When I first found out I was pregnant, I spent countless hours researching everything. I hopped from mommy blog to mommy blog looking for the best diapers, changing tables, swaddles, baby monitors, mattresses, and sound machines. And as a trained cook, I always thought that when it came to my kids, I would make all of their food from scratch and my desire to do so was supported by my research.
I swore that I would never purchase store-bought baby food or microwavable dinners. I exclusively nursed my daughter until she was about six months old and then my husband and I decided to begin the process of introducing her to solids. Her very first meal was mashed sweet potatoes that I painstakingly steamed, blended, and served to our baby girl.
For weeks, in the beginning of our journey to introduce our child to solids, I would carefully select only the best organic vegetables and fruits and spend hours making them into digestible purées and compotes, only to have my efforts end up on the floor—a treat for our two dogs.
During this time, I was also trying to make dinner for my husband and myself, keep the house relatively clean, finish my homework (yes, I decided that going to graduate school right after I gave birth to my first child was a good idea), and meet my regular job commitments. I felt like I was working overtime and failing at everything. Making quality, homemade meals for my family was so important to me, but I had to find a better way to do it.
I can honestly say that the Anova Precision Oven saved the day (and what little remained of my sanity). For weeks after I got it, I didn’t turn on the other oven in my house. I loved the fact that I could steam fish and broccoli for my daughter in under 10 minutes and then turn around and roast pork chops for my husband and myself all in under an hour.
I got minutes of my life back in the kitchen and also discovered new recipes that worked for my daughter. Like these homemade chicken nuggets. The ingredients are simple—ground chicken, panko breadcrumbs, some seasoning—and the 25-minute air fry is hands-free. That’s all it takes to get one of my daughter’s favorite meals on the table. I make a big batch once a month and then freeze them until I’m ready to serve them to her.
She’s really into dinosaurs lately, so I bought a few cookie cutters in those shapes to make dinner even more fun for her. She loves a T-Rex dipped in barbecue sauce! I’m so happy that she’s developing such a great little palate and I’m thankful that Anova’s Precision Oven has made cooking for her a true source of joy for me. Now if only it could also help clean up the floors after Nola is finished eating.
Homemade Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Note: This recipe uses a wire rack sized to fit in a half sheet pan, measuring 11 1/2 by 16 3/4 inches (29.2 by 42.5cm). If you don't have this size rack, you can wrap a piece of aluminum foil around your oven racks and poke holes throughout the foil to allow for airflow.
1 pound (454g) ground chicken
2 large eggs
½ tsp Mrs. Dash Original Seasoning Blend
¼ tsp kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1. Mix the chicken, one egg, seasoning, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until well combined. Transfer chicken to a parchment-lined 8- by 8-inch baking dish and pat into an even layer. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
2. Once the chicken is firm, remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Use dinosaur-shaped cookie cutters to make fun shapes. Form any remaining chicken mixture into small nuggets. Once you’ve gotten all the shapes you want, transfer to a sheet pan and return to the freezer.
3. When you’re ready to bake, turn on the oven using the Air Fry Quick Start. Spray a wire rack (see note) with nonstick oil spray.
4. While the oven is heating, add the panko breadcrumbs to a shallow bowl and the remaining egg and ¼ cup of water to a second shallow bowl. Whisk the egg and water until frothy. Remove the chicken nuggets from the freezer. Dip them in the egg wash and then coat them in the panko bread crumbs. Place them on the wire rack-lined sheet pan and spray with nonstick oil spray.
5. Transfer the rack with the chicken nuggets to the center rack placement in the oven and bake until browned and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.