Sunday, January 6, 2013

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

One of MJ's most favorite foods are chicken nuggets.  Like any mother who is concious about what her family is eating I'm not a big fan of store bought or fast food chicken nuggets.  Besides that most have dairy in them and of all things it was a chicken nugget that was my downfall.

 I had been having a few issues with dairy before leaving for vacation so I had excluded it from my diet but the day we arrived in Myrtle Beach we went to the Coastal Grand Mall and I shared some Chik-Fila chicken nuggets, I never suspected there was any dairy in them, and from then on I started to feel off and just figured it was because I was tired.  But I knew I was in trouble around 2 am when I started getting sick and by 3 am we made a trip to Wal-Mart to get medicine to help out.  I don't think I slept much that night but not wanting to disappoint MJ the next day, weak as I felt, I still went to the Ripley's Aquarium and had fun!  That morning over a very bland breakfast, I felt bad until I ate some dry Rice Chex's, we went over everything I had eaten the previous day and I had taken every precaution possible except when it came to the chicken nuggets.  After checking Chik-Fila's site I found that it was 4 small delicious nuggets that had done me in.

The thing that sucks is the only chicken nuggets that I have found to be safe are Applegate Farms Chicken Nuggets, very very delicious, but they cost about $10 for a small bag.  That is just not something that I can currently justify spending money on.

I served these for dinner tonight for the first time and MJ's response was her tummy said it was hungry and that it loved mama's chicky nuggets!  Just remember these are very delicious and healthy and the spices used can be changed to suit your taste.

I'll have to put the pictures up later because they are still on my camera!


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour
1 cup plain panko bread crumbs
Weber Kick-In Chicken seasoning, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg, beaten
cooking spray

1.  Preheat oven to 425*.  I wrap a baking sheet with foil so that it's one less thing to clean up. Lightly grease baking sheet and set aside.

2.  Using cooking shears cut the chicken breast into pieces.

3.  In a ziploc bag add the flour, bread crumbs, and seasoning and mix well.  Pour the mixture onto a plate.  Dip the chicken pieces first into the egg and then into the breading and then place on greased cooking sheet.

4.  Before putting baking sheet in oven spray the chicken with cooking spray.  Cook for 10 minutes and then flip them over and spray the chicken again.  Cook for another 5-10 minutes or until breading is golden.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cinnamon Mini Coffee Cakes

make Dairy-Free Cinnamon Coffee Cakes

One of my fondest memories from when I was little was sharing a Drake's cake with my grandfather.  Anyone from Long Island probably knows what I'm talking about.  It was a brand like Hostess but tasted a lot better than Hostess.  I particularly loved Ring Dings, there little coffee cakes, and especially their fruit pies.  Unlike with Hostess where you got one big pie that wasn't always full of yummy fruit filling with a
Drake's fruit pie it was two little pies per pack filled entirely with yummy gooey fruit filling.

We only got to see my Nana and Gramps sometimes once or twice a year especially when we lived in Florida. My parents couldn't afford to fly 2 adults and 4 children to New York especially considering my mother was a stay at home mom and my father was an enlisted man in the Navy.  When we could we would make the arduous trip from Jacksonville, FL to Brentwood, NY.  I remember we would leave when my dad got off duty and we would drive until we got to Virginia.  We would stay the night in Virginia and then finish the trip to New York the next day.  I have to say that my parents were very courageous.  I don't know how they did a 15 hour trip with at one point 4 children ages newborn to 5 yrs old.  

We took MJ to Disney World when she was 2 yrs ago when she was 2 and we had a great time but we drove and by the time we hit Georgia I was beginning to question my sanity and started to dislike the people I was traveling with.  Especially my husband who decided that it would be fun to share Utz salt and vinegar potato chips with the 2 yr old.  Let's just say that the chips, which she had never eaten before and hasn't eaten since, didn't agree with her and I ended up cleaning a mess and having to throw away a pair of shorts.  Rambo learned not to try new foods with her while traveling.  

Well back to the Drake's cakes.  I remember sharing them with my Grandfather after we would eat lunch, when we would sneak off to his workbench in the basement, or when I would tag along with him to water the grass in the back yard.  It was important to me because I thought it was mine and Gramps little secret, little did I know mom, dad, and Nana knew about it, and because we couldn't get these treats back home.  

In 1998 or 1999 while grocery shopping  we found Drake's Cakes had made it to Maryland and the reason was because they had been purchased by Interstate Bakeries (AKA Hostess).  They were still as good as when I ate them with my grandfather but not as good at the same time because they were no longer our special treat.  I could get them anytime.  

Dad couldn't wait for MJ to get old enough to share and once she was old enough he introduced her to the world of Drake's cakes.  She liked the chocolate ring dings but her favorites are the coffee cakes and apple pies.  Since the world was given the horrible news of Hostess closing I had to find a way of duplicating those delicious coffee cakes as well as making them dairy-free.  After much searching I found a recipe that looked like it would be pretty easy to make adjustments to.  The recipe that I found was on Martha Stewart's site and was for Cinnamon Coffee Cakes.  I don't know how the original recipe tasted but I made my version for Thanksgiving brunch and for my dad's work Christmas party and all I can say is that on both occasions they were gone before everyone sat to eat.  In an effort to exercise portion control, and easier clean-up, I baked them as cupcakes.  I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.

I've got to leave you with one note.  The batch that I took pictures of I made one mistake on and that was that I, not paying attention, added the melted Earth Balance into the topping instead of putting the topping on the cakes and then putting the Earth Balance on top of it.  It was an ooops!

2 cups Unbleached All Purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tbsp
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Virgin Coconut Oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg beaten
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp Earth Balance sticks, melted

1.  Preheat oven to 350* and line a cup cake pan with cupcake liners.

2.  In a medium bowl mix together, flour, 3/4 cups sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl mix together, flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder & salt.

3.  Add 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil to flour mix.  if you can't find coconut oil you can use shortening instead.  Trust me it is worth finding and the expense of coconut oil.  Just make sure that you use virgin coconut oil (unrefined) and not refined coconut oil.  The difference is the virgin coconut oil retains a slight coconut taste as well as nutrients while the refined coconut oil has been striped of it.
Add 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil. If you can't find coconut oil you can use shortening instead. Trust me it is worth finding the coconut oil.

4.  Using a pastry cutter cut in coconut oil until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Using a pastry cutter cut in coconut oil until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

5.  Put 1/2 cup of the flour mixture and put it into a small bowl.  Add remaining 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and set aside.
Put 1/2 cup of mixture & put it into a small bowl. Add remaining2 tbsp of sugar & cinnamon & set aside.

6.  In a small saucepan warm up, but don't boil, coconut milk.  When it is just steaming a little pour into flour mixture and add beaten egg.
In a small saucepan warm up but don't boil coconut milk. When it is just steaming a little pour into flour mixture & add beaten egg.

7.  Stir until just combined.
Stir until just combined.

8.  Pour batter into cupcake wrappers.  Sprinkle cinnamon mixture over each cake and then pour melted Earth Balance over each cake.  You'll notice in the below picture the cinnamon mix is clumped together it's because I messed up and put the Earth Balance into the cinnamon mix.  Trying to cook with a 4 yr old and 2 labs under foot can be a pain.
Pour batter either into cupcake wrappers or cake pan. Take cinnamon mix & sprinkle over each cake & then pour melted Earth Balance over each cake. I messed up & poured the butter in with the mix 😓

9.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  These would have been prettier if I had paid attention.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. These would have been prettier if I had paid attention & not mixed the Earth Balance in w/ the topping.

This pan was made for my dad's works Christmas party and he said that he gave one to his office mate and put the rest in the conference room with the rest of the food for the luncheon.  He said that when he got to the conference room for the lunch at lunch time there were no coffee cakes left.  I had to make another pan for him that weekend so he could have some.