There are so many foods (especially from my childhood) that I have long loved but that evade me in the kitchen. Things like tater tots and chicken tenders are favorites of mine, but things I would never think to make on my own. I don’t know why – especially after making these chicken tenders – because they are so incredibly easy! And the best part is – when you make indulgent foods at home you can control what goes into them, and how healthy or unhealthy they’ll be.
Take for example these chicken tenders, with all the flavor of a fried chicken nugget, but less the deep-frying and layers of oil and fat. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when a greasy meal just fits the bill, but for an everyday dish or a simple weeknight meal, I can’t justify indulging in the calories, but certainly don’t want to skimp on taste. These chicken tenders are dipped in a sweet and spicy honey-dijon dip and then rolled in spiced breadcrumbs, and baked instead of fried. The resulting tenders are moist and flavorful – less crispy and crunchy then a friend piece of chicken – but healthier and definitely more flavorful.
To go alongside the tenders, I made a creamy honey mustard dipping sauce. It had a tangy bite from the dijon, but was balanced nicely by the sweet, smooth honey. I used an idea from another recipe that suggested a bit of mayonnaise and a bit of sour cream to thicken the sauce and add a creamy element (which it really did), and I finished it with a squeeze of lemon, which made the dip taste especially fresh and zesty. Unfortunately I didn’t measure out the ingredients, but with something like a sauce I rarely follow a recipe, just mix together ingredients, adding a bit of each along the way, until I reach the desired taste and consistency. If you’d like to recreate this, I used dijon mustard, honey, a bit of mayonaisse and a bit of sour cream, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
What’s your favorite childhood food or indulgent recipe that you like to make at home?
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
3 Tbs butter, melted
heaping 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbs honey
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into vertical strips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay a baking rack over a baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
1) In a pie plate, combine the panko, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne. In another pie plate, or a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the butter, mustard, and honey.
2) Working one chicken strip at a time, dip the chicken first into the mustard mixture, then the panko. Turn and pat the breadcrumbs on all sides to be sure each piece of chicken is fully coated.
3) Carefully arrange the chicken tenders on the baking sheet, and cook 25-30 minutes, or until they are golden-brown and the chicken is cooked through. Serve with your preferred dipping sauce (honey mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, ranch..).