Monday, April 8, 2013

Almond Chicken Tenders

Like many families chicken tenders are a favorite in our house.  You can dress them up, chop them up or eat them plain.  They make an easy snack lunch or dinner and are always a hit with the kids.

Every few weeks I try to make a large batch to keep in the freezer.  I am not very consistent about making them and having them available, but when I do it is always a wonderful treat to open the freezer and find them there.  Especially when I haven't thought about dinner, it's 6:30 and everybody is starving and grumpy.  

I usually use the same basic recipe for the coating - bread crumbs and a mix of Italian seasoning.  Tasty, but nothing fancy and to be honest I get a little tired of having the same old things in the freezer all the time.   When those ho hums set in I often look for some inspiration to change things up and for me inspiration for change often comes from the Secret Recipe Club.  This month my inspiration came from Melissa at a Fit and Spicy Life.  Her blog is filled with a wonderful assortment of recipes, fitness tips and wine - the perfect trifecta.

Melissa's recipe for Almond Chicken Fingers is a delicious change from our typical tenders and will definitely be a regular item in the freezer.   They are moist, flavorful and work in a variety of dishes - they were delicious in an Asian chicken salad and just as tasty with a little honey mustard dipping sauce

 I made one change to Melissa's recipe, only because of what was available in my pantry.  I didn't have enough whole almonds, so I roughly chopped what I had and then used some almond meal flour to finish the coating mixture. The chopped almonds provided a wonderful texture while the almond meal gave the tenders a nice thick coating.

The other change I made was in process, I like using coating trays - mainly because my kids love to help, getting thick messy fingers is very entertaining for them - but you can also use the dip and shake method as Melissa does, it's all preference.  

Almond Chicken Tenders

2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into tenders
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 eggs
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups almond meal flour
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly oil (or spray) a cooking sheet.
In a small bowl beat eggs, almond milk and mustard together, set aside.  In a large bowl combine chopped almonds, almond meal, salt and pepper.  Dip a chicken tender first into egg/milk mixture then into the dry mixture.  Place coated tender on baking sheet, repeat with remain tender.  Place tenders in a single layer with space between each piece. 
Bake 20-25 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken.  Using tongs flip chicken pieces half way through baking time.

And if you are in need of a little change and inspiration check out the rest of the SRC