Tyson's Grilled & Ready Chicken Challenge: Savory Chicken, Parsnip & Sweet Potato Joy!

Hi friends,

(Pictures are forthcoming!)

I have a fun twist for dinner! This is a dynamic combination with several flavorful elements. Not only will you surprise your taste buds but delight whoever the lucky recipient of this treat!! I understand this is a really different take on the age old question of "What's for dinner?" and the famous answer "Chicken? Again?" but I beseech you to try this recipe!! I had a fun time building this "chicken cupcake" with my little guy. I spent quite a bit of time trying to come up with just the right combination... after much brainstorming and drawings on note pads; here is my idea. Inspired by a recent trip to Bobby Flay's MESA Grill in NYC, I knew I wanted bold flavors married together with comfort food quality! As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received Tyson Grilled & Ready Fully Cooked Chicken Strips. I was so excited to see what I could come up with! 

To begin, I started with a moist cornbread, added Tyson Grilled & Ready Fully Cooked Chicken Strips, and roasted parsnips, an array of spices from cumin to nutmeg. I topped this lovely beauty with creamy, mashed sweet potatoes packed with warm nutty flavors, drizzled with a zesty Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed sauce!! Please do not get intimidated by all of the varieties in this delight - certainly you remember how simple I like things to be. I have broken the recipe down and you will find each portion is quite simple! You will need about 45 minutes to prepare from start to finish, but I can assure you these lovelies will disappear in less than 5 minutes when you put them out on your table.

Tyson's Grilled & Ready Fully Cooked Chicken Strips are fully cooked, lean, recipe-ready protein that dramatically cut down on preparation time. These strips are an excellent source of protein that is easy and convenient way to smarten up meals while shaping up for spring and summer seasons.

Are you scared of a parsnip? Don't!! Think of parsnips as carrots blonde cousin! Parsnips have a mild celery-like fragrance and a sweet, nutty flavor. They are packed with more Vitamin C than carrots and are truly the sweetest of all root vegetables. They are so simple to make. If you have not tried parsnips before, here is your chance! You can find parsnips in the produce section of your grocery store. I promise you parsnips will become your new favorite!! My little guy LOVES them and to be honest, I doubled the amount in this particular recipe for him! Feel free to decrease the amount to suit your taste.

I loved this challenge. I would like to mention, I learned a few things in this process. You might want to try these bites of joy in oversized muffin cups. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on these.


Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted and extra for garnish
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Toss the seeds with the oil and season with salt to taste. Spread the seeds evenly on a baking sheet and bake, tossing occasionally for fifteen (15) to twenty (20) minutes, until they are lightly golden brown and crisp. Cool. Store in an air tight container.

Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed Sauce
(MESA Grill, Bobby Flay)

2 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted, plus extra for garnish
1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I was out so I substituted Rice Vinegar)
1/2 cup spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine the cilantro, pumpkin seeds, shallot, garlic, vinegar, spinach and 1/2 cup water in a food processor or blender; process until smooth.

2. With the motor running, slowly add the 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and blend until emulsified.

3. Add the honey, salt and pepper to taste.

4. The mixture should be a slightly loose sauce consistency. If it is too thick to pour, begin adding water 1 tbsp. at a time.

5. Can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Corn Bread

4 boxes of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk

1. Make the corn bread mix according to directions.

2. Set to the side until chicken and parsnips are ready to add to mixture.

Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken Breast Strips
1 - 22 oz. bag

1. Prepare chicken according to directions.

2. Once chicken is ready, cut or shred into bite sized pieces.

3. Set aside to cool.


Unlike carrots, parsnips are almost always eaten cooked, as they tend to be quite fibrous. Be careful not to overcook them. Their flavor is sweetest when just tender. Brief cooking also helps to preserve nutrients. Just before cooking, cut off the root and leaf ends; trim any major rootlets or knobs.

Baking: Place whole or cut-up parsnips in a baking dish with a cover. Cooking time: Twenty (20) to thirty (30) minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Boiling: Drop whole or cut-up parsnips into a pan of boiling water and simmer until tender. Cooking time: Five (5) to fifteen (15) minutes.

Microwaving: Cut parsnips into large chunks and place them in a microwavable dish with 2 tablespoons
of liquid. Cover with a lid or vented plastic wrap. Cooking time: Four (4) to six (6) minutes.

1. My preferred method is Steaming: By far the best way to cook parsnips, as it brings out their sweetness without them getting mushy. Place trimmed, well-scrubbed parsnips in a steamer and cook over boiling water. Cooking times: For whole parsnips, twenty (20) to thirty (30) minutes; for cut-up pieces, five (5) to fifteen (15) minutes. (Again, I opt for the shorter cook time!) 

2. Once the parsnips are cooked, place pieces on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper and Grated Nutmeg. Roast at 350F degrees for ten (10) to fifteen (15) minutes.

3. Remove from the oven, let cool and cut into coarsely chopped bite sized pieces.

Combine Tyson Chicken and parsnips into prepared Jiffy Corn Bread mixture. Fold in ingredients and drop into prepared muffin cups, 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-18 minutes.

You will want to top these with this Sweet Potato Frosting and drizzle with the Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed sauce. Your taste buds will LOVE it!!

Sweet Potato Frosting

3 medium sized Sweet Potatoes, scrubbed, quartered
1/2 - 1 ripe banana
2 tbsp. honey or maple syrup
3 tsp orange juice

1. Bring water to a boil, add potatoes.

2. Add ground Cumin, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cayenne, Kosher Salt, Ground Pepper to boiling water and boil potatoes until tender. This will infuse the sweet potatoes with a pop of flavor.

3. Drain potatoes and let cool.

4. Combine ingredients in large bowl of stand mixer (regular hand mixer can be used also!) with paddle attachment, combine ingredients and mix until very smooth.

5. Pipe sweet potato "frosting" onto cooled corn bread, drizzle Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed Sauce over the top of sweet potato "frosting" - garnish with cilantro leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds.


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