I first noticed Noah’s affinity for chicken nuggets on our summer road trip. We ate out more on that vacation that we have all year and he never failed to peruse the menu for this rarity in our family diet.
(Side note, why did no one warn me about the risks of taking a new reader to a restaurant? Suddenly, they are acutely aware of menu options. Milkshakes! Sundaes! Side of fries! And where did this sense of entitlement come from? It must be an eight-year-old thing. But I digress.)
I have no clue where his affections formed for this item (they don’t fit into our whole foods diet) , but Noah maintained a steady request for chicken nuggets at any diner, cafe or restaurant that listed them on the menu. I, true to form, stood my ground and played the “while we’re on the coast we’re going to enjoy the good seafood” card, and he had to be content with fish and chips. Oh gee, the hardship of enduring fresh-caught halibut and haddock. Actually, the boys both love fish, and, nugget notions aside, they were easy to please most evenings.
I forgot all about Noah’s requests until I was flipping through my latest cookbook, Weelicious Lunches, from Catherine of Weelicious and spotted her recipe for chicken nuggets. Hmm, chicken breast, mashed potatoes, spices, breadcrumbs….wait a minute, these perfect little lunch box proteins were actually pretty simple to make from scratch with real ingredients.
I don’t know about you, but I always find my lunch box ‘mains’ get boring. I can mix up the fruits and vegetables and bake up a storm of treats like cookie and cereal bars, but beyond the sandwich and the wrap, I’m not much good.
The make-ahead-and-freeze option appealed to the lover of batch cooking in me, and Catherine’s recipes are always tasty. That day I whizzed up a batch in my food processor, baked them until crisp, and served them up for the boy’s lunches today.
The results? Approved! Both boys gave the green light for future school lunches. Clara wasn’t convinced, but she’s on a bit of an anti-meat kick right now, so her little opinion doesn’t count.
You could keep these warm for lunches in a thermos or insulated bag, or why not just serve them cold, with a buttermilk dip or a side of ranch dressing and baby carrots? Sounds like a good lunch to me.
|How to make homemade lunchbox chicken nuggets||
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
- 1/2 cup mashed potatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground savory
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- Cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Place the chicken, mashed potatoes, parsley, garlic powder, savory, and salt in a food processor and pulse until smooth and combined.
- In a shallow bowl or plate, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan.
- With moistened hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the chicken mixture between your palms and flatten into a “nugget” shape.
- Gently press the nugget into the bread crumb mixture to coat and flatten slightly.
- Transfer to a lightly greased cooling rack on a baking sheet lined with foil.
- Lightly spray the nuggets with cooking spray.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until crispy outside and cooked throughout.
- Serve hot with a dipping sauce, such as honey mustard or homemade ketchup.
Do you have a favorite lunchbox protein to send to school or bring to work?