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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Southwest Crispy Chicken Sliders

I am on a Cooking Light sandwich kick. This time we're making Southwest Crispy Chicken Sliders on a cheesy jalapeno cornbread muffin. While bacon, avocado, crispy chicken breast and cheese are on the ingredients list, two of these colorful sandwiches are just over 400 calories! We had them for lunch, but they would also make great appetizers or a fun addition to your next small plates dinner.

The recipe suggests you make your own cornbread muffins, and I was surprised at how quickly I mixed up the batter and got them into the oven. Not gonna lie - these muffins are on the "mini" side, but they stand up to the challenge of holding together some guac, chicken, and a thick tomato slice.

While the cornbread muffins are baking, I made some guacamole with chopped bacon and also prepared the crispy chicken pieces. Simply bread the chicken cutlets in panko breadcrumbs and then pan fry in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Building this towering slider is fun and easy - cut the muffins in half, layer on some guacamole, chicken, and a tomato slice and then finish with the muffin top! We enjoyed the subtle spice from the jalapeños in the cornbread and the crispy, salty bacon in the guacamole. The chicken stayed moist on the inside thanks to the crunchy panko bread coating. Nick and I both thought the chicken needed more seasoning, so next time, I am going to sprinkle some salt and pepper on the chicken breasts before breading them.

For a time-saving tip, you could also make the cornbread muffins in advance. They will stay fresh 2-3 days in an airtight container. If you have leftover muffins, serve them with some barbecued chicken and baked beans.

Southwest Crispy Chicken Sliders
Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 6 (serving size - 2 sliders)


Muffins -
  • 3 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • Cooking spray
Chicken -
  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 6  skinless, boneless chicken cutlets, cut in half 
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
Additional ingredients -
  • 1 ripe, pitted, peeled avocado
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices small, ripe tomato
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare muffins, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine buttermilk, butter, and 1 egg, stirring well. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in cheese and jalapeño. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove muffins from pan; cool on a wire rack. Cut muffins in half crosswise.

To prepare chicken, place panko in a shallow dish. Combine fat-free milk and 1 egg in a shallow dish, stirring well. Cut each cutlet piece in half, crosswise, to form 12 pieces. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Dip chicken in egg mixture; dredge in panko. Coat panko lightly with cooking spray. Add 6 chicken cutlets to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden and done. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 6 chicken cutlets, and cooking spray.

To prepare additional ingredients, combine avocado and lime juice; mash to desired consistency. Stir in bacon. Place 2 muffin bottom halves on each of 6 plates. Divide avocado mixture evenly among muffins; top each slider with 1 chicken cutlet and 1 tomato slice. Sprinkle tomato evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper; top with muffin tops.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lightened Up Shrimp Po'boy Sandwiches

We can't drive by a Popeyes without Nick trying (I'll be honest, begging) me to stop and let him feast on fried shrimp and chicken with a side of biscuits. I will undoubtedly turn up my nose and start lecturing him about the insane about of fat, calories and sodium in the food. Just call me the fast food cop - saving the world one Bacon Double Cheeseburger at a time.

Cooking Light magazine's "Recipe Makeover" section may just keep me from turning into a complete food nag. Each month, the magazine makes a healthier version of our favorite calorie-bomb foods that we just can't live without. This month's makeover is the Shrimp Po'boy sandwich. I had to try it given my husband's fried shrimp obsession.

We made these hearty (yet healthy) sandwiches on the Fourth of July, so I had a bit more time to mess around in the kitchen. They are relatively easy, but preparing the sandwiches will take you about an hour or so. Be sure to get the pre-packaged coleslaw mix to save some time as well (shredding your own cabbage is messy business). I used pre-cooked shrimp to make these, but I think raw would be better. The extra cooking time would allow for a crunchier cornmeal coating on the shrimp.

After an intense morning spin class, we tore into the po'boys like there was no tomorrow (I was even practicing my Guy Fieri "hunch" to get the entire baguette into my mouth). The spicy Cajun flavor from the slaw was balanced by the crusty French bread and juicy tomato slices.  Grated lemon rind adds a nice brightness to the shrimp as well.

Serve the po'boys alongside some baked chips and a fruit salad, and you've got yourself a delicious and guilt-free meal, y'all. I'm collecting recipes for our family vacation in the Outer Banks, and I think this one will definitely be in the running for lunch or a light dinner!

Lightened-Up Shrimp Po'boys
Adapted from Cooking Light (July 2012 issue)
Serves 4


For the Rémoulade slaw -
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat canola mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon wasabi powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups packaged cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw

For the Po'boys -
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 (2 1/2-ounce) pieces French bread baguette, split and toasted
  • 3 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
To prepare rémoulade slaw, combine first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add coleslaw; toss to coat. Cover and chill.

To prepare po'boys, combine cornstarch and next 4 ingredients (through egg white) in a medium bowl; whisk until blended. Add shrimp; toss well. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, stirring once.

Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Place torn bread in a food processor; process until very fine crumbs form. Set aside 1/2 cup breadcrumbs; reserve remaining breadcrumbs for another use. Combine 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, cornmeal, and black pepper in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and shake to combine.

Remove shrimp from bowl; discard marinade. Add shrimp to breadcrumb mixture. Seal and shake to coat.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.

Arrange tomato slice on bottom half of bread. Top with 1/2 cup slaw and one quarter of shrimp. Cover with top half of bread.