Readers and friends often comment that my children must love having a mom who develops recipes. They do love the "idea" of it. But when it comes to sampling my latest creation, they'd rather eat chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese made from a box.
I balk at the idea of nuggets, as the notion of processed and pressed chicken parts loaded up with additives I can't even pronounce isn't my idea of a nutritious supper. The frozen breast tenders are a bit more to my liking since they're made from a real piece of chicken breast.
There is a place in our real life for these quick, kid-pleasing, processed foods. Having a bag of chicken tenders in the freezer can be a lifesaver on busy nights, saving us from a trip to the drive-through.
But for regular family fare, today's quick, homemade version of the ubiquitous chicken tenders pleases both mother and children.
Fresh or frozen defrosted chicken tenderloin filets are dipped in melted butter or margarine or egg whites, then into a bread crumb mixture that includes grated Parmesan cheese, dried parsley, garlic salt and black pepper.
The coated tenders are baked at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.
The coating crisps better when the filets are dipped in butter or margarine, but for those wishing to watch their fat intake, the egg whites are a fine alternative. Simply spray the outside of each breaded filet with a bit of nonstick cooking spray before baking.
Dipping chicken pieces in melted butter, then into a breadcrumb coating, isn't a new idea. Many cookbooks include similar recipes for oven-fried chicken using boneless, skinless chicken breasts or bone-in chicken pieces.
But the chicken filets bake faster and are a more kid-friendly shape.
Often, I'll prepare two batches of the chicken tenders and serve one for dinner, reserving the extra tenders for chicken Parmesan later in the week.
I simply place the tenders on the bottom of a baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, spoon some spaghetti sauce over the tenders and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. After about 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven, I've got another child-pleasing entree.
Feel free to be creative with your coating mixture. Cereal crumbs such as Corn Flakes or Rice Crispies work well, as do finely crumbled Ritz crackers. Take a tip from the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, and dip your tenders in crumbled Captain Crunch for an unusual, sweetened version.
Now that I've mastered chicken tenders that please the whole family, maybe I can come up with a way to get them to eat my homemade macaroni and cheese!
1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken tenderloin filets
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted, or 2 egg whites, beaten
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried chopped parsley
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper in a pie plate or wide bowl. Dip one chicken tender at a time into the melted butter, margarine or egg whites, then dip in the breadcrumb mixture, coating well on both sides. Place breaded chicken pieces on a baking sheet or large baking dish which has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, turning once during baking.
Makes 4 servings.
Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send her an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beginning today, Karin Calloway's recipes will be accompanied by a nutritional breakdown prepared by registered dietitians of the Augusta District Dietetic Association, an association of local dietitians. Readers may send questions via e-mail to email@example.com