I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel stretched to the limit in every aspect of the phrase. My time is stretched, my money is stretched, my energy is stretched, my patience is stretched, and so on and so forth. I’m constantly looking for tricks or shortcuts that will make our lives better (easier, healthier, simpler, a multitude of words would fit here). Today I would like to share one of my favorite tricks to keep up my sleeve…or in my freezer.
I have an ultra picky eater at my house. His pallet does not include beautiful and delicious vegetables. It is fruit, cheese, chicken and meat. Which when I type it out, it doesn’t sound that bad. Although, I think that’s only because I added fruit to the mix. Anyway, we went through a phase where he would flip out when we saw Chick-fil-a because he loved their nuggets so much. I started buying Morning Star brand (vegetarian “chicken” nuggets) to keep in the freezer, so he wasn’t always eating fried chicken, as delicious as it is.
It wasn’t until I was on bed rest with my third, when my sweet mother came to stay and help us out, that my eyes were opened to the simplicity of Captain Crunch Chicken Nuggets. I think Planet Hollywood has a version of these in their restaurants. Now when my mom first threw this out there, I was so opposed to the Captain Crunch part of it. I, however, got over it quickly because that is precisely what makes these guys rock. I’m sure there is an organic, whole wheat, no sugar variety but I have not ventured out to finding them. After eating them all night, I requested that she help me stock my freezer for the months ahead. I now constantly have at least a one gallon Ziploc bag full of them at any given time.
You can easily make this recipe for a single dinner. It will take much less time, but will create the same amount of mess. I typically make about 4 lbs of chicken at a time. I will typically wait for the 1.99/lb special at Sprouts or grab the 1.99/lb tenderloins that Crest always has.
Begin by crushing about 4 cups of Captain Crunch (more or less depending on the amount of chicken you’re making). You can use a food processor, but I do the old fashion rolling pin and ziplock method because it is one less dish to wash.
Next, prep your egg wash by combining 2 eggs to 1Tbsp of water. Beat until well combined and you no longer see any of the albumen (clear runny stuff).
In a separate bowl, add 2 tsp salt and 2 tsp pepper to 2 c flour. Don’t be shy when seasoning this because it is how you season the chicken.
Now that all of your dry ingredients are prepped, clear a space for cutting up chicken. This is gross and disgusting, but it’s time to suck it up, buttercup, and get your hands messy. I cut them in to 1/2 in -1 in pieces. If you think you might be getting too big, cut them in half.
Next spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, I use coconut oil spray, it’s healthier and a little sweeter. You will put the encrusted chicken directly on the sheet and finish with another spritz of oil.
Dredge the chicken in seasoned flour, dip in the egg wash, and roll in the captain crunch. Be sure to press the cereal into the nuggets to give it the most flavor.
Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes and then flip the nuggets and bake for 5 more minutes. Be sure that they are completely cooked, but not overdone. I let them cool and toss them in a gallon Ziploc bag and throw them in the freezer. When you are ready to eat them, bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, so they are heated through.
The last step that I feel is the most important of this whole process is to sanitize. Cross contamination can happen without you knowing it. I wipe down my entire kitchen because I am terrified of salmonella. All poultry carries the bacteria, that is why you make sure it is cooked to the proper temperature, never use knives or utensils that have been used on raw meat for anything else before they are washed, wipe down all surfaces thoroughly, and wash your hands.
Alright my friends, this does take some time to do, however you will thank me for it when you are set for the nights or lunches when you don’t have a meal planned.