Cayenne Coconut Chicken Tenders

It looks like, much to my dismay, I’m having a really hard time capturing the appetizingness of chicken fingers. It’s too bad because they are something I absolutely love and, of course, I wish I was able to capture food that I love appropriately. Why is it that when I look at other people’s photos of chicken fingers, my brain goes “yum this looks so good”; then when I try snapping my own photos, they always end up looking like cafeteria food? Is there a special trick or skill that one has to learn that applies specifically to that particular food item? Or is there a “Chicken fingers photo snapping for dummies”, maybe? Then I would definitely have to read it! Or maybe I need to make chicken fingers more often and keep practicing…

Anyway, yesterday’s photos were so bad, I decided to show you a picture of the little family gathering we had instead. I just couldn’t leave the dish out altogether and not post about it, for it was very good and extremely worthy of getting an entry. Besides, I am supposed to log everything I cook, good or bad, aren’t I? At least, that’s the deal I remember making with myself! But trust me, it’s way easier to show a meal that wasn’t all that good but still presents itself decently in picture than it is to present a meal that was actually very good but doesn’t look too appealing on the screen!

Allright, I’ll show you what I mean, but promise not to laugh! There…

I really had a craving for coconut, so I searched the web for a decent coconut crusted chicken fingers recipe. I finally decided on that one (I liked the picture!), but of course, adapted it to make it a tad healthier. Deep frying was out of the question, I oven baked instead. Also, I used unsweetened coconut instead of the sweetened one the recipe calls for. Oh, and also, I used chicken breasts instead of tenders, which I marinated in buttermilk and then cut into strips. Not that this does anything to make the dish healthier, it’s just easier on my wallet!

What I did is I took the breasts and put them in a shallow glass dish, covered them with buttermilk and added a generous pinch of cayenne pepper as well as a less generous pinch of cumin, plus a little bit of salt. I tossed the chicken around a few times to make sure it was well coated and the spices were well incorporated, then in the refrigerator it went for about 6 hours. I then cut the breasts into strips, dredged the strips in corn starch, egg white and coconut like the recipe says, lined them on a baking sheet, sprinkled with a little bit of olive oil and cooked them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. They turned out really great, I wouldn’t change anything taste or texture wise, but next time, I will make sure to line my baking sheet with parchment paper, for these tend to stick and I had a hard time, one, removing them from the sheet without breaking them and two, cleaning said sheet afterwards!

The sides dishes that I had decided to serve were pineapple chutney and spicy coleslaw, but the kids requested I also make oven baked fries… so I, being the cool mom that I am, accepted their request! I think the whole thing was a winning combination, and made for a very agreeable meal in very agreeable company. Now as of today, I start cooking for one again…

Here are the recipes for the chutney and coleslaw.

Pineapple Chutney

  • Half a pineapple, in bite size pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 5 or 6 small sweet peppers, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 2 tbsp ginger, chopped
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp liquid honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ cup of water
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Instructions

  • ­Cook the onions, peppers, ginger and celery over medium heat, until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • ­Add pineapple along with the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until pineapple is cooked and liquid has evaporated.

Spicy Coleslaw

  • 1½ pound green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 raw beets, peeled and grated

Dressing

  • ¼ cup low fat plain yogurt
  • 3 tbsp buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp liquid honey
  • 1 tbsp hot Dijon mustard

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients of the dressing together and add cabbage. Stir to combine.
  • Add grated beets without stirring. Leave in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours.
  • When ready to serve, stir lightly just to incorporate beets.
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