Spice up your Valentine’s Day dinner with these cheesy chipotle love nuggets. Oh yeah I did. I’ve been cooking a lot of chicken nuggets and chicken strips lately. They’re easy to make and such a crowd pleaser. I get a little bored of them, though, so I wanted to add some spice to make dinner a bit more exciting. Canned chipotle peppers are peppers that have been smoked and then mixed with a flavorful adobo sauce. The work has been done for you, so all you need to do is pull 1 or 2 out of the can for your recipe to add a little spice. Chipotle is smoky, spicy, and bold. It’s not the smack-you-in-the-face kind of spicy. It’s the kind that starts at the back of your mouth and sort of creeps up on you. The result is a super flavorful dish with a pleasant spice kick. You can add more or less chipotle peppers depending on the level of spice you prefer. You should definitely serve these with some heart-shaped oven fries. These cheesy chipotle love nuggets were inspired by the Easy Chicken Nuggets from Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord.
Catherine McCord has been something of a mentor to me over the last two years. I’ve spent countless hours helping her with recipe testing in her gorgeous, white marbled kitchen. Two ovens, two stove tops, ample counter space, and every ingredient you need. The Weelicious kitchen is a fun place to test new recipes. I met Catherine when she was finishing the edits for her first cookbook, Weelicious. One Family, One Meal. She was simultaneously beginning the testing phase of her second cookbook, Weelicious Lunches. If you’ve ever written a book, then you know the energy it takes to get it all fine-tuned and ready for publishing, and can appreciate how much more work it is to be doing two books at the same time. An impressive feat for sure. Testing recipes with Catherine during that time means that I have cooked just about every recipe included in her two cookbooks, and many more from her website. I can vouch for the deliciousness of the items she shares online.
It’s rare to find a person that is beautiful both inside and out, but Catherine is just that. She is a former model with the height and looks to accompany. She is also a genuinely kind woman who strives to make the people in her life feel appreciated. Spend just a few minutes with Catherine, talking about school lunches, and what we put into our bodies, and you can feel the passion she has for what she does. The stories she shares in her books and on her website are true. Her children are some of the best eaters I have ever met. I know adults who are far more picky than the two of them. A kid that doesn’t know all about McDonald’s?! I’ve met two!
I had the opportunity to work with Catherine on her second cookbook. Being in the midst of a team of food and prop stylists, photographers, a myriad of assistants, and a kitchen full of cooks, making all Catherine’s recipes come to life and getting ready to adorn the pages of a cookbook was an exhilarating experience. It was the most tiring 10 days I’ve had in the last few years, but it was a great 10 days for my memory bank. From Catherine, I’ve learned about recipe testing, and re-testing, to make sure the product we’re putting out there actually works, and works well. I’ve learned the importance of being honest in my writing, finding my voice, and figuring out what really matters to me in food and cooking.
I am honored to have such a woman as a mentor, and I am so excited about her latest kindness thrown my way. I now have a bi-weekly column on Weelicious where I will share my kids party ideas. Check it out for the next birthday party you’re throwing, and don’t hesitate to contact me for help!
While you’re waiting for my next party post, spend some time spicing up your kitchen, and cook these cheesy chipotle love nuggets!
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 canned chipotle peppers
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Place the panko bread crumbs into a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring often, until they turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Move to a plate or shallow bowl.
- Place the remaining ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and thoroughly combined.
- Using a 1½ tablespoon measure, roll the mixture into balls and then flatten into disks.
- Pat the disks into the panko crumbs to coat. You can shape them into hearts now, if desired.
- Place the nuggets on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.