Copy Cat Chick-Fil-A Chicken Nuggets – Crazy Cooking Challenge #11

This month’s Crazy Cooking Challenge theme was fried chicken. I was excited and not excited about this challenge all at the same time. I’ve been trying to lose this stubborn baby weight, so accordingly, I’ve been eating a bit more healthy. Fried chicken isn’t known for its health benefits. However, I’ve never fried anything before, and I love to try new things in the kitchen, so off I went in search of the perfect fried chicken recipe. I bookmarked seven different recipes, but when I saw this recipe for a copy cat of Chick-Fil-A’s delicious chicken nuggets, I knew I had a winner! Chick-Fil-A is without a doubt my favorite fast food restaurant, and I probably ate there once a week when we still lived in Virginia. The small town we live in now has every single fast food joint known to man, except my beloved Chick-Fil-A, so I’ve had to do without except for the rare treat if I’m shopping somewhere that has one. So Chick-Fil-A, if you happen upon my little blog here, please, please, please come to my town! I promise I’ll visit frequently. 🙂

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I found this gem on Pinterest (of course!) and it led me to the fabulous Amy of My Name is Snickerdoodle. This must be a popular recipe, because it has been pinned over 250,000! I can see why it is so popular, because it was so, so, so good and tasted almost exactly like the chicken nuggets at Chick-Fil-A! The chicken bites soak in a milk and egg mixture for a few hours, then they are coated in a mixture of flour, powdered sugar, salt, and pepper, and finally fried in either peanut or canola oil (or in my case a mixture of both) until crispy and cooked through. So easy and so good! We devoured these for dinner tonight, and I will certainly make them again! I can’t wait to see what everyone else cooked up this month…I am on the lookout for a more traditional fried chicken recipe to try!

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
2 TBSP powdered sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
peanut oil (is best) or canola oil

In a medium bowl whisk the egg and stir in the milk. Trim any fat away from chicken. Cube chicken into bite size pieces. Place chicken in milk mixture,and cover. Let it ‘marinate’ for 2-4 hours in the fridge. This will make the chicken very nice and tender. In a gallon size resealable baggie combine flour, powdered sugar, salt and pepper. Seal and shake to combine. Place about 2 inches of oil in a medium deep pot. Over medium high heat (more towards the high side) heat oil until hot. If using a thermometer let the temperature reach 375°. If you don’t have a fancy gadget like most people, I always test my oil by dropping a few drops of water into it. You want it to sizzle and not pop too much. Adjust your heat if necessary. Using a fork or tongs remove cut chicken from milk mixture and place in the flour mixture. Seal and shake until nuggets are completely coated. Place about a 6-8 nuggets into hot oil and let them cook until golden brown, turning half way through once the edge of your chicken starts to turn white. About 1 minute each side. Always double check to see if any chicken you make is cooked through. I always just make a tiny cut to see if it’s pink. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all nuggets are cooked. Serve with your favorite sauce!

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Strawberry Orange Oatmeal Smoothie – Crazy Cooking Challenge #10

This month’s Crazy Cooking Challenge theme was fruit smoothies, which couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. I started a fitness boot camp on May 1st and since it falls during dinner time two nights a week and early on a Saturday morning, I’ve been relying on smoothies as a quick and healthy snack/meal about an hour or so before my workouts. I’ve seen oatmeal smoothies on Pinterest over the last few months, and when I saw this one on Bran Appetit, I knew I found the one I really wanted to try! I also got lucky and found another healthy living blog that I love and cannot wait to try more of her recipes!  Since I’m on a big smoothie kick, I REALLY cannot wait to see what everyone came up with this month…I imagine there are going to be a ton of great options!

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So, about this fabulous smoothie! It was very easy to throw together and is made with ingredients that I almost always have around the house, except for the chia seeds, which I found on Amazon. I actually really enjoyed the nutty flavor of the oatmeal in this, which was subtle but definitely there. It was very filling too, which is exactly what I am looking for prior to hard workout. The husband and tiny man were not as impressed with the oatmeal flavor, which was fine because there was more for me! I cannot wait to try some different oatmeal smoothie recipes!

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp chia seeds
1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup ice
1/4 tsp vanilla

Add the oats and 1/2 cup milk to your blender and let it sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight, if you can, to soften the oats a little.

In the morning, add the strawberries, orange juice, milk, ice, and vanilla and blend until the mixture is smooth.

Source:  Bran Appetit

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Lemon Blueberry Muffins – Crazy Cooking Challenege #8

Wow, how is it April already? I swear this year is flying by! One of the things I wanted to start with my family is a Saturday breakfast tradition. Saturdays are usually the only day during the week that we don’t have to run around crazy in the morning, so I though having a nice, homemade breakfast to enjoy as a family on a leasurly Saturday morning would be a great tradition to start. It also helps that we are huge fans of breakfast food around here. Up until now, I’ve mostly scrambled some eggs, and maybe cooked up some sausage and/or bacon and called it good, but I wanted to start branching out and trying some different kinds of breakfasts. So I was very excited about this month’s Crazy Cooking Challenge theme – Blueberry Muffins!

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I found this recipe for Lemon Blueberry Muffins over on Savory Sweet Life.  I am so glad I discovered her blog, and have already bookmarked several recipes that I cannot WAIT to try!  It’s no secret that I am a big fan of lemon, and one of my favorite flavor combinations is lemon and blueberry, so these muffins were right up my alley.  I was not disappointed!  The lemon flavor wasn’t overpowering, which works well for us since the husband is a purist when it comes to his blueberry muffins, and he enjoyed quite a few without complaint!  It only took me about 10 minutes to mix everything up, and after 25 minutes of baking time, we were ready to rock.  The only change I made was I omitted the turbinado sugar from the top as I didn’t have any.  Definitely give this a try for a quick and satisfying breakfast treat!

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a medium mixing bowl, cream sugar, butter, oil, and lemon zest for 3 minutes until light in color and creamy on medium speed using a mixer. Add sour cream, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla extract beating for 2 minutes. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt gently mixing everything for an additional minute until everything is fully incorporated, approximately 2 minutes. Batter will be nice and thick. Gently fold in the blueberries. Line a muffin tin with paper cups and pour batter 3/4 full into each muffin cup. Bake for 12 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Bake for an additional 12-15 minutes or until the center of the muffins springs back when touched.

Source:  Sweet Savory Life

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Peasant Pasta – Crazy Cooking Challenge #7

Now that I’m back to blogging more regularly, I wanted to find some kind of cooking challenge to join up with again, but one that didn’t require a huge time committment and allowed me some flexibility on recipe selection since I live with some picky eaters.  I was very excited to find the Crazy Cooking Challenge over on Mom’s Crazy Cooking!  Each month, she chooses a theme, and everyone in the group cooks/bakes a recipe that fits in that theme, and that recipe must come from another food blog.  Considering I follow at least 80 food blogs in my Google Reader, I knew this would be a challenge that I would really enjoy!

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This month’s theme was Spaghetti with Red Sauce.  We are a big pasta loving household, so I was very excited with this month’s theme!  My search for the perfect recipe took me to the blog Good Eats n’ Sweet Treats and this fantastic Peasant Pasta.  Pasta + sausage + red sauce = the happiest boys in the world in this house.  Both the husband and toddler man LOVE sausage and pasta, so I knew I had to make this.  We were not disappointed!  Even I, the one who really rather dislikes sausage, loved it!  The leftovers are just as good the next day.  This is orginally a Rachael Ray recipe from her show 30-Minute Meals.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried any of her recipes, but they very rarely only take me 30 minutes.  Usually by the time it’s said and done, I’ve spent AT LEAST 45 minutes dealing with it.  This was an hoenst-to-God under 30 minute meal, and I will be making this again very, very soon!  Make sure you check out Jaime’s blog…there are a ton of fabulous recipes over there!

Peasant Pasta

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, available in bulk at butcher counter or, 2 links, casings removed
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, available in bulk at butcher counter or, 4 links, casings removed
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup half and half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
24 leaves fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
1 pound thin spaghetti, cooked to al dente
Grated Italian cheese, for passing

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan.

Add sausage meat. Crumble sausage meat as it browns. Add chopped garlic to the pan. When all of the crumbles have browned evenly, deglaze the pan drippings using chicken or vegetable broth.

Stir in crushed tomatoes and bring the sauce up to a bubble, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir cream into your sauce, this will blush the color and cut the acidity of the tomatoes.

Season with salt and pepper. Stir basil into your sauce to combine. Toss hot drained spaghetti in pan with the sauce, then transfer pasta to serving bowl.

Source:  Slightly adapted from Good Eats n’ Sweet Treats, originally from Rachael Ray

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