Chef Lisa Appleton knows the value of a childhood classic, but she’s not afraid to get a little creative in the kitchen. Here’s her take on homemade chicken nuggets.
As a kid, was there any better meal than chicken nuggets? They’re the perfect finger food, and the perfect vessel for practically any sauce. But what if you could make the chicken nuggets themselves more flavorful? The secret to the perfect nugget lies in your favorite snack foods.
A good nugget coating needs to be something crispy or crunchy, but that doesn’t always have to be breadcrumbs. Pretzels, potato chips, and Fritos all make for a delicious coating. Choose your favorite snack and crush into pieces the size of breadcrumbs, it will work just fine. A toss in flour and a dip in beaten egg will get any of these things to stick and coat the chicken pieces. This hands-off recipe calls for baking in the oven. There’s no hot oil and no messy stove to clean up. Grab your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy.
Baked Chicken Nugget Recipe
1 to 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ to 2 cups coating of your choice (breadcrumbs, crushed Ritz crackers, chopped pecans, crushed Fritos, crushed potato chips and crushed pretzels)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a sheet pan with foil, and lightly oil the foil. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into approximately 1 ½ -inch pieces, and season with salt and pepper.
2. Place the flour and beaten egg in two separate bowls. Place the coating in a third bowl. (I did 6 different coatings for fun, but you only need one.)
3. Working a few pieces at a time, thoroughly coat the seasoned chicken in the flour (shaking of any excess), then in the beaten egg (letting the excess drip off), then in the coating (pressing to adhere). Transfer to the prepared sheet pan.
4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. If you want to brown them a bit more, broil on high for 2 to 3 minutes after baking. Transfer to a plate and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Chefs love to sing the praises of canned fish. They’re affordable, shelf-stable, and a great way to add depth of flavor to almost any dish. For the uninitiated, they can be slightly intimidating. If you’re ready to hop on board the anchovy-flavored bandwagon, consider this a primer.
The difference between a sardine and an anchovy
There’s a wide world of tinned fish available to the supermarket shopper, but the two most popular options are sardines and anchovies. Even though they’re both small and oily, these tinned fish have distinctly different flavors, appearances, and origins. Sardines are native to the southern Mediterranean. They’re larger than anchovies, and are in the same family as herring. When compared to sardines, anchovies are even smaller and more oily. Although we tend to paint them with a broad brush, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations lists over 140 types of anchovies. The main commercial anchovy is the European anchovy.
Can you substitute one for the other?
It’s not a good idea to substitute anchovies for sardines or vice versa. These two fish behave very differently when cooked. Anchovies tend to melt away, flavoring the entire dish with their savory saltiness. Sardines are meatier and more mellow. The thick flesh of a sardine won’t dissolve the way an anchovy fillet will. Trying to emulsify a sardine into a caesar salad dressing would be nothing short of catastrophic.
How to Eat Anchovies
Chef John Adler didn’t always love tinned fish. Growing up, he watched with a pinched nose while his father polished off full tins of King Oscar sardines on buttered wheat toast for lunch. Of course, his opinion has evolved. He’s cured and pickled his own fish as a professional chef, and at home he happily uses sardines, canned clams, and pickled mussels.
This recipe showcases Chef John’s true love: the anchovy. It was inspired by his summer cooking in Italy, where the kitchen was always filled with fresh seafood. There, fresh anchovies were cured in salt and packed in olive oil before serving over braised bitter greens with a hefty squeeze of lemon.
This recipe is a home-friendly interpretation of that meal, using canned anchovies.
Braised Greens with Anchovy
2 bunches dandelion greens (or chicory, curly kale, turnip greens or mustards) – washed and roughly chopped
4 small (or 2 medium-large) cloves garlic – roughly chopped
6 anchovy fillets
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Juice of 1/2 lemon (or 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar)
1. In a large pan over medium heat, heat oil and butter until the butter is fully melted and begins to sizzle. Add the garlic and cook 1- 2 minutes until beginning to soften.
2. Add in anchovy fillets and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until the anchovies have begun to break down.
3. Add the greens and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly wilted. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice (or vinegar). Stir to incorporate.
4. Transfer to a serving dish and finish with a healthy glug of full-bodied olive oil.
Serves 2 – 4 as a side dish, or as a perfectly acceptable lunch for one with a few slices of good bread and cheese.
How to Eat Sardines
If you like a tuna sandwich, you’ll love Chef Kristen Merris-Huffman’s meaty sardine toast. This is easy to pull together for a quick lunch or snack. It feels elegant, and yet it’s delightfully budget-friendly.
Calabrian-Chili Butter Sardine Toast
4 slices of crusty bread
1/2 stick of butter, room temperature
1 Tbsp chopped Calabrian chiles
1 can of sardines
2 Tbsp chopped scallions
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Place slices of bread on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
2. Place room temperature butter and Calabrian chiles in a bowl and mix until well incorporated.
4. Drain the oil or water from the canned sardines. Place the fish, scallions, lemon juice, and olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Gently toss the ingredients together, flaking the fish slightly with the back of a spoon.
5. Once the bread is cool, spread with a generous portion of butter and top with the scallion sardine mixture. Top with flaky salt and drizzle with more olive oil if you are feeling fancy. Enjoy!
This week, the extra time at home inspired chef Lisa Appleton to revive a childhood classic. Luckily for all of us, her mom’s traditional tuna noodle casserole is a pantry-friendly dish of nostalgia.
Comfort food, comfort food, comfort food. I can keep cooking it, but I always want more. As a native midwesterner, nothing says comfort for me like a casserole.
Growing up, my favorite version of this dish was tuna noodle casserole. It’s incredibly simple to make, and comes together with just a few ingredients. As an adult, it’s not something I prepare regularly. Recently, I’ve been having a craving. Something about spending all this time at home contemplating the contents of my pantry made me feel like it was the perfect time to revive a childhood classic.
Although there are many recipes to choose from online and in cookbooks, this particular version comes from my mother’s memory. The original source is unknown, but to me that makes it more special. You could sauté some onions and celery to add into the mix, or even some fresh mushrooms, but I wanted to stick to the original.
After tasting, I can definitely say it lived up to the hype. This dish is nostalgia at its finest. In the future, I may jazz it up with more fresh ingredients, or create an even crunchier topping, but for now it was just the comfort I was looking for.
Recipe: The Appleton Family’s Tuna Noodle Casserole
1 16oz bag egg noodles (fresh or dried, either works)
10 to 20 Ritz crackers (amount is to your liking, can even add more)
2 to 3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can tuna, drained (packed in water)
Frozen peas, defrosted (amount is to your liking)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, crush the Ritz crackers with a rolling pin to the size of breadcrumbs. Stir the crushed ritz into the melted butter.
3.Drain the noodles and return to the pot. Stir in the 3 cans of soup and tuna. Fold in the peas. Transfer to a 13×9 baking dish.
4.Top with the buttered Ritz breadcrumbs. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the Ritz have browned, and the casserole is bubbling around the edges. Let stand for about 5 minute to cool slightly. Enjoy!
When Chef Alex Saggiomo found himself with an excess of beans, he turned to Nancy Silverton. Her book A Twist of the Wrist is full of recipes that can be executed with mostly pantry staples. There, he found two recipes for bean soup: one Italian, one southwestern. Between the two, you’ll find the perfect beans for any occasion.
These recipes use canned beans, which means they come together quickly. From shelf to bowl, each soup takes about 20 minutes. While there are some fresh elements, the bulk of both soups can be made with pantry staples. Just think of the fresh ingredients as optional added flair.
1. In a large pot, combine the beans (and their liquid), garlic, salt, thyme, basil, and 2 cups of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until the flavors meld.
2. Remove 1 1/2 cups of beans from the soup; set aside. Using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, puree until smooth.
3.Add the reserved beans and shredded cabbage to the soup; cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is slightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Divide the soup evenly among four bowls. Top each with 1TB of Parmesan cheese. If using, add a drizzle of olive oil and a slice of prosciutto.
Spicy Black Bean Soup
yields 4 servings
1 small onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, grated
4 15-ounce cans black beans
1 cup green chile salsa
2TB cilantro leaves
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, ripe
Sour cream (optional)
Hot sauce (optional)
1. In a large pot, heat 3TB of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant.
2. Add the beans (and their liquid); season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat; once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the salsa; stir to combine. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender, puree until smooth.
4. In a small bowl, combine the cilantro, lime zest and juice, scallion, and avocado; season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the soup evenly among four bowls. Top with the relish, and drizzle with sour cream and hot sauce if using. Enjoy!
Every month, Lori Yates from Foxes Love Lemons takes a lesson she learned in culinary school, while working with some of the country’s best chefs, and brings it into the home kitchen, where her tips will help make you a faster, better, and more confident cook. Welcome to her column, Home Chef. Today, we’re talking about citrus fruits, one of the instrument deliverers of flavor to your Blue Apron supper. (If you’ve cooked with us a while, you know how much we love lime and lemon zest!)
Before I went to culinary school, my idea of squeezing a lemon was just that: cut the lemon in half, squeeze, and maybe hold my other hand under the lemon so I could catch stray seeds before they made it into my meal. While this method works just fine when you need a small touch of lemon juice or you’re in a hurry, it’s not the most efficient way to juice a lot of lemons (think: lemon meringue pie).
In fact, it was when I was making a lemon meringue pie that the pastry chef instructor noticed me fishing stray seeds out of my measuring cup as I was juicing lemons. He came over and told me to go fetch a fine-mesh strainer and a fork. He then showed me the simplest, but most brilliant way to get all the juice out of any citrus fruit.
Roll the fruit on the counter to get its juices flowing, then cut it in half. Rest a fine-mesh strainer over a large liquid measuring cup. Holding the fruit over the strainer, twist a fork into the flesh of the fruit while you squeeze the fruit at the same time, making sure to scrape around in there with the fork until every last drop of juice is released. The strainer will catch all the pulp and seeds, and only pure, fresh lemon juice will be waiting for you in your measuring cup. While I’ve been given lots of fancy citrus juicing gadgets as gifts, nothing really compares with the simple combination of a fork and mesh strainer for getting every last drop.
If you really want to get your money’s worth from your citrus fruit, be sure to always zest your fruits before you halve and juice them. Even if you don’t need the zest immediately, zest them anyway and throw the zest in a freezer bag and freeze it for later use. But if you are using the zest right away (to say, add even more citrus flavor to that lemon meringue pie), make sure you zest your fruit directly into your mixing bowl instead of onto a cutting board and then transferring it to the bowl. This way, you don’t lose any of the essential citrus oils that lend so much aromatic flavor.
If possible, make zesting the fruit the first step of your recipe. Zest your fruit directly into the bowl you’ll be using, and just dip your measuring spoon into the bowl to give it a quick measure if needed. Then, add the rest of the ingredients for your recipe into the bowl with the zest.
One final tip – once you zest a citrus fruit, it will dry out very quickly. If you need zest, but not the juice at the same time, make sure you wrap the zested fruit in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until you are ready to use its juice.
Blue Apron meals are pre-portioned so you can avoid extra ingredients cluttering up your refrigerator, but sometimes you may be cooking for one or simply can’t finish your half of the Chicken, Baby Artichoke & Spinach Casserole.
Leftovers happen–but they don’t have to go to waste. Though simple microwave reheating can’t always get your dish back to its former just-cooked glory, our tips will help you reinvigorate almost anything that’s been left languishing in your fridge.
First things first: Be sure to tightly wrap your leftovers before storing them to prevent as much water loss as possible, and for safety’s sake, don’t let foods sit out for hours before you chill them. The USDA recommends refrigerating leftovers within two hours and eating them within three to four days.
HOW TO REHEAT…
That perfectly seared medium-rare hanger steak will never taste the same as it did hot off the grill, but America’s Test Kitchen has a simple tip for reheating steak: Reheat it like you cooked it, but in reverse. Warm the steak in the oven until its center reaches 110°F, then sear it on both sides on the stovetop over high heat.
Reheated rice can sometimes get crunchy or mushy. Avoid this by placing the rice in a microwave-safe bowl with an ice cube tucked into the middle. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a hole to let steam out. Zap it for a minute and a half and voilà your coconut rice is soft and fluffy again.
Try steaming scrambled eggs or a leftover frittata for 5 to 8 minutes to avoid the dry, rubbery texture that comes from microwaving eggs. If you’re heating up quiche, wrap it in foil and warm it in the oven at 300°F for 20 to 25 minutes.
According to Andrew Janjigian, associate editor at Cook’s Illustrated, the best tool for reheating pizza is a griddle, but a lidded skillet will also do. Place the slices on a cold griddle, cover, set the temperature to 200°F. You’ll get a crisp crust and gooey cheese after baking for 30 minutes.
Pasta with sauce can be reheated in the microwave. RecipeTips.com suggests you place the leftover pasta in a deep baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap (try not to let it touch the pasta) and leave one corner slightly open to allow steam to escape. Microwave on medium power for one and a half minutes. Check to see if it is warmed through. If it’s not, continue to cook in 15-second intervals until it is.
PopSugar has good tips for reheating pasta on the stove: Start off by melting a pat of butter or oil in a large saucepan. Add the pasta along with 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (whichever was used to make the sauce). Stir until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is soft.
To reheat a dish of lasagna, preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a skewer to evenly poke holes all the way through the lasagna noodles. Fill these holes with a total of a couple tablespoons of milk or water. Cover the dish with foil, tightly sealing the edges, and bake for about 20 minutes.
Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn of amazingribs.com says to wrap the meat in two layers of foil along with 1/4 cup of water or stock. If you are using barbecue sauce, slather the meat all over. Place the foil-wrapped meat on a baking pan and heat in a preheated oven set to 225°F for about an hour. Unwrap the ribs and place under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes with the door open until the sauce begins to bubble. Turn the ribs over and broil for a few more minutes until sauce is bubbly on that side, too.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place a dab of butter or a tablespoon of white wine on the leftover fish and seal it inside a tinfoil pocket. Place it directly on the oven rack for 10 to 15 minutes, until warmed through.
The guys at Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken say your best chance at a decent reprise meal is to throw leftover pieces on a baking sheet and bake uncovered at 250°F for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat up a little oil in a skillet and toss in the fries. Sauté for a few minutes until hot and crispy. Like anything fried, those taters might not every be the same.
The New York Times suggests you spread your turkey leftovers on a baking pan, cover it with foil, and bake at 325°F for 30 minutes. Crisp up any skin pieces under the broiler, uncovered.
A thick soup will splatter if you reheat it in a microwave. Instead, heat it up on your stovetop over medium heat and let it simmer slowly. Patience is key here, because high heat will quickly cause liquid to evaporate.
Food52 cofounder Amanda Hesser suggests you reheat that slice in the oven at 200°F for 20 minutes. “You want it warm, not hot,” she says. If the pie filling is gooey, use tinfoil to encase the cut sides to keep the filling from spilling out.
Pop yester-morning’s flapjacks into the toaster oven for 5 to 10 minutes at 350°F.
Place cold muffins on a baking tray and cover with tinfoil. Heat in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes to warm them through, then uncover and continue for another 3 to 5 minutes to crisp up the tops, which we can all agree is the most important part.
Risotto becomes very dry when kept in the refrigerator, which is why steaming is the best way to reheat it. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a bowl of leftover risotto into the steamer basket. Cover and reduce heat to low. This technique takes some time, but it keeps your risotto fresh. Add a dab of butter or some wine to bring back its creaminess.
When it comes to talking about healthy food, there is often a swift reaction to point out how difficult it is economically for many people to put good food on the table. But is eatinghealthfully really that much harder on the wallet than dining on fast food?
That Spanish tortilla pictured above? Yeah, that’s proof that good food doesn’t have to cost a ton. In fact, every Blue Apron meal adds up to no more than $9.99 a person. Affordable and healthful. One of the keys is getting into the kitchen–instead of driving over to a fast food restaurant.
First we have to remember that the word “cost” doesn’t just mean the number on the price tag. An average Big Mac may cost $4 out of pocket, but the health costs related to fast food consumption, as well as the environmental aren’t calculated in that number. The same goes for a bag of rice. While half a pound of rice grains run the average American around $0.75, that doesn’t account for the time and energy it takes to cook it and turn the staple into a meal, not to mention the price of having access to a kitchen that you can cook in.
It’s also important to keep in mind that when we are talking about “healthy food” this doesn’t necessarily mean kombucha and chia seeds. To cook whole, nutritious meals you need access to fresh produce and whole grains. And access to food is a serious problem when it comes to eating well. In fact, there are over 23 million Americans who don’t have a supermarket within one mile of their home; often the closest and easiest options are fast food joints. That means people spend less food money on buying groceries. But that puts us in a bad spot, both for our personal and communal health. What if a few more dollars a month went to real ingredients instead of processed foods?
Let’s look at the raw numbers. There, we find that junk food isn’t necessarily cheaper than whole food. That’s a good reminder that cooking healthfully can be done on a budget. A couple of years ago, food writer Mark Bittman once tackled this question by looking at a breakdown of meals for a family of four. These were simple meals—easy to put together, with not too many ingredients.
The result? Cooking real meals with whole foods doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Beyond that, cooking at home ensures that you eat nutritious meals with real ingredients: it’s highly unlikely that you’re putting in a dash of ammonium sulfate or ethoxylated monoglycerides like your Big Mac contains…
So what does it cost to put together a healthy meal? Here’s a breakdown of two very simple meals, enough to feed a family of four, with prices based off of averages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from December 2013. In working with this price index, these meals are stripped down to their basics, without the addition of herbs and spices, but with a little olive oil, black pepper and salt, you can go a long way.
Potato Omelet with Roasted Broccoli and Salad
1 dozen eggs: $2.03
1 pound of potatoes: $0.67
1 pound of broccoli: $1.81
1 head of lettuce: $0.99
Roasted Chicken with Citrus Bean Salad
5 pound whole chicken (at $1.52 per pound): $7.60
1 pound oranges: $1.13
1 pound dried beans: $1.45
This post was written by Anna Brones, a food and travel writer based in Paris, France who has a love for bikes, coffee and all things organic.