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.

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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!

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

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

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In goes the rice.

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

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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!

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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!

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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.)

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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

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After breading the tenders, they look liked like this:

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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?

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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.

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

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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

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6 thoughts on “Coconut Chicken Fingers and Herbed Rice Pilaf

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