Baking

Baked Panko Chicken Nuggets

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I’ve been making this recipe for years so I can attest that it’s simple, easy, and – most of all – delicious. It’s pretty versatile too! You could pair it with rice, pasta, or even french fries. But most importantly, you can dip your nuggets in copious amounts of Chick-fil-A sauce! (Chick-fil-A sauce is probably at least half the reason I go there, so…) However you choose to serve your nuggets, they’re sure to please the palettes of young and old alike.

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It’s been so long that I actually looked at an actual recipe for this that I can’t remember where exactly I adapted it from. I do recall though that someone’s mom once brought panko chicken strips to a party in my high school Japanese class and they were so good! Back then I didn’t know what I was eating, but I asked the kid who brought it and started on my quest to learn how to make chicken taste so good.

I think the “secret” ingredient is the finely grated parmesan cheese that you mix in with the bread crumbs. It gives the chicken a wonderfully salty and sharply cheesy flavor that has you going back for seconds. The butter probably has something to do with it too, giving a nice rich flavor, but not too greasy since it soaks into the bread crumbs.

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Anyway, my method involves only one round of breading the chicken nuggets because I do not have the patience to do an egg wash or anything like that. (Nor do I have the patience to wash more dishes that the egg wash would inevitably dirty up.) The crumbs still stick to the chicken well enough, so I haven’t had any problems on that front, at least.

First I cut up the butter into little chunks, then I lay them out on a pan and stick them in the oven while it preheats. While that’s melting I usually mix up the bread crumbs in a bowl or gallon-size bag and cut the chicken into nugget-sized pieces. I take the pan out of the oven with the melted butter before it burns. Then, I start breading the chicken and laying it in the buttery pan. The nuggets go in the oven and I flip them halfway through to ensure they’re golden brown on both sides.

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Panko Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 – 2 lbs of chicken
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the butter into small chunks and spread them out on a 13 x 9-inch pan. Place the pan in the oven so the butter can melt while the oven preheats.
  2. Cut chicken into nugget-sized pieces (about 1 – 2-inch cubes.) Combine the bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl or gallon-size bag. (Check on your melting butter occasionally so that it doesn’t burn.)
  3. Take the melted butter out of the oven. Coat the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture, and place the nuggets in the pan.
  4. Place the pan back in the oven for 8-12 minutes. (If you are using a metal pan, it will be closer to 8 minutes. If you are using a glass pan, it will be closer to 12 minutes.) Flip the nuggets over and bake for another 8-12 minutes until golden brown and the meat is no longer pink on the inside.
  5. Serve with your choice of sides to make it a meal. Enjoy!
Jewelry

Hobby, business, or somewhere in between?

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With creative entrepreneurialism on the rise, stories of people quitting their day jobs and turning their hobbies into successful full-time businesses are becoming more common. While these stories of triumph over the corporate cubicle lifestyle are refreshing and hopeful, I think they can lead to confusion as well. At least, it did for me, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one.

For the longest time, I’ve had the impression that my hobby needed to become a business. I figured that was the natural course of things and something I should prepare for after opening an Etsy shop. I thought that someday my “business” would outgrow Etsy and I’d get my own website. I’d have plenty of sales to pay for that website, my materials and other expenses, and even have some for myself to satiate my Starbucks addiction.

A couple weeks ago I discovered a podcast called Create and Thrive. Jess Van Den, the creator and handmade jewelry business owner, started the podcast to help other creative entrepreneurs succeed. I forget what episode she mentions it in, but she describes how she and her husband do not want to hire employees because they’re content with their current business model. It took me awhile to really grasp this, but once I did, it was a huge reality check.

If you are wondering whether you should grow your hobby into a business, be honest with yourself. Consider why you have this creative hobby in the first place. Ask yourself if you have the resources (time, money, energy) to become a business.

Given my current circumstances (read: engineering school), a full-time business run by only me is a pipe dream. I have every intention to graduate college, hopefully with decent grades, so that means I am a full-time student. I simply don’t have the time to transform Bejewel the Nation into a business.

So my next question was if having a hobby would be worthwhile. Even though a hobby will not make as many sales as a business, I realized this was okay for me. I have another part-time job on campus so I can afford it to be just a hobby. And given all my engineering and math classes, I need some sort of creative artsy outlet.

It’s okay to decide to keep it a hobby, or even somewhere in between. I’m content with Bejewel the Nation being a sort of hobby-business hybrid and I like to think of it as a side dish to my college education. I still learn something, and it provides a break from the entree so I don’t get tired of it. I consider it to be a hybrid because I’d still like to turn a profit from it, but I understand it probably won’t be a particularly large profit since I’m not investing enough in it for that, which is okay.

If you decide to continue your creative endeavor as a hobby, just remember to keep it in perspective. Read any articles on growing a creative business carefully and consider which pieces of advice truly apply to you. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you need to grow your hobby into a full-time business if it’s not practical for you to do so.