coconut chicken nuggets … everybody wants some

I know there are a lot of folks out there who love The Nugget.  Who depend on it.

But we’ve never been big nugget eaters in our house.

Maybe it’s because I ate a primarily vegetarian diet for so many years.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen one too many documentaries on the manufacture of fast food versions.

Or maybe it just wasn’t on my radar … or I didn’t know how easy it was to make …

Until …

IMG_5829 Meet the Coconut Chicken Nugget.

I’m not going to deny it … these were totally inspired by Abby’s fried chicken.

But the first time I tried to make hers, I didn’t have Italian-seasoned Panko.  Actually, I was at my mom’s, and she didn’t have oregano or garlic or Italian seasoning in her cupboard.  But I did have a cup of shredded coconut.  I had sea salt.  And I had coconut oil.

They are sweeter than Abby’s.  And nuttier.  (I was thinking that using finely chopped almonds instead of bread-crumbs would be a great gluten-free option, but I haven’t tried it yet because everyone loves these so much.)

And there wasn’t one bite left after dinner.

Next thing I knew, they became a staple of our diet.

We eat them for dinner at home.  We take them for picnics on the go.

They make easy protein-packed road-trip snacks.

For Four Servings:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chicken breasts, 3 chicken thighs (cut into 1 1/2 inch bites)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat Panko-style bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut (we get our from the bulk aisle at the Coop, but it’s available in bags, too)
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil (plus more, if you need it)

DIRECTIONS:

coconut nuggets PNG

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the chicken into 1 1/2 – 2 inch “bites.”

Combine the bread crumbs, coconut and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat the eggs in another medium bowl.

Add half of the chicken to the egg.  Let soak for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, begin to heat a large saucepan.  If you’re using stainless steel, let the pan get good and hot before adding the coconut oil.  Hot pan.  Cold oil.  Heating the pan before adding the oil goes a long way toward making the pan “non-stick,” and a LOT easier to clean.

While the coconut oil melts, move the chicken from the egg into the coconut-bread-crumb bowl and toss until well coated.   And put the second half of your chicken to soak in the remaining egg.  By then, your oil should be good and hot.  (You can check this by dropping a few drops of water into the pan … if it sizzles, it’s hot enough.)

Transfer the coconut coated chicken (piece by piece) into the sizzling coconut oil.  While they cook on one side (for about 3 minutes), put the chicken that’s been soaking in the egg, into the coconut-crust.  Also, taking a page from Abby’s book, line a baking dish with brown paper (a great way to re-use brown-paper grocery bags).

Turn the chicken, cooking for another 3-4 minutes.  Then transfer fried chicken to the baking dish.

IMG_5828

Repeat with the second batch of chicken.  And then add that to the baking dish.  (If you feel like you need to add a little more coconut oil to the pan, the time to do that is between batches, so it has time to heat up again.)

Bake for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  (These take less time than Abby’s because they are smaller.)

And if we were having a Superbowl Party tomorrow, I’d probably make two batches … and serve them with a few different dipping sauces (like a yogurt sauce with maple, a spicy honey mustard and maybe a buffalo hot sauce, which would be a great contrast to the sweet crunchy coconut coating).  In fact, I might just make them and turn our super bowl watching into a party!

IMG_5847

So whatever your nugget needs … I hope you’ll give these a go.

seasonally inappropriate coconut milk ice cream … and happy birthday Abby!

Last night we celebrated Abby’s birthday (which is actually today).

We had a simple dinner … fried chicken, roasted root veggies, a salad and apple pie with maple coconut ice cream.  It was delicious.  And perfectly Abby.

But before I share my “ancient family secret” for tasty dairy free coconut milk ice cream (which we love, even though we aren’t a dairy free family), I’d like to take a moment to say something about Abby.

IMG_5293

Because she’s pretty amazing.

She’s one of those people who can immediately make everyone comfortable … just by walking into the room.

She’s an incredible mom … one of those moms who makes it look really easy.  She can stop an argument between toddlers without interrupting her train of thought.

Her photographs … well … she didn’t give me permission to repost these but … her photographs speak for themselves (she does family portraits and baby photos … in case you’re interested 🙂

a1000-62

a1000-21

a1000-9

The thing is … Abby is love.  Not the air-kiss-on-the-cheek-love ya-mean it-love.  But Genuine Love.

Unpretentious.

Unassuming.

Unadulterated love.

She is love of family.

Love of friends.

Love of food.

Love of life.

And all of that love permeates everything she does and everyone she meets.

Which makes me a pretty lucky gal, actually (not to turn this into a post about me) … You see, I’m one of those people who believe that we do get to choose our family.  Sure, we’re born into a unit.  Mom.  Dad.  Sisters.  Brothers.  Aunts.  Uncles.  blah blah blah.  But we spend our lives accumulating the people we want to share it with.  We get to choose our mate.  We choose our friends.  So why not choose people with whom we’d like to have as family?  Who we love and respect and enjoy.

So … I’m the lucky one.  That day at the Dinosaur Playground when our little one decided that Abby’s little guy was going to be her friend.

IMG_6384

Because that was the day I got to meet my new family.

(And now for the recipe for the maple coconut milk ice cream that I promised yesterday … which is seriously a favorite in our house … like … we can’t keep coconut milk in the house because it’s too dang tasty!)

Maple Coconut Milk Ice Cream (makes about 8-10 servings)

IMG_5312

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 14 oz. cans of organic coconut milk (we use full fat because I like the creamy ice cream texture!  “Light” will make it more like ice milk)
  • 2/3 cup of maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

IMG_5236

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk together all of the ingredients.

Turn on your ice cream maker.

Once it’s spinning, pour in the coconut milk mixture.

Let it spin for about 15 minutes (checking occasionally to make sure things are progressing) — the time spent in the ice cream machine is going to depend on your ice cream maker.  Fifteen-twenty minutes is about as long as it needs to go in our Cuisinart ICE-21.

IMG_5273

It will start to “firm up.”  Before it becomes butter-like, remove from the ice cream maker into a freezer safe container and freeze for a few hours before serving.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ABBY!

love, Jeanne