Tuesday, July 10, 2012

old cereal, new purpose

Can it get any more kid friendly than chicken nuggets and french fries?  The only food group more loved by my kids might be homemade mac-n-cheese but really, most kids like nuggets and fries.  My kids wouldn't touch them for awhile; preferring fish and rice over almost anything while we were in the Philippines but over time they've come to like American kid cuisine.  Isn't stopping at McDonald's for a Happy Meal part of repatriating?  Don't get too excited, my nuggets and fries don't come with a Happy Meal Toy.  I had to lay that out there.  

We are huge cereal eaters, I mean HUGE.  I'd prefer to snack on a box of Wheat Chex over almost anything and the girls go through all types of cereal by the bag. Ashlynn is in love with Rice Krispies!  It's the one thing I knew we'd never be able to pack enough of in our consumables shipment.  We always have bits of cereal in the bottom of bags laying around.  The coolest re-purposing I have done lately is using these bits of cereal to bread chicken nuggets.  I'm not joking folks, it's delicious and a fantastic way to get rid of all those bottom of the bag rejects no one eats.

What you need:
old cereal bits (unsweetened cereals)
sesame seeds
whole wheat flour
salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika
3-4 chicken breasts
vegetable oil
Rice Chex, Corn Chex, Bran flakes, Rice Krispies

Round up all the unsweetened cereal rejects in your cupboards and put them in your food processor (or a big plastic Ziploc bag and use a mallet if you don't have a processor).  Add a handful of sesame seeds, a dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.  Pulse the food processor until combined.

Pour the cereal mixture in a dish and add a handful of whole wheat flour.  In another bowl beat one egg with 1/4 cup milk and set aside.  Heat 2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil in a skillet on medium to medium low heat (depending on your stove top's temperament). Be prepared to add more oil as you cook batches of the chicken.

Wash, pat dry and slice the chicken breasts into thin strips.  Smaller and thinner seems to be better.  The kids always go for the thin ones and they cook quickest.  Don't stress yourself out about making the cuts uniform. No one cares.  Once the chicken is cut, sprinkle it with a bit of salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the egg mixture and then dredge it in the cereal mixture.

Put the dredged chicken nuggets in the heated oil and cook until brown and crispy (about 1-2 minutes per side) turning only once.  When the chicken is done let it rest on a paper towel.  If you aren't going to eat them right away you can put them on a baking sheet and keep them warm in a low oven.  The trick is to keep them warm and crispy for serving.

Note #1: if you want to be super healthy you can bake these chicken nuggets in the oven and bypass the oil.  375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes should do the trick.  Today I felt like a crispy fried chicken nugget.  Don't judge!

Note #2: This is kid food but it tastes awesome.  The sesame seeds in the cereal mixture give it a nutty taste and if you throw in whole wheat cereal it adds a hint of sweetness.  I serve these with homemade sweet potato fries (essentially peeled and sliced sweet potatoes drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper roasted until crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside at 375 degrees).  Sweet potato fries is my sneaky way of making french fries a bit healthier.

Note #3: Kids love ketchup (that's the understatement of the year).  I served ketchup with the kids' meals but I made myself a homemade honey mustard dipping sauce that elevated the nuggets to cocktail party appetizer status.  For real..  Mix equal parts honey with your favorite mustard.  I personally think mustard should only be consumed as whole seed mustard and spicy, but that's just me.  If any grown ups are going to be eating your homemade nuggets, I insist you provide them a grown up dipping sauce to go with them.

The verdict: Both girls cleared their plate and asked for seconds.  Then right before bath time came down and snatched extra nuggets off the counter to snack on. I'd say they liked them.

I'm pretty sure you and your kids will dig them too!

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