Thai Chicken Tenders

My husband loved chicken tenders. I think more because they’re usually deep fried than for their texture which I find generally to be stringy because they’re often overcooked. I found an adaptable recipe online so I decided to give them a try. It’s quite an easy recipe to make but I’d suggest you make the sauce first so the tenders don’t sit around after frying waiting for the sauce. Like most things that are fried, once dipped in the sauce, they will quickly lose their crunch so serve immediately after you finish preparation. Makes 2 servings.

First, put the oil on to heat. In a deep 12″ skillet heat over medium high heat:

approximately 3/4″ of oil (I used a mix of olive and avocado oil)

Next prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk together:

1/3 cup soy sauce substitute

1 tablespoon date sugar

1/2 tablespoon sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon pumpkin seed butter (or any butter you like – sunflower, peanut, tahini, etc.)

1 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)

2 tablespoons water (more may be added if the sauce gets too thick)

1-2 teaspoons arrowroot (I used 2 and the sauce got much too thick)

1 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic puree

Cook over medium heat until thickened. I had to add about 1/4 cup of water to thin mine out and I think now that I probably should have made it even thinner so that the sauce wasn’t as thick on the tenders but I didn’t mind it since the sauce is so delicious!

Next coat ONE POUND of chicken tenders. Mix together in a shallow dish:

1 cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika (or if you want them really spicy, use red pepper flakes instead)

In a separate shallow dish add:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Dip each tender into the milk to coat and then into the crumb mixture. Gently place in the oil that should now be at 350 degrees (after you add the tenders if the oil is still at temperature, reduce heat from medium high to medium). Cook on the first side for approximately 3-4 minutes before turning and browning on the other side for another 2-3 minutes or until firm. Remove from fat. Be sure not to crowd the tenders in the skillet. Drain on paper towels. When all the tenders are fried, dip each one into the sauce making sure to coat evenly. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh cilantro or green scallions.

I know, I know, more brown food. But as Anne Burrell says “Brown foot GOOD!”

Sesame Noodle Salad

It’s been very hot in Minnesota so I don’t feel much like cooking never mind eating something hot. I’ve been looking for salad recipes and this one is scrumptious and quite easy to put together. Most of the vegetables are raw which means some cutting but very little cooking. Boiling noodles, no problem there. And the sauce can be whisked together very easily. Add some cold meat if you like; I added some grilled chicken breast to mine but even without that, it’s very filling and delicious. This recipe makes two servings as a main dish or 4 as a side dish.

First, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When the water boils add:

6-8 ounces Thai rice noodles or whatever type of gluten-free pasta your family likes

1 teaspoon salt

Cook following package directions. I used the Thai Kitchen brown rice noodles which you throw in boiling water and remove from heat, let sit in the hot water for 5 minutes then drain and put in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.

Next, prepare the vegetables. I can’t eat raw onions or sweet pepper so I sauteed them for several minutes to soften on the cooktop but feel free to add them raw if you like them that way. Into a medium (4-quart sized bowl), combine:

6-8 (depending on size) baby onions (the white parts of the scallions, should be about a half-inch in diameter; these are sometimes called spring onions)

1/2 of a yellow, orange, or red sweet bell pepper, sliced thin

8-10 baby carrots, grated, diced, chopped (I used the food processor for this) or one regular-sized carrot

2 baby cucumbers, peeled and diced

4 stalks of celery, diced

1 small can diced water chestnuts OR 1/2 medium jicama, diced

Next, make the sauce. In a small bowl add:

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces/condiments/dressings)

2 tablespoons seed or nut butter (I used my pumpkin seed butter)

1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon date syrup

1/2 teaspoon garlic puree (or crushed garlic)

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce or siracha (more if you want it quite spicy; I think 1 teaspoon would have been better)

1-3 tablespoons hot water to bring the sauce to the right consistency

Whisk together everything except the water. If the sauce seems too thick (it should be the consistency of a creamy salad dressing), add the water a little at a time.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables, drain the noodles and toss them with:

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

and add them to the bowl and mix to combine. Cut:

1-2 scallion greens

On the diagonal as a garnish. Add more sesame seeds as a garnish as well (about 1 tablespoon). Serve.

To serve as a main dish, add some diced grilled chicken breast; diced beef; shredded turkey breast; or other protein like grilled tofu. This would be the perfect vehicle for leftover rotisserie chicken or turkey breast.

Easy No Bake Tiramisu Cookies

I remember as a child my mother would give us mocha in place of cocoa or coffee. Of course, back then, decaffeinated coffee didn’t exist and parents were told caffeine was bad for growing children. Thankfully, it didn’t occur to her that chocolate has as much caffeine as coffee! So she would put a little instant coffee into our cocoa. I must admit to this day, I much prefer mocha to plain cocoa. Now that chocolate is no longer on my menu, I’ve substituted carob in it’s place and I think it works just fine. These are more like a flat fudgy truffle than a cookie. Very quick and easy to make using a food processor. These are the perfect “cookies” to make during the summer when no one wants to turn on their oven.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine:

1 generous cup gluten-free rolled oats

1 tablespoon carob powder (of course you could also use cocoa powder)

1 tablespoon instant coffee or expresso

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup protein powder

2 tablespoons date sugar

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds*

1/4 cup seed or nut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder

Blend until the mixture is slightly crumbly and most of the oats are ground along with the whole pumpkin seeds. Slowly pour in the non-dairy milk, about 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until the mixture forms a dough. It should be a little sticky but mostly dry. Scoop out about 1 to 2 tablespoons, depending on how large you’d like the “cookies”, roll into a ball and then flatten in your palm. Place on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper after coating each cookie with a mixture of:

1 tablespoon carob powder

1 tablespoon crushed instant coffee or expresso powder

1 tablespoon date sugar

I mixed the above in a small bowl and then coated each side with the carob mixture by putting the cookie flat into the bowl and then turning it over. The mixture stuck just fine without any pressure. Makes 10-12 depending on size. Remove to a large plate or small baking dish and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Store in zip-lock bags in the refrigerator.

*I used pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed butter but any type of seed or nut will work – sunflower seed butter and sunflower seeds would be just as good.

Easy No-Bake Carob Quinoa Bites

If you’re looking for a delicious, easy to make snack, this just might work for you. It’s very easy to put together and has a wide variety of possible flavors. I made carob bites but mocha, coffee, vanilla, pumpkin, etc., etc., etc., would work. It’s very easy to do.

First, line a small baking sheet with waxed paper. In a medium bowl combine:

1 cup cooked quinoa (I packed my 1 cup measure like one would brown sugar)*

1/4 cup carob powder (or other powder of choice, see variations below)

1/4 cup date syrup (agave, coconut, maple or honey all would work depending on the flavor desired)

1/4 cup seed or nut butter (again can vary depending on flavor)

1 tablespoon whole chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Mix all the above together until well combined. Using a small cookie scoop (mine was 1 tablespoon), scoop out the mixture and drop on the prepared baking sheet. Freeze for 1-3 hours depending on size. My 1 tablespoon scoop produced 24 bites and they froze within 1 hour.

*Quinoa is very quick and easy to cook. For this recipe combine 1/2 cup quinoa, a pinch of salt, and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for approximately 15 minutes or until water is gone and quinoa is translucent.

VARIATIONS:

COFFEE: Use 1/4 cup instant coffee and delete the vanilla extract, add coffee extract or a little water if mixture is too tight

MOCHA: Use 2 tablespoons instant coffee and 2 tablespoons carob powder (or cocoa if possible)

PUMPKIN: Use 1/4 cup pumpkin flavored protein powder (not pumpkin seed protein powder which has no taste)

VANILLA: Use 1/4 cup plain or vanilla protein powder; I would suggest using white quinoa and white chia seeds for vanilla as well as agave nectar

ALMOND: Use 1/4 cup almond butter, a 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and plain protein powder

MAPLE: Would probably work best with 1/4 cup maple syrup, maple extract instead of vanilla and the mildest of butters, perhaps tahini or cashew with plain or maple flavored protein powder

Use your imagination! As many combinations as we can think of would be possible for these bites.