Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Toaster Oven Chicken Tenders & Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Sometimes you just need comfort food.  Today was one of those days.  Actually, many days lately have been one of those days. I've been really needing to cloak myself in a big, enveloping comfort food hug.

You see, I lost my job last year.  A job I loved, working for a company I believed in, where I was successful and well respected. You know, a rarity!  I'd only been with the company for a few short months but had already been promoted, was an integral member of the CEO's management team and had forged some really great friendships.  I was, dare I say it, happy.  Wait...what?  She's happy? Cue disaster. Get misery and depression on the phone, we need them on stand-by. And so, on that balmy Monday afternoon in mid-July, when disaster apparently had nothing better to do, it all came tumbling down.  

I suppose, if you're the kind of person who believes in signs, you may have seen this coming.  What began as a sunny morning commute foretold what was to come when no sooner did I set foot out of the car in the office parking lot than the sky took on an ominous shade of gray.  Every trace of blue vanished and clouds rolled in as I walked into the building, down the hall and towards my office. Plunging the key into the lock on my office door, I turned the handle in synchronicity with the first thunderclap.  The skies opened up and rain pelted my office window, hard.  I gazed outside as my computer booted up, too distracted by the cacophony of the storm to notice the prescient text message that had arrived from my closest work friend.  "Whatever happens today, I love you Jour and am glad you are a part of my life.". Concerned, I frantically dialed Jessica's number. Voicemail, damn.  

Moments later she came sweeping into my office with breaking news, a look of despair on her face.  The CEO's daughter, she had information about events that had transpired over the weekend, and behind closed doors, with teary eyes, we talked about the impending death of our beloved corporation.  Long story short, we were forced into a chapter 7 bankruptcy by lenders and private equities firms who saw us as a write off.  The livelihood of close to 100 dedicated employees reduced to little more than black numbers on a white page.  The shades of gray lie in the bewildered glances exchanged.  In the line of former employees sitting on the curb, boxes holding months and years of their professionals lives next to them, wondering how to get home to loved ones who were hours, if not many states away, when our company cars were no longer company property.  In the farewell hugs and the abundance tears.  In the taxed looks on the faces of people who were, simply, a tax write off.

That evening was one of the hardest nights of my life.  I couldn't take phone calls from concerned friends and family because I couldn't stop crying long enough to talk.  I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep.   Hell, I could barely catch my breath. That was 9 months and countless emailed resumes ago.  In this time, I've gotten, if I'm being generous, maybe 10 responses.  Most emails get ignored leading me to believe that the digital age has done little more than give us yet another medium with which to be rude.  Phone calls go unanswered, messages unreturned and the couple of recruiters I've actually spoken with have been kind enough to make the decision for me that either a) the commute was too far or b) the pay was too low.  Head, wall,  I believe you 2 have met.  Bang, bang bang.

I had my first interview since being laid off last week.  If you ask me, if went really well; I'm perfectly qualified, they didn't blink at my salary requirements, the owner and I are both dog lovers (his Jack Russell even spends time in the office). Yet, here it is, a week later and...nothing.  Obviously, there are good days and bad and I know things will eventually change, but I'm just not feeling the love on the job front.  So, you know that feeling of love that comes from having a belly full of homemade comfort food?  The kind that takes you in, wraps you up and makes you feel like a happy, protected 5 year old?  That is what I needed (albeit with slightly fewer calories)! 

Toaster Oven Chicken Tenders

1 1/2 lbs skinless, boneless, thin-sliced chicken breast cut into nugget sized pieces
1 1/2 cups seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup low fat buttermilk

Cal: 242 Fat: 5g Carbohydrate: 20g Protein: 28g Fiber: <1g
Serves: 6

Preheat toaster oven to 400 degrees.

Soak chicken pieces in the buttermilk for 15 min.
Arrange 3 bowls in a row: 1 with flour, 1 with beaten eggs and the final with breadcrumbs.
Add cayenne pepper to the breadcrumbs and mix well.
One by one, take a nugget, dredge it in the flour, then eggs then finally in the breadcrumbs making sure it is fully coated. Arrange on a toaster oven baking sheet and lightly spray the tops of the nuggets with cooking oil spray.
Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
Serve with dipping sauce of your choice; we love to have these with curry ketchup - recipe below.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
5 medium red potatoes
1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
3 tbsp grated pecorino romano cheese
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Calories: 148 Fat: 1g Carbohydrate: 34g Protein: 6g Fiber: 4g
Serves 4

Place peeled and cut potatoes in a saucepan and cover with about an inch of water.  Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender.  Drain potatoes and return them to the pot.  Mash potatoes.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well to mix (an electric mixer may prove helpful, just don't over-beat or the starch in the potatoes will turn them into something akin to glue).  

Curry Ketchup

1/4 cup ketchup
3 tsp mild curry powder
dash lime juice
1/2 tsp honey

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and chill for 30 min. Makes a great dipping sauce for the nuggets, as well as for fries! 

Bon Appetit!


  1. Hi, Jourdan!
    I'm happy to see that someone else besides me understands that simplicity and deliciousness of making one's own chicken "nuggets'! Not to mention, how much better they taste and are for you!!
    Also, I share your passion for Food Network, The Cooking Channel, and wine! It's not a family event without wine!! ;-)

  2. Hi Sandie! Thanks for checking out the blog...I have to say, I LOVE the name of yours! :)

    I've been making my own "nuggets" for years and after seeing Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last year I'm glad! They are SO yummy and SO much better for you than that processed stuff they pass off as chicken!

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by, hope you'll be back soon!

  3. Hello again, Jourdan!

    Thank you! I thought the name was kinda cute myself!! Although, I was a little unsure if I should put it as a reference for chef jobs, as the name might be a little offensive to some people... :-|

    Also, I just wanted to let you know that I've given you a blog award, so feel free to head on over to my blog and check out my latest post. I don't know if you do the blog awards stuff, but I wanted you to know how much I like your blog and the things that you post! :-)
    Have a great Friday evening!

  4. I might very well try these tonight. R. Davis is in Arizon for a training thing, so some home made nuggest and french fries sounds like a plan.

    You really are a wonderful cook!

  5. @Sandie, in my humble opinion, those who'd be offended by your blog name aren't the audience you're going for! ;o) Thank you SO much for the blog award. Life has been hectic lately (for very good reasons - blogs to tat effect coming soon) so I haven't been on as much as before but I'm headed over to your blog right now to take a look! Thanks again, I'm beyond flattered!

  6. @David - Thank you!!! Did you try them? What did you think? Please let me know! I wish we still worked together - you'd benefit from any leftovers that's for sure! :o)

  7. I just wanted to add a comment here to mention thanks for you very nice ideas. Blogs are troublesome to run and time consuming thus I appreciate when I see well written material.Your time isn’t going to waste with your posts. Thanks so much and stick with it No doubt you will definitely reach your goals! have a great day!

  8. Wow I really love it, looks very crispy and tasty. My mouth is watery by now. T_T