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!
Baking

Snickerdoodles

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I was really craving some snickerdoodles the other day, and I was pleased to discover I had all but one ingredient to make them. That one ingredient was cream of tartar. At the time, I had no idea why I needed it, but it seemed like something I shouldn’t leave out. As I was munching on my freshly baked cookies, I did some research. 

I learned that cream of tartar (tartaric acid) is what separates snickerdoodles from sugar cookies. Being an acid, it reacts with another ingredient, baking soda, which is a base. You’re probably familiar with how baking soda reacts with vinegar, another type of acid, so you probably know that the two form carbon dioxide gas.

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The carbon dioxide bubbles that form from the cream of tartar and baking soda is what makes snickerdoodles so light and airy. The acidity is also what gives snickerdoodles their classic tang. Unlike sugar cookies, snickerdoodles have no vanilla since that would interfere with the tangy flavor.

I found the following recipe from Betty Crocker. I didn’t change any ingredients, but I did change some of the directions. I also cut the recipe in half and found that half makes about 20 cookies. I suspect it’s not quite two dozen because I kept eating the dough, but it was worth it.

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Snickerdoodles

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar (for the coating)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (for the coating)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon for the coating. Set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer, combine butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar until well incorporated. Add in the eggs. Once that is all combined, start slowly adding in the flour mixture until a dough just begins to form. Try not to overwork the dough.
  5. Roll dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Roll balls in the cinnamon sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Allow the cookies to cool slightly before devouring.

Tip: If you overbake your cookies, they make for excellent dunkers, especially in hot chocolate.

Got leftover cinnamon sugar? Sprinkle it on toast, or use it to make cinnamon sugar popcorn!

Baking

Panko Baked Cod

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Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb that is coarser than traditional breadcrumbs. In Japanese, it is written as パン粉, which can be broken down into パン (pan) meaning bread, and 粉 (ko) meaning flour or powder. The proper pronunciation is PAWN-koh, unlike the “PAIN-koh” I hear a lot of celebrity chefs say. Just remember, panko is painless.

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This is a picture of PAWN-koh.

(If you went around Japan saying “PAIN-koh,” you could be mistaken for saying ペン子, which is broken down into ペン (pen) meaning pen, like the writing utensil, and 子 (ko) which means child and is also a common suffix for girls’ names. Basically, you’d be nicknaming your pen when you want to be talking about breadcrumbs. You probably don’t want to do that.)

 

 

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This is a picture of PAIN-koh.

Panko is widely available at most supermarkets and grocery stores, either in the baking aisle or Asian foods aisle.

 

Regardless of how you pronounce it, however, this panko baked cod recipe is really simple with only a few ingredients. I don’t dredge or do anything fancy (or messy), but I’m sure it’d taste great if you did. I like to keep things simple and make as little mess in the kitchen as possible.

 

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Mmm… Flaky and delicious.

 

There are undoubtedly countless ways to dress this up a little if you were going to serve it to guests, but this recipe is just the bare basics for a nice dinner at home with just a little effort! It makes two servings, so feel free to scale it up if necessary.

 

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I made this along with some pasta mix from a box and some sauteed zucchini and yellow squash. Really yummy and simple!

 

 

(Painless) Panko Baked Cod

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb of cod (or other mild-flavored fish such as pollock)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare a 13″ x 9″ baking pan with cooking spray. Rinse your fish in cold water to get rid of any scales or pieces of skin that may be hanging around. Set aside.
  2. In a gallon-size bag, combine the panko and lemon pepper. Add fish to bag and shake until coated.
  3. Place breaded fish in the baking pan and cover with any remaining bread crumbs.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until fish is flaky.
  5. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!

 

Baking

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

What’s better than coming home after a long day to the smell of stuffed peppers in the crockpot? And then knowing that dinner’s already done? I’ve been making this recipe a lot this school year because it’s easy, inexpensive, and super delicious. (I confess that I sometimes lick my plate clean.)

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This recipe is for two stuffed peppers in a small crockpot. If you want more, simply get a larger crockpot and double (or even triple) the recipe. Another great thing about this recipe is that you can customize it however you like. For example, you could add some sauteed onions and garlic to your stuffing, or use ground turkey instead of beef.

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You start out by cooking some rice, and while that’s going, you can cut the top off your peppers and take the seeds out. This would also be when you sautee whatever additional things you want to put in your peppers. (Although the following recipe doesn’t include it, use about half an onion and a clove of garlic, diced, per two peppers.)

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Once the rice is done and cooled off slightly, you’ll mix it up with the beef and seasonings. Then you stuff it in the peppers, pour some tomato sauce on top, and set your crockpot on low for about 6 hours. Then you’ll enjoy your peppers and feel like the King of New York!

 

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The leaning tower of pepper.

 

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup rice, dry
  • 2 large bell peppers
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)

Directions

  1. Cook the rice in whatever manner you prefer. While it’s cooking, prepare the peppers by taking their tops off and removing the seeds. Place them in the crockpot and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cooked rice with the beef, salt, black pepper, oregano, and basil. Stuff your peppers with it. (It’s okay if the stuffing comes up over the top of the peppers.)
  3. Pour the tomato sauce over the top of the stuffed peppers. Stick the lid on your crockpot and turn it on. Let it cook for about 6 hours on low.
  4. Enjoy!

 

Baking

Pintertest #8: Raspberry Pinwheel Pastries

These were really fun to make and eat, but unfortunately, they didn’t turn out as pretty as the Pinterest version. I believe that if you add in a couple additional steps, these would turn out pretty close. And they’d also be really cute to make for Valentine’s Day which is coming up on us quick.

 

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Not very pretty, but still fun to make and very yummy!

 

I’ve been wanting to use pastry dough for some time now, so shout-out to Yvette for picking this recipe! (You can find the original recipe from Just a Taste here.) Keep in mind that you will need to thaw your dough for 20-30 minutes at room temperature so that it’s soft but still cold.

In a nutshell, you’ll cut your two pastry sheets into four squares each and lay them on greased baking sheets. (The original recipe says to use wax paper, but I never seem to have any luck with the wax paper not sticking to everything.)

 

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These are really messy because I had to use frozen raspberries. Don’t use frozen raspberries.

 

Then you’ll mix up your cream cheese with sugar and lemon juice (make sure these are all around room temperature), place a spoonful of cream cheese and then raspberry jam in the center of your pastry squares, and plop some fresh raspberries on top. Next, you make cuts in the dough so that you can fold it up and make it look like a pinwheel.

 

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Fold ’em up and stick a toothpick in the center to hold it together.

 

I found that there was a lot of leftover cream cheese, which really bothered me because I had no idea what to do with it. I ended up eating it straight up and it tasted just like my Lemonade Freezer Pie. I imagine if you had some bagels, it’d go great on them as well. Down below, I’ve tweaked the recipe to avoid this problem. On the topic of leftovers, if you’ve got some leftover raspberries and lemon juice, my Lemon Raspberry Mug Cake can help take care of that.

These are best eaten the day you make them, but they can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a few days. I found that you can heat them back up if you pop them in the toaster oven, and they’re even still crispy and flaky! They’re great for both breakfast and dessert!

 

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In an attempt to use all the cream cheese, I probably put too much on the pastries, which may have been a factor in them not holding together.

 

One note of caution: do not use frozen raspberries. Thawed, previously frozen raspberries just make a huge mushy, juicy mess and look more like jam than raspberries. The store was cleaned out of fresh ones and I thought the frozen would be okay, but I was wrong. Anyway, hopefully with that note and the following tips, yours will come out looking much prettier than mine.

Raspberry Pinwheel Pastries

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 package, room temperature)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (17.3 oz package)
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 egg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease up a couple of baking sheets.
  2. If your pastry dough is significantly smaller than 10″ square, roll it out until it’s pretty close. The dough I used was already about 9 1/2″ square, so I didn’t bother rolling it out. Then, cut your dough into four equal squares and place on the baking sheets so that they’re not touching. Prick them several times with a fork.
  3. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla until smooth. Place about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese into the center of each square, forming a small circle. Next, place a tablespoon of jam on top of that. Place about four raspberries on top of the jam.
  4. Make cuts in the dough from the edge of the cream cheese circle to each corner. Whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush around the edges of each square.
  5. Take one corner slice and fold it on top of the raspberries. Brush the top of it with egg wash to help it stick better. Repeat for the other three corners, and brush the top of the pinwheel with egg wash. Take a toothpick and stab it through the center of the pinwheel to ensure it doesn’t come apart while baking. (The original recipe does not use toothpicks, but I think they would be very helpful.) Repeat for the remaining seven pastries.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy, rotating once halfway through.

(Find the original recipe here.)

Baking

Salsa Pork Chops

 

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Salsa pork chop served with yellow rice and steamed broccoli.

 

I told you I was going to start branching out into savory baked foods, and here you go! Lately, I’ve been getting tired of my plain garlic pan-seared pork chops and I wanted to spice things up a little (pun intended). Several years ago my brother made these pork chops baked in salsa and topped with cheese, and I thought that would be a great way to add flavor and keep in the moisture.

The recipe I’m about to share makes 1-2 servings. Since I’m cooking only for myself these days, I really don’t want to cook 3-4 chops and have to eat that for the next two weeks. And freezing/reheating pre-cooked pork chops doesn’t sound like a great idea to me. (See above about moisture.) If you’ve ever done that, though, let me know if it works!

 

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Always check your meats for doneness! Go here for tips on cooking pork.

 

Anyway, enough of my rambling. I found this recipe very yummy. I used a medium salsa and a Mexican cheese blend and it was perfect, but feel free to use whatever salsa and cheese that make your taste buds happy. I also made some yellow rice for a side and it went very well with the salsa. Spanish rice or that cilantro lime rice from Chipotle would probably pair nicely as well. Overall, it was a delicious meal and I plan on making it again!

Salsa Pork Chops

Ingredients

(Makes 1 pork chop. Scale it up if you desire more than one.)

  • 1 thick boneless, skinless pork chop
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 shredded cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and heat up the cooking oil in a frying pan. (If you have an oven-safe pan, use that.)
  2. Once the pan is hot, carefully place the pork chop in the oil. Sear for about a minute on all sides, including around the edges. Sprinkle each side with a little salt and pepper for flavor. Remove from heat.
  3. Place your pork chop in an oven-safe dish (or keep it in your pan if it’s oven-safe). Pour the salsa on top and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Check for doneness with a meat thermometer. (145°F for medium-rare or 160°F for medium.)
  4. Once it’s done, sprinkle the cheese on top and put it back in the oven for 1-2 minutes to melt. (This won’t make a huge difference to the doneness of the pork.)
  5. Let the pork chop rest before serving.

 

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Cheesy salsa goodness!

 

Baking · Uncategorized

Brownie Bit Cookies

My roommate was about to throw away some overbaked brownie edges when I told her that I might be able to use them. After all, I hate seeing food go to waste. That’s how I came up with the idea to make cookies with them.

 

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Creamed butter and sugar. What’s your name, man?

It’s pretty basic. You take your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and substitute brownie crumbs for the chocolate chips. It even works with regular brownie edges, if you’re not into overbaking yours. I wouldn’t recommend the fudgy center, however, as that would be hard to crumble.

 

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The following recipe assumes that you’ve already made your brownies and taken the edges off. You want about a cup of crumbles, which I found to be most of the edges of a 13 x 9 pan.

Brownie Bit Cookies

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I discovered that these are really good for dunking in hot cocoa!

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brownie edge crumbles

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until creamy. Add in the egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure it’s well incorporated.
  3. On a low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture until it just starts to form a dough. Be careful not to overmix.
  4. Fold in the brownie crumbles. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet. Leave about 2 inches between cookies as they will spread out a bit. Bake for 22-24 minutes or until golden brown around edges.