Big Fat Chicken Nuggets & Parsnip Fries

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Mom joined Jewel and me for our Monday night cooking. Mom had made a breaded chicken breast recipe recently that she thought the girls would like. I found this recipe which was similar but called for mayonnaise instead of bread crumbs. Mom was not convinced that this was all that healthy of a substitution but she want along with it. The girls really liked the honey mustard sauce last time I made it, so I made it again to go with the chicken breasts. Mom asked if Dora would eat a chicken breast, and I told her I thought she would if we called them big fat chicken nuggets. After the recent success of the parsley root fries, I decided to try parsnip fries.

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Melt in Your Mouth Chicken Breasts
Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 C homemade mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

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Preheat the oven to 375. Shred the cheese. Jewel found this to be hard work!

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Mix together the cheese, seasoning salt, pepper and garlic powder.

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Randomness courtesy of Jewel. If you don’t have any homemade mayonnaise go ahead and make that. Stir one cup of mayonnaise into the dry ingredients.

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Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. We lined it with parchment paper for easy clean-up.

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Top chicken breasts with sauce.

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Bake for 45 minutes. We topped them with fresh parsley to make them look fancy.

Roasted Parsnips
INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 pounds of parsnips (or so) peeled and cut into 2 1/2 inch batons
4 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup of stock – turkey stock, chicken stock or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
4 teaspoons drained, bottled horseradish
1/2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 Tbsp minced chives (we didn’t have any so we just left them out)
1/2 small garlic clove, minced.

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Cut parsnips into exactly 2-1/2″ sticks, ensuring that all sticks are precisely the same width. That’s how I teased Jewel when I saw her perfect handiwork. Actually it is nice if they are all about the same size so they all get done at the same time. This is a good job to delegate to an older child or a spouse who is an engineer-type.

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Pour olive oil in a roasting pan, add salt and pepper.

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Place the parsnips in the pan and toss with oil. Add the broth and cover pan with aluminum foil, put in hot oven. The recipe says to cook at 400 but we kept the oven at 375 until the chicken was done.

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Cooking can be hard work! Take a break and get off your feet for a few minutes.

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Check the parsnips at 20 minutes. Stir them and return to the oven. We may have taken the foil off at this point. Check parsnips frequently so that they don’t get mushy.

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I think we baked them for about 30 min.

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Honey Mustard Sauce
Ingredients:
3-4 Tbsp of honey
1.5 tsp mustard powder
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
pepper to taste
1/4 C oil (I used a combination of olive, walnut and toasted sesame oil)

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Put honey, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in blender or food processor.

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When well combined, keep the blade running and slowly drizzle oil in. Blend for 10 seconds after oil is fully combined. Taste test and adjust flavor as needed.

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When Dora got home from Lacrosse practice she asked what we were having for dinner. I told her, “big fat chicken nuggets,” and she responded, “like Sammy?”

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Everyone was very pleased with this meal. Oh, we also roasted Brussels sprouts for our green vegetable. The chicken breasts were very moist and flavorful. The leftovers were great additions to salads. I was concerned that the sesame oil flavor might be too strong for my family, but they all raved about the honey mustard sauce. I think that the sesame was a nice balance to the sweetness of the honey. The parsnips were flavorful, but the texture was softer than I would have preferred. Next time I will omit the broth and roast them uncovered. One option if you want to make the chicken breasts on a weeknight is you could prepare the sauce ahead of time. If you have plenty of fridge space you could even top them with the sauce and store in a casserole dish with a lid. Then you could just pop them in the oven when you get home and make some vegetables while the chicken is baking.

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Paleo Chicken Tenders and Fries with Honey Mustard

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Although I don’t like the weekend to end any more than the next employed person, I look forward to Mondays now. Tom takes Dora to Lacrosse practice, and Jewel and I hang out and act silly and cook dinner in our easily distracted way. This past Monday we did well getting dinner on the table at all, because we got off on a tangent about maps and spread topo maps of northeast Alabama all over the floor of Tom’s study. But I had promised Dora homemade chicken nuggets, so we had to get to work.

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Chicken nuggets are not comfort food for me. McDonald’s didn’t come out with chicken nuggets until I was old enough to prefer food with a texture other than “partially digested”, so I never acquired a taste for them. I didn’t realize that adults ate them until places like Tenders started cropping up. Huh. I have had decent handmade chicken tenders before though, so I knew it was possible for them to still taste like chicken. I had my eye on a recipe for parsley root fries for awhile, and I was excited to find parsley roots at Publix. Jewel and I got in a hurry with this meal and therefore forgot to take many pictures while we were cooking.

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Our first step was to make the Parsley Root Fries. My parsley roots were much smaller and scrawnier than the ones pictured in the recipe.

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Cutting them into slim French fry shapes proved to be a bit of a challenge. We used macadamia nut oil for our fries. Jewel did most of the prep on the parsley roots while I threw together some homemade mayonnaise. The recipe for the chicken tenders was loosely written, so I’ll post it how we made it:

Paleo Chicken Tenders
Ingredients:
• 4 free-range boneless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
• 1/4C Homemade Mayo
• 1/2C Almond meal or flour
• 1/4C Coconut Flour
• Your favorite Seasonings (I used Penzey’s Forward)
• Salt + Pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375. Cut the chicken breasts into tenders of desired size. Place mayo in a small bowl. Mix almond meal, coconut flour, seasoning, salt and pepper in a pie pan. Spray baking sheet with oil or grease with coconut oil. I found a spray coconut oil at Earth Fare so I used that. Dip tenders in the mayo to lightly coat, then dip in the dry mixture, place on baking sheet. I’m sorry I have no pictures, but it is the same process Dora uses for her fish sticks. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once.

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Dora was thrilled when she came home from practice to smell chicken tenders in the oven. She asked if we had any honey mustard, something I hadn’t even thought of. Jewel suggested that we make our own honey mustard, so I had her search for Paleo honey mustard, and she came up with this recipe.

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This meal was a huge hit with everyone. I wanted to capture the girls eating their meal, so Dora grabbed a carrot and Jewel grabbed her spoon.

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This is Jewel dissolving into one of her classic fits of laughter when she realized she had posed holding the tiny spoon.

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This was my meal after I already ate some of it. We also had leftover sweet potatoes and mustard greens. The potatoes were especially good because we baked them longer than usual. The parsley root fries were slightly sweet and completely delicious. Next time I’ll try using parsnips, which are more widely available and cheaper. The chicken tenders were not quite as crisp as I would have liked. I started them out at 350 as the original recipe recommended, but next time I’ll start out on 375. I also may try putting them on a rack. The flavor was superb. I really tasted the chicken rather than the breading or just salt. The honey mustard was not as sweet as commercial products, and it had both better flavor and texture. Even Dora commented that most honey mustards have an odd texture. She said that this is the best honey mustard she’s ever had, and she is a huge fan of honey mustard. I usually find it overly sweet, but this sauce was perfect. We had the leftover chicken tenders tonight, and Dora specifically asked if we still had some honey mustard left, so it is worth it to take the extra couple minutes to make the sauce. Enjoy!