One of the most important parts of parenting is allowing your children to explore who they are. It can be the most terrifying and exhausting experience of your life, especially with cooking. The whole flame, heat, burn thing is a bit frightening with kids. But sometimes you need to throw a little excitement and danger into the mix. Well, at least excitement. So I say, start small. Crack some eggs, spread some flour, make a mess. There are so many things you can do to get kids involved in cooking. Eventually, they might find their own intuitive spirit about food. Such is the case with this recipe.
Stiletto2 and one of her best friends love to make "creations". Someday I will share with you the blue water terrace cake. Now that was frightening. But until then you will have to be amazed at this simple little recipe they cook up frequently. Way better than any chicken nuggets you get from a grocery store or at a fast food trough (note I didn't call it a restaurant). They took my breading recipe for frying fish, added some ingenuity, set up a station, and sprinkled a little Diva love and care. Presto they created the best chicken nuggets, ahemmmm, I mean bites you ever ate.
- 6 Boneless Chicken Breasts
- 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour (Enough For Dredging)
- 1 Cup Skim Milk
- 1 1/2 - 2 Cups Of Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1 - 2 Cups Of Vegetable Oil (Enough To Fill Pan About 1/2 Inch)
- Heat the oil in a relatively flat pan on the stove to about medium. You will need to adjust this throughout to avoid burning the Panko.
- Do not wash the chicken.
- Cut the chicken into about 1 1/2" pieces. The size will determine how long they cook. Not too big of the Panko will burn.
- Place three shallow bowls in a line and fill each one with flour, milk and Panko.
- Dredge the chicken in the flour. You can season the flour if you wish, but the Divas do not.
- Dip the floured chicken into the milk and then roll into the Panko.
- Place the Panko dredged chicken into the oil heated pan and cook about 8 minutes each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Size of chicken and temperature of oil will determine ultimate cooking time. Use a meat thermometer to check if you are uncertain. It should be 165 degrees. Click here for a great food safety cooking chart.
- Once done, place on towel covered plate.
- Serve with hot sauce. We like Frank's Red Hot Cayenne Sauce. Some may prefer their's with ketchup.
About 270 calories per serving.Tips
- I really hate the taste of canola oil. I think it tastes like the inside of a stale petroleum drum. Go figure. Anyway, I never use it. So I would suggest getting a good vegetable oil. I primarily use the vegetable oil (soybean) from Costco.
- Do not wash the chicken. This just spreads the chicken juices around the sink and your kitchen. Anything bad will be cooked off during the cooking process.
- I prefer to use fresh chicken. I think the texture of chicken changes when you freeze it.
Growing up in a small prairie town in the hot summer with not much to do, one tends to remember very specific childhood aha moments. My older brother was a bit of a mystery to me as he was 16 years older and either in college or married ever since I could remember. When he came home, we had loads of fun. Especially when he cheated at playing cards, but that's another story. One day while outside we were eating watermelon and he started to put salt on his. I thought, whoa! Who puts salt on fruit? He said try it, you will really love it. Well, he was right. Salted watermelon was just like putting salt on raw potatoes or tomatoes or cucumbers right from the garden. It helps the flavor dance on your tongue. So I was inspired to combine a few salty ingredients with some watermelon. Perhaps this salad will become your aha dancing tongue summer moment.
- 1 Large Cucumbers
- Salt To Brine Cucumbers
- 1 Tablespoon Light Mayonnaise
- 1 Tablepoon Skim Milk
- 1 Teaspoon Vinegar (Apple Cider Or A Fruit Flavor)
- 1 Teaspoon Sugar
- 6 Cups Seedless Watermelon
- 2 Thin Slices Prosciutto
- 8 Tablespoons Goat Cheese
- Salt & Pepper For Seasoning
- Slice the cucumbers using a mandolin. Salt and set aside in colander to drain. Preferably about an hour.
- Place cucumbers on paper towel and dab remaining water off.
- Mix mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, and sugar. Add cucumbers and place in refrigerator. It is best if they sit for another hour, but if needed you could use after about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Cut the watermelon into rectangles. Really, any shape will do. Stack the slices in a bowl.
- Spread cucumber slices on either side of the watermelon. You may have cucumber left over.
- Chop the prosciutto and place it around the watermelon and cucumber.
- Crumble goat cheese over salad.
- Spoon a bit of cucumber dressing over the salad.
- Season with salt and pepper.
About 140 calories per serving.
A friend of mine I met during my college years while we were both waiters at a local Mexican restaurant makes a wonderful cheesy egg dish. But first, you should know that she has the most delightful personality, an incredible sense of humor, a voracious love of coffee and about a thousand voices including the most convincing baby voice. So, of course we hit it off famously. Many times our restaurant gang would end up at her house either after a late night shift or in the morning for brunch. Along with her very strong and aromatic coffee, she would make her famous cheesy eggs. I'm convinced the magic to cooking them is the love she put into that pan because simply all she did otherwise was just cook the cheese right into the eggs as they were scrambling. They were creamy and delicious; melt in your mouth good. I honestly could not eat enough of them. So I have been making versions of her eggs now for years for my family and I finally decided it was time to "skinny" them up because I've put on a few pounds over the years eating those dang eggs. So here is my version of Debi's Cheesy Eggs albeit a little bit skinnier, just like I'm hoping to be!
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges
- 2 Slices Kirkland Lean Ham
- Spray Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Optional Hot Sauce For Serving
- Heat a large non stick pan to medium.
- Chop the ham
- Spray the pan with oil.
- Add the ham and stir until starting to warm.
- Add the cheese wedges and lower heat to medium low.
- Once the cheese starts to soften and melt quickly whisk the eggs and add them to the pan.
- Stir as the cheese melts and the eggs start to set.
- Cooking the eggs on a lower temperature will take a little longer than normal. Once cooked you may season to taste.
- Serve with fruit and strong coffee of course!
About 260 calories per serving. You could lower the calorie count by about 35 calories if you substitute 1/4 cup egg white for one of the eggs.Tips
Eggs scramble best if the pan is already hot, the pan temperature is lower than normal, and you whisk them well right before adding them.
I can count on one hand the number of times I had seafood growing up. (Canned tuna doesn't count.) My father really didn't like seafood. I'm not sure if it was because he had to endure lutefisk or if it was because my mother couldn't cook seafood or that seafood wasn't really plentiful in the 60's and 70's on the prairie, essentially the geographical center of North America and a long way away from either coast or the gulf. I didn't start having seafood on a regular basis until I met the Trophy Wife who hails from Door County, Wisconsin. (Yes, God's Country! I know. I've heard it a million times.) With two large bodies of water on either side, they were practically swimming in seafood. Well, at least really large lake food. So I have learned to both eat and cook seafood. I try not to overcook it and I try to serve it in a light way just like it came from the ocean or swam in the really large lake or was inspired by the light blue summer sky of the North Dakota grasslands. The prairie never knew what it was missing.
- 10 Medium Sized Carrots Sliced
- 30 Brussels Sprouts Cut In Half
- 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Fennel
- 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Onion
- 2 Pounds Tail On Shrimp (You Could Use Prawns)
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 10 Tbs Butter
- 3 Tbs Olive Oil
- Juice Of Two Lemons
- 1 Cup White Wine (Pinot Grigio If You Have It)
- Salt & Pepper
- Melt the butter with olive oil over medium heat in a large pan or pot.
- Add the Brussels sprouts cut in half with the cut side down so they brown a bit.
- Use a mandolin to slice the carrots consistently. Add them once the sprouts are cooked about half way. Maybe 5 minutes into the cooking. Add the garlic, fennel, and onion. Season.
- Cook until the carrots just start to get soft, about 5 -8 minutes.
- Add the drained and rinsed shrimp, lemon juice and the White Wine. Season.
- Toss and cook about 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. They should be pink. You may need to cover the last few minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed.
- Serve over whipped potatoes. I prefer whipped to mashed in this dish because I like the smooth summer texture. You could also serve alone or with rice or pasta.
About 375 calories per serving without the potatoes or starch.Tips
For a low carb alternative serve this without a starch.
You could cut the butter out and reduce calories, but trust me, it isn't worth it.
This past Monday Stiletto2 got up and made me a breakfast of banana pancakes and coffee; and served it to me in bed. I think it was the best gift a stay at home dad can get on a Monday morning. After that I took her out to practice driving in the school parking lot where we drove over two curbs and a pylon. I didn't blow a gasket and after she got to go to the Twins game with Pistol2, her boyfriend. Perhaps she had a successful plan with her pancakes in bed scheme? So today, I got up and made her pancakes in return. A new one which she liked very much. I hope you enjoy it too. I promise, I had no scheme with the Nutella, bacon, or chocolate...really.
- 1 Cup Cool Water
- 1 1/8 Cup Krusteaz Pancake Mix
- 4 Slices Cooked Bacon Diced
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons Nutella
- 1/2 Hershey's Chocolate Bar Chopped
- Butter For Topping
- Non Stick Spray Or Bacon Fat For Cooking
- Cook bacon and drain until cool.
- Dice the bacon.
- Heat the Nutella in a microwave approximately 15 seconds.
- Combine the Nutella and water with a whisk.
- Add the pancake mix and stir with a fork until combined. Do not over sir.
- Add the chocolate and bacon and stir to combine.
- Add water or pancake mix to adjust thickness.
- Cook in nonstick spray oiled pan or fry in bacon fat. Cook until first side starts to bubble then flip for another minute or so.
- Serve with butter as is or with an egg and bacon side.
About 240 calories per serving cooked in non stick spray without butter topping.Tips
If you want more bacon flavor, definitely fry the cakes in the bacon fat. However, you will need to adjust the calories upward.
On cold mornings at the cabin when I was a boy, my mother used to make a wonderful breakfast cake from mashed potatoes and a little egg and butter. She'd fry it up in a pan and serve it with a side of eggs and bacon. I can still feel the chill and the mist in the air. There seemed like nothing better. After making her potato cakes for years, I thought, what is stopping me from improving it. Well I did and the secret is in the pork fat because as we all know: Pork Fat Rules.Ingredients
- 1 Cup Dehydrated Potatoes (Flakes Or Buds)
- 1 Cup Warm Water
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 Tablespoon Butter (More For Topping)
- 1/2 Tablespoon Bacon Grease
- 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
- Fresh Ground Pepper
- Non Stick Spray Or Butter For Frying
- If you do not have bacon grease saved in the refrigerator, you will need to render some bacon and remove the grease and let it cool so it doesn't cook the egg.
- Your water should be warm, but not boiling. Mix the water and the potatoes with the salt.
- Add the egg and mix well. Add the butter and the bacon grease.
- Divide into four portions and make thick patties.
- Fry in non stick pan approximately 4 minutes on each side over medium heat until they are golden brown.
- Serve with butter as is or with an egg and bacon side.
About 150 calories per cake.
Rendering bacon fat seems to have disappeared from home making practices. My grandmother and mother always used bacon fat. I know we are all up in arms about being healthy with lower fat and sodium, but you don't need very much to add great flavor to a dish. It also makes the best dressing base, especially if you combine it with olive oil. So next time you cook up some bacon, drain off the fat and save a bit in a jar in the refrigerator. It keeps quite a long time.
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The parents of Stiletto #1's boyfriend (I refer to him as Pistol #1) invited us over for New Year's Eve this past year. They are a blast, creative, and oh so fun. They introduced us to the sidecar cocktail. (I didn't even know what that was.) Let's just say they are waaaaaay, more hipster than I am. I loved it and I enjoy their company even more, so I dedicate my version of the classic sidecar cocktail to them, the hipster parents Pistol #1.Ingredients
- 1 1/2 Ounces Brandy
- 1/2 Ounce Cointreau
- 1/2 Ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 1/2 Ounce Simple Syrup
- Sugar (For Glass Rim)
- Lemon Juice (For Glass Rim)
There are two options for preparation:Preparation Hipster Dad
Preparation Hipster Mom
- Rim a low ball with lemon juice and then sugar.
- Place all ingredients in a low ball with ice.
- Rim a martini glass with lemon juice and then sugar.
- Place all ingredients in a shaker with ice.
- Shake until frozen on the outside.
- Strain into martini glass.
- Garnish with lemon
Let's not go there.Tips
Make simple syrup fast by placing equal amounts of water and sugar in a glass bowl or measuring cup and microwave until sugar is melted. This happens very quickly. Be careful not to burn yourself as this is very hot.