Chicken tenders (and chicken fingers, and chicken nuggets) are ubiquitous on the plates of most American children… and the same could be said for many adults! Many rely on the convenience of fast food restaurants and frozen packages from the grocery store. There is no denying the convenience of those options, but if you have a little more time to spare, why not give these a try? They are simple, not overpowering for a young palate, and don’t use many ingredients. If you are able to eat peanuts, I strongly recommend peanut oil for superior taste and frying, but feel free to use whatever frying oil works best for you.
I have not added very specific quantities for this recipe because it varies so much from batch to batch, and personal taste. I have estimated as best as I can, but this can serve as a great base for your own experimentation. I was inspired to use self-rising flour for frying after trying some Lenten recipes from The Festive Fast, by Marigoula Kokkinou and Georgia Kofinas. I enjoyed several recipes from this book and highly recommend it!
Chicken breasts, sliced no more than 1 inch thick (I used three large breasts in this photo)
garlic salt (or plain salt or seasoning of choice)
self-rising flour (several cups, but it’s hard to measure exactly so have plenty extra!)
peanut oil, to fry (enough to be at least 2 inches deep in your pot)
Lay out the sliced chicken in a single layer, and sprinkle liberally with garlic salt on all sides. Allow chicken to sit for about 30 minutes while the salt absorbs.
Pour frying oil into your pot and begin heating over medium high. It is very convenient to have a candy thermometer for this, especially if you are unfamiliar with how hot the oil should be. We are aiming for about 350-375°F (I believe that’s about 175°C).
Make a runny batter of about 1 cup of self-rising flour to 2 cups of water, whisked thoroughly to remove lumps.
Pour a cup or two of self-rising flour onto a large plate or bowl for dredging the chicken. You may choose to add additional seasonings here, but I refrain in order to keep the salt content down, and the flavor mild… it’s for my kids after all.
You will likely need to fry the chicken in batches, so take the first batch of sliced chicken and gently press it into the dredging flour, and leave it for a minute or so to let the flour absorb excess moisture. Lift the slices and gently shake or tap off excess flour, then quickly dunk into the batter. Lift the slices up and hold them over the bowl for a moment so excess batter can drip off, then return to the dredging plate and turn the slices gently once or twice to absorb moisture.
When the oil has reached the right temperature, gently place the slices in, being careful not to overcrowd. They should sizzle and bubble immediately. Fry until golden brown, turning gently once or twice, this should take only a few minutes if you sliced them thinly.
Remove them from the oil with tongs or a slotted spoon, and place on a rack (or plate with paper towels) to drain.
Repeat this process until all the slices are cooked.
We enjoy ours with plain old ketchup, but you can go as gourmet as you want and try just about any sauce you can think of! This recipe is almost absurdly simple, and I wouldn’t have thought to share it if it wasn’t for the fact that my children (and husband) become absolutely ecstatic when they find I am making this for dinner. Sometimes, simple is best!
It feels weird starting this little routine up again after abandoning it for several weeks. Gabriella has fallen back into a mildly annoying routine of multiple brief wakings during the night, which (combined with my habit of going to bed at midnight… or later) is making it hard for me to rationalize waking up at 4:40 in the morning to drag myself to the gym. I really want to prioritize fitness, especially as I continue to age.. but before I can prioritize fitness, I have to be getting enough sleep. I’m going to try to get myself to bed earlier so that, even if she continues this frustrating habit, I will still get an acceptable amount of rest each night. Not great, but acceptable. We are setting the bar as low as possible without making it dangerous for me to operate heavy machinery. It’s hard because this is my only “adult time”…. I don’t socialize basically ever, we don’t use a babysitter or relatives to watch the kids… this is my only time to just hang out with my husband. And since we had kids almost immediately, I really value what little alone time we manage to wring out of our schedule.
Tonight we had pork chops for dinner. The meat is from either Cypress Grove Farm or Windhaven Farm, I can’t remember which. It is super fatty and I adore it. I used the leftover rendered pork fat in the skillet to saute some asparagus. After removing the asparagus, I sprinkled some Trader Joes garlic salt over the veg. I need to type up my pork chop recipe. It’s super easy, and we rely on it almost once a week.
We split the chops up between the five of us. I nobly forgo most of the meat, as long as I get a bone to gnaw on (*hint* the little bit of meat closest to the bones is literally the best ever). I also made a basic lettuce salad with my homemade dressing, sort of Greek/Italian.
Tuesday, July 16
Last night, my husband talked me into turning off my alarm and skipping the gym this morning. Neither of us have slept well for days (weeks… years?), and even though I did get to bed a little earlier last night, it was still pushing midnight. I’m frustrated about my selfish little routines very frequently getting shelved, but sleep does come first, and I’m glad I stayed home to catch up on Z’s. All the kids slept well last night.. other than the older two gabbing secretly in bed until 10:30, until I caught them and gave them a scolding… and they all woke up a full hour earlier than usual.
We did at least do some homeschool lessons. Our “school” is leisurely in session year-round, so that we can take breaks when we actually want/need them. Right now we are going through their Brain Quest activity books and making sure they are both totally complete before the school really revs up in the fall. Sophia’s book is for the Second Grade and has only nine more pages to go… today we finished out the multiplication section, and tomorrow we will move on to the introduction to division, and then I think she has a couple money activities. Barring some catastrophe, she will likely be finished with her book by the end of the week. Adriana’s Kindergarten book has more pages to catch up on, all related to phonics, and some writing and sight words. All the other subjects in her book are completed. She doesn’t work very well under pressure, so I push her less and give her more time to complete things. I’ve noticed she’s been getting a little more thick-skinned lately, though, and I think she will start advancing a little quicker once I can start drilling her a little harder without risking an emotional collapse. She has been hungering to really read on her own, so I think she’s finally motivated to tough it out during lesson-time to achieve her goal. As usual, I simply meet them where they are.
I was really hoping to pick up my old teenage routine of tanning in the back yard during Gabriella’s nap, but it started thundering right after I put her down… it is back to bright sun, so maybe I will stop typing here and head on out (with the baby monitor close by). I hope I don’t seem juvenile, but I can’t help turning back the clock a little in summer. I took advantage of post-Independence Day swimsuit price reductions and got a couple new one-pieces from American Eagle (this one for $19.98 and this one for $29.97… though I see that as of this writing, it is now $19.98!! I got both in Small Long), and I can’t wait to prance around in them. I also ordered some bikinis on insane discount from Abercrombie & Fitch, but I won’t write about them until they arrive and I’ve had a chance to try them on.
As far as housework, I haven’t done much. I washed the couch slipcover and hung it on the line to dry, but haven’t put it back on the couch yet. Sames goes for the girls’ bed sheets. I also did LOTS of weeding throughout the garden. It was blazing hot and I was dripping sweat within minutes, but something about pulling weeds is addictive.
For dinner I will be making my homemade meatballs and spaghetti. We have a lot of kale that needs to be used up, so I think I might might a kale salad to accompany the meal… there is some summer squash and zucchini that needs to be used up, so I might slice and grill those (perhaps along with some firm tofu) and eat that in lieu of pasta. I’m not trying to suggest that I have given up on pasta!!! But I think today I will abstain. I’m on a nice weight-loss streak this week, and want to gently keep it going. My goal/hope is to lose 10 pounds by August 17. If I keep on the trajectory, I will be just fine. Telling myself “it’s only a month” makes it seem more achievable. Realistically, I will probably keep going beyond that, but if I do make my August goal, then maybe I will take a break and plateau for a bit.
*Update* I did not end up going tanning, opting instead to finish this entry, enjoy an afternoon cup of coffee, and then start on dinner.
Wednesday, July 17
I woke up before my alarm (before my 4:40am alarm, how miserable is that?) from my husband’s snoring. I got myself to bed by 11pm, but had a hard time falling asleep so “early” so I ultimately didn’t get much more sleep than usual. I might have fallen back asleep if it hadn’t been for his snoring… I figured I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep with all that racket anyway, so might as well roll on out to the gym.
As soon as the class started, it was obvious I wasn’t myself. My period is expected in a few days, so I assume this must have been due to a PMS shift in hormones… #testosteronehasleftthechat
I was a wobbly, weak, emotional mess and could barely pedal with even a light resistance on the bike. I DID stay on the bike and pushed myself for the full hour, and by the end of the class I’d managed to find a small amount of my usual pep. It was nice to get that endorphin boost during a generally crummy time of the month. Hubby will be out of town for the next couple days, so I won’t be going to the gym, so this morning’s session was especially valuable to me.
Within the next couple weeks, I would really like to start getting back into weight-training. I used to do basic weights LOOONG ago, before marriage and kids, but I’ve forgotten everything, and the machines in this brave new modern era are different than the implements of torture to which I was accustomed back in the Dark Ages when I was young. It would be nice to set up an appointment with a personal trainer, at least for a few sessions to get me on track, but they cost money and not likely to want to meet me at 5am. If you have any suggestions or tips on getting back into all this, I’d love a comment here or on Instagram.
The weather is sunny and bright, and I think us girls are going to head to the pool this morning!
After the pool, Gabi took a great nap and I cancelled all my duties and laid out in the sun in the back yard and worked on my tan. My leg tan…. I kept the rest of my body and face covered… I really felt beachy and committed to doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day, but the Mom and Homemaker in me couldn’t let that slide, and by the end of the day I did end up vacuuming downstairs, and scrubbing the downstairs bathroom. We had homemade chicken fingers for dinner and they were a raging success! I’ve been toying with recipes and it seems that today was the day I got it right! Too bad I never write down my experiments… hopefully I can replicate it, and get it typed up here to share with you.
Thursday, July 18
Today we are going to go in-person to deliver Sophia’s test results to the local school board to fulfill our requirements for homeschooling in our state. We also delivered our “Intent to Homeschool” forms for the two older girls for the upcoming academic year! I will have a First Grader and and Second Grader. It’s exciting and terrifying, and the weight of this responsibility is impossible to forget.
I wore a brown dress by The Limited that I purchsed second-hand through Clothes Mentor. Last time I posted this dress on social media, it was too tight to actually wear around, and now it’s starting to gape! Especially on the upper part of my body.
I had a bunch of housework planned for today, but we went to the pool instead and had a great time. We are all getting brown really fast. For as pale as I am, I thankfully don’t burn easily, and it seems the girls enjoy this attribute as well. I purchased my bathing suit on Amazon (size Medium) but the company that makes it does have their own website that might be worth checking out! It came in a few colors and some floral designs as well.
Saturday, July 20
Hubby’s parents have a BJ’s membership and recently added us to their account, so today we drove over to the Chesapeake location to check it out. We used to have a Costco membership and really loved it, but cancelled it when we moved too far away to make visiting practical. BJ’s seemed very similar and we found lots of products that we like, although the diapers weren’t quite as economical as our current options (Amazon “Mama Bear” diapers and Aldi “Little Journey” diapers), so we probably won’t purchase diapers from there. They were still well-priced and we may purchase from them if we are already there and very short on diapers. Out of the brands they carry, we prefer Pampers, and I believe the price averaged out to 27¢ per diaper, size 5.
This reminds me! I posted a while ago about our downstairs bathroom, and featured a diaper pail for our cloth diapers. So why are we purchasing disposable diapers at all, you ask? We have always used a mix… disposables for naps, night and travel. Cloth for regular at-home time. We recently ditched the cloth diapers though, because the elastic wore out of the G-Diaper pouches, and we weren’t sure we wanted to bother repurchasing if this is our “last child” and she’s close to potty training anyway.
“Last child”. Yea right. Second-Born was “definitely our last child” as well, yet here we are.
Maybe I should just order new G-Diaper pouches and stop lying to myself.
While we were already at BJ’s I visited the local branch of Plato’s Closet to see their selection. I’ve been to other locations that are dripping with second-hand clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle (my preferred casual brands), but this location had almost none, although I dug around for quite a while. Oh well, at least now I know!
We completed our weekly shopping at Aldi.
Sunday, July 21
The girls and I attended church last week, but unfortunately will not be attending today due to a combination of sheer physical distance, and my husband’s overall disapproval of Orthodoxy. I consistently try to toe a respectful line between my own religious beliefs and his, especially with regards to the children. It’s an unpleasant challenge, but it is what it is. I will do the usual Bible study and prayers on my own at home.
Other than that, I plan on making pulled pork in the Instant Pot for dinner, along with homemade dinner rolls to use as buns. I have a mountain of ironing that I need to tackle…. and who knows, maybe I will sit down at my sewing table for five minutes.
Or maybe I will put off working on my dress for another 5 weeks.