What would you say motivates and colors — guides — your endeavors, big or small, in life? Have you ever really thought about it? It’s often not until I really stop and think about the “mechanics” of something in life purposefully, that I gain a fresh little glimmer of insight into this whole “living life” thing that so utterly fascinates me. And when I asked myself that question of what guides and inspires — informs — the things that I do in my life, I gave some thought, in particular, to those moments when I had felt most fulfilled and creatively joyous over something seemingly little. Perhaps it was a simple and genuine connection with another person that left both of us better off; perhaps it was coming up with a great little surprise for my husband that he never would have anticipated, that I knew he’d really love; or perhaps it was creating a recipe especially for my son, because I thought he’d really enjoy a new take on one of his old faves and get some pleasure out of it. And when I thought about these little everyday “endeavors” and doings that were unassumingly simple yet left me so utterly fulfilled spiritually, I discovered that the ingredient that they all had in common was my love. It was my love — my heart — that was present in whatever it was that I was doing. I’ve noticed in my life that when I completely engage my heart and my love — my desire and my passion — in whatever I do, it can be felt. There’s a real energy, an “alive” quality present in what I put out when it’s done out of my love, whether it’s the food that I prepare or the communication that I offer to another person — those things of both a tangible and intangible nature. I’ve found that it is my love that gives the flavor to all that I do. Without a humans love, life’s endeavors are bland and colorless. Creating and connecting out of a place of love is what feels right to me; it is who I am in my best and most “complete” form. It is who we all are. To allow our love to be the guide for whatever our hands find to do, is to find the passion within; that flickering flame of hope. Then, and only then, is when life tastes its very best.
When I sat down to write this post for this particular recipe, I wanted to give a little thought to what exactly colored my imagination when I came up with it; and I’ll just share with you that it is the love that I have for my son that was the inspiring guide with this particularly tasty little appetizer of Coconut Crunch Chicken Strips. Wanting to make something a bit special for him, I thought back to a time when he was just a little guy with the all-too-common “picky eater” syndrome that so many little ones have, and chicken strips were on the very short list of favorites for him. I had a sweet recollection of how his little toddler fingers would curl up around a single chicken strip, which would then be clumsily and messily plunged into a little tub of sauce and then shoved most-way into his little mouth, and merrily munched upon while he happily wiggled in his tiny chair. All that would be left were some drips of ketchup on his chin, or some little smears of ranch on his plump, rosy cheeks, which I would promptly swoop in to wipe up with a damp paper towel to his chagrin and fussy protests. Ah…memories. And with my love as my inspiring guide, the memory of those beloved chicken strips of childhood got a sweetly-crunchy make-over. He, of course, is happy, because it’s a tasty little finger food for him to polish off without so much as a thought, being the ravenous teenager that he now is; but I’m joyful because I’ve been able to experience my creativity be guided along by my heart, and in-turn, be able to then share the result of that with you, as well.
It’s so very true that when the heart is fully engaged, and when love is the wonderfully sweet ingredient found within any endeavor that is embarked upon, the inspiration just naturally flows. Something as simple as a plate of comforting finger-food can take on an even deeper meaning than just a tasty treat; it can be an expression of the creativity that is released when love is the inspiring guide. These Coconut Crunch Chicken Strips may just simply be a mighty enjoyable appetizer for my son because they taste good to him; but for me, they’re the delicious little reminder that it’s my love that best informs my creativity, and all of the endeavors of my life. And may I always remember that, and use it fully.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Coconut Crunch Chicken Strips with Creamy Honey-Mango Dipping Sauce
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(Makes 16 strips, serves 2-4)
• Vegetable oil for frying
2 chicken breasts (skinless and boneless), sliced length-wise into 4 strips, then those strips sliced length-wise in half, making a total of 8 strips per breast
• Pinch curry powder
• Pinch cayenne pepper
½ cup flour
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
1 tablespoon chives, finely minced
• Creamy, Honey-Mango Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
-Begin by filling a medium-sized pot about half-way with the vegetable oil (roughly 6-8 cups), and bring the temperature of the oil slowly up to 350° while you prepare the strips.
-Place the chicken strips into a bowl, and add the pinch of curry powder, a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, and a pinch or two of cayenne pepper, to the strips; toss the strips to coat them in the seasoning, and set them aside for a moment.
-Set up your “coating” station by putting the flour, along with another couple of pinches of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, into a medium-sized bowl and blending to combine; put the eggs into another medium-sized bowl and beat them, and put the sweetened shredded coconut into another medium-sized bowl; to coat the chicken strips, dredge one strip at a time into the seasoned flour and coat it well; next, dip it into the beaten eggs, and then into the shredded coconut; press the strips into the coconut very well to coat them thoroughly, and place the coated strips onto a plate to hold until all strips have been coated.
-To fry the strips, work in batches by adding about 4-5 strips into the hot oil, and allow them to fry for about 1 ½ – 2 minutes, moving them very gently with tongs every now and then, until they are a deep, golden color; remove from oil and place onto a paper towel-lined platter to drain, and sprinkle each batch with a pinch of salt and pepper while they’re still hot; repeat the process until all strips have been fried.
-Serve the strips hot, garnished with a sprinkle of the minced chives and a side of the Creamy, Honey-Mango Dipping Sauce.
Creamy Honey-Mango Dipping Sauce ingredients:
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup frozen mango chunks, thawed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon honey
• Pinch (small) curry powder
3-4 drops Sriracha sauce (add more if you like it a bit more spicy)
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
-Add all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, and process until completely combined and well-blended; serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for a couple of days.