How to Make Delicious Homemade Chicken Nuggets You Feel Good About Serving Your Family

When my daughter was eighteen months old I proudly, and a little bit smugly, watched as she downed just about every food that was put in front of her; broccoli, asparagus, cheese, steak – she ate with abandon and glee. I naively believed that we had escaped one of the most difficult and frustrating parts of parenting – the picky eater.

Then she turned two, and it was as if a switch was flipped on her birthday and my adventurous eater who used to wolf down a baked potato loaded with butter, cheese, bacon, chives, sour cream and broccoli would only eat sour cream and cheese – alone, with a spoon. She turned her nose up at everything I put in front of her, even things she used to love.

One day we were out to eat and she stole a chicken nugget off of one of her friend’s plate. Before I could scold her and make her give it back, she did something incredible – she ate the chicken nugget. All of it. And wanted more. Ever since I have been on a quest to perfect the chicken nugget. Those frozen nuggets you can get at the store might taste good, and are great in a pinch, but if my daughter was only going to eat one kind of meat I wanted to know exactly what she was eating – no mystery, processed chicken parts coated in unknown and unpronounceable ingredients. Below is the basic recipe that we love in my family, and the best part is that you can tailor it to your family’s needs and tastes. Even if you don’t have picky eaters, this is sure to be a winner at the dinner table.

How to Make Delicious Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cups mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Using panko bread crumbs give the nuggets a great, crispy crunch but you can use whatever you have available. I have also found that using mayonnaise keeps the chicken nice and moist while it is baking, but you can also use 2-3 whisked eggs as a coating.

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
  2. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Place the chicken in a small bowl along with the mayonnaise and stir until all the chicken is covered. Sprinkle mixture with salt and pepper.
  4. In another bowl, mix together panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese*. Add the chicken to the bowl and stir until the chicken is well coated. You may need to press the chicken into the mixture.
  5. Place the chicken on the baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

* This is a great step to customize your chicken nuggets. You could use garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning, taco seasoning or ranch dressing seasoning to change the flavor of the nuggets.

Image Credit: pixabay.com

 

How to Make Healthy, Delicious Pizza at Home

Friday night family nights have been a staple in my house for as long as I can remember; growing up my parents insisted on it and it’s a tradition that I have carried on now that I’m in my own home with my own family. I can think of no better food to bring people of all ages together than pizza – delicious, hot, cheesy pizza. The best part is, you can customize pizza to just about anyone’s taste and, with just a few, simple choices it can be as healthy as it is delicious.

The easiest way to enjoy a healthy pizza is to make it at home and the first place to start is the crust. This recipe uses a mix of whole wheat and all purpose flour for a crust that is perfectly chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. If you and your family are watching calories, roll the dough out thinly for an even crispier, lighter crust.

Yields: About 1lb of pizza dough, or enough for one thick crust or two thin crusts

Ingredients:

  • 1t honey
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1T active dry yeast
  • 1T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1t kosher salt
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

How to Make Healthy, Delicious Pizza at Home

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, stir honey into warm water until dissolved. Add the yeast and let it sit until a foam develops, about ten minutes.
  2. Stir olive oil and salt into the mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all-purpose flour.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture slowly, stirring until a ball of dough begins to form.
  5. Sprinkle remaining all-purpose flour out over flat surface and place the ball of dough on top. Knead together until all of the flour has been absorbed and the ball of dough is smooth, about 5-10 minutes. To knead the dough, work it with your hands to form into a ball. Press the dough flat and then reform into a ball. You may also punch the dough flat with the heels of your hands and then fold and refold the dough. You want to work the dough until it loses its stickiness.
  6. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and tip the bowl around to coat the surface of the dough with the oil. Cover with a towel and let stand in a warm area for about one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. Tip the dough out until floured surface about and punch the dough down, forming it until a tight ball. Place back into bowl and let it rise for another 45 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  9. Roll the dough out to desired thickness with rolling pin. If making two crusts, split the dough into two balls and roll each other as thinly as possible.
  10. Once the desired shape and size has been reached, place the dough on a well-oiled pizza pan or baking sheet and top with your favorite toppings. Pizza sauce can be purchased or your can make your own. Some healthy topping choices include turkey pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, peppers and spinach, but just about any vegetables will work (starchy vegetables like zucchini or squash may need to be steamed or sautéed first). Use fresh mozzarella cheese sparingly.
  11. Bake for 16-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the crust, until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbling on top.
  12. Enjoy!

Image Credit: pixabay.com

 

Four Ways to Cook Pasta

The great thing about pasta is it can be cooked and served in so many different ways! Warm, cold, light, or hearty- pasta is an inexpensive and easy meal to prepare on busy weeknights! Be sure to try these four different ways to cook pasta!

Pasta Fajioli Soup

What you will need:

1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed

1 small onion, chopped

1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups water

1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can chicken broth

3/4 cup uncooked tubetti pasta

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup fresh greens (spinach, kale or Swiss chard)

5 teaspoons Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a large saucepan, brown sausage over medium heat. Drain and set aside. In the same pan, sauté onion in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook for approximately one minute. Add water, beans, tomatoes, broth, tubetti, and pepper to pan. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered until pasta is al dente  (approximately 8 minutes). Stir in meat and greens. Cook until greens are wilted (2-3 minutes). Top with Parmesan cheese.

Pasta Salad

What you will need:

16 oz tri-color rotini pasta

½ medium red onion, chopped

½ cucumber, chopped

½ medium green bell pepper, chopped

½ medium red bell pepper, chopped

½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 bottle zesty Italian dressing

Crumbled feta cheese to garnish

Directions:

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse well. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pasta and chopped veggies. Stir in the Italian dressing and mix until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least six hours. Before serving, top with crumbled feta cheese.

Four Ways to Cook Pasta

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

What you will need for the meatballs:

1 lb ground beef

1 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 cup parmesan, freshly grated

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 egg, beaten

All-purpose flour for dredging

You will also need:

1 jar prepared spaghetti sauce (or 24 oz homemade sauce)

1 lb spaghetti noodles

¼ cup olive Oil

¼ cup vegetable oil

Directions:

Crumble beef into large mixing bowl. Add breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup parmesan, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and beaten egg. With clean hands gently combine all ingredients. Shape into 1 inch round meatballs. In a shallow dish, lightly dredge meatballs through flour until evenly coated. Set aside. Heat olive oil and vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Without over crowding, fry each meatball in batches for approximately 6 minutes turning throughout. Place browned meatballs on paper towels to drain excess oil. In a separate saucepan, bring spaghetti sauce to boil. Add meatballs to sauce and cook for about 30 minutes (or until they are cooked through). Prepare spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and serve topped with spaghetti sauce, meatballs and remaining parmesan.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

What you will need:

1 lb elbow macaroni

8 tbsp butter

8 tbsp flour

2 cups milk

2 cups cream

1 tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper.

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 cups Velveeta cheese, cubed

Directions:

Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare macaroni according to package instructions. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add flour, salt and pepper, whisking continually. Gradually add milk and cream, constantly stirring. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes (still stirring constantly). Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes (stirring throughout). Slowly add cheeses (reserving half cup of cheddar) and simmer until all cheese has melted. Add prepared macaroni to cheese sauce and toss to coat. Transfer to large baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

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3 Recipes You Can Store in Tupperware

Do you find yourself eating out at lunch way too often? It’s is easy to get in a rush in the mornings and run out of time to prep a meal to take with you. A great way to save time (and money) is to prep meals in advance and store them in Tupperware. This way, you can simply grab your Tupperware on the way out the door and have a delicious homemade meal when lunchtime rolls around. There are tons of recipes that reheat in Tupperware nicely, but here are three recipes to get you started!

Taco Soup

Soups are easy to divide into single portions and are just as delicious reheated! The best part about taco soup is, it even seems to taste better the next day!

What you will need:

1 lb ground beef/turkey

1 can rotel

8 oz tomato sauce

1 can corn, drained

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 packet taco seasoning

1 packet ranch seasoning

Directions:

Brown your meat in a skillet over medium/high heat. Drain grease. In a large saucepan combine meat and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil (stirring constantly to prevent the bottom from sticking). Lower heat to simmer and allow soup to cook for 30 minutes. Allow your soup to cool before storing in Tupperware containers. If you want, you can even separately prepare individual portions of shredded cheese and tortilla chips to grab with your soup to complete your meal!

3 Recipes You Can Store in Tupperware

Grilled Chicken Veggie Bowls

Next time you are planning to grill, go ahead and grill several extra chicken breasts to eat on later in the week! As you will see in this recipe, all you will need to add is a little brown rice and some roasted veggies for a delicious and healthy lunch!

This recipe makes enough for four meals.

What you will need:

2 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups roasted asparagus

2 cups roasted broccoli

2 cups roasted cauliflower

16 oz prepared grilled chicken breasts, cubed

Directions:

Begin by preparing rice according to package instructions. To make roasted veggies, first toss cut veggies in olive oil until lightly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until tender (time will vary depending on the vegetable). To prepare your Tupperware meals, place ½ cup of brown rice in container followed by 1 ½ cups of roasted veggies (you can mix your veggies or use a different veggie each day) and 4 oz grilled chicken breasts. Store in the refrigerator until you are read to enjoy! *After you reheat your meal, you can add salsa, hot sauce or dressing to add extra flavor!

Grilled Sirloin, Baked Sweet Potato, and Sesame Green Beans

Who needs to eat out when you can enjoy all the delicious flavors of your favorite steakhouse for a portion of the cost?

What you will need:

5 cuts of sirloin, 4-6oz each

5 sweet potatoes, baked

1 lb green beans, washed

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds, roasted

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Grill or bake your sirloin to desired wellness (medium rare works well for reheating!). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss green beans with sesame oil until evenly coated. Add sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. To prepare your Tupperware meals, simply pack 1 sirloin cut and 1 sweet potato for each meal and divide green beans evenly.

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A Healthy Way to Meal Plan Your Week

One of the greatest hindrances to healthy eating is a lack of planning! It’s simple math- if you don’t have plenty of healthy food options in your fridge and pantry- you won’t eat it. When there isn’t any food in the house, the tendency is to eat out, not make a run to the store. Having a detailed meal plan will help you save money and calories in the long run. Here are some tips to help you plan ahead and make the most out of your trip to the store!

Do Your Homework

Before you even begin thinking about your meals for the week, sit down with your calendar and figure out what nights you will be home and what nights you will be out. Check the forecast for the week. It might sound silly but it will help you get an idea of what you will be in the mood to eat on certain nights. For example, what sounds better than a warm bowl of hearty soup on a cold rainy day? Also, will you be having company at any point throughout the week? You will want to make sure you pick a meal that will accommodate various tastes and dietary restrictions. Finally, check sales at your local grocery stores. Many stores have weekly ads with a list of specials they are running as well as coupons you can use. Focus on your meats and fresh produce. This will help you save money and know what produce is in season!

Binge on Pinterest

Once you have an idea of what your week will look like, allow yourself some time to look for new recipes to try! Pinterest is a great resource for meal ideas. However, with literally thousands of recipes at your fingertips, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all the options. For this reason, it is also a good idea to find a couple of food blogs that suit your tastes and check them on a regular basis. Try keeping things realistic when selecting new recipes. If something is far out of your comfort zone (both in taste and skill) - you are less likely to follow through with making it.

A Healthy Way to Meal Plan Your Week

Write it Out

Once you have selected your meals for the week- write out a clear schedule and keep it on the fridge for easy reference throughout the week. Work through each meal and determine what ingredients you will need and what you already have. Be sure to check your pantry for supplies. Nothing is more frustrating than being in the middle of meal prep only to find you have run out of a staple item like oil or flour! Create a detailed grocery list broken down into categories (meat/dairy/produce/dry goods) to make your trip a little easier and avoid overlooking an item.

Beyond Planning

Before you go to the store, clean out your fridge. Empty out those leftovers that have been sitting there for a week and get rid of old rotting produce. Not only will it open up space but it will help you know what you have available throughout the week. Next, after you have completed your grocery shopping, take a few minutes to prep certain foods. For example, wash and cut lettuce and other veggies to make salad prep quick and simple. Marinate any meat you may be eating in the next 2-3 days or freeze any foods that might go bad before you can eat them.

Following these simple steps will help you stick to a meal plan and avoid the temptation to eat out on a regular basis. Chances are, anything you are making at home (with fresh meats and produce) will be much healthier and less expensive than anything you grab on the go!

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