How to: Recipe Makeover – Crispy Coconut Chicken Strips and Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

coconut chicken strips

Eating chicken strips (AKA fingers – which always weirded me out as a name btw) transports me right back to the big chains restaurants of my childhood.

Ahhh, the 90s.

No matter the chain, I could always count on a plate of these scorching hot…delicacies, generally complemented by an equally elegant…sugar sauce.

coconut chicken strips

Though my palate has matured, chicken strips still turn my crank.

Criteria being: MUST be crispy (generally deep fried), must NOT be overcooked and MUST have a kick-ass dipping sauce.

Homemade strips, historically, haven’t made the cut. I usually don’t go to the trouble of deep frying at home and baked strips have a bad rap for lacking a good crunch and/or being overcooked.

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All this to say, I’ve got a cure for shitty homemade baked chicken strips!

And it’s pre-toasting the crumb! In this case a magical combo of panko and coconut.

This simple 5 minute trick seriously revolutionizes the homemade chicken strip, guys.  This is high level stuff. By pre-toasting, you’ll still get a golden brown, crispy exterior without drying out the chicken.

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Add a super flavourful batter to lock in the moisture, and a slightly sweet (but way more grown up and complex) dipping sauce and CHABANG! Chicken strips are back baby!

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It almost makes me want to relive the 90s.

Just kidding.

Never.

Erin

Crispy Baked Coconut Chicken Strips and Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 12 minutes
Total time 22 minutes
Website Adapted from Recipe Tin Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup medium unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Large egg
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard (or your mustard of choice)
  • water (a few teaspoons, as needed)

Mango Curry Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mango chunks (thawed frozen work well)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon liquid honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a small bowl, combine panko crumbs, coconut, canola oil and salt until the whole mixture is evenly and lightly coated in oil. Transfer mixture to a lined baking sheet in a shallow layer. Bake for 4-5 minutes until golden brown, stirring halfway through.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk to combine egg, flour, mayonnaise, and mustard. Whisk in water, by the teaspoon, as needed to make a batter that evenly coats the back of a spoon and runs off slowly.
3. Add chicken pieces to the batter and toss to coat each piece well. Transfer chicken piece by piece to the panko/coconut baking sheet. Cover each piece generously with crumbs, pat gently and flip to repeat. Transfer coated pieces to a second lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-12 minute until chicken is just cooked through.
4. Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the mango dipping sauce in a blender and puree. Alternatively, use an immersion blender.
5. Serve hot and crispy chicken strips with dipping sauce immediately.

How to: Healthy Side – Avocado Mango Salad

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Sale on avocados this week!

Needs some ideas?

In addition to this wicked salad, here are 4 more from our kitchens to yours:

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Fettuccine with Creamy Avocado Sauce

Avocado Chicken Salad

Classic Guacamole

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This salad is a really easy and fresh side.  Serve along side fish, chicken, anything barbecued or toss in some roasted chickpeas or tofu to make it a meal on its own.

IMG_4763Get yourself a little prep station going and this salad will come together in less than 15 minutes.

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I often get asked how to cut up mangoes.  This is my preferred method.  Slice a small piece off the bottom (so it can stand up on it’s end) and the top.  With a very sharp knife remove small strips of the skin.  Run your knife along the flat edge of the pit first and then tackle the remaining fresh on the sides.

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Because the pits are irregular shaped and no two are the same, you may have quite a bit of flesh left on the pit when you’re through slicing.  Don’t be shy.  Stick that pit right in your gob and gnaw away until you’ve stripped it clean and your chin is running with mango juice.  Trust me. It’s the only way.

You want to choose mangoes that are ready and ripe.  They should ‘give’ slightly when squeezed but shouldn’t be soft.  If you find your mangoes a bit more sour than you’d hoped, add a little bit of honey to the dressing.

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For this salad you’ll want the avocados to be slightly firm so they don’t fall apart when you toss all of the ingredients together.  These are just a touch too ripe, but still worked perfectly well.

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Cue gorgeous sunlight shot…

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You’ll want to serve this within a couple of hours of making it.  If you’re looking to make it ahead, prep everything but the avocados and add them last minute.

Enjoy, friends!

Erin

Avocado Mango Salad

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Website Adapted from Sunny Anderson (Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 2 Small mangoes (peeled and cubed)
  • 2 Small avocados (pitted and cubed)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

Optional

  • 1 teaspoon honey (If mangoes are slightly tart)

Note

This recipes adapts to make a great too salsa too.  Dice the avocado and mango, mince the onions and add ½ a jalapeño for some heat.  Leave out the olive oil.

Directions

1. Combine mangoes, avocado, onion and cilantro/parsley in a medium bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lime juice, honey (if using) and salt & pepper. Pour dressing over mango mixture and toss together gently.
3. Serve as is, or over a bed of your favourite greens.

 

How to: Healthy Appetizer – Shrimp and Mango Fresh Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

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When ordering Thai, I only ever order fresh rolls when it’s warm out.  Not like it’s a rule or anything, but they’re so cool and fresh I want nothing to do with them when I’m in the middle of my winter comfort food zone.

What I’m saying is, it’s finally warm enough for fresh rolls!

DSC_9210Flavour don’t come no fresher than this.

(That was intentionally gangster)

DSC_9216The prep work for fresh rolls is very simple albeit a little bit time consuming.  TOTALLY worth it though and it’s a good opportunity to brush up on those knife skills.

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Simple fresh ingredients.  Gorgeous.  Gets me every time.

Check out the photo tutorial….

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Not too hard, right?

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These rolls are quite large and should be cut in half before serving.  Serve them as an app or eat them for a meal in itself.  The peanut sauce is sorta epic.  Just a warning, you may want to chug it.

DSC_9268Enjoy,

Erin

Shrimp and Mango Cold Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Serves 16-20
Prep time 45 minutes
Website Adapted from Chow.com

Ingredients

Cold Rolls

  • 1lb 31-40 count shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 200g vermicelli rice noodles
  • 22cm rice papers
  • 1 mango (peeled and cut in to ¼ inch slices)
  • ½cucumber (cut in to ¼ inch slices)
  • 6 green onions (white and green parts sliced thinly length wise)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh mint leaves

Peanut Dipping Sauce

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (I used commercially prepared but natural works too, just add 2 tsp of honey to the recipe)
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp water
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce (or more to taste)

Note

31-40 count shrimp means there are 31-40 shrimp in one pound.

Directions

Peanut Sauce
1. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
Cold Rolls
2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for about 90 seconds, until opaque. Drain and run under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Cut each shrimp in half with a sharp knife.
3. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add vermicelli noodles and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool.
4. Arrange all of the ingredients on a large work surface. Place a clean kitchen towel on the work surface. Fill a medium frying pan or wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with hot tap water. Working with 1 wrapper at a time, completely submerge the wrapper until it is soft and pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on the towel.
5. Working quickly, layer each of the ingredients in the centre of the rice paper wrapper leaving about 1.5 inches on either side. Fold each side over and roll the wrapper from one end to the other.
6. Place finished rolls on a parchment lined cookie sheet about ½" apart and cover with a clean damp towel or moistened paper towels while working.
7. These can be served immediately or made up to a day in advance. Be sure to cover the finished rolls with a damp towel or paper towels and plastic wrap tightly to keep moisture in.

 

 

How to: Seasonal Cooking – Grilled Pineapple, Two Ways

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GRILLING SEASON!!!!

(all caps totally necessary)

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Grilled pineapple needs to be on to your list of ‘things to grill’ this summer.

NEEDS TO BE.

(once again, legit all cap use)

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To convince you I’m posting two recipes, and both are blow-your-hair-back good.

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First up is grilled pineapple salsa.

The photo below pretty much sums up how delish it is.

Can’t go wrong with that crew of ingredients.

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By the way, that wee little jalepeno was SO hot. I find they can really vary in heat level.  Once you’ve minced it, try a little piece to test the heat before throwing the whole thing in. Also, don’t touch your eyes or any other sensitive areas after you’ve handled them.

Take it from me and my burny eyeball.

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For these photos I made a half batch of the salsa and ate most of it in a single sitting with my fave tortilla chips ever – Neal Brothers Organic Blue Tortilla with Flax Seeds.

It’s awesome as a grilled meat and seafood topper too.

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You may also eat it straight up with a spoon – no one will judge you.

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Next up is not so much a recipe as an idea to use grilled pineapple as a dessert.

I confess, I don’t love making dessert.  I’m always on the hunt for super simple ideas for good dinner party options.

Grilled pineapple and some premium quality ice cream – BAM. done.  I found some toasted coconut ice cream (PC Black Label) and jeez man, it was magic in my mouth.

If you want to go all out, try making your own Spiced Rum Caramel Sauce. Check out our post for salted caramel. For the spiced rum version, add 3 Tbsp of spiced rum after the cream for deliciously boozy results.

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Then drizzle that hot mess all over the show.

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Enjoy,

Erin

Grilled Pineapple

Ingredients

  • 1 pineapple
  • oil for the grill

Directions

1. To prepare pineapple, cut off the top and bottom first and stand it on its bottom end. Working your way around, cut the rind off in strips. If there are hard bits or seeds remaining remove them with a sharp knife. Slice the pineapple in to ½" inch rounds. You'll get 6-8 depending on the size.
2. Use an apple corer or sharp paring knife to remove the more solid core.
3. Heat a grill to medium high heat. Spray or brush grill thoroughly with oil.
4. Grill pineapple sliced 2-3 minutes per side.

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Serves Makes 6-7 cups
Prep time 20 minutes
Website Adapted from Closet Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 grilled pineapple (chopped)
  • 1 mango (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1/4 red onion (About ⅓ cup, minced)
  • 1 jalepeno (seeded and minced)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Note

This salsa works as a snack with tortilla chips and as a killer condiment for grilled meat or fish of any kind.  It's sweet and savoury with a pinch of heat and kick of acid.

Directions

1. Add all ingredient to a large bowl and store gently until well combined.

How to: Healthy Sides – Thai Mango Salad

In my world, part of eating well means being able to relax about food.

Healthy eating is not an all or nothing scenario.

Yes, fresh is best.  Yes, homemade is healthy.  Yes, cook when you can.

But you know what?

Sometimes I just can’t.

I’m spent, tired, done. Just finito.Thai Mango Salad

And when those days coincide with my husband feeling the same way, we order in.

You read that right. The girl writing this cooking blog orders in. There is no shame in it.

Take-out choices range from pizza, to sushi, to indian; but the most popular one by far is thai.

Thai Mango SaladCoconut curry, pad thai, shrimp chips and green mango salad has become our staple order.  I’m always so drawn to thai food because of the flavour complexities.  Each bite offers a touch of savoury, sweet, sour and bitter in perfect balance. And sometimes a nice chili kick to boot.

Thai Mango Salad

Recreating a green mango salad at home was such a cinch, I had to share it.

This salad is not only beautiful, the recipe is simple, quick and can be made ahead.

Adding chicken, beef or tofu can make it a meal too.

Thai Mango Salad

Ensure you pick nice firm mangoes for this recipe.  They should be firm enough you can peel them with a vegetable peeler.

Thai Mango SaladCut alongside the flat oval shaped pit, slice them thinly, then stack those slices and slice them thinly again.

Thai Mango Salad

Try to cut the peppers into slices roughly the same size.

I stopped short of julienning the carrots and bought the pre-shredded option.

If you’re making the salad ahead of time, toss the basil and peanuts with the salad right before serving to maintain colour and texture.

For a bellisimo presentation, serve the salad in individual romaine lettuce leaves.

Erin

Thai Mango Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 firm mangoes (peeled, pitted and julienned)
  • 1 Small red pepper (seeded and thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 shallot (thinly sliced)
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts (chopped)
  • 10 basil leaves (or about 1/4 cup thinly sliced)

Dressing

  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce (or soy sauce for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 thai chili (thinly sliced - or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes)

Directions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing.
2. Toss mangoes, peppers, carrots and shallots with dressing.
3. Just before serving, toss salad with basil and garnish with peanuts.

Thai Mango Salad