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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Crispy & Tender Baked Chicken Nuggets {or strips}

My mom always made breaded chicken tenders growing up and I have always loved them. They can be made into chicken strips or nuggets. They are baked at a high temperature - just enough to cook them through (I check them with a meat thermometer and make sure they get to 165 degrees F) and leave a nice cripsy-ness on the outside.   I also love this recipe because you can easily change up the spice mixture to create another flavor.  I'll post two spice combos that we like.  

We had these for dinner on Monday with some oven roasted potatoes, quick rolls and a green salad! It was the perfect meal -  I don't usually serve that many things in one meal but we were taking dinner to a friend who just had a baby - and I know how ravenous I am after having a baby - so we had to make it a full meal to make sure this new mommy was satisfied! 


Crispy & Tender Baked Chicken Nuggets {or strips}

Printable Version {Click Here}


1 pounds chicken (cut into strips or for bites into 1-2 inch pieces (bite size))
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup crushed saltines or corn flakes (I like the crispy-ness of cornflakes)
⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated (or powdered works great too)
Seasonings (see two options below)
½ cup milk
1 egg

Seasoning option 1: Herb & Parmesan
½ - ¾ teaspoon basil
½ - ¾ teaspoon oregano
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Seasoning option 2: Garlic Ranch Parmesan
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 pkg or 3 tablespoons ranch seasoning packet (or can sub 1 ¼ teaspoon of McCormick Bon Appetit Seasoning salt)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with grease.  

In a shallow dish  combine crushed corn flakes, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings of choice based on the two options above.  

In a small bowl beat milk and egg together.  Prep chicken by trimming fat off and cutting into strips (if you prefer chicken strips) or small bite size pieces for chicken nuggets.  

Dip each chicken piece into the egg/milk mixture on both sides and then roll in the seasoned bread mixture.  Place each piece on the baking sheet.  

Bake for 8-9 minutes on one side - flip and bake 5 more minutes. Checking the temperature when done to make sure they are at least 165 degrees F.  
Dip in BBQ sauce and enjoy! :) 

Recipe Source: adapted from a mixture of a few recipes I've found from Mel's Kitchen Cafe & Blog Chef

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Spiced Peach Butter {or plain}

Have you ever heard of fruit butters?  Apple butter is pretty famous in my husband's family. My father-in-law makes it about every year and we love enjoying it.  It's a thick sauce of cooked apples and sugar with some spices.  It's great for toast, peanut butter sandwiches, ice cream topping, etc.  

My sweet friend had a peach tree that needed picking and she let me get a whole big box. I had spied a recipe for peach butter in my Ball Blue Book - Guide to Preserving -  and wanted to give it a try if you've never canned food for preserving before, be sure to get a book or read about it from a reputable source such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation).   I'm not sure why it's called peach butter or apple butter, but my guess is that it's about the consistency of spreading butter on bread, which it's perfect for.  It's basically applesauce or peach sauce slowly cooked with sugar and spices until it caramelizes and turns a deep brown color. Mmmmm!  My daughter, husband and I have been enjoying our peach butter on toast, bread and butter, and peanut butter sandwiches. But right now I'm dreaming of a peach crisp with vanilla ice cream drizzled in peach butter.  There are lots of ways to use this yummy stuff.  It'd be a great cheesecake sauce - super yummy for the fall time!  Oh man I can't wait for fall, it's my favorite!

A few weeks ago I had a lovely smell filling my house.  I was simmering a pot of this peach butter. I simmered it for 4-5 hours til it was nice and thick. The smell was making me crazy for fall. The temperature here was a bit cooler too, and so I had this big craving for fall.   Fall is my favorite time of year, I was so giddy!  I think my husband thought I was a little nuts, I just wanted to cook and bake everything fall like - rolls, bread, pie, cinnamon rolls, soup.  The temperatures have since gone back up and so it's not feeling so fall-ish in the air, but I'm really anticipating that again in the coming months.  

Peaches were ready here in Albuquerque about a month ago - I know in other parts of the country peach season is just about ready to begin. So hopefully you can make some of this tasty peach butter.  Our apple tree is just about ready to be picked, and I'm excited to make some apple butter. I'll have to share my father-in-law's famous recipe when we get that made up.  

Happy canning!  (also if you need canning equipment - you can find it here)

Spiced Peach Butter {or plain}

Yield: about 4 pints
Recipe from the Ball Blue Book - Guide to Preserving - Published in 2009


4 to 4 ½ pounds peaches (about 36 medium size peaches)
½ cup water
4 cups sugar

Spiced variation:
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg (any combination of these spices)
*If you want plain peach butter do not add the spices.


****Note (please read before beginning): This recipe is for canning spiced peach butter with the boiling water method.  If you are not familiar with proper food preservation methods please read about it here and follow all instructions:  or purchase the Ball Blue Book here: Ball Blue Book
It is very important to follow proper canning instructions to ensure the safety of the food.  The high heat of this process kills yeasts, molds, and other bacteria.  Failure to follow the exact method could result in spoiled food and major sickness including food poisoning such as botulism.  

To prepare the pulp:

Wash and blanch the peaches. Blanching is putting them in boiling water for 30 seconds to one minute and then into a clean sink full of cold water. This makes them very easy to peel.  Peel, pit and slice the peaches.  In a large saucepan or stockpot - place peaches and ½ cup of water. Simmer the peaches over medium-high heat until they are soft.  Puree the simmered peaches with food processor, blender or immersion blender.  Measure 2 quarts of peach pulp.  

To make the peach butter:

Combine the peach pulp, sugar and spices (omit spices if you want plain peach butter) in a large saucepan or stockpot.  Cook over medium heat - reducing heat as it comes to a boil, until it reaches a nice soft simmer, stir occasionally, being careful to not have the heat to high that it burns.  Cook until the mixture is thick enough to round up on a spoon (about the consistency of jam - or slightly thinner if you prefer).  It took about 3-4 hours for mine to reach this consistency.  And I stirred it every 5 to 10 minutes making sure it didn’t get stuck to the bottom.  Cooking it on a low-slow simmer helps it to caramelize nicely.

Ladle the hot butter into clean and hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace.  Remove any air bubbles with spatula.  Wipe any spills from the jar, especially where the lid will touch and seal.  Adjust the two-piece caps on the jars - until tight. Do not tighten as tight as you can. Just enough to know it’s closed.  Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (adding time for altitude adjustment). See chart below.  I had to add 10 minutes to the processing time for my altitude - for a total time of 20 minutes.  

Following canning guide for removing jars and letting them cool.  (link at the top of the recipe or in the Ball Blue Book).  

Boiling-Water Canner Altitute Adjustments (from the Ball Blue Book - guide to preserving - 2009)
Altitude in feet
Increase processing time
1,001 to 3,000
5 minutes
3,001 to 6,000
10 minutes
6,001 to 8,000
15 minutes
8,001 to 10,000
20 minutes

Monday, August 11, 2014

Taco Dogs

I spied this recipe from the Taste and Tell Blog a few weeks ago and immediately added them to my menu plan. 

Taco style hot dogs is a great twist to the classic all American hot dog (bun, dog, mustard, ketchup and some optional relish).  I am a huge fan of homemade guacamole and salsa and thought these two things I love would definitely make any hot dog better!  And they sure did!  I loved all the extra flavor and fun that came with this idea of a taco dog!  Grilling the tortilla just enough to melt the cheese and give it a light crisp was the perfect touch.  

Summer isn't over yet, so hopefully you'll have time to enjoy these this year! 

Taco Dogs


8 hot dogs, grilled
8 6-inch flour tortillas
Cooking spray

Taco dog toppings:
red onion or green onion, chopped
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Cilantro, chopped
Any other taco toppings you love
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese


1. Prepare toppings

2. Heat grill over med-high heat and grill hot dogs until done.

3. Top each tortilla with guacamole, and salsa then the grilled hot dog, top with onion, tomato, cilantro, olives and lastly cheese.  Press the cheese together to kind of seal the tortilla shut.
4.  Lightly spray each side of the taco dog with cooking spray and grill over medium heat until the cheese melts and you have some light grill marks on your tortilla.  

5. Dunk in more guacamole and salsa and enjoy!

Serves: 8 - one taco dog per person