Saturday, July 12, 2014

An Epic Quest for Tasty Thai! (Secret Awesome Chicken Recipe also Within)

Boy am I so glad it's the weekend! This whole entire week has, regretfully, not gone as planned. I'm torn between whether I enjoy the extra down time to plan and do things as I like or whether I prefer being super busy like I was this whole week with pre-scheduled tasks. I definitely think I may just been leaning toward having a more "lax" schedule. It drives me a little batty when I reach the weekend and look back on my week and go "Nothing got done!!!"

Have you ever had just one of those weeks? I think you know by the second day in a row that it's not just "one of those days" any longer and it's just going to be a loooong crawl to the weekend. lol

Somehow most of my lost time seemed to have gotten dumped into food related errands. Monday it was a family chicken dinner fiasco. I have this fabulous recipe for healthy "fried" chicken but the prep time can be a little lengthy. Trust me though, it's more than worth it. I'll share the recipe at the end of this post in case anyone is feeling up to treating themselves! :)

The second food related blunder this week was on Thursday. One quick errand to two stores turned into an epic (mis)adventure. Anyone who knows me can tell you I LOVE Thai curry. A good friend of mine got me absolutely addicted a few years ago. So naturally when I found a way to get it at home without having to spend a fortune going out to eat I was ecstatic. Now I've sort of brought my family along for the ride. My mother tells me on Wednesday night about how a friend of hers was making this amazing shrimp curry. Naturally she wants to give it a go and I offered to grab the ingredients we needed since I was going out for errands on Thursday. The list was super short. But one, tiny item held me up for HOURS...Curry Paste.

Apparently anywhere you go in Wayne, NJ people will look at you funny when you ask them if the store they work in carries this stuff. Trader Joes was my first stop. They have a wonderful Red and Yellow curry sauce (bottled) that I adore. Sadly they don't carry the paste I needed. They are two very different things! So my next stop was all the way in the complete opposite direction. I arrived at our local Shop Rite thinking they MUST have curry paste. Their entire aisle 13 is dedicated to foreign foods after all. I believe I was in there for a good half hour and the first two associates I found to ask for help had no idea nor interest in helping, though the second directed me to customer service. I do work retail so I thought perhaps they could at least look this up in their system if they even carry it. Quite naturally when I have these adventures I get back to the front of the store only to find it completely swamped with people. Luckily I landed on the help desk line next to a lady who happened to know the manager on duty and called her over. Thankfully she was able to help me out. They didn't end up having any curry powder, but she did recommend one other place for me to try...Corrado's.

I don't know if you have one near you but Corrado's is a weird little market. They are kind of like a grocery/supermarket store only they have some more ecclectic variety. The selections are supposedly healthier or at least this is the purported rumor. By the time I leave Shop Rite I'm a bit disgruntled. Corrado's was back in the direction Trader Joes was, quite literally down the street from them. So back across town I shlepped....

I am not a frequent customer of Corrado's. I don't find their selection all that much better than other super market chains. They are also rather expensive. But as I search and cannot find what I need I do locate an associate. Just my luck they spoke very little English and I don't think he understood my inquiry other than to ask if he could flag down someone else to help me. So he does...and this guy didn't know anything either. He also didn't look like he worked there at all! Frustrated I just thanked them and left to turn down the next aisle....and lo! There was my curry paste no more than a few yards away.

So how was this curry shrimp we had? Well, sadly it wasn't all we had been hyping it up to be. I'm leery of recipes on pre-packaged food containers. They never turn out as delicious as what the recipe says it will. In the end it was, I think, the curry paste to coconut milk ratio that wasn't working out. I didn't get the taste of the curry as strongly as I did coconut milk. It's my opinion that you should avoid following Thai Kitchen brand food recipes. We even added extra curry paste than what was called for and it didn't help. We'll have to keep tweaking and I'll let you guys know when we come up with something successful!

But now for something that was definitely a delicious success. This chicken recipe I have is for making your own "breaded" chicken tenders. You bake it instead of frying. My entire family loves it as do my two best friends. These chicken tenders go excellent with French dressing or your fave hot sauce with blue cheese/ranch. It's a much better alternative to getting that pre-packaged stuff or getting greasy fat filled take out.

Rice Crispy Chicken

You will need:
  • 4 cups Rice Crispies (I usually need at least double this)
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 Cup milk (I substitute Vanilla or Original flavor organic Soy milk, but you can use Almond or Coconut)
  • 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Tsp  salt (I typically use Sea Salt but this last time used Pink Himalayan)
  • 1/4 Tsp Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Paprika
  • 3 pounds of boneless & skinless chicken - Wash & pat dry (You can do wings or thighs too if desired)
  • 3 Tsp Melted Butter

  1. Take the rice crispies and put them into a shallow dish. I use a pie plate. Take a potato masher and grind up the cereal until most of the crispies are broken up. There will be some powder but not all of it. There should still be chunks of the cereal. NOTE: The original recipe does not say to mash them. I didn't do this the first time I made this and I ended up using almost quadruple the rice crispies.
  2. Stir in your garlic to the rice crispies you just mashed.
  3. Take a mixing bowl (a medium one should do unless you need to expand the recipe for extra servings for large families/gatherings) and combine your egg and milk slightly.
  4. Now add in the flour, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Mix everything until smooth. NOTE: I add salt, pepper, and especially the smoked paprika to taste. The first time I made this we couldn't taste the smoked paprika so I added a ton extra into the batter to bring out the flavor more.
  5. Now take some baking sheets/pans and grease them with cooking spray.
  6. Take your chicken (be it tenders, wings, thighs, pieces, etc) and start dipping them into the batter. Then coat them with the cereal/garlic mixture until they are covered. Lay the battered & coated chicken onto the pan and repeat until finished.
  7. Optional: The original recipe calls for melted butter to coat the chicken with once you have coated it in cereal. I did this the first few times I made it but I always ended up needing way more than 3 teaspoons of melted butter and there is no noticeable difference in taste with it added.
  8. Optional but RECOMMENDED: This last time I made this chicken my brother added extra seasoning on top of half the batch. He used more smoked paprika and some other dried herbs like oregano/basil, and some pepper and a little extra salt. The chicken with the extra flavoring on top had a more distinct look and flavor when compared to the ones not seasoned extra. 
  9. Bake your chicken at an oven temperature of 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the chicken is tender, no longer pink inside, and juices run clear. DO NOT COVER OR TURN CHICKEN WHILE IT BAKES. Just leave it be. The only intensive hands on thing about this recipe is the prep.
And then you're done! I like to serve mine with a fresh salad, biscuits, and mashed potatoes. I have been making this recipe periodically since October last year when I first found it in an article in Relish magazine. I promise you it's something everyone loves. We barely have any left overs and those don't last through the 12 hours after dinner. I'd highly recommend this to picky eaters. One of my BFF's is picky about her food and she really loved these with hot sauce. You can even take any leftovers and make your own crunchy chicken wraps for lunch or dinner the following day. If you can manage to keep your family from eating them all the first night anyway. lol

I've rambled on enough. So I will see you all in the next post. Have a fabulous weekend everyone. I know I will! :)

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