I glanced at the clock on my IPhone. The meeting was slowly wrapping up, and I was going to be LATE if I did not skedaddle!
I rushed through traffic, ignoring a few yellow lights. I screeched into the parking lot of my boy’s school on two wheels. I had 10 seconds to spare before the latest possible pick-up time. After that, the $10.00 per minute penalty would apply.
Smart rule for the school. Incentive for the parent. Unfair.
Being a single full-time working mother is a big challenge. It is hard. For me, there was no other option. I needed to work. I was riddled with guilt leaving my child in the hands of another for such a considerable part of each day.
My little man and I had our routine in the evenings. Sure, there were nights when a pizza was in order but I tried hard to limit take-out. If I could not have my days to care for my son, I was not prepared to skimp on being the most wholesome and present mom in the evening.
That, my friends, is called overcompensation.
I love to cook, and food is a means by which I express my affection. So, cooking a yummy dinner became my way of showering him with love (and overcompensating.) Our dinner table became our time. I always referred to that time as the time for “table matters.”
One of my son's favorite foods (still, today at age 13) is chicken nuggets. As a matter of fact, most kids like food in nugget form, don’t you think?
But chicken nuggets don’t have to be in the shape of a dinosaur and out of a box that you find in the frozen food section. You can make your healthy version and freeze them in your containers for a quick and delicious dinner.
Here is what I do:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/4 cups Panko bread crumbs
- Remove the chicken from the package and pat dry (no need to rinse)
- Place the chicken on your cutting board and slice across each breast so that your have approximately three 1” filets
- Place a piece of parchment paper over each filet and pound the chicken until it is about 1/4” thick
- Then cut the pounded chicken into 1 1/2” pieces￼
- Place a plate, and then a bowl then another plate on the counter
- Mix the flour, salt, pepper on the first plate
- Beat the eggs and milk in the shallow bowl
- Put the breadcrumbs on the third plate￼
- Toss the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture
- Then dip each nugget into the egg mixture shaking off excess.
- Dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, covering all sides
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook the chicken on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until cooked through. Be careful not to crowd the pan
- Add more butter and oil as needed
- Remove the nuggets from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
(For an even healthier option you can drizzle the nuggets with olive oil after you dredge them with the mixture and bake at 400 for 15 minutes.)
Serve with baked potato (which can be cooked in the microwave to save time) topped with plain greek yogurt or sour cream.
Place a bowl of sliced crunchy carrots (a.k.a. raw) and a bowl of fresh strawberries on the table.
My boys LOVE these. They call it "Chicken Nug Night" whenever I serve them. I always make extras and freeze them in storage containers.
When it is time for the next nugget night, simply take the container out of the freezer in the morning and defrost in the fridge during the day. Place the nuggets on a foil covered cooking sheet. Reheat in the oven at 400 degrees, for approximately 10-15 minutes.
Voila! Dinner is served!
So- here is the take- away dish. We are not superwomen. We are moms who are in a pickle. One that we did not anticipate. Try as we might, we are not perfect. So, quit beating yourself up. Sauce out of a jar is ok. A nugget out of a box is not the worst. A can of soup is, at times, the answer.
What is the best? Being with your babes, bedtime, talk-time and well, just you. Love is the best recipe.
Take time at the table Because the table matters.
And that's the dish.