When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quick, kid-friendly fare (homemade chicken fingers and "chips")

In today's fast-paced world, families are often looking for quick meals to eat in the short time between when everyone gets home from work and school and when they need to be somewhere else for evening activities.  We have two weekday nights like that; Noah has swim practice at 5:15 every Tuesday and Thursday evening, and it's always a bit of a scramble to fit in homework and a healthy dinner before we rush back out the door.  I have to be sure to plan something that's relatively easy to make, that will give Noah the protein and energy he needs for swimming, and that the boys are likely to eat in a reasonable amount of time, which, if you've read about their selective eating habits, is no easy feat!

These homemade, gluten-free chicken fingers are one of my perfect solutions:  they're quick to prepare and cook, and quick to disappear off the boys' plates, because Noah and Will really love them!  Served with these roasted sweet and russet potato "chips", and a mixed green salad loaded with colourful veggies, they make a nutritious dinner that is hands down better than a Happy Meal.

Crispy Corn Flake Chicken Fingers

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced into strips lengthwise
3 cups corn flake cereal (I use Nature's Path brand, which is gluten-free, and sweetened with fruit juice rather than sugar)
sea salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a food processor, pulse corn flake cereal to make coarse crumbs.  Pour cereal crumbs into a shallow dish, and add sea salt and pepper to taste.  Mix crumbs with seasonings.

Place chicken breast strips a few at a time into the cereal crumb mixture.  Press crumbs onto chicken strips with your hands (or a fork, if you're squeamish like I am!) until each strip is well-coated, then place chicken strips onto a wire rack on a baking sheet. 
Once all chicken strips are coated with cereal crumbs, place baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink inside.  Remove from oven and serve.

The corn flake coating crisps up nicely in the oven and results in great tasting chicken fingers with a crunchy outside and a tender inside.  Leftover chicken fingers packed with a variety of raw veggies make a great kids' lunch at school the next day, too.  The best part about them, though, is that on busy weeknights, they make all of us happy!

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