Tag Archives: appetizer

Paleo Chicken Nuggets

Hi my name is Morgan and I am a five year old when it comes to chicken nuggets or tenders. Whenever hubby and I go to Citi Field for a Mets game (LGM!) I always get the same. exact. thing: Chicken tenders and french fries with a shake (from Shake Shack because duh…). I’ve ventured off the beaten path once and got a sausage and peppers, and the game wasn’t the same. What’s not to love about tenders and nuggets? They’re crispy, fried, juicy, and honey mustard makes for the perfect pairing. No questions asked.

I love using cassava flour to make nuggets, tenders, and cutlets because not only is it grain/gluten free, it’s provides such a depth of flavor from the yucca root itself. I use Thrive Market’s Cassava Flour – found here (also if you use the banner, you can get $20 shopping credit when you sign up for a membership!) and love the texture of it. Cassava is also super versatile and is usually a 1:1 ratio for subbing out AP flour when baking. The way the chicken crisps up when battered in cassava flour is very similar to using breadcrumbs.

Here’s what you’ll need for these paleo nuggets:

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Thrive Market Non-GMO Cassava Flour (or preferred brand)
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried rosemary
  • 4 tbsp avocado/olive oil
  • 3 tbsp grass fed butter
    • having a blend of healthy fats to shallow fry the chicken in helps with the crispiness and less splatter.
  • dipping sauce of choice
    • we used Cedar Foods tzatziki sauce.

For these nuggets, it’s as simple as a four-step process:

  1. Rinse and pat dry your chicken. Slice each breast into bite size pieces.
  2. Pour the cassava flour and dried spices into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Add chicken pieces to the flour and mix together to fully coat each piece.
  4. Heat a skillet/large pan with oil and butter on medium heat and begin to place several pieces into the skillet. Let each piece sit for 3-4 minutes per side. Repeat until all chicken is cooked.

I swear this will become a family favorite, and will definitely be a weeknight go-to as this is one simple and quick dinner to pull together, especially if you have the chicken cut ahead of time. This could be delicious as chicken alfredo, thrown in with some broccoli for a stir fry, or just as is with a dip and veggies on the side!

Pizzadillas

This recipe literally came to me while I was watching HGTV the other night. I saw an ad for Domino’s pizza – which let’s be honest – is kind of OG college pizza (cheesy bread? don’t even get me started), and I got the idea to make quesadillas with the filling being that of what goes onto a pizza. I wish there was a better story behind them, but nope, just my belly saying “DO IT!”

I’m also really glad that I had leftover sauce from the meatballs I made last week, which if you missed, the link is here. I used most of the leftover marinara sauce for the filling of the ‘dilla and layered in some mozzarella cheese, sprinkled oregano, and quaintly placed some slices of pepperoni.

I’m still learning how to use my stove and oven, so one of the bottoms of the pizzadillas did burn, but I’m cool with that. Here’s the deets on the ‘dillas:

  • Start with a package of tortillas (we used Mission just for testing recipe purposes – I’ll make these again with Siete)
  • Get all ingredients out and ready prior to beginning.
  • You’ll need:
    • 1 package sliced pepperoni
    • Dried oregano
    • Mozzarella cheese (grated)
    • Tortillas
    • Really good marinara (I recommend making your own or Rao’s – less sugar and good ingredients)
  • Heat a pan and add the tortilla to the pan, letting it crisp and warm up
  • Spoon some marinara onto the tortilla and spread around
  • Sprinkle oregano, mozzarella, and layer in pepperoni
  • Cover the top with a second tortilla and flip.
  • Repeat for as many pizzadillas as you’d like (my ingredients yielded 4 pizzadillas and we were definitely full!)

I love quesadillas and am looking forward to making more varieties and sharing them with you soon! NOMaste ๐Ÿ™‚

Tzatziki

I have three ingredients that fill me with such glee (yes, I said glee) every time I cook: fresh garlic, fresh onions, and basil. Any time I use these when testing a recipe or just cooking in general I can feel my entire body dance and sing, because cooking is my therapy and I just love it! I also have some favorite cuisines that I like to cook, and this year I vow to experiment with different dishes, such as enchiladas, homemade goulash, and more greek recipes such as Spanakopita and homemade tzatziki.

I’ve made tzatziki in the past, but it was all watery and had minimal flavor. I learned from my mistakes, tasted several versions in my lifetime, and figured out just how I wanted it to taste. I LOVE dill, so for me having a rather heavy hand on the dill was not a problem. My biggest issue was ensuring it was cream enough to stand up to lamb loin shanks (which is a forthcoming recipe) and had enough seasoning.

Here’s the full list of ingredients and measurements:

  • 3-4 tablespoons of thick yogurt, I prefer Siggi’s Triple Cream, plain
  • Several sprigs of dill, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped into very small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped very fine
  • Salt
  • Pepper

I added all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisked together, until it was a thick mixture. Add in a dash of salt and pepper as you need, to balance out all of the flavors. It should taste of cucumber, garlic, dill and yogurt. This is a great dip to make for pita chips, meats, or even with fries! NOMaste ๐Ÿ™‚

Black Bean and Charred Pepper Quesadillas

Some of the best food ideas come from inspiration of others. This one is no exception. I love Mexican food, and I have a soft spot for quesadillas. I think the reason behind my adoration for ‘dillas, is the ability to make it a handheld and of course, the combinations of flavors. I tend to be simple with my ingredients, but as I try to focus on more plant-based meals lately, I decided to keep this guy a vegetarian-friendly option.

I love making tortillas from scratch (which is super easy to do, and I’ll make that recipe this summer in the new digs.. oh yeah, WE’RE MOVING!), but for this go round, we used Siete brand tortillas. Siete is a family-operated and owned company that makes grain free tortillas, tortilla chips, queso, and hot sauce! They boast quality ingredients in their products, and I must say, they are no joke. I love them. You can find them here!

To start, I chopped all of my peppers and charred them on the burner, yep, like flat out burnt the sides of the peppers right on the flame… #ballin. I diced and chopped them up and sprinkled a bit of paprika, set them aside. Next, I drained and rinsed the black beans and began to warm the tortillas. I used a regular size 12″ frying pan (with no oil, you want the outside of the tortillas to crisp) and let the side get hot. I added in the peppers, black beans and Mexican cheese blend (I bought at the store) and began to assemble the quesadilla.

I let the tortilla sit on each side to brown for approximately 30 seconds, but I would use a spatula to check underneath occasionally. I used a plate (or my hand, which resulted in a burn) to flip once I added the second tortilla to the top. You will hear the sizzle of cheese and if you lip a side of the quesadilla and it doesn’t come off quick, you’ll know you have one to two more minutes until it is done.

Repeat for the remainder of the tortillas (I used eight, making four mini quesadillas) and use a pizza cutter to make the perfect triangles. Served with guac, sour cream, and a drizzle of hot sauce and you have an awesome dinner (or snack!) NOMaste ๐Ÿ™‚

Fried Cauliflower (and dipping sauce)

One of my very first jobs out of college was a hostess at Applebee’s, and eventually becoming a server. It was one of the jobs that I hated and loved at the same time. I loved getting to talk to guests and making decent tips by up-selling a beer or an appetizer (or “For 2.99 more you can get shrimp on your steak”). It was pain in the you-know-what when we were packed and every table was sat, but if you were “cut,” you still had to wait for the tables to ask for the check, pay, and leave. Nevertheless, it taught me a lot about customer service, kindness, and was my first dabble in the culinary world.

You might ask, “Well Morgan, how does this connect to cauliflower.” I mean, it really doesn’t, but whenever I left Applebee’s I would smell like a mozzarella stick or a boneless wing, which are fried goodness. The new craze now is fried eggplant, zucchini, and yes, cauliflower. I wonder if Applebee’s is following the cauliflower bandwagon nowadays. Anyway, cauliflower is one of the most nutrient-dense and low-carb vegetables you could eat. It’s versatile and easy to cook, which is also a plus. Cauliflower, like broccoli, are members of the cruciferous vegetables family, meaning it helps with digestion and inflammation. I bet you didn’t know you were getting a nutrition lesson here huh? #boom.

Frying cauliflower is new to me, and so I wanted to make this recipe simple and easy to do. This recipe only calls for four ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour (of choice – I prefer cassava, but wanted to finish up my AP Flour)
  • Salt
  • Oil for frying (I used EVOO – I prefer not to cook with canola or vegetable, other than olive.)

Start by cutting the cauliflower into florets, whether small or large is your prerogative. Crack three eggs into a bowl and whisk. Pour the flour into a separate bowl and begin the assembly line. Pour the oil into a pot (I used an entire bottle) and heat it up, using a thermometer to gauge the temp: the oil should reach around 350* to start frying.

Dip the cauliflower into the egg-wash, then into the flour, and set on a plate. Repeat until all of the cauliflower has been coated with both the egg and then the flour. Fry in batches of 10-12 florets at a time, placing them on a plate with lined paper towel to absorb excess oil. Season with salt as you go.

I also made a dip, but won’t take credit for it as it was from a recipe book by Yotam Ottolenghi:

  • 3 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

The cauliflower comes out beautifully browned, crisp, and tender on the inside. Go ahead and dredge the cauliflower into the dip and you’ve got a delectable appetizer, and you absolutely do not have to share! NOMaste ๐Ÿ™‚