Cheddar Chicken Tenders with Wilted Spinach

I think most people have a recipe like this in their recipe arsenal. Sometimes it involves ranch packets and cornflakes, other times it involves other crackers. I tried this one out a couple years ago and thought it was a fun, tasty, whimsical meal. It seems to be one of the few meals that Jason can remember when I ask him what he wants me to cook . . . so I decided to pull this one out, dust it off and oblige him with it. It is super quick to make and is a definite kid pleaser.

I’m actually in need of super quick and easy recipes – our schedules have cramped our dinner schedule down to almost nothing three works days a week. What do you guys do when you need an eat and run sort of dinner? We’re trying to stay away from processed foods (although this recipe and the cheez-its shows that we’re willing to bend the rules sometimes) and fast food. . . and it seems like it’s almost impossible to have a quick dinner when you’re not relying on frozen fish sticks, hotdogs or prepackaged skillet meals! Suggestions?

Recipe for Cheddar Chicken Tenders with Wilted Spinach


  1. Posted March 23, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Our go to is shrimp. I buy a big bag of frozen uncooked shrimp stick it in the fridge to thaw for the day then cook it quickly with garlic and butter. Once its done I make wraps for lunch, add it to salad or add it to pasta. I even add it to soup. Also using hummus on sandwiches instead of mayo or mustard makes it more exciting. And I wait for Kashi pizzas to go on sale and buy a bunch of them. I’ll have to try your recipe!

    • Elizabeth
      Posted March 23, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, my one struggle with shrimp is that you never know where it comes from when it’s frozen. As long as it’s from the US and is farmed sustainably, I’m ok with it, but I think a lot of the frozen shrimp comes from China = bad.

      Shrimp is a good idea though – I might pick some up farmed US shrimp for dinner tomorrow night to stir fry! Thanks!

  2. Posted March 23, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    My favorite quick meal is sloppy joes. Ground beef or turkey, cooked + 1/2 c ketchup + 1/2 c bbq sauce + buns. Something you might be interested in is Once-a-Month (OAM) Cooking. I’ve been reading about it on couponing blogs and it seems like a really good way to keep healthy foods on hand when there is no time to cook. And, of course, you wouldn’t have to do it the whole month; you can pick and choose how many meals to cook and freeze. Here’s a good post on it with links to other blogs:

    • Elizabeth
      Posted March 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, sloppy joes are a good idea too! Probably makes good leftovers too. The past couple of weeks, I’d been spending my Sundays prepping stuff for the week (like making banana bread for breakfast, pizza dough, meatballs, pasta bakes, etc) and that helped a whole lot. Our weekends have been disappearing too now so I don’t have the ability to do that as much as I’d like now! I’d really like to roast a chicken and shred the meat to use in chicken salad, stir fries, pasta, etc but I just haven’t had time.

      Once we deplete some of the beef in our freezer, I may double the meals I make that are freezable and freeze them. It’ll be good to have after the baby comes too. We just don’t have a whole lot of room in our freezer right now. No worries though, because I am quickly making room. 🙂

  3. Posted March 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    These look like fun! One of my fast go-to meals is a lot like this. I just take cut up chicken breasts and bread them with bread crumbs and some spices and stick them in a pan with a little bit of oil (and maybe some garlic and spring onion). We normally it eat over pasta.

    Lately we’ve been really into the taco thing. We have been keeping a roasted chicken on hand and just cook up some onions, garlic and chicken (sometimes we add mushrooms, peppers, etc) and throw it in tortillas, sometimes we’ll add beans or rice or cheese to that…pretty much we just throw everything in our fridge into a skillet and then put it in a tortilla!

    • Elizabeth
      Posted March 23, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, I was thinking about your chicken tacos. . . seems like you could put anything in a taco! I may have to copy but with a purchased rotisserie chicken.

  4. jownby
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Yeah, I’m with you on the processed food thing. I try to make a pot of homemade soup or chili on Sundays, and there is always enough left over for dinner another night during the week and maybe even a lunch or two. Also, about once a month, when pork tenderloin in on sale, I’ll put one in the crock pot all day with a jar of bbq sauce for pulled pork sandwiches. This freezes well too!!

    • Elizabeth
      Posted March 23, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Soup would work perfectly because I LOVE soup! Jason doesn’t really like it though, and it’s already really hot here in Texas. The pulled pork sandwiches are a great idea though! I might have to try and reacquaint myself with my crock pot. Maybe it won’t char the heck out of everything I put in it . . .

  5. sharon
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    hi elizabeth

    you don’t really know me but i post at the relevant boards where jason used to frequent a bit (i’m sha on there). he was always quite complimentary of his lovely wife, including pimping your site. i followed the link one day & find you enjoy a lot of the same things — craftery, foodie, reading, & the like.

    anyhoo, we are crazy busy, as well. most people have mentioned typical meals that we make in a hurry, but i thought i’d throw this one out. i’m really big on a hands-off healthy meal at the end of a long & tiring day, so at least once a week we have roasted broccoli with lemony brown rice. it is substantial on it’s own but can also be paired with some protein like chicken or pork. sometimes we just have that & grab a slice of cheese for protein.

    here’s how i do it for a hands-off approach (that means about 10 minutes prep time & then plenty of hands off time to take a breather & snuggle on the couch):

    we buy our rice in bulk so just follow the directions for making your rice in the microwave. usually it’s about 1 part rice; 2 parts liquid. i add the proper amount of rice, chicken broth & lemon juice (usually a ration of 2/3 broth to 1/3 lemon) for the liquid, a dollop of butter, & dried thyme. stick it in the microwave according to the directions & enjoy after sitting for about 5 minutes to absorb the liquid.

    (you can do weekend prep to make this work faster)
    – preheat oven to 450 degrees
    – wash & break broccoli into florets;
    – toss your florets with olive oil, minced garlic, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, & crushed red pepper flakes (we like lots of pepper flakes) until well coated
    – pour onto a baking sheet & pop into your oven for about 15-20 minutes depending on how much broccoli you have. roast until fragrant & just beginning to brown. remove from oven & let cool for a moment.

    assemble meal by placing rice in a flat bowl (or plate); serve rice on top. sometimes i add fresh grated parmesan & a squirt of lemon to it.

    leftovers are actually very good reheated in a skillet with a spray of olive oil (which makes the rice & broccoli slightly crispy like stirfry).

    • Elizabeth
      Posted March 24, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink | Reply

      This sound great! Thanks for passing it on!

  6. Amanda
    Posted March 25, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m a bit late on this one, but I just read the post today :)Jeremy and I love quick tacos on busy week nights, but we go vegetarian. Black beans are such an awesome substitute for meat, or sauteed mushrooms and onions. In the tacos we typically have black beans, red cabbage or lettuce, jalepenos, onions and whatever cheese we’ve got(goat cheese is awesome on these!) and some sliced avacadoe if we’ve got’em. We also use the frozen steamable rice with these, A LOT. Five minutes for perfectly cooked rice is too great. And one other thing we do to make the meal more interesting is use pre-made uncooked tortillas. Not sure if you’ve used these, but they’re great! They sell them at HEB in the dairy area, somewhere near the cookie doughs and what not. You keep them in the fridge, just grab however many you need and cook them in a dry pan for a minute or so per side, they are a million times better than typical packaged tortillas and really make the tacos taste much better and much less rushed 😉

    • Elizabeth
      Posted March 25, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Mmm that sounds great Amanda! I love black beans but Jason’s not as big of a fan as I am. I’m guessing if I cover them in enough cheese (especially goat cheese) I wouldn’t hear too many complaints. 🙂 I am going to have to look into the frozen steamable rice – that sounds like a really good idea! And I have heard of the pre-made partially cooked tortillas but I actually haven’t used them. I’ve just been heating up the HEB regular tortillas in the skillet. I think I will have to look into those as well. I wonder if they freeze well. . .

      We are actually having tacos tonight . . . 🙂

  7. Amanda
    Posted March 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We used to just heat the regular tortillas too until we found these, they taste a lot like authentic handmade tortillas from a restaurant. We’ve frozen them and they’ve worked just fine later, but they last in the fridge for several weeks. And since we are TexMex freaks, that’s more than enough time for us to use them before they spoil.

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  1. […] 2009 April 8 by Elizabeth Here was one of my quick meals that I decided to try after asking you guys what you do for a quick meal! I got some US Farmed Shrimp (which is a ‘Good […]

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