I don’t know if I’m cursed, or what, but this past week has just been a flop as far as cooking is concerned. Things got off on the wrong foot when the massaman curry paste I ordered from Amazon failed to show up (it eventually did, like four days late, with a crack in the bottom of the jar. Thanks a lot Prime!) and I had to scramble to figure out a meal to replace that one I had planned. Then I tried a new copycat recipe for Cafe Rio pork that just ended up tasting like enchilada sauce with a bunch of brown sugar mixed into it.
I made cinnamon rolls on Saturday but didn’t realize that the ones in the middle were totally under-cooked until AFTER I frosted them and they couldn’t be popped back into the oven. Rookie mistake! I know these are major first-world problems, but I’m a girl who lives for food! Nothing is more disappointing than wasting time and ingredients on a recipe that doesn’t turn out.
I am the type of person that has to weigh the costs with the benefits when it comes to making something from scratch. Sure, I love to cook, but if it’s going to take five times the effort and time, and create basically the same end result as a pre-packaged item….I’m afraid the frontier woman in me caves to convenience. Such is my train of thought when it comes to Pinterest-inspired endeavors like homemade cheez-its or fruit snacks. I’ll pay the $3.50 and take the yellow dye 5, thanks! If I’m going to make it myself, it has to be significantly cheaper, healthier, or yummier than what I could grab at the store.
This *ahem* efficient attitude led me to believe that cornbread from a Jiffy mix was pretty much as good as it gets! What does it cost, like $.79? Just add milk and eggs and there you have it. Well, thankfully I have a best friend named Lizzie who introduced me to the wonders of homemade cornbread. When I first tried hers, I was like, “wait, why is this better than any other cornbread I’ve ever had in my life?” Come to find out….it was made from scratch. Who’d of thought! No offense to the good people at Jiffy, but I was never going back after that.
This particular recipe is one that my sister-in-law Jenny Rebecca submitted to our family cookbook. We make is super frequently and it’s SO easy and foolproof. Honestly, it takes like 2 minutes longer than using a mix would, and the result is exponentially better. Now that it’s getting to be fall and I’m making soups and chili more often, I’m sure we’ll be seeing it even more! And as Lizzie said, “It’s basically just an excuse to eat cake with dinner.” Hey, you won’t hear me complaining.
Most of the time, the phrase, “pasta salad” does not conjure up the freshest or healthiest associations. I typically think of macaroni or rotini doused in a bland, mayonnaise-y dressing with bacon and cheddar chunks floating around. Not that there’s anything wrong with that….but sometimes you want a pasta side dish with a more updated and flavorful twist!
One of my responsibilities at church right now is to help plan monthly activities for the women in our ward (a “ward” is an LDS congregation). Last week we had a health and fitness night and it ended up being SO fun! We have a girl in our ward who is a health coach and so she did a little lesson on nutrition and exercise myths–which ones are true and which ones are false (I guess the added protein to every last cereal or processed food product lately isn’t really necessary!). And then another girl in our ward is a certified Zumba instructor and so she taught Zumba for us afterwards. We even had a few pregnant ladies dancing along!
After the activity we obviously wanted to provide healthy refreshments since we had just
worked out. We planned some veggies, hummus, and my friend Sadie
even made homemade
fruit leather! I volunteered to bring these super easy and yummy energy bites. It had been a
while since I had made these and I had forgotten how easy they are to whip up! I originally
found this in a family cookbook and I made a few slight adaptations.
I’ve already made another batch since the activity last week because I wanted a whole tray to
I would like to begin by saying that I felt like a grade-A fool sticking my plate of food on the arm of our couch by the open blinds to get a somewhat decent picture. Luckily Dave was working when I made this so Ella was the only one home and is blessedly too young to mock her mother.
I have to admit that this coconut chicken is the first time I have successfully fried something. Not like frying bacon or an egg, but cooking something in oil. Usually it makes a huge mess, the meat isn’t cooked all the way through before the outside is burned, and the whole house reeks by the end. So I kind of hate fried foods. Not to mention they are horrible for you.
But this recipe piqued my interest because not only did the flavors sound awesome, you only flash-fry the exterior for a nice crunch and then finish off the cooking process in the oven. Much less greasy and also more thoroughly cooked–yes please!
I am late to the coconut oil party and this is the first time I have tried it, but I am definitely a fan now! It is more expensive than vegetable oil, but we really don’t use it very often so I felt ok about the $5 I spent on this little jar since it will go a long way.
Coconut oil didn’t have that stinky smell that vegetable oil leaves in the air, and when I went to wipe down our stove there was way less greasy residue than usual!
Once the chicken had been flash-fried and then put in the oven, I whipped up the honey-orange dipping sauce. I should have snapped a picture of it but it was super easy and added a delicious tangy zip to the chicken.
The one critique I would add to this recipe is, while it wasn’t as messy and time-consuming as deep-frying chicken would be, I wouldn’t classify it as “simple,” “mid-week meal,” as the original source said, but I probably have much stricter standards for how simple I want a mid-week dinner to be. I mean, look at my sad side dishes–plain white rice and one little raw veggie! So I would probably use this more as a Sunday or special occasion dinner. Dunking the chicken in the various coatings, the added step and dishes dirtied from frying, and then making a sauce made it a little more time-consuming than just your average crock-pot or one-pan meal. But still, it was SO yummy, full of coco-nutty flavor, with a crispy coating, and we will totally make it again and again!
- 1 and 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or tenders
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup Panko (can be found either in the Asian section or by the bread crumbs in a grocery store)
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
SPICY HONEY ORANGE SAUCE
- 1/2 cup orange preserves/marmalade
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 Tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- salt, to taste
- Pound down the chicken and cut into strips lengthwise, if using full chicken breasts.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a baking sheet with tin foil (I ended up needing two baking sheets)
- Pulse the coconut in a blender or food processor to break it into smaller pieces. Or, you can chop it up. Mix with Panko in a bowl. Place flour, salt, and pepper in another bowl, and eggs in a third bowl.
- Melt down the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Coat the chicken in the three coatings: flour first, then eggs, and finally Panko and Coconut.
- Fry a few strips at a time in the oil, about two minutes on each side, just until the crust is golden. Shake off excess oil and place strips on cookie sheet. Continue process until all chicken strips are fried, replenishing and cleaning out the oil as needed (I had to switch out the oil twice when I made this recipe).
- Bake for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. I almost always have to add some extra time on the end because I am paranoid about cooking chicken thoroughly, and my oven might not be very hot.
- For the sauce, mix all ingredient together and either drizzle over chicken or serve in small bowls for individual dipping.