Family Table: Parmesan Garlic Chicken Tenders

Our older son LOVES to help in the kitchen!!  Anytime cooking is mentioned, he is pulling the dish towel down to use as an apron and dragging a stool to the counter.  If all else fails, he should have a great career in Rachael Ray’s prep kitchen.  Or as a reality tv star on one of the hundred cooking challenge shows!

One of his favorite dishes to prepare is Parmesan Garlic Chicken Tenders.  This is a “side-of-the-box” recipe that our whole family gobbles up!  I snagged the recipe off of the package of Good Season’s Italian Dressing Mix.  We have tried several recipes from their website  (or from the dressing packages) and had favorable reviews of all!  I usually purchase the mixes in a 3 pack from Wal-Mart for around $3.

I modified this recipe a little bit–my additions are in italics.  Please share how you and your family enjoy a “side-of-the-box” recipe!

PARMESAN GARLIC CHICKEN TENDERS

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 envelope Italian dressing mix*
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic pepper with red bell pepper seasoning**
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 6 chicken tenders, rinsed and patted dry (original recipe calls for boneless, skinless breast halves)
  • 1 egg (optional)

In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, beat egg with 2 TBSP. water.  Dredge chicken through egg mix and then dry ingredients, lightly coating each side.  Put each coated tender in greased baking dish.  Sprinkle any remaining dry mix over top of chicken tenders.  Sometimes, we add a little liquid Italian dressing to the pan or sprinkle the top with more Parmesan cheese.  Bake 20-25 minutes (until chicken is cooked thoroughly).

**We add this. It's also GREAT on stir fry veggies or chicken for fajitas.

*NOTE: I have tried this recipe with a generic and a store brand Italian dressing mix–you CAN tell the difference!  In this case, I highly recommend being a “brand snob” and getting the real deal!

This is a great meal for little guys to “cook!”  Chicken tenders are easy for them to grab with a small pair of tongs.  I usually keep one hand on the tongs and we get into a pattern (and sometimes make it a song), “In the water (egg mix), wiggle, wiggle-In the cheese, wiggle, wiggle- Flip it over, wiggle, wiggle- in the pan.” (and sometimes, you have to go ahead and add the “wiggle, wiggle” in the pan just for good measure!!)

Small children can help plate this meal, as well.  I like to serve these tenders on a salad.  Little hands tear GREAT lettuce!  If you can keep them from sneezing in them (like my son did the last time we made this), preschoolers and even toddlers can fill bowls with salad!!

If your family likes to “dress” their salads, this can be turned into a great learning game. Have your child put 5 carrot slices in each bowl.  As him or her to put two purple onion slices and 1 white onion slice.  Or, if you are really adventurous, see if your child can tear the lettuce into shapes.  Circles might be a challenge reserved for an older child, but squares, rectangles, and triangles should be a piece of cake…or lettuce!

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