Poultry

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

This is one of those simple recipes that I make regularly at our house and I’m finally getting around to sharing with you all. Whether you’re a kid or an adult it’s hard to beat a satisfying quick meal of crunchy chicken nuggets!

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although grocery stores are loaded with plenty of chicken nugget options, it’s super easy to make a batch of homemade chicken nuggets to stash in your freezer for quick lunches and weeknight dinners. Baking them ourselves is also healthier and cleaner eating since we’re using just four ingredients (if you don’t count the seasonings).

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

These little baked nuggets are crunchy, tender and ready for dipping into ketchup, honey mustard or whatever your preferred chicken nugget dipping sauce is! Now I’m sure most of you are curious about the crispiness and the freezing aspect so let’s dive right in.

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Are the chicken nuggets crispy?

Yes! So, so crispy! The nuggets get cooked on a wire cooling rack set on a baking sheet. The reason we do this is that, much like an air fryer, it allows the heat from the oven to circulate all around the chicken nuggets. This ensures the whole nugget is crispy. The nuggets are also crispy from the whole wheat panko breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are bigger, flakier and airier than regular breadcrumbs, giving the coating a great crunch. I like using whole wheat panko breadcrumbs for the chicken nuggets because they’re a little healthier and because they have a nice golden color to them. If you use regular panko breadcrumbs the chicken nuggets will still taste just as good, but they will be very pale.

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

How do you freeze and reheat the chicken nuggets?

You can either freeze the chicken nuggets raw or cooked. I prefer to freeze them cooked to drastically cut down on reheating time since I make these for us to have as a quick meal. If you want to freeze the cooked chicken nuggets, let them cool completely then put in a freezer bag or freezer safe container. When you’re ready to reheat the cooked nuggets, bake in a 400 degree F oven until warm, about 10 minutes. No need to do the whole cooling rack/baking sheet thing for reheating; simply reheat on a baking sheet. Or, since they’re already cooked you could reheat them in the microwave for a super quick meal, but they will lose a lot of their crispiness. If you want to the freeze the nuggets raw, place the breaded nuggets on a parchment lined baking sheet then freeze until solid. Once frozen, place in a freezer bag or freezer safe container. To bake them raw from frozen, follow the same baking instructions, but you will have to add cook time to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F since you’re baking them from frozen.

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & MochaFreezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets  |  Lemon & Mocha

Freezer Friendly Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¼ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder for seasoning
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Set up your breading station. In one shallow bowl, beat the eggs. Place the panko in a second shallow bowl. In a third shallow bowl, add the flour then season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  3. Bread the chicken nuggets. First, coat completely in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Then coat completely in the egg mixture, letting any excess drip off. Finally, coat completely in the panko mixture then place on the prepared wire rack. Repeat for the remaining chicken nuggets. I usually do about 6 pieces at a time. Bake the chicken nuggets for 20 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  4. If freezing, let the nuggets cool completely. Then store in a freezer bag or freezer safe container. When ready to eat, bake on 400 degrees F until warm, about 10 minutes.

 

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

Halloween is tomorrow! Yay! As I’ve mentioned on Lemon & Mocha numerous times before, I love Halloween! I have so many fun childhood memories of Halloween and I can’t wait to start making Halloween memories with our little guy on the way.

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

We went back and forth on whether we should put up Halloween decorations with me being just a couple weeks away from my due date, but ultimately I just couldn’t not put them up, even though I felt a little crazy for doing it. Do you decorate your house for Halloween?

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

I usually post a chocolatey treat for Halloween, but since Matt and I are up to our eyeballs with all the desserts I’ve been baking I busted out a cute savory treat instead.

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

Turkey sliders have been fashioned into silly Halloween monsters, complete with cucumber eyeballs and pickle tongues! As fun as these Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders are, they’re also so good! The turkey patties are juicy and packed with flavor because we’ve added a minced mixture of mushrooms, shallot and parsley to the ground turkey.

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

Throw in a little olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning and then they are grilled or pan-seared to perfection. Since they’re so tiny they cook really quickly; just about four minutes on each side. Top it all off with some melty cheese and fresh veggies for a delicious dinner the whole family will love. Just don’t forget to cut pointy teeth marks into your sliced cheese! Happy Halloween, everyone!

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders  |  Lemon & Mocha

Looking for some more Halloween treat inspiration? I have a few recipes below to get you started:

Boozy Pumpkin Nutella Hot Chocolate  |  Lemon & Mocha

Boozy Pumpkin Nutella Hot Chocolate

Leftover Halloween Candy Chocolate Lasagna

Leftover Halloween Candy Chocolate Lasagna

Halloween Witch Chocolate Cupcakes

Halloween Witch Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Marshmallow Monster Cookie Sandwiches

Chocolate Marshmallow Monster Cookie Sandwiches

Halloween Witches' Cauldron Cupcakes

Halloween Witches’ Cauldron Cupcakes

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies

Leftover Halloween Candy Cookies

Halloween Monster Turkey Burger Sliders
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms, stems removed, plus more for eyes
  • ½ shallot
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 pound ground turkey, 90% lean
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 16 toothpicks
  • 4 slices deli cheddar or American cheese
  • 8 slider buns
  • 8 small pieces of romaine lettuce
  • 8 small slices of tomato
  • 4 pickle sandwich slices, cut in half
  • Ketchup
Directions
  1. Add the cremini mushrooms, shallot and parsley to a food processor. Process until finely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop by hand.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mushroom mixture, ground turkey, olive oil, Worcestershire, salt and pepper, being sure not to over-mix. Divide the mixture into 8 even portions and form into slider patties, roughly a little bigger than the size of your slider buns. Let patties set in the fridge, covered, for 30 minutes.
  3. While the patties are in the fridge, prep your monster eyes and cheese teeth. Slice the English cucumber so you have 16 rounds. The slices can be thin, but not so thin that you’ll have difficulty securing them with a toothpick. Use extra cremini mushrooms to cut out little circles that will be the center of the eyes. Carve a little round out of the center of an English cucumber slice the size of one of your mushroom eye centers. Stick the mushroom center into the hole in the cucumber and stick a toothpick up through the cucumber and the mushroom piece securing it in place. Repeat for the remaining 15 eyes. For the cheese teeth, cut each slice of cheese in half then cut little teeth points at the edge of each slice. Repeat until you have 8 cheese teeth slices.
  4. Lightly spray a grill pan or nonstick sauté pan with olive oil cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the slider patties for 4 minutes on each side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove from the heat and add a cheese teeth slice to each slider so that the teeth prongs overhang a little.
  5. To assemble a slider, place a piece of lettuce on the bottom slider bun. Top with a tomato slice then the cheese-topped patty. Lift up the cheese a little to tuck the pickle half underneath so it sticks out like a tongue. Top with some ketchup then the top slider bun. Stick two cucumber toothpick eyeballs into the top. Repeat for the remaining sliders.

 

Pesto and Provolone Turkey Meatloaf

Pesto and Provolone Turkey Meatloaf  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes I have brainstorming sessions where I’ll think about meals I would want to eat, without putting much thought into how to go about the actual recipe. Or sometimes an idea for a dish just pops into my head and I’ll write it down and hope I know later what the heck I was even thinking about. I have little notes with food ideas in my phone, scattered on post-its and in random notebooks. One note that I wrote (who knows when) said, “provolone and pesto turkey meatloaf.” I would see it every now and then and think, “that sounds so good!” and then move on with whatever I was doing.

Pesto and Provolone Turkey Meatloaf  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I was looking through my Lemon & Mocha calendar trying to think of more dinner dishes I figured it was time to tackle my pesto and provolone meatloaf idea. I’m so glad I did because this turkey meatloaf is incredible! Forget whatever notions you have about ground turkey being dry or flavorless. This meatloaf is tender, moist and packed with creamy pesto and pockets of oozing cheese. Oh, and it’s decently healthy, which is always a fun bonus!

Pesto and Provolone Turkey Meatloaf  |  Lemon & Mocha

I took tips from two of my favorite ground turkey recipes: my Turkey Veggie Mushroom Burgers and my Baked Turkey Pesto Meatballs. We’re taking a cue from the burgers and swapping out the usual breadcrumbs for a healthy whole grain. Using quinoa as one of the binders is a healthy alternative that also helps the meatloaf be really moist.

Pesto and Provolone Turkey Meatloaf  |  Lemon & Mocha

As for the tip from the meatballs, we’re going right ahead and adding a whole bunch of pesto to the meatloaf mixture. Whether you use homemade or store-bought pesto, it’s hard to beat that fresh, garlicky flavor. Adding some to the ground turkey ensures flavor in every bite as well as helping to create a tender meatloaf.

Pesto and Provolone Turkey Meatloaf  |  Lemon & Mocha

But we can’t forget about the provolone part! I bought a block of provolone, cut some of it into chunks and worked those right into the meatloaf. While it was cooking I could see the little pockets of provolone oozing out and it smelled ridiculously good in our kitchen. I already know this recipe is going to get a lot of use with our family! I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!

Pesto and Provolone Turkey Meatloaf  |  Lemon & Mocha

Pesto and Provolone Turkey Meatloaf
 
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground turkey, 90% lean
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup pesto
  • ½ cup chopped provolone cheese
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Be sure not to over-mix. Freeform the meatloaf onto the baking sheet. I usually make mine 4-5 inches wide and about 3-4 inches tall.
  3. Bake for 1 hour or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Let rest a couple minutes before taking the internal temperature. If desired, top with additional pesto and some shredded provolone during the last few minutes of baking time. Once the meatloaf is done, let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

 

Asian Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps

Asian Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love a good lettuce wrap, especially when it has fresh and tangy flavors like these Asian Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps. Today I’m sharing another healthy dinner recipe with you all, this time from my favorite little cookbook, the Cook This, Not That! cookbook. This is one that I’ve made sporadically over the years ever since buying that cookbook and every time I make it we talk about how we should have it more often.

Asian Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps  |  Lemon & Mocha

The chicken meatballs only have six ingredients, but they are packed with flavor. You can grill them on a grill or grill pan for a nice char. I’ve also baked them successfully. Just like with any good lettuce wrap or taco the key to keep you diving back in for more is a layering of flavors. In addition to the grilled chicken meatballs these wraps are also stuffed with a simple pickled cucumber salad and a delicious ginger scallion sauce. I cannot say enough good things about this sauce! I want to drizzle it over all my protein and rice dishes forever.

Asian Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you don’t feel like fussing with the lettuce wraps you could always just serve this as a plated meal over the brown rice, but the lettuce does add some welcome freshness to the dish. Sometimes I have trouble finding ground chicken in the store so I’ve also made this dish with ground pork, which goes incredibly well with the pickled and ginger flavors. I hope you all enjoy this one!

Asian Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps  |  Lemon & Mocha

Asian Chicken Meatball Lettuce Wraps
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the pickled cucumber salad
  • ½ large English cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
  • ⅓ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1½ teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes, optional
for the ginger scallion sauce
  • 6-8 scallions, bottoms removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
for the lettuce wraps
  • 1 pound ground chicken or pork
  • ½ red onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (if you don’t like spicy food remove all seeds and pith)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Boston lettuce leaves, for serving
  • Steamed brown rice, for serving
Directions
for the pickled cucumber salad
  1. Combine the cucumber, onion, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes (if using) in a mixing bowl. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. Or make ahead as it will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
for the ginger scallion sauce
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the scallions, ginger, soy sauce, oil and vinegar. Letting the sauce sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before eating will deepen the flavor.
for the lettuce wraps
  1. Preheat a lightly oiled grill pan or grill over medium-high heat. If using a grill you might want to skewer the meatballs to make them easier to turn and cook.
  2. Combine the ground chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl until just combined. Be sure not to over-mix. Divide into 12 evenly sized meatballs. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove from the heat and use the lettuce to make wraps stuffed with the rice, grilled meatballs, pickled cucumber salad and ginger scallion sauce.

Recipe from Cook This, Not That!.
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Freezer Burritos: Chicken Verde, Mushroom, Kale and Brown Rice Burritos

Freezer Burritos: Chicken Verde, Mushroom, Kale and Brown Rice Burritos  |  Lemon & Mocha

Sometimes you need a quick meal you can grab straight from the freezer and heat up. So today I’m going to walk you through my favorite new freezer meal: freezer burritos. The recipe today is for these Chicken Verde, Mushroom, Kale and Brown Rice Burritos, which are packed with flavor and plenty of good-for-you foods.

Freezer Burritos: Chicken Verde, Mushroom, Kale and Brown Rice Burritos  |  Lemon & Mocha

Not feeling that combination? That’s okay because we’re going to talk about all different tips you can use to make your own personal favorite freezer burritos. You can certainly buy freezer burritos from the store, but they’re typically loaded with sodium, might not have the exact ingredients you prefer and aren’t exactly cost effective.

Freezer Burritos: Chicken Verde, Mushroom, Kale and Brown Rice Burritos  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I decided to try making my own I was skeptical that the version out of the freezer would taste just as good – and that the texture would be just as good – as a freshly made burrito. Much to my delight I discovered with a few simple tricks these homemade freezer burritos would become a mind-blowing game changer! How so? Because you can pop one out of the freezer, microwave it for three minutes and have a fresh, delicious and healthy (depending on what you put in them!) meal any day of the week. If you want to go one extra step further you can even sear it in a skillet for one to two minutes per side after microwaving to add that extra crispy factor. So let’s get into it.

Freezer Burritos: Chicken Verde, Mushroom, Kale and Brown Rice Burritos  |  Lemon & Mocha

Keep Moisture Out of Your Burritos

The key to having a freezer burrito taste like you got it fresh from your neighborhood Mexican joint and not be a soggy mess is to keep away the wet ingredients.

  • You can still have salsa. This doesn’t mean no salsa. Just toss your protein or other ingredients in the salsa before adding to your burrito so that they are coated, but not dripping. This way you get the flavor the salsa provides without the moisture.
  • Drain well. If you’re using beans make sure they are well drained before adding to the burritos.
  • Sauté those veggies. Sautéing the vegetables before adding them to the burritos is a great way to add flavor while also reducing the moisture. Sautéing vegetables like mushrooms, peppers, onions and greens helps get the excess moisture out of them.
  • Room temperature everything. Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature before starting to assemble the burritos. Warm fillings lead to steamy insides, which cause future soggy burritos. This also goes for your tortillas since cold tortillas are stiff and tend to break. You’ll want to use fresh (aka not the ones that have been sitting in your fridge for weeks) room temperature tortillas.
  • Be smart about your fillings. If it doesn’t belong in the microwave then it doesn’t belong in your burrito. That shredded lettuce and sour cream? Back away from your burritos and put it back in the fridge.

Freezer Burritos: Chicken Verde, Mushroom, Kale and Brown Rice Burritos  |  Lemon & Mocha

Wrap the Burritos Well

This goes for making the actual burrito and for wrapping the finished burrito for freezer storage.

  • Wrap a tight burrito. There are plenty of Youtube videos out there that show you how to properly wrap a burrito. I’m not that much of a perfectionist though; I layer my ingredients in a long line towards the bottom of the tortilla closest to me, tuck in the short sides and then wrap as tightly as I can from the bottom. Having all your ingredients tightly nestled in there will help keep moisture out while they’re in the freezer.
  • Prep for the freezer. There’s a few different ways you can go about this, but I prefer to tightly wrap each burrito in plastic wrap or aluminum foil then place all the wrapped burritos in a gallon storage bag, labeling the burrito type on the outside of the bag. This provides double protection and also allows you to easily remove just one burrito at a time.

In a couple weeks I’ll be sharing another favorite of ours: Slow Cooker Pork and Roasted Sweet Potato Freezer Burritos. I’ll also use that post as a follow-up to this one and list out plenty of protein, grain and filling ideas so you can mix and match your own freezer burritos. What do you load into your ideal burrito?

Freezer Burritos: Chicken Verde, Mushroom, Kale and Brown Rice Burritos  |  Lemon & Mocha

Freezer Burritos: Chicken Verde, Mushroom, Kale and Brown Rice Burritos
 
Yield: 6 burritos
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces kale, thick stems removed
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1½ cups shredded cooked chicken
  • ⅓ cup salsa verde
  • 6 10-inch flour tortillas, room temperature
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice, cooled
  • ⅓ cup shredded mozzarella or colby jack cheese, optional
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or lidded sauté pan. Add the kale, season with the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add ¼ cup water, cover the pan and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely or put in the fridge to use later.
  2. While the kale is cooking, sauté the mushrooms. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely or put in the fridge to use later.
  3. When you’re ready to make the burritos, combine the shredded chicken with the salsa verde. Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature or cold. Place the first tortilla on a plate. Add some brown rice in a lengthwise strip towards the bottom of the tortilla closest to you. Top with some salsa verde chicken. Top with some kale, mushrooms and cheese, if using. Fold in each side then take the bottom of the tortilla closest to you and tightly roll it up and over the filling. Continue to roll up the burrito, tightly, tucking in the sides additionally as needed. Wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Set aside and repeat for the remaining tortillas and fillings. Place all the rolled burritos in a labeled gallon freezer bag and place in the freezer.
  4. To heat: Remove the burrito from the freezer. Remove and discard the plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place the burrito on a microwave safe plate and microwave at 70% power for 3 minutes. Sear the burrito in a sauté pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat for 1 minute on each side, until lightly browned. If you don’t want to sear your burrito, microwave for a total of 5 minutes instead of 3.

 
Salsa Verde
 
Yield: About 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 jalapeños, see note
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped white onion
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves (can include top parts of stems)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Directions
  1. Add the tomatillos, garlic and jalapeño to a medium saucepan and then cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer covered for 10 minutes. The tomatillos should become pale green and should be soft, but not falling apart.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatillos, garlic and jalapeño to a high-speed blender or food processor. Add the onion, cilantro and salt then puree until smooth.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the salsa and cook until thickened slightly, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm or refrigerate for later and serve cold or at room temperature.
Notes
If you don’t want your salsa spicy only use 1 jalapeño and remove all the seeds and pith before putting in the blender. If you like it spicy try 1 jalapeño with the seeds and pith and if you want it even more spicy you could add a second jalapeño.