Sous Chef Sunday: Chicken & Waffle Sliders

Mmm. Chicken, and waffles. Two seemingly unrelated things, but when put together make a food-gasmic combination. The sons, yet again, were skeptical. Four identical sets of little arched eye-brows as I got out just 3 ingredients. When, oh when, will they learn to trust me in the kitchen?! The sons followed the super simple recipe all by themselves, although with supervision since they were using the oven. The older sons can handle it, but Son # 4 gets so excited to be involved in the process, I worry he might forget hot things lead to burned fingers. Each son, in turn, took one tentative bite, and then proceeded to scarf them down. They looked like squirrels packing away food for winter. There was even a brief skirmish over the last two and who deserved them MOST. A chicken and waffle combo may have sounded weird to the more traditional tastes of the Sons, but they all agreed UNANIMOUSLY (might I point out this almost never happens!), that these little suckers are finger-lickin’ good.

Chicken & Waffle Sliders

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken & Waffle Sliders

frozen mini waffles, fully toasted
chicken tenders, cooked
{real} maple syrup
toothpicks

Directions

1. Slice your cooked chicken tenders in half. Break your toasted waffles apart.
2. Sandwich one piece of chicken between two cooked waffles. Secure with a toothpick.
3. When all the tenders have been ‘sandwiched’, drizzle them with maple syrup and serve warm.

Homemade Cheeze-Its

Sons # 4 is going through another phase. He has lots of phases, which I guess is normal as he grows and is constantly trying to figure himself out. It’s a big ide world out there and he’s got to find his place in it after all. I generally enjoy seeing where the next ‘phase’ will take us. Although, the temper tantrum ‘dance’ phase that arrives with his fourth birthday, I’m not real fond of. That is just a phase, right? Any way, his latest thing bringing me boxes and requesting I read off of the ingredients list. He finds it hysterical when I read the made-up words. The funnier they sound, or the more time I spend tripping over them trying to pronounce them, reduces him to side-stitching, doubled over fits of laughter. And, no, despite a pinky promise, complete with a cross my heart and hope to die, he still does not believe his ‘silly’ Mommy that the funny words are actual, real words.  Recently he brought me a cheez-it box and had a melt down in aisle 5 after listening to me stumble all around ‘Oleoresin’. Monosodium Glutemate is another particularly fun tongue twister to him. After surveying all these different prepackaged ingredients lists, I found I didn’t really want the cheez-its that bad, and removed them from our cart. Really, I just didn’t want anything I couldn’t pronounce, let alone recognize, going in the sons diet, if I could help it. But after I got home, I felt guilty and a little sad because I really did want a cheez-it, or something crunchy and cheesy. A family friend came to my rescue by sharing her simple recipe for homemade cheeze-it crackers.

After trying my friends recipe, I discovered that the perfect Cheez-It cracker has superior crunch, unmistakable cheese flavor that doesn’t devolve into pure saltiness, and just enough grease to leave a light sheen on your fingers. And, most importantly, it doesn’t even come from a box.

Homemade Cheeze-Its

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Cheez-Its

(of course, if we were making them the sons had to go with their own signature shape. No squares in this bunch!)

1 8-oz. block extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons ice water

Directions

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cheddar, butter, and salt until soft and homogenous. Add the flour and mix on low speed; the dough will be dry and pebbly. Slowly add the water and continue to mix as the dough coalesces into a mass.
2. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 375˚. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
4. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each into a very thin (1/8 inch or less) 10×12-inch rectangle.  Use small, possibly extra small, cookie cutters to cut out crackers in any desired shape. Or, if you want a more ‘authentic’ look, use a fluted pastry cutter, cut the rectangles into 1-inch squares, then transfer to the baking sheets. Use the tip of a chopstick to punch a hole into the center of each square.
5. Bake for 17 minutes or until puffed and browning at the edges. Watch carefully, as the high fat content of the crackers makes it a fine line between golden delicious and burnt. Immediately move the crackers to racks to cool.

Buttery Cajun Popcorn

Calling all popcorn lovers! If you, or someone you know, loves the crunchy little snack you’ve got to check out this easy seasoning recipe. This gem was popcorn experiment # 3. And might I say, it was well worth the wait. It does have a nice kick to it, but lessen the Cajun seasoning to create a more mild version. Make a batch, grab a bowl, and dig in while you enjoy some qt with the family.  A handful of popcorn can make any thing more memorable.

Buttery Cajun Popcorn

4 Sons 'R' Us: Buttery Cajun Popcorn

recipe adapted from Taste of Home

12 cups popped popcorn
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
4 tsp Cajun seasoning
4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Pop popcorn according to package directions, and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Combine the melted butter with either the lemon or lime juice. Slowly pour them evenly over the popcorn and then stir to completely coat.
3. Combine the Cajun seasoning and grated cheese. Sprinkle them evenly over the popcorn and again, give it a good stir to completely coat.
4. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Popcorn

What is it about the combination of pb & j that kids loved so much. Seriously? I remember eating peanut butter & jelly sandwiches every chance I got as as kid. Any meal, any time. I didn’t care. I’m pretty sure I o.d.ed  on it I ate it so much. As an adult the thought of eating it makes me feel slightly ill. Yep, definitely o.d.ed on the two as a kid. Thankfully, my own kids seem to have managed to avoid the same fate. They beg for the stuff. I’ve caught all of them at least once, ok maybe twice, hiding in the pantry and eating peanut butter by the spoonful out of the jar. They love it on celery sticks. Apple slices? You bet! Even tortillas. My crazy kids use peanut butter like it’s a condiment.

With that in mind, we decided to get creative with our next popcorn experiment. I hit the web and found this simple, but totally awesome, looking recipe for Peanut Butter & Jelly popcorn. The finished product knocked their little socks off. I’m talking toe-curlingly delicious level. It was snack time and dessert all rolled into one. Even I enjoyed the stuff.

Fix a batch for your own pb & j fans and rock their world.

PB & J Popcorn

4 Sons 'R' Us: PB & J Popcorn

recipe originally from Something Swanky

8 cups popped popcorn (about 1/4 cup kernels, popped)
1 cup white chocolate, divided
1 1/2 tbsp. grape jelly & 1 tbsp. peanut butter

Directions

1. Divide Popcorn as evenly as possible into two separate bowls.
2. Over medium low heat on the stove top, melt 1/2 cup white chocolate with 1 tbsp. peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Pour over 1 bowl of the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to mix well and coat thoroughly. Spread out on a silicon mat or parchment paper to let cool.
3. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1/2 cup white chocolate with 1 1/2 tbsp grape jelly over medium low heat on the stove top. Stir until smooth. Pour over the other bowl of popcorn, and stir with rubber spatula to coat well. Spread out on silicon mat or parchment paper to let cool.
4. Once both batches of popcorn are cooled enough that the coatings are set, mix them both together in a bowl and serve!