Pint Sized Chicken ‘n Waffles With Coke

SSS-TinyFoodParty08We pulled inspiration for this course from the pages of  “Tiny Food Party!: Bite-Size Recipes for Miniature Meals” by Teri Lyn Fisher. It’s a little sweet and a little savory — perfect for a spin recipe. Hello, chicken and waffles! To be true to their foodie roots, we served them alongside tiny bottles of Coca-Cola … as if we were real–no kidding–Southern folk.

This is one of those recipes in which you can take major shortcuts or go all out. With ten courses — some made from scratch — I’ll admit to making some pretty crazy short cuts with this dish. Since it was the first party or event I hosted with tiny foods and drink pairings, I’d say it was a wise decision!

So … how do you decide which path to choose: scratch or shortcut?

You just have to think small (literally) and plan ahead. How would one even go about making mini waffles? Turns out, there are special appliances for just this situation. And if you’re opting to make this from scratch, all of the elements can be made ahead of time and chilled for use the next day. You can also make them well in advance and freeze them.

Here is a quick overview of the elements with suggested shortcuts. The “from-scratch” recipe follows:SSS-TinyFoodParty18

  • Waffles –- This shortcut is easy. Simply buy those break-apart mini frozen waffles for kids. I was able to find a good organic brand at Whole Foods. Or get a mini waffle iron and make them from scratch. Here are two options from Amazon: a waffle griddle for the stovetop, or an electric waffle iron.   Doing them this way will add a little character to the waffle, as the store bought ones are all perfect (read, “not homemade”) circles.
  • Fried Chicken -– Again, there’s an easy-peasy shortcut. You can either buy little frozen nuggets, or do what I did: order a party tray of Chick-fil-A nuggets. The size and shape worked perfectly. The other option is to cut the chicken into smaller bites, batter and fry them up. That gives you leeway to make a gluten-free or baked version. The awesome thing is that these little chicken bites will fry up quicker than regular sized fried chicken, make less mess, and, again, can be made ahead of time.
  • Honey Butter -– this was the icing on the cake … or the waffles. Simply mix up softened butter with a bit of honey to taste. It gets all melty and gooey. It’s the perfect little sweet replacement for drizzling syrup over the waffles.

Then there were the cute little bottles of Coke. You may be able to find these at a grocery store or online. Look for the 8 or 10 ounce bottles: The tinier the better.

Chicken ‘n Waffles (With Honey Butter)

This recipe covers the chicken and the honey butter. For the waffles, buy frozen, use a mix or whip up your favorite recipe. Just make sure they are tiny! This will make about 30 individual bites.

10 chicken tenderloins (boneless, skinless), cut into smaller equal pieces
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup salted butter, softened
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
30 mini waffles, or regular sized cut down into smaller pieces (WTE tip: Use a miniature cookie cutter!)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups vegetable oil

For the chicken:

In a bowl, submerge chicken in buttermilk. Cover bowl and refrigerate. Soaking the chicken for a few hours or overnight will help the coating stick better when frying.

Stir together the flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt, onion powder and black pepper in a shallow bowl. Heat the oil in a medium cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from buttermilk and coat in flour mixture. Shake off excess and carefully drop into the hot oil. Fry for about 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on size and thickness. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

For the honey butter:

Whisk together the butter and honey until well combined. It’s best to add honey slowly and taste as you go along. You may need more or less depending on your taste.

Assembly:

After heating or making the waffles, spread the honey butter onto each one. Top with a piece of the fried chicken. You can drizzle with a little more honey for garnish. Server warm paired with a mini Coke!

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A Bright, Zippy Salad For Summer’s Final Days

cress_melon_composedsaladIn this last week of August, as the summer just begins to slip away, we bring the month full circle with another take on a summer favorite: watermelon.

Well, perhaps that’s not quite right. Because while we started “foods that cool” month with delightful watermelon circles, I’m closing it out with watermelon cubes — paired with snappy watercress — to bring you a bright, refreshing spin of savory and sweet.

These last days of summer are precious. Suddenly, the sunshine is slipping through your fingers. You’re lamenting that beach trip you haven’t squeezed in, those al fresco plays and concerts you’ve missed.

My point, dear Eaters, is two-fold. One: You don’t want to waste these last slivers of sunny summer abandon cooking – and while we may be on the march to autumn, it’s still plenty hot outside. Two: You don’t want to spend your time reading too much about cooking, either.

IMG_9031So I’ll keep this post short and sweet, with a recipe that requires little time and no heat. No pots, no pans. No simmering, no grilling (you know how I feel about grilling, anyway). Those are all worthy tools and pursuits, of course, but time is short! So for this simple salad, you’ll need just a few basic ingredients, a sharp knife and a quick spin in your salad spinner.

A quick word on watercress: I rarely purchase it, but after doing a bit of reading, I might pick it up more often. It’s loaded with vitamins C, K and A, and has a wonderful, peppery punch that’s reminiscent of arugula leaves.

This dish works well because the melon’s sweetness nicely balances that bite, but you could also mix it with other greens to add some zip to a more traditional salad. And if you find you like it, you’ll find recipes galore on the internet for more traditional preparations like egg salad or watercress soup.

But that’s enough chit-chat — you should be outside! So pick up that last watermelon, some cotija or feta cheese and some zippy watercress, and toss this zippy salad together.

Then head to the park. Stat.

Watermelon Watercress Salad

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1 1/2 pounds watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes (or whatever size, really)

1 bunch watercress washed and trimmed to leaves and tender stems

2 tablespoons rice vinegar, white balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice

3 to 4 ounces feta or cotija cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

8 to 10 mint leaves, chopped finely

I tried three different acid options of the dressing: rice vinegar, white balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. I found all three delightful, so whichever option you choose, you can’t go wrong.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently.

Some recipes out there advise letting the flavors meld for an hour or so, while others suggest serving immediately. Either works!

Makes about 4 servings

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Soup, There It Is

Photo caption: semarr via Flickr

I have some recent experience with soup in appetizer form. When our esteemed co-founder Sarah threw me a wedding shower, one of my bridesmaids, Stacey, made tomato soup. We served it in tiny votive holders – essentially, a shot glass of soup. That mimicked one of the appetizers we would serve at our wedding, with a mini grilled cheese sandwich added as a grand embellishment. A brie and caramelized onion grilled cheese, nonetheless.

I won’t delve too deeply here into the presentation bit, as I have it on good authority that you’ll see a mini food month from WTE in 2014. I’ll just say this: Any of the soups here would be great in whatever mini form you choose.

Tomato Soup: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/meyers-classic-tomato-soup.aspx

Butternut Squash Soup: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/squash-soup-recipe/index.html

Carrot Ginger Soup: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/carrot_ginger_soup/

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photo credit to Aaron Otis Photography 2014


July
Watermelon is the perfect summer food. It hydrates, it cools, it's sweet and juicy. We have some great ideas for your table, including a salad, ceviche cups, popsicles and cocktails. Get ready to beat the heat with us!

 
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