Monday, April 26, 2010

Okay, I Can Compromise. (aka Chicken Nuggets, Revisited)

Day 116.

Way back in January, I made some yummy chicken tenderloin "nuggets" with an almond crust. They were kid friendly and adult approved. They were a hit around here. But they aren't the most frugal thing I could have made, so it's time to revisit them. We are looking at a probable move by this time next year, probably to Germany! So I need to start stashing extra money away now. Anywhere I can cut corners, I will. And where's the easiest place to do that? In the kitchen.

I wanted to make chicken nuggets. They had to meet several criteria:
  1. They had to be wholesome.
  2. They had to taste delicious.
  3. They had to be made from what was sitting around the house, because it's "use it up" week and we're running out of things fast. That meant no egg, no dairy, no oil.
When I made the almond-crusted tenderloin, I was going for breaded chunks of chicken. This time, I was going for the texture of premade chicken nuggets. That meant lots of additives. Just Like Store-Bought! Except that you can pronounce all of MY additives. And they're all real foods.

Think of this recipe like a whole tray of tiny meatloaves. Tiny, chicken meatloaves. Just like meatloaf is only partially meat (lots of fillers), these are partially chicken. But completely wholesome.

One suggestion: If I had olive oil, I would have pan-fried them in it instead of oven-baking. They would be ten times tastier in olive oil. But they were delicious as written.

"Real" Chicken Nuggets

What You Need:

for the chicken mixture:
  • 2 lb cooked chicken, removed from bones and skin
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (process oats in a food processor until they resemble flour)
  • 2 Tbsp corn meal
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 large onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
for the breading:
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
How it's Done:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Dump all the chicken ingredients in the food processor and process until it looks like chicken paste. ;) If it frightens you to look at it, smell it. You'll feel better because it will smell very, very tasty.
  3. Set out two pie plates. In one, mix together the flour, cornmeal, dried minced onion, oat flour, sea salt, and parika. Whisk together the mayonnaise, tahini, and soy sauce until smooth. Stir in the water. Pour this into the other pie plate.
  4. Form the chicken paste (sorry, don't know what else to call it. You'll understand when you make them!) into nuggets. Dip them in the tahini-mayo mixture, then the breading mixture, coating both sides.
  5. Spray with olive oil cooking spray and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, turning the nuggets over after the first 15 minutes.
On the side, I served sliced kiwis, and mini cheese ravioli with sauteed butternut squash. Picky Eater ate EVER-EE-THING, and exclaimed that I had found the meal she loves. I was so pleased. :)
(P.S. I gave up the Diet Coke a while ago and have been doing really well without it. I weaned myself onto Iced Tea with sugar, then slowly reduced the amount of sugar in it until I was drinking unsweetened iced tea, and I find it refreshing now. I tried some Crystal Light yesterday for a change of pace and was unable to finish a glass. I found it sickly-sweet. No headaches, no withdrawal, since I switched to iced tea right away. And I love the money I'm saving!)


Mandy said...

These look pretty good. I hope you continue your blog if you do end up moving to Germany! I would miss it : )

Andrea said...

The nuggets look amazingly good. I'll have to try these next time I make a batch. great idea to make them like mini meat loaves, love that!

I do unsweetened iced tea here as well (no soda, its got tons of HFCS!) anyway I use 3 bags of regular iced tea tea and 2 bags of herbal tea (like black cherry, mint or peach, Celestial Seasonings) and it makes the most wonderful lightly flavored and slightly sweet tea. good for you for kicking the diet coke habit, its a hard one to break. BTDT :)

Michelle said...

Mandy I definitely will. :) Being an Army family means continuing life wherever the Army puts us, and this blog is now part of my life. THank you for the compliment!

Andrea, good idea with the tea mixing. The first day, I made peach black tea and it was delicious.

I do love me some bubbly drinks so maybe in the future I'll try making some spritzers with tea and/or fresh juice and club soda.

Lisa said...

Deutschland! I went there in high school with my German class, loved it, and hope to go back someday with my husband.

These nuggets are a creative use of ingredients. Good job.

I'm slowly cutting out the pop too, and drinking more iced tea. I'm surprised that I actually like it unsweetened.

heather said...

I can't drink "diet" anything anymore as I discovered it triggers headaches. So its been mostly water(luckily bfing my youngest helped with that) Lately I've been making sun tea(blueberry green and red raspberry) I've used a half a cup of sugar/2 qts and its been purfect...perhaps someday ill get down to unsweetened, but I maybe drink one glass of it a day. I did drink a glass of reg. soda one day and it made me fell yucky..

as for the chicken nuggets it sounds interesting....

Keli said...

wow they look wonderful! I will have to try these! Thanks!

Jenn said...

What a creative way to use up what you have on hand! I love (and envy) how handy you are in the kitchen!
Congrats on getting off the diet coke! I stopped drinking soda 6 years ago..don't miss it a bit!

Simply Life said...

I love how you made it kid-friendly!

And I LOOOVE the list you wrote on my blog about living simply!!!

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