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Crispy Chick’n Bites

Fried Chicken was always a staple in my home, and many other homes that I visited, growing up in the south. With that being said, I learned the “art” of frying basically anything, early on as a teenager.
A little history about me, in 1991 I stopped eating pork. It was my first year of college and I went to hear someone by the name of KRS-One speak on my school campus. It was something about the material and subject matter that he presented, that made stop eating pork that very day. In 2004, I also added beef to that list. In 2005, I made the decision to no longer eat any meat and I became a vegetarian (still including dairy/egg products in my diet). And in 2010, I decided that I would add a very limited amount of fish/seafood(about 1%) back into my diet and I’ve been a pescetarian ever since.
 
I won’t get into all of the politics and moralities about that, because I believe that we all have to make those types of decisions for ourselves. And I am not one to judge anyone for what they decide to eat or put into their bodies, nor am I one to force what I do onto them. That is truly up to them and this is what works great for me and my lifestyle.
Okay, so onto the recipe! I was totally inspired to make these Crispy Chick’n Bites after seeing Hot For Food (who I looooove!) post a picture of their Popcorn Chik’un on their Instagram account recently. I thought, “Hmm…that’s an awesome idea!”, I’ll just fry those bad boys up, as if I were actually frying chicken. This is my third time actually using Gardein Products, and for someone that hasn’t eaten meat in a long time, it tastes pretty darn close, and the texture is comparable to Chicken Nuggets(if you have kids, they will absolutely looooove these!). I’ve personally been trying to limit my intake of processed foods and stick to more whole foods, because I can truly feel the difference in my body. But for those days that your mind tricks you into thinking, “I just gotta have it!”, this option is not too bad of a substitute. Like most things, it’s finding a good and healthy balance (with healthy, being heavy on that scale).
Recipe: Serves 2 – 3
1 package of (vegan friendly) non-battered Chick’n Strips
(I used  Gardein’s Teriyaki Strips – I discarded the sauce packet)
*These do include soy and wheat (gluten)*
3 – 4 cups of Oil for frying (your choice of course – Vegetable, Peanut, Canola)
Dry Dip Station
1 1/2 Cups of All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Paprika (preferably Smoked Paprika)
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 teaspoon of Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon of Sea Salt (In the South, a lot of people use “Season Salt”, so if you choose to substitute that here, it’s perfectly understandable)
Wet Dip Station
1 Cup of All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
A few dashes of Hot Sauce (Optional)
1 1/4 Cup of unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk (Coconut, Almond, Soy, Rice)
**Please note: I used Coconut Milk (in the carton), because it tends to be thinner. When using other milks, you may have to adjust and add more milk if your batter is too thick.**
1 cap of Apple Cider Vinegar or the juice from 1/2 of a Lemon
(This is to replicate the taste of buttermilk)
In two separate medium bowls, prepare/mix your dipping stations. I call them dipping stations and like to have my three stations in order, next to the stove as the Chick’n goes into the frying pan. In a medium size skillet/frying pan, heat your oil on a medium to medium high heat. I always put a little drop of my wet dip into the oil to test my oil and see if it’s hot enough(if it sizzles, then it’s typically ready).
As for the “chick’n”, I let the package sit out for about 45-60 minutes, which gives them a little time to thaw out and then I place them on a plate. You can leave them as is, or you can cut them in half for smaller pieces. You will want to handle these with care, because as they thaw, they get softer(mushier). I discarded the sauce packet, but if you can find a use for it later, then great.
 
The order: lightly dip a piece of Chick’n into the wet dip, then lightly into the dry dip, and then carefully place into your frying pan( I use my hands for this process, because it seems more thorough, but you can certainly use a utensil to do this). Repeat these steps until about half of your Chick’n is in the frying pan(don’t over crowd your pan). It will only take about 5 minutes for these to cook. They will float to the top of your oil and turn golden brown. With tongs, set them onto a paper toweled plate (old school way) or a wire rack to get any excess oil off of them. Then continue to cook the rest of your Chick’n.
You have so many possibilities, as to what you can do with these little crunchy babies. You can leave them be, turn them into Buffalo bites or Lemon Pepper bites, make General Tso Chick’n bites, serve them over a salad, serve them with Barbecue sauce or Honey Mustard on the side. Haha! I’m getting carried away, but see where I’m headed with this? Awesome!
Enjoy!

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