Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Chicken Tenders (Take 2)

Somethings taste better reheated after sitting in the refrigerator overnight (chili, lasagna, etc.) but who would have thought that chicken tenders also fit into that category. On Sunday night I caught an episode of Ham on the Street on Food Network. The subject of this episode was guilty pleasures. Among the deep fried brownie (and everything else you can think of) and the twinkie tiramisu type dish, the host showed off a recipe for healthier chicken tenders.

They looked good on the tv and seemed really simple so I gave them a try. The secret to making them healthier than normal chicken tenders was that these are not fried. Instead you are to dip the chicken strips into a spiced light mayo and then into panko bread crumbs (panko are the type used for tempura, also known as Japanese bread crumbs). You then bake the strips at 350C until done.

When first baked the tenders had great flavor and were fully cooked (but not dry inside) but they were not that crunchy. They just didn't get all that browned on the outside. I was afraid to leave them in the oven longer because I didn't want them to dry out. So I ate a few that night and put the rest in the refrigerator.

Then last night, I cranked up the toaster oven to about 400 C and laid the chicken tenders out on the mini baking sheet. I baked them in the toaster over for about 15 minutes. At this point they were getting browned and crispy. What was great was that they still had the same flavor as the night before and were still moist inside. I think dipping the strips in the mayo helped them stay moist.

The recipe that was shown on the show used curry powder, salt, and pepper for the spices in the mayo. I used worchester sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. I think the spices are really where you can get creative and try different combinations. If you don't go overboard with any one spice, you should get tastey chicken tenders when you are done.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Tropical Muffins

So what do you get when you have 4 very ripe bananas and a pineapple cake mix? Well, I don't know, but if you add in a can of mandarin oranges, you get Tropical Muffins!

I had 4 bananas that were very very ripe and it was at the point where I either make something with them or I toss them. Not one to waste, I thought about making some banana muffins. But also one to take a somewhat lazy approach, I went looking for cake mixes. Since I've been eating healthier lately, I haven't been buying any mixes so all that was left in the cabinet was a pineapple mix. At that point I thought that banana and pineapple would go well enough together, but that something it still needed something else. Upon opening another cabinet, I found a can of mandarin oranges. Then I thought some more about it and came the conclusion that if I didn't add any nuts to the muffins they would just be uniced cupcakes. Thankfully I keep a bag of walnuts in the freezer (they stay fresh longer that way).

Everything was now set. I prepared to make Pineapple-orange-banana walnut muffins. The cake mix called for 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of oil (I think), and a cup of water. Since the oranges were packed in about a cup of light syrup, I omitted the water. And I knew that bananas and such were great for keeping things moist, so I also omitted the oil. The batter came together like normal cake/muffin batter consistency.

To make getting the batter into the cups easier, I used an ice cream scoop. Its a great idea for anytime that you have to get a lot of equal sized portions out quick. The muffins only took 20 minutes to bake at 350 C. I probably could have left in the oven a little longer and gotten the tops more browned, but this way they were extra moist.

I brought them into work this morning (letting my fitness class get first dibs). There were about 30 muffins on the tray and between a few people at the gym and my coworkers in my building they were all gone in under an hour. I've gotten lots of compliments so far, so I guess they came out really well.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Kolachki from Rudy's Strudel and Bakery

Since it was a very nice night last evening, I walked to the comic book store. It wasn't that long of a walk, 15-20 minutes, and it felt good. While heading towards the shop I came across Rudy's Bakery. The bakery is right near the comic book shop and although I had seen the sign many times before, I never read the whole thing to see that it was a bakery. After buying my comics, I made a quick stop into Rudy's.

Its a small place, but very nice. They have some tables set up in case you wanted to eat your treats there and they have a few display cases showing off everything. I couldn't decide between all the choices so I opted for a variety of Kolachki. Rudy's makes kolachki in raspberry, apricot, pineapple, cheese, nut, and prune flavors. I bought a dozen (2 of each) for $2.75.

Rudy's also has a wide variety of cakes, strudels, breads, and cookies. They also make traditional polish foods like pierogies (I'll have to try them sometime) and stuffed cabbage.

I tried a few of the kolachki last night and each one was great. They were very fresh and the dough was tender and flakey. I brought the extras into work this morning to share. Everyone agreed on how good they were. I picked up a copy of their menu and I will be sure to try more of their offerings. If you are ever over in Parma on Ridge Rd. look for the maroon sign for Rudy's. I'm pretty sure you will like whatever you get.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Shrimp and Scallop Skewers

I apologize again for the lack of a picture. I was all set to take a picture of the skewers on the grill last night and quickly realized that I left my digital camera at work. If I pick more of these up, I will take a picture later.

I was at Giant Eagle the other night and while looking at the frozen shrimp section saw a package of shrimp and scallop skewers. They had 3 varieties, a plain version, a garlic/butter version, and a garlic and spice (I think) version. After looking at the nutritional stats, I picked up a bag of the plain variety. The other ones were not all that bad, but they were pretty high in sodium. I think the pack was on sale for $4.99 (but that could be the regular price, I'm not 100% sure). In the pack, there were 5 skewers which they say are 2.5 servings. From the size of the shrimp and scallops, I think 2 skewers would work as a serving.

The package had a few different cooking options, but the quickest and I think easiest of the 3 was to grill them. I had let them thaw during the day and they were ready to go by dinner. Since it was just shrimp and scallops, they took no time to cook on the grill. I think the package said 2 minutes per side.

They had a really good taste. The scallops were still tender and the shrimp was cooked perfectly. I could have used these to make a fancy plated meal, but I just pulled everything off the skewers and chowed down. These aren't bad for the price. I'm sure that I could get the shrimp and bay scallops from the fish counter and put them on my own skewers for less money, but for the convenience (and since I was only making 5 skewers), these are a great.

If you see them at the grocery store, give them a try. If you try one of the other varieties, let me know what you think of them.

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