Some key words that spoke to me instantly in their request were:
a) Families – I love mine and every second we can hang out together is my favorite.
b) Easy – a big one for me right now and I’m guessing for you too, because this time of year is H.E.C.T.I.C. amiright?
c) Pinterest – I heart the pin button with giant pink heart emojis a thousand times, so any legit excuse to spend time pinning is a big win.
Those key words in mind, I hit the drawing board (figuratively – my actual drawing skills are questionable) with activities that we (The Hungries) like to do together, and also creative ways we can all spend more quality time with our families in this day and age of TIME? WHAT TIME?
Because seriously – who has extra time lying around to use whatever way we want?
Not this chick.
One of the ways I think we can spend more time with our kids especially is by including them in the cooking process.
You’re already spending time preparing dinner, and when you include the rest of the family it makes extra use of that time to chat about your day and how they are feeling, with the added bonus of teaching them a valuable life skill (which seems to be super rare these days BTW, but don’t even get me started because that is a rant for another time).
Obviously when you’re cooking with the kiddos the recipe needs to be quick and easy. Also you want it to be healthy, but still something they are invested in and looking forward to eating when it’s finished.
Since Hungry Jr. loves popcorn chicken, I chose to recreate the Hidden Valley® Crunchy Baked Ranch Chicken Recipe in bite sized form. I also tweaked the recipe to make it low carb and gluten free (and added cheese) – because hello, that’s what I do.
Can I just say that this recipe was not only incredibly easy, but also tasted amazing? I mean I know anything Ranch flavored is going to be good, but after the first bite I was like “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!”
Crunchy, Salty, Herby, Ranchy, Cheesy, Tender PERFECTION. But I knew it could be even better with a sauce (because everything is.)
Hungry Jr. likes honey mustard sauce so I made him some, but I wanted the same sweet tang for the rest of us without the carbs. I thought “why not use a sugar free maple flavored syrup in place of the honey?” – and this low carb Maple Dijon sauce was born literally seconds later.
I won’t go on and on about it other than to say that I could write an entire post around this delicious low carb dipping sauce alone! It perfectly complemented the savory Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® flavored popcorn chicken – and pretty much any other ranch-flavored item you’d like to dip!
Once you try it you’ll know what I mean.
- 2 lbs chicken tenderloins (or breast) cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup almond flour
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
- 1 packet Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup sugar free maple flavored pancake syrup
- Combine the almond flour, cheese, and Hidden Valley® Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix in a medium bowl.
- Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and chicken pieces in another medium bowl - stir well.
- Dip the mayo coated chicken pieces in the seasoning mixture and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Bake the chicken at 400 degrees (F) for 15 - 18 minutes (depending on size of pieces) until golden brown and cooked through.
- Combine the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Adjust for your preference by adding a little more mustard or a little more syrup if necessary.
1 serving (5 oz) chicken: 351 calories, 20g fat, 4g net carbs, 40g protein
2 Tbsp sauce: 110 calories, 12g fat, 0g net carbs, 0g protein
After we ate the easy and delicious dinner we’d prepared together, operation Family Night continued.
We had already planned to sit out by the campfire, which we do as often as possible at this time of year because let’s face it, less daylight means finding fun things to do together after dark. Also we’re trying to make the absolute most of our outside time before the snow flies – which I can’t even think about without shuddering.
Since everyone knows that sitting around the fire requires snacks, I also decided to make some some of this super easy Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Seasoned Popcorn with literally two ingredients (popcorn and Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix) for the guys to munch on.
I already had a bunch of the Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix packets and some organic microwave popcorn in the cabinet, so it took less than 5 minutes from start to finish.
Now I don’t care how challenged you think you are in the kitchen – you’ve got this.
Step one – pop your corn.
Step two – Hidden Valley It with some of their ranch seasoning.
Step three – toss.
Step four – nom.
I’ve been back on strict low carb since our return from Cancun so I only had a couple of pieces just to taste it…but, WOW.
The ranch seasoning takes popcorn to a whole ‘nother level! As in, we’re done here – all other flavors need not apply.
The 90’s called – they want their cheese flavored popcorn back.
Ranch popcorn is the new cool kid – forever. The end.
Anyway, I’m happy to say that Operation Family Night was a great success with lots of laughing and silliness – which is the best part about spending time with family isn’t it?
Once the snow flies we’ll still be having regular family nights together, but we’ll probably move on to playing cards and board games (any Parcheesi peeps out there??) inside until the weather is more conducive to outside time again!
Except for the occasional foray outdoors to make snowmen of course – we missed that while we were living in South Carolina!
I can tell you with the utmost confidence though that no matter what our Family Night activity is, this easy low carb ranch popcorn chicken recipe will be featured on the regular!
So what about your family??
Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® wants to make it easier for you to plan your own Family Night, so they are giving away a $100 Visa gift card to one IBIH reader! That’s a lot of ranch seasoning!
For your chance to win, simply comment (once only please) on this post with what your idea of the perfect family night is, and the winner will be chosen at random from among the comments!
As a side note, you don’t need an actual family to do all of these same things or to enter the giveaway! Maybe you’re single and/or your family lives far away – no worries, just get some of your favorite people together once in awhile to hang out and spend quality time together around a fire or a Parcheesi board.
Binge watching your favorite shows alone with a bowl of ranch popcorn is also fun – but sometimes you need to be nourished with the company of others.
Find the time to do that soon and you’ll be glad you did!
And remember to tell us about your plans in the comments for your chance to win!
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 11/23/2015 – 12/30/2015