Chicken nugget meatballs

A few weeks ago I had an idea to make some simple chicken meatballs. Most of my kids will eat meatballs, so it's usually a good easy weeknight meal for us. With some pasta and a salad, we've got a good dinner and it isn't much work. But I wanted to lighted them up a bit this time, so I thought I'd make them with chicken instead of my usual combination of beef & pork (or frozen!). 

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And in doing so, something magical happened...

I mixed these up and started browning them, and tasted one. I realized that it tasted an awful lot like a chicken nugget (in a good way!). I have one super picky child who eats nothing, but chicken nuggets are on her very short list.

So I asked her if she would be willing to taste this thing I just made that tastes just like a chicken nugget. 

She agreed. And she liked it! I was giddy!

If you have an extreme picky eater, then you understand the joy you feel when you discover something they will eat that is homemade and relatively healthy.

I've made homemade chicken nuggets before, but it seemed so labor intensive that I didn't do it again. They had to be shaped like nuggets, and rolled in breading - a lot of work for nuggets. But for these I just used a cookie scoop to get the rough balls, and then finished rolling and dropped in a pan with some oil. I think because they had bread crumbs in the mix then they had a feeling of a crust, without having to actually crust them. It was easy and quick!

My original plan had been to plop all of these in a pot of sauce to finish cooking, but since she liked them I decided to not do that. I instead cooked them through and then put in a couple of oven proof dishes. I kept one dish of them plain, and the other I topped with sauce & cheese - so it had a bit of a chicken parmesan taste to it. 

This is definitely one of those guideline type of recipes. This is the approximate ingredients that I used, but these quantities are not mandatory and really it's more of an eyeball type thing. 

Ingredients:

  • ground white meat chicken - around 2 pounds
  • Italian style seasoned bread crumbs - a cup or so
  • eggs - 2 or 3
  • garlic powder - a teaspoon or so
  • onion powder - a teaspoon or so
  • fresh ground pepper
  • oil for cooking

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together except the oil. The consistency should be bit like dough - you should be able to form it into shape without it falling apart or seeming too wet. It's the combination of bread crumbs + eggs that help hold this together. If your mixture seems too wet, add a bit more bread crumbs. Too dry, add another egg.

Generally for this kind of thing it's a good idea to cook a little bit to taste and check for seasoning before you cook the whole lot. Seasoned bread crumbs can often have a lot of salt in them, so I wouldn't salt this much if at all until you've tasted. Pinch off a bit and put it in a hot pan to cook, and then taste. Then add salt as needed. Then when you are happy with the seasoning you can shape into meatballs. I use a small cookie scoop, drop the scooped bit into my hands, finish shaping into a ball, and then put in my pan.

Brown on all sides in a pan with a bit of vegetable oil over medium heat. They likely won't be cooked all the way through, so you'll need to either turn down your heat and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or you can put them in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes. 

You could also cook these from star to finish in the oven - I'd do a foil lined baking sheet, at 350 for probably 20-30 minutes.

We had ours with sauce & pasta. They'd be great just dipped in ketchup too. 

Enjoy!

Lazy mom's fish tacos

Taco night is practically a ritual at our house. We take it seriously. But that doesn't mean it has to be a ton of work - it just means it has to be good!

We also don't want to have the same thing for taco night each week. I like to keep it as an easy meal, but mix up the ingredients a bit so it doesn't get boring. We do tacos with ground beef, or beans, or chicken cooked any number of ways, and one of my favorites is fish tacos.

 
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This is one of my favorite weeknight dinners, and a super easy way to do taco night just a little different. If you like fish tacos, but feel like you can't have them at home - you need to try this.

Basically, you just find some good quality fish sticks and cook them in the oven according to the package directions. (I like to let them get a little crispy.)

We like the fish sticks from Costco, and Trader Joe's has some pretty good ones too. Use any ones you like. I've also done this with other kinds of frozen fish - frozen filets meant for fish & chips, or other kinds of breaded fish. Whatever you like works great - as long as it's quick and easy!

 
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And then, you just do all the usual taco stuff - lettuce or cabbage, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, green onion...

For fish tacos I like to add a squeeze of lime, and some fresh cilantro is really nice if you have it. Basically, anything goes!

This is a great meal to have kids help with - small amounts of cutting, picking off cilantro leaves, mashing avocados, filling bowls. They can really feel like they are participating in the meal, even though there is very little actual cooking involved. There are plenty of opportunities for lots of jobs for little hands. 

 
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My family loves this kind of meal because they all get to make their own. I have found with my kids that the most successful meals are the "make your own" type of meals - kids love having some control over what goes on their plate. I try to give them a guideline that they have to have some protein and they need to choose at least one vegetable, and beyond that they can control their own.

Let me know if you try it - and what kinds of combinations you come up with!

Lazy Mom's Fish Tacos

Ingredients:

  • Good quality fish sticks (or other frozen fish that you like)
  • Taco sized tortillas - flour or corn
  • shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • limes
  • sour cream
  • guacamole or avocados
  • cilantro
  • diced tomatoes
  • green onions
  • salsa
  • any other toppings you like!

Optional:

Serve with chips, rice, beans - whatever extras you like. 

Directions:

Cook fish according to package directions. Serve fish, tortillas, and all toppings buffet or bar style. For standard sized fish sticks we do 2 fish sticks in one taco sized tortilla. You could also use bigger tortillas and make fish burritos.

 
Must try! the easiest way to have fish tacos at home.