Football Appetizers: Buffalo Chicken Strips and Avocado “Fries”

Sundays in our household are usually super lazy days as the TV is on all day with the NFL Games.  Whether you watch football on Sundays (Go NY GIANTS!) or on Saturdays (Go Scarlet Knights!) chances are you also consume copious amounts of food…I mean that in a good way!  This Sunday I thought it would be fun to make a few appetizers instead of the sandwiches or sausages we usually eat.  I choose to make  Avocado “Fries” and Buffalo Chicken Strips. I wanted to try both of these appetizers at the same time since they both use the same Panko Crust on the outside, making it super easy to make them both at the same time. 

I was inspired to make the avocado “fries” because I saw them on Pinterest and knew I had to give them a try since I LOVE avocados! For those who don’t know, Pinterest is a social network that allows you to find things you like, or want to try and pin them on your own personal bulletin boards.  If you have never tried to use Pinterest before give it a try!  It’s my new obession because it’s super easy to navigate and just plain awesome! I’ve found lots of recipes, DIY Stuff, outfits, and many more creative ideas.  Enough on pinterest though, below is the very simple recipe for the Panko Crust I used on both the chicken and avocado.

Panko Crust 

  • 1 cup of Panko
  • ½ cup of finely ground cashews
  • 1 teaspoon each of mustard powder, garlic powder, basil, oregano, parsley and thyme.   

Notes:  For the spices, you can use any combination of herbs and spices that you like.  I just happened to have these particular spices and herbs within easy reach.  Also if you don’t happen to like cashews you can use any other nut(s) add flour or corn meal to the mixture, or simply add more Panko.   

Mix everything together in two separate bowls (one for the Avocado “Fries” and one for the Buffalo Chicken Strips) and voila!

Baked Avocado “Fries”

I realize that the notion of warm avocado sounds crazy to many of you, however if you LOVE avocado’s you’ll love this take on them.  When I saw the recipe and pinned it to my board on Pinterest I knew it would be one of the first recipes I’d try.  To start you’ll need one or two avocados that are firm and slightly under ripe.  If they are too ripe you won’t get good slices out of them.  Take the avocados, cut them in half, and remove the core.  Then use a spoon to remove the skin from both sides.  Now slice your avocados into slices that are at most 1/2 inch thick. I was able to get around 12 slices per avocado.  Next you’ll need to create an egg wash which is quite simply one beaten egg.  I added in some garlic flavored Philly Cooking Creme because I wanted to add extra flavor, however you can add in buttermilk, or just use the plain egg.  For those who are vegan you can use soy milk in place of the egg and omit the cheese.  The idea behind the egg wash is to give the avocado slices enough moisture so that the Panko Crust adheres easily. The next step is to create an assembly line; dip your avocado slices first into the egg wash, then the panko, then place them on greased baking sheet.

 Once you have all of the slices covered in the Panko bake them in the oven at 375 degrees.  I baked mine for 20 minutes as I found that this created the perfect balance between a nice crunchy crust on the outside and the soft buttery avocado on the inside.  If you prefer your “fries” more crunchy simply leave them in the oven a few minutes longer.  Below is what mine looked like:

Buffalo Chicken Strips

This recipe is my take on traditional buffalo wings which are awesome but usually deep fried.  Also all the bones get in the way making them super messy to eat.  This recipe uses boneless chicken breast or thigh meat making them much easier to eat and just as tasty.  To start you’ll need to make your marinade which is just some bottled buffalo wing sauce.  I like to add in mustard powder since I love the flavor of mustard and this time I also added in the garlic flavored Philly Cooking Creme because I like the extra garlicky kick it adds. 

Now take your raw chicken, clean it and ensure that most of the skin is taken off.  Once this is done cut the chicken into bite size pieces.  I cut mine so that it takes 2-3 bites to eat.  Poke holes with a fork throughout the chicken pieces as this helps the marinade to meld with the chicken better.  Then mix the chicken and marinade together and marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes.  If you plan this out better than me, marinating the chicken overnight will impart much more flavor plus the chicken comes out moister once it’s baked. 

Once you have marinated the chicken you can set up an assembly line; coat the pieces with the Panko Crust and place them on a well greased baking sheet.  Since the chicken has been marninated you have plenty of moisture to work with so you won’t need an egg wash. 

Once you have all the chicken pieces coated and ready to go you can put them in the oven at 375 degrees to bake.  You want to bake them long enough so that you have a nice crust somewhere between soft and crunchy and of course you want to ensure that the chicken is fully cooked.  I baked mine for about 25 minutes.   As an optional step, when the chicken has almost finished baking you can open up the oven to add more buffalo wing sauce to each piece this way you have the buffalo flavor throughout the chicken.  I served these with a Blue Cheese dip made of blue cheese dressing and my favorite garlic Philly Cooking Creme.  I also added additional buffalo sauce after I took the chicken out of the oven because they feel and taste more like traditional buffalo wings when you eat them with the extra sauce.  Below is what these yummy Buffalo Chicken Strips look like:

Of course I can’t end this post without my opinions on my favorite teams.  First off for us Giant’s fan getting a HUGE win over the 49ers was awesome.  I for one was not expecting that as you never know which Giants team will show up and play.  Their defense and running game got it done in this game.  Being from Jersey I have to give props to Victor Cruz and he’s turning out to be a huge advantage.  That was a great acquisition for the Giants.  Speaking of Jersey and being a Rutgers Alumni,  I definitely have to give credit to how well the Scarlet Knights are playing right now.  Even though they are in the Big East Conference which doesn’t get as much recognition as it should, it’s good know that the team can play with the best and produce some great players like Ray Rice who in his freshman year there in 2005 helped the team become eligible to particate in it’s 2nd every bowl.  For all the fans and Rutgers Alumni we all know that the next year (2006) the team won 13 games and achieved a #12 ranking.  This year they are at ranked #19 thus far. Here’s hoping that the winning trend continues. 

Finally, I gotta give props to Peyton Manning, who finally got over the hump of almost winning his games in the fourth quarter to actually winning them!  That win over Chargers with a 24 point comeback was nothing short of genius. Too bad I went to bed early and missed it.  I now know to watch the games until the end because you never know!

Would love to know your thoughts and opinions on the recipes and the games.  Please feel free to comment!

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