Coconut Chicken Fingers and Herbed Rice Pilaf

By now you know that cooking is one of my very favorite hobbies. The prospect of trying a new recipe always excites me. Part of the fun is hunting for new ingredients to use in these new-to-me recipes.


This weekend, on Memorial Day, the rainy weather kept us from grilling outdoors, but it didn’t keep me from flipping through our Williams-Sonoma Grill Master cookbook (which I wrote about here, and which is quickly becoming a new favorite!) and finding other recipes to try, indoors. To make the Herbed Rice Pilaf recipe in the book,

I first needed to find a wild and brown rice blend – which I did, quite easily at Meijer!


Next, I prepared my mirepoix – onions, celery, and carrots.


The veggies were sautéed in butter with fresh herbs and garlic, until soft (and super fragrant!).


In goes the rice.


Toast lightly, cooking for one minute, before adding reduced-sodium broth.


Cover (don’t peek!), and cook for 45 minutes, then remove from heat, and let sit, covered for 10 more minutes. By now my mouth is salivating, I pop off the cover, and find this glistening pot of rice pilaf! Perfection!


Fluff, season with salt and pepper, and nom it! Absolutely wonderful! Too often I reach for boxed rice blends with wacky ingredients, tons of sodium, and preservatives (but I can’t lie – I find Rice-a-Roni delicious and won’t act like I’m above buying it sometimes), but it was seriously awesome to make this homemade, nutritious, flavorful rice pilaf at home, free of wacky ingredients! I absolutely love this recipe – so much bettah than da box!


The ingredient for which I DID need to go on a hunt was unsweetened flaked coconut. Finally I found some at Whole Foods (and luckily it was less than three bucks for this bag containing five cups.)


For the main course, Coconut Chicken Fingers from Cooking Light were on the menu! This is another new-to-me recipe.

First, I seasoned my chicken with salt and pepper, and set up my breading station from right to left:

    • flour (recipe calls for rice flour, making for a gluten free recipe, but I used all purpose flour [I also typed “flower” twice will composing that sentence and had to fix it!])
    • buttermilk and egg mixture
    • flaked unsweetened coconut


After breading the tenders, they look liked like this:


Rather than cook these in a skillet on the stove-top, I baked them for 30 minutes at 350 F degrees, because I prefer the texture of baked chicken over sautéed chicken, generally. With that said, these might be better cooked in a skillet because I bet the coconut might toast and brown better than it did in the oven.

Finally, I turned the broiler on for the last few minutes of baking time to achieve a bit of color and toastiness. Regardless, these turned out quite nicely and were yummy. They did, perhaps, lack a depth of flavor. I would have liked more seasonings in this recipe – maybe a bit of curry powder?


Essential – sweet chili sauce. Another new-to-my-kitchen ingredient I picked up this weekend. This stuff is FANTASTIC, I tell you. Sweet, tangy, with occasional fiery specks of pepper flakes.


Now that’s dinner! Coconut Chicken Tenders and Herbed Rice Pilaf!


Herbed Rice Pilaf

Lightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Grill Master Cookbook

      • 2 T unsalted butter
      • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
      • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
      • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 2 fresh thyme springs (or substitute 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
      • 1 fresh rosemary spring (or substitute 1/2 tsp dried rosemary)
      • 1 cup wild and brown rice blend
      • 1 1/2 cups reduced- or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (check your rice pkg to determine if liquid volume requires adjustment)
      • salt and pepper

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the celery, carrot, onion, thyme, and rosemary and sauté until the vegetables have softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute to toast lightly. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Stir, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until the liquid is absorbed (40-45 minutes).

2. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered for 10 minutes. uncover and remove the herb springs, and fluff with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Serve!

My rating: 8.5/10

Coconut Chicken Fingers

Recipe at Cooking Light

My rating: 6.8/10

6 thoughts on “Coconut Chicken Fingers and Herbed Rice Pilaf

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