Tag: Family Dinner

Chicken Nuggets

Family Dinner

I wrote about family dinner a few years back. Dinner with the girls in our early years was a bleak affair until I realized what I was doing wrong. Even though there were still the occasional glasses of
spilled milk and not everything I made was appreciated, chicken nuggets were a frequent default meal, we were talking and enjoying each others company. My girls even grew up to love all kinds of food and have become accomplished cooks to boot!

The biggest breakthrough was when Claire grew tired of making all of her friends accommodate her food issues, and ironically, she’s now become quite the adventurous eater. She wouldn’t eat any meat other than chicken growing up and certainly no seafood. Imagine my surprise when her very first attempt at venturing into the non-vegetarian world was eating raw oysters—and loving them!

 

Despite the fact that dinnertime was stressful, I made an effort to do it properly and make it an event. I thought nothing of this until Margot’s and Claire’s friends started coming over to join us for meals. They would remark on the cloth napkins, the place settings, the fact that we all sat down together rather than ferrying plates off to other corners of the house.

Table Setting

A typical family dinner setting. Now that the girls are adults, wine for all!

“What, no vegetables?” Margot asked one night when I’d forgotten to put them on the table. I went to get them and remarked that I was surprised that she actually wanted vegetables for a change.
“Oh I’m not going to eat them,” she replied. “I just thought it was weird that there weren’t any.”
Sigh.

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In the end, both of my daughters grew up to love food and cooking. I like to believe that my influence had an effect, even if it took decades to emerge. My daughters grew up seeing me cook most nights. Forcing kids to help with cooking can undermine any love they might develop for it, so I included them by giving them small tasks like setting the table and helping with cleanup. I tried to give them a say in what we ate, as they’d be more excited about dinnertime if they knew they were getting their favorites, such as spaghetti or chicken nuggets with mustard.

I also encouraged them to spend time with me in the kitchen, even if there weren’t any tasks for them. I’d get them to keep me company while I cooked and they did their homework or just told me about their day. Giving them memories of the kitchen as a place of togetherness set the stage for them to do the same in their own lives.

Fresh cut bouquet for centerpiece

Chicken nuggets were a favorite with my kids, which they dipped in mustard. Make these simple chicken nuggets and celebrate family dinner with some broccoli florets on the side and let them eat with their hands!

If the chicken nuggets are not appealing to the older “kids” panfry a couple of boneless skinless chicken breasts, too. Pound the breasts to make them even in size and cook for four minutes on each side.

Set up three small pans or three pie tins, a baking rack over a sheet of parchment paper and another sheet of parchment paper lined with paper towels.

Place the flour in one pan, the eggs in a second one and beat until frothy and finally the breadcrumbs and cheese (mixed together) in the last.

Family Dinner

 

Cut the tenders into four pieces each.

Family Dinner

 

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn and sprinkle the reverse side with salt and pepper.

Family Dinner

Heat the oil in a large skillet or electric frying pan to 350 degrees F. If you’re using a skillet, a handy tool to use is a surface thermometer, which reads the surface temperature of the oil. Keeping the oil properly heated means the frying food absorbs less oil. After frying two batches, 24 nuggets, I had this much oil left over out of one cup.

Family Dinner

 

Dredge each chicken piece in the flour first, then the egg wash and lastly in the breadcrumbs and cheese.

Family Dinner

Set each piece on the baking rack.

Family Dinner

Once the oil is hot, place the chicken nuggets into the pan with a good inch between piece. Fry for three minutes, turn and fry for three minutes more.

Family Dinner

 

Place the cooked nuggets on the paper towel to drain.

Family Dinner

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, or BBQ sauce.

 

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Family Dinner

Family Dinner

Chicken nuggets were a favorite with my kids, which they dipped in mustard. Make these simple chicken nuggets and celebrate family dinner with some broccoli florets on the side and let them eat with their hands!

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 24 chicken nuggets 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Panfry
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (white or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup oil

Instructions

  1. Set up three small pans or three pie tins, a baking rack over a sheet of parchment paper and another sheet of parchment paper lined with paper towels.
  2. Place the flour in one pan, the eggs in a second one and beat until frothy and finally the breadcrumbs and cheese in the last.
  3. Cut the tenders into four pieces each.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn and sprinkle the reverse side with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the oil in a large skillet or electric frying pan to 350 degrees F. If you’re using a skillet, a handy tool to use is a surface thermometer, which reads the surface temperature of the oil. Keeping the oil properly heated means the frying food absorbs less oil. After frying two batches, 24 nuggets, I had this much oil left over out of one cup.
  6. Dredge each chicken piece in the flour first, then the egg wash and lastly in the breadcrumbs and cheese. Set each piece on the baking rack.
  7. Once the oil is hot, place the chicken nuggets into the pan with a good inch between piece. Fry for three minutes, turn and fry for three minutes more.
  8. Place the cooked nuggets on the paper towel to drain.
  9. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, or BBQ sauce.

 

 

Family Dinner

family dinner

I know the phrase “Family Dinner” has become popular with tv campaigns and articles promoting the benefits of families sitting down to dinner at least once a week. But the term has been in our family since the girls were quite young. How we got there was a realization on my part that I was making a BIG mistake at dinnertime….

I was not thrilled about dinner, as a matter of fact, I had come to loathe it by the time the kids were about 8 (Claire) and 3 (Margot). They were very picky about what they would and wouldn’t eat, and what was a favorite dinner one week was unacceptable the next. Milk spilled, food dropped on the floor, and there was little or no conversation.family dinner

I have a vivid recollection of the last bad dinner – I put their food on the table and left the room. I can still see their faces – mommy is mad and they were unhappy; maybe even intimidated. As I sat in the other room, I was stewing over how awful this situation was and bemoaning the fact that the dinner hour should be an event – eating a nice meal and catching up on everyone’s day.

Then the lightbulb went off. How were they supposed to do that if I didn’t teach them. I had created this situation and my kids were paying the price. So, the next night I made dinner and sat down with them. They were surprised and actually asked, “Mommy are you eating dinner with us?” Wow – that said volumes!

I said yes and that we were all spending one hour at the table. I’m sure they wondered what they were going to do for an hour, but I was prepared. I had paper, pencil, and a plan. With Claire I played hangman and Margot tic-tac-toe.

Hangman is the perfect game for opening a dialogue and keeping the conversation going. Claire loved to read, watch tv shows and movies, and listen to music. Her clues would be show titles or favorite tv/movie stars, favorite music artists or titles of songs. Margot listened and waited patiently as I alternated between the girls. They loved it and we continued it on the weekends with Daddy.

We had a favorite neighborhood restaurant where we went two or three times a month. They had paper tablecloths and we put together a special pencil-case with crayons, markers, and colored pencils. We played games and made drawings between courses. As Margot got older she started playing Hangman and we eventually got to a point where we often guessed the right answer to each others clues without any letters because we communicated regularly and knew each other so well.

The result was that within a short time they loved family dinner, not always the food, but I learned to work around that. It was a time of easy conversation and bonding. When they got to the point where school and social activities sometimes interfered with having dinner together every night, Sunday night was mandatory family dinner night.

Interestingly, they talked about this with their friends and the friends wanted to come to dinner. Another great way of getting to know your kids is to get to know their friends and what better way than at the dinner table.

Overall, it was huge success and to this day, when they come home, family dinner is what they want and I think what they need. I know I do.

family dinner