that if I should start to feel cranky or closed in, I should simply climb on the roof and start throwing lawn furniture off of it.”

“Yes. Pretty much.  Trust me, it helps.”

I’m so glad I can be there to give seasoned wisdom to my daughter based on my many years of hard-earned experience.

In addition to that piece of advice that you are also now free to use at will on your family summer vacation,  I will also share a recipe that is Greg’s all-time favorite vacation food:  chicken fingers.  He thinks mine are better than any restaurant version and I know they are at least slightly healthier.  I use one of Paula Deen’s secrets to the best fried chicken in the south: dipping the chicken in a mixture of eggs and Hot Buffalo Sauce. You’d think the tenders would turn out fire engine hot, but they aren’t hot at all, just amazingly flavorful and tender.

I like to serve these crunchy chicken fingers atop a salad to beef up the nutrition and add some fiber.  Vegans, like Rachel, can do follow same method using firm tofu, omitting the eggs.  Tofu takes on a whole new yummy crunch when battered and pan fried.  (Of course, so do  rubber bands and shoe leather.)

And if this dish doesn’t turn out well for you, you can always climb on the roof and throw it out on the lawn.  It is a marvelous stress reliever.  I guarantee it.

Better-Than-Restaurant Chicken Tenders (Over a Salad with Buffalo Ranch Dressing)

Better-than-Restaurant Chicken Tenders

Pre-heat Oven to 300 degrees

Ingredients

1 to 1.25 pounds chicken tenders (or chicken breasts, sliced in “fingers”)

1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce

2 eggs

1 cup flour

1 t. Cajun seasoning (I like Tony Cachere’s brand) or other seasoned salt that has paprika or chili pepper

1 t. grill or steak seasoning (or 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper)

Healthy oil of your choice to make 1/4 inch deep in your favorite skillet (I use a combination of olive oil and coconut oil)

Directions:

Heat oil over medium high heat or flame.

In a low shallow bowl mix hot sauce and eggs.

Mix together eggs and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce — Paula Deen’s secret to her famous fried chicken

In another similar bowl, mix flour with seasonings. Using tongs, dip the chicken tenders, a few a time, first in hot sauce/eggs, then roll in seasoned flour.

Dip tenders first in mixture of hot sauce and eggs, then in flour seasoned with Cajun Seasoning and Grill Seasoning

Place tenders in oil and when golden brown on one side, flip to cook the other side. Place first batch on a cookie sheet and keep warm in oven while you finish pan-frying the rest of the tenders.  I only put 4 to 5 tenders in the skillet at one time.

Only pan fry 4 or 5 tenders at a time.

Put pan-fried tenders on baking sheet and keep in warm oven until you’ve cooked all the batches.

Taste one as soon as they are cool enough to touch.  If it needs more salt, sprinkle them lightly with a bit more Cajun seasoning. (If you love hot hot tenders you can also sprinkle them with more  red hot sauce at this point.)

These are awesome just as they are served with your favorite dipping sauce or sauces.   I typically serve them atop a salad with one of the following quick dressings:

Buffalo Ranch: 2 parts Ranch dressing with 1 part Buffalo Sauce.  (For one big salad, I mix about 1/4 cup light Ranch dressing with 2 T. buffalo sauce)

Honey Mustard Ranch: Two parts Ranch Dressing with 1 part mustard and 1 part honey. (For one big salad I mix 1/4 cup light Ranch dressing with 1 T. mustard and 1 T. honey.)

Variation:  If I have leftover chicken tenders,  I like to heat them up for lunch the next day, then cut them in small pieces,  toss them in a little Buffalo sauce, and serve with a bed of chopped celery, sprinkled with a bit of crumbled blue cheese or feta, and top with Buffalo Ranch Dressing.   It’s like eating chicken wings…. with a fork!  Really good with a little side of watermelon to cut the heat.

Leftover chicken tenders cut in bite-size pieces, tossed in buffalo sauce, served over a bed of celery with feta cheese crumbles and buffalo ranch dressing. Mmmm, mmmmm spicy, crunchy, yummy lunch!

Veganize It: Substitute slices of firm tofu, and omit the eggs.  Proceed with recipe.