Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce

These baked chicken nuggets and homemade honey mustard sauce are an easy way to satisfy fast food cravings at home!

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

Even though I love salads, vegetables, and all sorts of healthy goodness, as well as eating at local restaurants, sometimes fast food just sounds SO good. Do you know what I mean? I rarely indulge, except on road trips or nights that I really really have no desire to cook and we have no leftovers. [This is super rare.] To be completely honest, the health aspect is only part of the reason I don’t indulge that often. It’s the cost. It just seems ridiculous to me to spend $7+ on a “good” fast food meal… especially keeping in mind what fast food is really made of. So what to do, what to do. Make my own fast food, of course! Chicken nuggets and chicken tenders are my absolute fave. Always have been, always will be.

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

True, it takes longer. And it’s not exactly like what you’d get at a fast food place. But seriously… if it’s just the crunch of chicken and the endless vats of dipping sauce that you desire, this will be well worth it! I’m not going to lie; these chicken nuggets aren’t healthy. They’re baked, not fried, so there is some redeeming qualities to them, but healthy they are not. Their breading is held on by an unexpected blend of balsamic vinegar and honey, a combination that’s sweet and savory all at once!

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

Though you can dip these chicken nuggets in whatever sauce you like–ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard… might I suggest this homemade Chick-Fil-A sauce? Before seeing this recipe I didn’t realize that Chick-Fil-A had their own special sauce besides their honey mustard, so I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this recipe. I can speak for the taste though–it’s amazingly, utterly, wonderfully delicious! So next time you have a craving for fast food, why not make some at home? I bet you have most of these ingredients in your pantry and fridge right now! I know I do. :) Enjoy!

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce | thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
two years ago: Pesto Potato Salad
three years ago: Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce
four years ago:  Summer Mexican Soup

Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

from Macaroni and Cheesecake

Ingredients:

for chicken nuggets

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, Panko if possible – if regular bread crumbs you may want to toast in a dry skillet for a few minutes until golden brown
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

for Chick-Fil-A sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce

Directions:

Line a large sheet pan with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together honey and balsamic vinegar. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl. Roll chicken in honey then dip in bread crumbs, being sure to coat each side. Place on prepared pan and repeat until all chicken is used. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

After chicken is in the oven, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate while chicken cooks, about 30 minutes, to allow flavors to marry.

Serve chicken nuggets with sauce, ketchup, etc. Extra sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.

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SRC: Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes

These chocolate cupcakes are filled with sweet cream and topped with an easy chocolate frosting. They’re like your favorite storebought snack cakes, but homemade! 

Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes | thepajamachef.com

Ready for another installment of the Secret Recipe Club? I hope so, cause that’s what you’re getting! :) This month I made you some yummy cupcakes, courtesy of Micha at Cookin’ Mimi. Micha has a blog full of easy and delicious family-friendly recipes. Totally my style of cooking! Micha has been cooking with her family her whole life, and even got a pasta maker for a birthday gift around ages 13 or 14. How cool! I wish I lived nearby to borrow it, haha. After perusing her blog, I narrowed my recipe selection down to two things: these cupcakes and salmon burgers. I bought ingredients and planned to make them both, but life happened and these cupcakes are the only thing I’ve had a chance to make yet. Hope you don’t mind! Those burgers look great and I will make them soon. :)

I decided to make these cupcakes first because I was in a chocolately sort of mood, and I needed a dessert for a few events. I love being able to multitask recipes, huh? [And contrary to popular stereotypes about women, we aren't all always chocoaholics. I sure am not!] Micha’s original recipe made a chocolate cream filled cake, not cupcakes. But her post was all about these being a take on Little Debbie snack cakes so I thought that turning her cake into cupcakes would be totally appropriate! And don’t they look fun?

Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes | thepajamachef.com

Since these filled cupcakes require making the cake itself, filling, AND frosting, it seems like a lot of steps. However, it’s really not as bad as it sounds. Spread this out over a leisurely morning and you’ve got a great dessert by lunch. The cake is moist, fluffy, and not overwhelmingly sweet–the perfect balance to the sweet cream filling and rich chocolatey frosting. I think this cake recipe will be one to make again and again, especially because it doesn’t use eggs. A great recipe for allergies! When making the filling I had to add some powdered sugar to make it hold together for spooning into the cupcake. I suspect that it wouldn’t have been necessary had it been cooler outside, or if I was just spreading the filling in between two layers of a cake. Oh, and in case you’re wondering… the spoons are in the dish with the cupcakes above to prevent them from bumping into each other on the drive to work. Pretty clever, if I do say so myself. Why buy a cupcake holder if you can DIY it, right? Enjoy! Thanks, Micha for a great recipe!

one year ago: Churro Cheesecake Bars 
two years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
three years ago: Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken
four years ago: Potato Soup

Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes

  • Servings: 36 cupcakes
  • Time: 3 hours
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from Cooking Mimi

Ingredients:

for cupcakes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 cups water

for filling

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, optional

for frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • up to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • up to 1/3 cup milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 36 muffin cups with paper liners or grease tins with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Add oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water and whisk until just combined. Fill muffin cups 2/3 of the way full, then bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin cup comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

While cupcakes cool, make the filling. In a small saucepan, whisk together flour and milk. Cook over medium-low heat until thick, constantly stirring. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer to cool. When completely cool, add butter, vanilla, and sugar. Beat on high for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. If desired, add up to 1 cup powdered sugar to thicken.

When cupcakes are cool, use a sharp knife to cut circle from the top of the cupcake, angling down to cut out a cone shaped piece. Spoon [or pipe in using a pastry bag] about 1 tablespoon of filling in the hole, then replace the bit of removed cake. Repeat until all cupcakes are filled.

To make the frosting, place butter and cocoa powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk on medium until combined, then alternate adding milk and powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Stir in vanilla, then frost cupcakes.

On warm days, you may want to store in the refrigerator until ready to serve so the filling doesn’t melt.

Be sure to check out the other recipes from the SRC here:

Book Review: Out of the Depths

Usually when I review books I choose ridiculous rom-coms [yes, that's a book genre too]. This time, the subject is a bit more serious: World War II, the sinking of a ship, and survival at sea, in the spirit of Unbroken and Louie Zamperini’s story. I was sent a complimentary copy of Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis by Edgar Harrell USMC with David Harrell as part of Bethany House Publishers‘ book review program.

Out of the Depths Book Review | thepajamachef.com

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

July 30, 1945—The USS Indianapolis and its 1,196-man crew is making its way toward a small island in the South Pacific. The ship is sailing unescorted, assured by headquarters the waters are safe. It is midnight, and Marine Edgar Harrell and several others have sacked out on deck rather than spend the night in their hot and muggy quarters below. Fresh off a top-secret mission to deliver uranium for the atomic bombs that would ultimately end World War II, they are unaware their ship is being watched. Minutes later, six torpedoes are slicing toward the Indy . . .

For five horrifying days and nights after their ship went down, Harrell and his shipmates had to fend for themselves in the open seas. Plagued by dehydration, exposure, saltwater poisoning, and shark attacks, their numbers were cruelly depleted before they were miraculously rescued. This is one man’s story of courage, ingenuity, and faith in God’s providence in the midst of the worst naval disaster in U.S. history.

As usual, my five point review:

  • I read Unbroken a few years ago and loved it. If you loved it too, Out of the Depths is for you. It’s equally inspiring and moving. The author credits his survival on the open seas to God and his story of faithfulness is apparant in the pages of this book.
  • Throughout the book I was just amazed at all the author and his fellow shipmates endured. It’s a hard to story to read–both in terms of war details [about the atomic bombs in Japan] and the horrific conditions the sailors endured on the water. But it’s an important one that I enjoyed learning about.
  • Being from Indiana, I was surprised that the story of the USS Indianapolis isn’t taught in schools. But I did learn that there’s a memorial in Indianapolis that I’d love to visit next time I’m there. I shouldn’t be surprised though, because many of the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the ship was kept hidden until the late 1990s.
  • For the most part, I enjoyed the way this book was written: focusing in detail about each day. The story was told in enough detail to be compelling but not too much to be boring. But parts of it felt forced and too much like a history book and too little like a personal account. That’s just a minor complaint though.
  • Overall, the book was excellent. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in World War II history. It was neat reading the epilogue and learning the author lives in the Nashville area! :)

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Mystery Dish: Watermelon Salsa

A sweet watermelon salsa that has just a bit of kick to it… this may be my new favorite summer snack! Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com Hey hey! This was my month to host Mystery Dish and it was so fun! I got to invite a guest to participate with us and chose to ask my lil sis, Kathleen at Two Happy Bellies! So glad she could bake up a yummy treat this month. :) These ingredients I chose included:

  • coffee [grounds or brewed] – an unexpected summer ingredient
  • sour cream – for something creamy
  • farro – because I have a bag in the pantry I’ve been trying to use up…clearly that didn’t happen
  • almonds – for a crunch
  • cherries – they’re in season
  • watermelon – my favorite summer fruit…even more than berries [I know!!!]
  • cantaloupe – if you get a good one, they’re like candy
  • jicama – crunch crunch
  • cucumber – they’re super cheap at the farmer’s market and I love them
  • tomatoes – never buy these when it’s not summertime…just not woth it
  • infused or flavored olive oil – see farro
  • fresh herbs [any kind] – because fresh herbs rock
  • cornmeal – I have no idea, but thought it could be good for a crust or something
  • hot peppers [any kind] – spice, spice, spice it up! 

I hope my other Mystery Dish gals had fun with the ingredients I chose for them to play with…and now they know a little bit about why I chose the ingredients I did. I asked them to choose three for their dish. I used five–watermelon, cucumber, infused/flavored olive oil, fresh herbs, and hot peppers, and I meant to use a sixth–jicama, but forgot. Oh rats.Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com This salsa is like the stuff of my dreams. Though I love your basic smooth tomato-based salsas, sometimes a chunky fruit-based salsa just hits the spot. This salsa combines some of my favorite summertime fruits and veggies [watermelon, peaches, and cucumber] with some spicy jalapeno and chili powder for the tiniest kick to make things interesting. :) If spicy salsa isn’t your thing, leave out the jalapeno or use some bell pepper instead. Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com Now, I know that some of you may  be a bit hesitant to make a spicy watermelon salsa, or even to use watermelon in salsa to begin with. I have to admit, that not too long ago I was right there with you! I love eating watermelon in the summer [really, all year round but they are only GOOD in the summer] and rarely use it in recipes because I just love it plain. But I wanted to stretch myself and try a spiced up watermelon dish because I’ve seen tons of recipes doing just that. And I’m really glad I did. Yay for Mystery Dish! The salsa isn’t really too spicy, so don’t worry… the watermelon and cucumber cool everything down and the peaches provide a bite of sweetness. It’s pretty much a perfect combo. Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com I served this salsa with regular tortilla chips as well as the pictured multigrain tortilla chips [my fave!], but I think some cinnamon sugar tortilla or pita chips could be really good too! One last thing: be sure to make this salsa right before serving it. The watermelon definitely makes it pretty liquidy the longer it sits so eat up! :)
one year ago: Blueberry Buckle
two years ago: Mango Coconut Granola 
three years ago: Lavender-Lime Scones
four years ago: Creamy Baked Spaghetti

Watermelon Salsa

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Print
Watermelon Salsa | thepajamachef.com
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups watermelon, chopped into small cubes and drained in a mesh colander for 10 minutes
  • 1 small peach, chopped into small cubes [about 2/3 cup]
  • 1/3 cup cucumber, chopped into small cubes
  • 1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded and diced – optional
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coconut white balsamic vinegar [regular white balsamic vinegar is fine too]
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange infused extra virgin olive oil [some orange juice/zest mixed with a bit of evoo is fine too]
  • pinch of chili powder
  • garlic salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • tortilla chips, for serving

Directions: In a small bowl fold together watermelon, peach, cucumber, jalapeno, and cilantro. In a measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together vinegar, olive oil, chili powder, garlic salt, and pepper. Pour mixture over watermelon, then stir to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Would also be great over fish, chicken, or pork, with tacos, or even with a spoon!

July Mystery Dish via thepajamachef.com

  1. Watermelon Salsa – The Pajama Chef
  2. Farro Salad – Chez CateyLou
  3. Cherry Almond Coffee Cake – Two Happy Bellies
  4. Watermelon Fruit Salad with Mint Lime Dressing – Yummy Healthy Easy
  5. Toasted Almond Caramel Mocha Gelato – Culinary Couture Blog
  6. Cherry Galettes with Almond Sour Cream Crust – The Well Floured Kitchen
  7. Cherry Watermelon Granita – Joyful Healthy Eats
  8. Cherry Almond Mocha Smoothie – Baking a Moment
  9. Pepperoni Pasta Salad – I Want Crazy
  10. Almond Cherry Bars – I Dig Pinterest
  11. Cucumber Salsa – Weary Chef
  12. Cherry Almond Popsicles – Blahnik Baker

 

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.