Thursday, November 20, 2008

CEimB: Oven Fried Chicken

This is my first post for a new blogging group that I just joined

Craving Ellie in My Belly ("CEimB" -- just for fun, I'll go ahead and define some terms for my peeps back at the office!), which is a group that will be cooking its way through Ellie Krieger's "The Food You Crave."

After much deliberation, I decided to join CEimB because:

(1) I'm a joiner. It's what I do. I join, therefore I am.
(2) I've really been looking for a healthy cooking blogging group. I LOVE Tuesdays with Dorie and Barefoot Bloggers, but sometimes my arteries just get tired of being caught in the middle of the epic battle between Dorie and Ina over who can use the most butter. Light cooking feels more normal and familiar to me, and I've heard rave reviews about this cookbook. I've enjoyed doing the occasional Cooking Light Night post (thanks, Clara!) and reading Cooking Light Night posts by my blogger friends, so I thought it would be fun to try the light cooking concept in a more formal group.
(3) My work friends Amanda, Peggy, and Jen signed up for CEimB, and I didn't want to feel left out of the water cooler talk. I'm already the last to know all the office dirt since I only work part time. It's not that interesting, but still.
(4) I joined the group early enough that I might actually get to choose a recipe sometime before the next millennium!
(5) I respect any blogging group that goes the extra mile to come up with a rhyming group name.

So, here we go! The first recipe is for Oven Fried Chicken, which is theoretically the perfect choice for my family. While I almost always blog about how David and I like the food that I make, I rarely blog about what my children think of it. That's because my children don't eat what I cook. Really! It's not just a catchy profile slogan! My two older kids are maddeningly picky eaters, and chicken nuggets are among the foods they will eat, along with peanut butter waffles, fish sticks, grilled cheese sandwiches, Scooby cheese (it's like regular cheese but it comes in a Scooby Doo wrapper), french fries, grapes, and cereal. Their preferred eating style reminds me of the preferred decorating style of some of the hip interior designers of the mid-2000s: very monochromatic, very beige-on-beige. They will tolerate a punch of color in the form of ketchup, and in fairness to them, they'll eat a red apple or a piece of orange cantaloupe, and if all the planets align, the occasional green vegetable. But try to jazz up a naturally beige food like chicken or potatoes with green flecks, and it's freak-o-rama at the dinner table.

So I was excited about this one because it could potentially be marketed to them as chicken fingers and served with dipping sauce (aka ketchup). In fact, I decided to skip the thighs and cut the breasts into strips from the outset. Also, I knew that I could control the flavor and color content to maximize the chances that the 6 year old and 3 year old would eat it. And who knows? -- maybe it would even earn me rave reviews such as "I don't like it, but I can eat it without holding my nose." Oh yes, check your ego at the door before signing up for this parenting gig.

In terms of the ingredients, I knew that sesame seeds would not get me closer to my goal of getting my kids to eat these. So I skipped them. I also cut the cayenne down from 3/4 teaspoon to more like 1/4 teaspoon. See, blander already!

Other than those small changes, I stuck to the recipe, and these came together easily.

Crackers (I used Whole Grain Wheat Thins), corn flakes, garlic powder and a wee bit of cayenne:

And egg whites, yogurt, dijon & salt for the first dredging:

Aaaaaaaaand then dredge again in the crumb mixture.

I went downstairs to my Pam cellar and retrieved my finest 2008 Olive Oil Pam:

[I know you're going to ask, Amanda. Yes, I think I buy Pam even more obsessively than than I buy ice cream sundae toppings. No, I don't know what's wrong with me. But please continue to enable me and bring me any coupons you happen to see -- thanks!]

Lightly sprayed my chicken fingers, and baked:

Incidentally, I only used half the meat called for, and I still ran out of crumbs. That's why there are those three sorry little half naked chicken pieces at the bottom of my baking sheet. Next time, I think I'll increase the amount of the crumb mixture.

Plated the chicken with a careful eye towards the presentation:

And served to my toughest critics:

The verdict?

J, age 6: "Ummmmm. I don't really like it. Well, it's pretty good if you put a lot of ketchup on it. Actually, this is too spicy. And I put my cheese toast in the grape area so the bottom got soggy. May I please have dessert?"

E, age 3.5: "It's too cinnamon!"

C, age 14 months: Ate it with gusto, then chanted "muh, muh, muh, da! da! da! da!"(translation, "I want more. When is Daddy getting home?") and then as soon as I let her out of the high chair, headed straight to the pantry to eat a paper plate that was on the floor. She is so refreshingly easy to please.)

Mom, age 36 (the reasoned voice of objective reality): These really were a bit too spicy for most kids, I think, even with the smaller amount of cayenne. I'll leave the cayenne out next time so that my kids can come up with a different reason not to eat them. I thought this was excellent oven fried chicken. Nice and crispy on the outside, but the chicken stayed moist and tender, and had a great flavor. They definitely had a little kick to them. I assume they would have had a lot of kick if I used the full amount of cayenne called for in the recipe.

Dad, age 36.5 (really, almost a full year older than Mom): Really enjoyed these. Upon learning that they were too spicy for the kids, said "Great! More for me!"

Summary: I still think this is a family friendly recipe despite the fact that only one of my children ate them. I'll leave out the cayenne next time, but they'll definitely show up again in our rotation. They were really easy to throw together, and one of the better oven fried chicken recipes I've tried lately. All in all, this was a great way to kick off CEimB! Thanks for picking this, Macduff of Lonely Sidecar!!!

OVEN FRIED CHICKEN, from Ellie Krieger's "The Food You Crave"
1/2 sleeve (about 20) whole-grain salted crackers, pulsed in a food processor until fine (about 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 cups corn cereal flakes, pulsed in a food processor to fine crumbs (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 egg whites
1 cup lowfat, plain yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil cooking spray
4 medium sized skinless chicken breasts and 4 skinless chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry (about 3 1/2 pounds chicken)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil.

Combine the crackers and corn cereal crumbs, sesame seeds, cayenne, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Reserve.

In a large bowl, combine egg whites, yogurt, Dijon mustard, and salt. Add the chicken pieces and coat thoroughly with the yogurt mixture.

One at a time, dip the chicken pieces in the cracker mixture, packing crumbs onto chicken. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet and spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife.


Jamie said...

Hmmm...those sound good to me! I actually think this may be one cooking group I would want to join! I may look into it! Your posts always make me giggle! :)

Lady Baker said...

mmm! I think I know what I'm making for dinner this weekend!! :)

I think we need to dig deep here, Cath, and remember what happened as a child to have you so fear running out of Pam....

Lisa said...

These look delicious! The Pam is too funny. How nice for you to have food blogging co workers.

peggy said...

What the hey with the Pam. . .. Cathy!!! Truly, what's up with that? I think I'm going to check with my therapist and see if she has an opening. Your chicken looks beautiful. I really LOVED it. I mean LOVED it. So crunchy!!

Maria said...

I love the family input on these!! Good to know:) I love your Pam collection:)

Audrey said...

Can we have a little more information, please? Did you use the Pam Vintage 2008 with a smidgen of garlic and herbs, or the mellow varietal with just a hint of oakiness? Or is that where Elizabeth got the elusive note of cinnamon?

Not only does your chicken look great, but I feel SO MUCH better about the six jars of Skippy I just brought (pre-move) to the food collection box (sale + coupon + fear of unemployment). Now, if only I didn't have 14 boxes of pasta to pack (same reasoning) ... I didn't know there was an Ellie group - but I like her show and have collected some of her recipes. Will bookmark this one too.

Cathy said...

Peggy, thank you for saving your therapist's number for me. I promise that if I end up seeing one, the Pam thing will be on the list, but I can't promise that it will be particularly high up on the list.

Audrey, personally I thought that the 2006 Pam Organic Canola/Vegatable Oil Blend had a lovely bouquet of cinnamon, but I didn't use that one. So who knows what Elizabeth was thinking? I chose a simple, yet palate cleansing, 2008 Olive Oil Pam, with great results, I should add. Skippy -- yup, you're from New England alright! We ALWAYS ate Skippy growing up, and I never tried Peter Pan or Jif until I moved South. So you are not going to try to move all six Skippy jars cross country? I bet that the pasta will serve you well on the road!

Aggie said...

What a great post!! I really have to get this cookbook...can I hold out till Christmas, not sure now that I know there is blogging group for it!! I'm joining! I think the chicken looks great! You can always adjust the heat I guess!

Amanda said...

Cathy- You are your Pam and Smuckers crack me up!!!! I will definitely use tenders next time. Elizabeth looks really excited in the picture. They are all sssoooo cute!!!!

Amanda said...

Sorry- You AND your Pam and Smuckers

Jen said...

Cathy, what a great blog post! Thanks for welcoming me into the world of food blogging. ...and that PAM is too funny. I'm glad the kids almost liked the fried chicken! Maybe they will give the mac and cheese two thumbs up next week!

Aggie said...

Oh .... and I am cracking up about your Pam Cellar!!!

CB said...

Holy Pam batman! That is ALOT of Pam. Does your husband know you and Pam have a thing? HAHA. Loved all your reasoning for joining esp the name rhyming one. TY TY. I came up with it. I am a rhyming fool! Glad you and hubs (and 1/3 kids) like the recipe!
Clara @ iheartfood4thought

Pam said...

What an entertaining post. I can't believe your Pam stash - it's huge! I really love this cookbook because the recipes are healthy but not boring.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

My tagline is this too: my children don't eat what I cook. I'm impressed with your Pam collection and expect to see a similar ketchup collection in a later post! One time, my youngest daughter said she would "barf" if she had to eat what was for supper. Egos at the door for parenting - that's for sure! Great post!

Mary Ann said...

I love, love, love your Pam collection! That is too funny. I am glad I left out the cayenne after hearing how spicy it made this. My hubby even had leftovers for breakfast! If you get a chance you should make the Bonus recipes for Barefoot Bloggers. They are divine!
Glad you joined up with the Ellies- I look forward to more posts from you!

MacDuff said...

YOUR KIDS ARE SO CUTE!!!!! If you ever want to come to Boston and need a babysitter, call me.

I can't respond to the cayenne since we didn't use any, but the Old Bay was good. I think I would have added more than we did (about 3/4t) but I like things to have a little spice to them. And they did kind of need a dipping sauce...

So glad you joined the group. You and your family are excellent poster children for CEiMB!

mikky said...

lol... your kids so adorable... i'll try your recipe with my kids... :)

The Blonde Duck said...

I'm so excited! I love these! Here at the Pond we're big on fried food, and my poor husband is trying to lose weight. But he despises baked chicken b/c "it's squishy" (Has he met your children? They eat all the same things. I think they're from the same pod in space.) This looks like a winner! Yum!

And thanks for the support. :)

Laura said...

Does this mean no more dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets? I'm going to have to try this out on my family too (no cayenne for us though - the kids are very spicy-averse).

Your critics are adorable and I am quite envious of that Pam collection :-)

Karen said...

Cute post! My daughter is grown now, but thankfully she was never a picky eater. When she was in Kinder, her teacher once said that my daughter was the only kid in Kinder that brought anything green in her lunchbox!

Melissa said...

This is yet another group I've been contemplating joining, and with your chicken looking so yummy it's pushing me towards going for it! Glad you enjoyed these, even if the kids weren't big fans. Like your hubby said, it's more for you two!

Anonymous said...

Glad you joined the group for whatever reasons :) I also must say I am very impressed with your Pam collection.

Jacque said...

OMG, a Pam fetish! Girl, you'd better leave some Pam for the rest of the folks in your town, LOL. (Just teasing)

Mmm, those look yummy. At least your kids tried them, that's saying something.

What's for Supper? said...

Great post. Those kids are so cute! And that is a huge amount of Pam. I thought for a second that you may be testing out products for Pam. WOW! Glad you joined CEiMB!

Liz said...

Wow--forget the chicken, I want to see a whole post on Pam.

No, seriously. I am mesmerized by all the cans!

natalia said...

Ciao Cathy ! Thank you ! This chicken looks delicious maybe I should join too ! (I'll have to order the book, right?) Guess what, here in Italy we don't have Pam or similar , how could you live ?baci

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post! Your kiddies are adorable!!

We enjoyed this recipe! I think tenders are a great idea for this recipe - very kid-friendly!!

Cathy said...

Oh Laura, you KNOW that the dinosaur-shaped nuggets will always have a place at my table!

Natalia, ciao! No Pam in Italy? Hmmm. Somehow, I think that the breathtaking beauty, rich culture, and amazing FOOD in your country would help me get over the fact that it is a Pamless nation. I guess I would just have to make my own spray olive oil bottles from the olive trees in my own backyard (that's how it is, right? Please?)

Andrea said...

I love your Pam collection! Next time my husband complains about my 5ish cans of nonstick spray I will have to tell him about your stash! This post was so fun to read, the whole first half I was thinking to myself, oh please, let her kids like these, come on. I completely understand how you feel, and I am jealous your kids eat grilled cheese, we had a lunch battle today around a grilled cheese that ended up on the floor. Fish sticks are a favorite around here, and my husband and I don't even eat them, I think I bought them once at Sam's out of desperation -- remembering reading somewhere kids like fishsticks, lo and behold they did, so now we buy them. Sorry for the super long comment, but I have to tell you that your Whitesnake/fennel comparison helped me out with one of those little fun fights with the husband about a song, I always am singing to something but never know the band, yesterday it was "Here I Go Again" and he asks me what band? I had no idea and asked for a clue, well he said "long wild hair band" -- and then your blog post popped into my head "Whitesnake!" I shouted, he was impressed, thanks for my small victory Cathy :)

Debinhawaii said...

Great post! I think about joining the CEimB group because I love Ellie and the book and the healthy cooking but then I think I can't do another one! I may have to live through you. I don't even know what to say on the Pam--sure you aren't on their company payroll? ;-)

singletoncooks said...

Your "Pam Cellar" is quite amazing. I'm always overwhelmed by all of the different choices (especially if you add the different brands of spray into the mix -- then my head starts to spin!). Oven fried chicken looks super yummy. I've been meaning to make some and this is a great inspiration!

Laurie said...

OMG - your PAM collection is truly impressive. Thanks for making me laugh with your description of the little food critics. Same thing happens at my house.

My son just hates everything on principle, and my three daughters are picky in weird waves: I'm a vegegarian, okay I'll eat chicken and fish, no carbs! I'm allergic to tomatoes (because I don't like them), I hate salad, except tonight when we have company and Mom didn't plan on me eating any.

Also loved your comments on Dorie and Ina. Love those gals, but there is no way I could eat that way even once a week.

Your chicken recipe is a keeper. Even my fussy boy would eat these, sans cayenne of course.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I have to say I cracked up when I saw the Pam, how hilarious!!! You are to funny Cathy!! Once again I love coming here to hear all about your adventures. I swear you need to write a book!!

n.o.e said...

I feel so inadequate with my one little half-empty can of Pam in the cupboard, and NO back ups in the pantry.

I'm glad you joined another group because it will be more wonderful posts to read. If I were to join another group, it would be a healthy one, that's for certain.

Those divided plates really brought it all back! Wow, we had quite the collection of those; they keep the food nice and separate except when the cheese toast wanders in to the grape territory. Oh, and your chicken looks great!

Joanna said...

the amount of pam you have in your pantry is hilarious. i am cracking up as i type this. i guess everybody likes to collect something haha

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Is that true about the PAM??? OMG! The chicken looks great, but I can't get over the PAM, ahahah!

Di said...

OMG, Cathy, you had me laughing hysterically with the reviews from your kiddos! Brianna (my almost 6yo) kept asking me what was so funny. Her reaction would have been pretty much identical to J's. Fortunately, my 2yo still eats mostly like your 14mo. And now I'd better go, since they're both having a meltdown...

Matt said...

"It's too cinnamon!" is the kind of off the wall kid comment that I love. Especially since there was no cinnamon in it!

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