We’re pretty much halfway through summer right? Where did the time go? I can’t believe my kids already go back to school in less than a month. I feel like we haven’t done that much “summery” stuff yet. I haven’t even been to the beach yet, for cryin’ out loud! Between work, Farmer’s Markets, kids’ stuff, etc…..we just haven’t had the time.
You know what else I don’t have that much time for? Cooking a really good meal for dinner. I have been utilizing the slow cooker, making a lot of main dish salads, you know, that kind of thing. Easy stuff. But every once in a while, I get the urge to bust out pots and pans, fire up the oven, and really cook something good. Something the whole family likes.
Last week, I decided to cook one of our favorite meals. One that actually requires turning on the oven….chicken and waffles. I bet to some of you that sounds like a weird combination. It really isn’t. Normally, this meal is big ‘ol pieces of fried chicken sitting on top of an equally big waffle, and the whole thing gets drenched in honey or syrup. Fried chicken is actually phenomenal with sweet flavors like syrup and honey, btw.
For my chicken and waffles, I bake chicken tenders in a crunchy coating of panko bread crumbs and crushed up Captain Crunch cereal. No Crunch Berries! The sweet crunch of the cereal is perfect with chicken. Captain Crunch chicken was actually a thing for a while back in the early nineties when Planet Hollywood was all the rage. I never had theirs.
I put my baked tenders on top of corn meal waffles and then I drizzle the whole shebang with honey. To die for. Let me show you how I make this.
I start with about a pound of chicken tenders. I usually pull my chicken out of a big bag of frozen breasts, but you can buy your chicken already cut into tenders. I cut mine, which is quick. I dip my tenders into a quick bath of whisked eggs, and then they get dipped into a combination of panko bread crumbs, Captain Crunch that I have crushed up into crumbs, salt and pepper.
I place the coated tenders on a baking rack which is set upon a baking sheet. Keeping the tenders off the pan lets hot air get all the way around them, leading to crispier chicken. These are a quick baked, only about fourteen minutes!
I stay busy during those fourteen minutes though….I make waffles! I have a waffle maker, which is helpful. Actually, it is more than helpful. It’s necessary. If you don’t have a waffle maker, you will have to toast up some frozen waffles. I won’t judge.
I use a box or two of Jiffy corn muffin mix for my waffles. I could make them from scratch with corn meal, flour, etc. but this is close enough. This little box actually turns out some amazing waffles.
The mix just needs some milk, melted butter and eggs whisked in to get the perfect waffles. The box calls for shortening, but that’s weird. Butter works just fine. I don’t add any sugar or sweetness to the waffles because the chicken has a sweet coating, plus the whole thing gets honey on top.
I bake my waffles in my waffle maker for just a couple of minutes. And yes, I peek in several times to see if the waffles are cooked. I have zero patience for food.
Once I have my cooked chicken, and cooked waffles, I serve them by placing a waffle on a plate and then topping each waffle with about three tenders. I drizzle delicious local honey all over the top, and it’s good to go!
This really is a perfect dinner. It is sweet, savory, filling and all together perfect. And it still is pretty easy. Yes, it requires a bit more work than my usual dinners, but it still isn’t hard. And you could always split this up. The waffles make a great breakfast and the chicken fingers are obviously good anytime.
I think this dinner needs a dessert, don’t you? Since this meal was vaguely Southern, I thought it would be best followed by my Sweet Tea Cake. This cake tastes like a tall glass of sweet tea, which is one of my faves.
I use a boxed white cake mix (surprise, surprise), strongly brewed Lipton tea, eggs, butter, powdered sugar, milk and lemon juice to pull this cake together. I don’t add any additional sugar. The “sweet” part is the cake. And I use a Bundt pan, but your cake shape is entirely up to you.
In my standing mixer, I blend together the cake mix, three eggs, melted butter and some strongly brewed tea. For the tea, I just let three tea bags steep in just 1 ¼ cup hot water. This makes one heckuva cup of tea. But you need it strong to achieve the right flavor.
I bake my cake in a Bundt pan, like we just talked about. When the cake is cooked and cooled a bit, I invert it out of its pan. Then, I drizzle it with a mixture of powdered sugar, lemon juice and a splash of milk. Do you not like lemon in your sweet tea? Leave it out! This cake is just as good with just a glaze made from powdered sugar and milk.
My family loves this cake. My kids don’t even like tea, but they love this cake! But really, what wouldn’t be delicious in cake form?
See you all next week!
Captain Crunch Chicken Tenders
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
1 ½ cups Captain Crunch cereal, crushed into crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a baking rack on top of a baking sheet. Spray rack with cooking spray.
Whisk together eggs in a shallow dish. Add panko, cereal, salt and pepper to another shallow dish. Mix well.
Dip each tender into eggs, then Panko/cereal mixture. Press crumbs into each tender. Place tenders on baking rack leaving about 1 inch between tenders.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 14 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, 8.5 ounce each
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 ½ cups milk
Preheat waffle maker.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together mixes, eggs and milk until just blended. Slowly whisk in melted butter until incorporated.
Pour about ½ cup of batter onto waffle maker. Bake waffle for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown.
Makes about 6 waffles.
Sweet Tea Cake
1 box white cake mix
1 ¼ cups strongly brewed tea, (3 tea bags steeped in 1 ¼ cups hot water for at least 30 minutes)
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons milk
1 to 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray Bundt pan with cooking spray or grease with melted butter.
In a mixing bowl, beat together cake mix, eggs, melted butter and tea. Mix with a hand mixer for 2 minutes.
Pour cake into greased Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and pulling away from the sides.
Let cool for 15 minutes before inverting cake onto a platter.
Whisk together ingredients until smooth. Pour over cooled cake.