Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders With Mango Mustard Sauce

Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders With Mango Mustard Sauce

Has it really been a week since I posted a new recipe for you guys? I’m hiding below my pillow but please don’t be mad. Because these baked coconut chicken tenders with mango mustard dipping sauce are going to make up for everything. And because I’ve been on an amazing trip sponsored by Teabox all the waaaaaay in Assam and that’s where this post is coming from!

I’m going to tell you all about my trip and how I’ve been travelling through Assam sampling the food, the culture and the beautiful teas as soon as I’m back. And if you’ve been following me on Snapchat (my_foodstory) you already know what I’ve been up to! But today let’s quickly talk about why you need to make these baked coconut chicken tenders STAT!

Remember the best ever dipping sauce from last week which was a crazy combination of mango and mustard? Ummm these baked coconut chicken tenders and that mango mustard sauce were kinda made for each other. Because it’s all so tropical and so fresh and so summery.

Because you want a little bit of summer even when it’s not and this combination will keep you feeling happy and sunny all year long! Plus it’s baked, so heaaaaaalthy and is dipped in a spicy coconut mixture which sort of crisps up in the oven and gives you that amazing golden crust that all chicken tenders must have!

I’m telling you, right this minute, I almost wish I was back home with a mug of beer, feet up on the couch and biting into these juicy chicken tenders. I’m really in love with mango and coconut as ingredients. If you’ve been around, you know how obsessed I’ve been with mangoes this summer because umm, they go away for an entire year once seasons done. And coconut is like my second love – curries, bakes, desserts – I need to use it in everything!

Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders With Mango Mustard Sauce
Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders With Mango Mustard Sauce


  • 3 poundeds Chicken Breasts , to 1/2 inchs thickness and cut into strips

For the Brine/Marinade

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Coating

  • 3 Eggs large
  • 1 1/2 cups rice flour
  • 3 cups coconut unsweetened Shredded
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Flakes
  • to taste salt


  1. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients mentioned under brine/marinade and add the chicken strips to it. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.
  2. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  3. Line a baking sheet with greased aluminium foil or parchment paper.
  4. Now start by creating an assembly line of ingredients.
  5. You will need three wide mouthed bowls or plates for this. In the first bowl or plate place rice flour.
  6. In the second bowl season eggs with salt and whisk them with sriracha and 2 tablespoons water.
  7. And in the third place shredded coconut seasoned lightly with salt and chili flakes.
  8. Start by dipping each strip first in the flour, then egg, making sure to shake off any extra egg and finally crust it with the shredded coconut mixture.
  9. Place the strip on the greased and lined baking sheet.
  10. Repeat this till all the strips have been coated.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes till golden and cooked through.

You can find complete recipes of this Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders With Mango Mustard Sauce in

Outrageous Meatball Parm

Outrageous Meatball Parm

If you love meatballs, then you need to make this. Like now! Such an easy dish yet so outrageously packed with flavor. Even my oldest son ate this and that speaks volumes! I melted freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano on top but you can use any shredded cheese you like. I used my rockcrok pot from Pampered Chef to make these because it is safe for the stove top and the broiler. If you don’t have anything that is safe for both, just be sure to switch your meatballs into a broiler safe dish to melt the cheese. Serve with a side of pasta for a perfect dinner.

Outrageous Meatball Parm
Outrageous Meatball Parm

Hugs & Cookies Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (85% lean)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (I used Aleia’s GF brand)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • salt to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon milk


  1. Sauce of your choice (approx two 24-oz jars)
    Parmigiano-Reggiano or Mozzarella cheese to top it off with!
  2. Mix all of the above ingredients and form your meatballs-not too large. I made 27 meatballs. Pan fry to brown them. Don’t worry about cooking them through-they will finish cooking in the oven. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Pour some sauce in the bottom of your dish. Lay meatballs on top of the sauce. Cover with more sauce. Bake covered for 30 minutes. (Make sure they are cooked through. Uncover and dress the top up with lots of cheese! It should be covered with cheese!!! Broil for a few minutes until melted and bubbling. Serve with pasta and use the extra sauce.

You can find complete recipes of this Outrageous Meatball Parm in



This is the best gluten free red velvet cupcakes recipe ever.  Moist cupcakes with a hint of chocolate and vanilla. Dairy free and vegan options!

I developed this gluten free red velvet cupcake recipe last summer when I was running my gluten-free baking company, and then I never actually baked it to sell at the market. I guess red-velvet isn’t a big summer flavor, more for holidays and special occasions. Like Valentine’s day. Red velvet is perfect for Valentine’s day.

The very first Valentine’s day that I was married I spent the whole morning baking a special dinner for my hubby. I made a bunch of dippers for fondue, and baked several mini red velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting. I was really proud of myself for pulling it off, that week we were moving from our first apartment( a less than 500 sq foot studio) to our second apartment and I was 7 months pregnant with our daughter (we had been married 11 months.)

I proudly served these cute little mini red velvet cakes that were covered in sweet cream cheese frosting and my sweet hubby only ate half of his. I had not yet discovered that he doesn’t like cream cheese, at all. So for him the cream-cheese frosting ruined the yummy red velvet.



For the Cupcakes

  • .75 oz (about 3 Tbs) cocoa powder
  • 9.5 oz ( 1¼ c minus 1 Tbs) white sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 8.25 oz (1½ c) Gluten-Free Flour Blend (I have only tested with my GF Cookie/cake blendand have gotten great results)
  • ½ c milk *see note
  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs**see note
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • ½ – 1 tsp red food coloring***see notes
  • 1 recipe Easy Cream Cheese Frosting


  1. For the Cupcakes+
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
  3. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a large liquid measuring cup mix together all the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  5. Fill the muffin pan cups about ¾ way full (about 1 Tbs of batter for mini muffins) and bake until the cupcake springs back when you touch it, about 18-22 minutes. (30-35 minutes for a layer cake.)
  6. Cool before frosting with Easy Cream Cheese Frosting

You can find complete recipes of this {BEST} GLUTEN FREE RED VELVET CUPCAKES in



A delicious, homemade-from-scratch strawberry cake with a thick cream cheese frosting and garnished with sugared strawberries. The perfect cake for Mother’s Day!

Right in time for Mother’s Day, I’ve got you covered for dessert. This strawberry cake is relatively simple to make (no worrying about different pans and layering cakes with frosting in between), moist and flavorful, packed with strawberries, and looks super pretty to boot! And after your mom goes crazy over this cake, then you’ll want to use this recipe for all kinds of occasions – a baby shower (for a girl), a Princess party, a gorgeous Spring/Summer cake…there are so many times when you’ll need a delicious-from-scratch pink cake!

And oh my gosh the frosting + sugared strawberries on top is pure bliss. I mean cream cheese and strawberries – is there a better combo?! And topped with sugared strawberries? Yes, yes, yes!

Slight transition here because this is my last post of the week…I’m wishing you all a very happy Mother’s Day! Well, not you guys, but yeah 🙂 Happy, happy Mother’s Day! I’m so grateful for my mother (and continue to be more and more grateful as I’m trying to raise this cute little guy of mine.) My mom is so special to me and someone that I look up to a whole lot. She’s absolutely one of the most self-less people I’ve ever met; absolutely everything was about us kiddo’s growing up. And she had SEVEN of us crazies! I’m grateful for everything she taught me and continues to teach me!

I’m also so grateful for all the other women in my life that have been like mother’s to me. My mother-in-law is top of that list and has treated me like a daughter since I’ve known her which is pretty special to me. She’s a whole lot of fun and she did raise one of the cutest, sweetest guys around that just happens to be my husband. IS the sap killing you yet? Because I’m not even done. I’m also especially grateful to the several women that were “mom’s” to me while we lived so far from home – they helped me transition into becoming a mom and were there for me as friends – such amazing people in my life that I am forever grateful to!

I’m so grateful and it would be a shame to not share it here on the blog. Because I am also grateful for YOU! Happy Mother’s Day – eat some yummy strawberry cake for me! xox



Strawberry Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups + 3 tablespoons white flour
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons strawberry jell-o mix dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or milk mixed with lemon juice–check notes
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 package (8 ounces) full-fat cream cheese at room temperature, don’t use low fat
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4- 4 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  • 1 and 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons white sugar



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
  2. Beat the room temperature butter with hand mixers until light and creamy. Slowly add in the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy,
  3. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs and then add the mixture and mix along with the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Beat in the buttermilk.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch 2-3 times and then add in the jell-o mix, baking soda, and salt. It is important to separate bowls so the cake isn’t over-beaten which will result in a dense cake.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat at low speed until just combined.
  6. Remove the stems from the strawberries and finely chop. Add in the finely chopped strawberries to the cake.
  7. Pour the batter evenly in the prepared 9 x 13 pan.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.
  9. Cool the cake for at least one hour and then chill in the fridge for another hour.

You can find complete recipes of this STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM CAKE in



It’s National Peanut Butter Fudge Day! When did this glorious food holiday start, and why am I just hearing about it now?!? A whole day to celebrate peanut butter fudge? Yes, please! So, I did a little bit of a happy dance when I found out about this last night, and I immediately hit the kitchen to whip up a quick batch.

Anybody who really knows me knows that fudge is a huge weakness for me. Mostly chocolate fudge (and my recipe for that is coming soon, too!), but I don’t say no to fudge of any kind. Unfortunately, every fudge recipe I remember seeing as a kid was always full of marshmallow fluff. Yes, those fluff-based fudge recipes are good, and I know they’re kind of the mainstream “easy” recipes. But, this recipe brings it back to basics without the need for the thermometer and all that.

Before you make this recipe, you’ll want to have all of the ingredients measured out and ready. You’ll also want to line your eight or nine inch square pan with foil. I’m not kidding – this comes together SO fast. The longest part of THIS fudge recipe is waiting for it to cool. And the best part? Only FIVE ingredients! Do you have a tried-and-true family recipe for fudge? Do you make a lot of it during the holidays? We’d love to hear about it! Leave us a comment and share your story.



  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter


  1. Combine the granulated sugar and milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir it just until the sugar is incorporated into the milk, then leave it alone.
  3. When the mixture comes to a boil (as soon as you start seeing consistent bubbles), start a timer for about 2 and a half minutes. Don’t stir – you don’t want to disrupt the sugar crystals.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat, add the salt, vanilla and peanut butter.
  5. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon just until the peanut butter is melted and mixed throughout, a minute or two.

You can find complete recipes of this QUICK AND EASY FIVE INGREDIENT PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE in

French Toast Bake

French Toast Bake

I’ve blogged before about my love of breakfast foods. I could eat it any time of the day, and it’s fairly common to come over to the Merkley home on an evening and find us eating French Toast or Pancakes. Breakfast recipes are just that great! I feel like we don’t get to eat them often enough in the mornings since we’re usually in a rush, but we occasionally get to enjoy them on the weekends and holidays. One holiday we always have breakfast is on Mother’s Day. And usually I’m not the one that has to bake it!! 😉

This is day I enjoy. The hubby and kiddos go all out to serve their mama, and I admit – I LOVE it! It’s nice to be catered to every once in awhile, and Mother’s Day is a holiday I’ve come to look forward to. 🙂

One of my favorite recipes to enjoy on this day is French Toast, and more particularly French Toast Bake. It is simple to make and is beyond delicious!!

French Toast Bake
French Toast Bake


  • 1 loaf sourdough bread (we used Pepperidge Farm loaf)
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 TB vanilla


  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup cold butter, cut into pieces


  1. Cut loaf into cubes and place evenly in a greased 9×13 pan.
  2. In a bowl, mix together eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread.
  3. Cover your pan with Saran Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.

You can find complete recipes of this French Toast Bake in



Happy spring everyone! If you’re like me you’re getting antsy for warm weather, flowers, greenery, spring produce, shorts…I could keep going, but I think you get the point, I am welcoming spring with open arms! Along with spring comes a couple of holidays, starting with Easter. Today I’m sharing this delicious and lightened up Crustless Vegetable Quiche that is a must for Easter brunch or breakfast!

There are so many reasons I adore this quiche. First it’s crustless. Not only does this mean there is a ton less calories and fat, but I also don’t have to mess with a crust. Don’t get me wrong I love the rich traditional quiche every now and then, but with all the other goodies that will be served up with Easter brunch I wanted to make a quiche that was a little lighter.

Second reason I love this crustless vegetable quiche. It’s packed with vegetables, one of them being asparagus, which for me is one of the most delicious spring veggies. Along with the asparagus you will find zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes.

I made this quiche vegetarian because if your brunch table looks like ours there will be plenty of meat options to keep the carnivores happy!

Third reason I love this quiche, dairy! We’re talking three kinds. The quiche not only includes milk and cheese, but cottage cheese as well. Uh oh, did I lose some of you? Not a cottage cheese fan? I promise you will never know it’s in there.

It becomes so well incorporated in the eggs, vegetables, and cheese, that you won’t detect it at all. The great thing about the added cottage cheese is the extra dose of protein it gives the vegetable quiche, meaning you’ll be too full for that second cinnamon roll or danish, this is a good thing as far as your waistline is concerned.



  • 10 egg whites
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • 16 ounces fat free cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and thinly sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the egg whites and eggs until fluffy.
  3. Add in the cottage cheese, 3/4 cup shredded cheddar, 3/4 cup shredded monterey jack, milk, flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, parsley, thyme, black pepper, and hot sauce.
  4. In a large skillet over medium high heat saute the onion, zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt for about 5 minutes or until tender.

You can find complete recipes of this CRUSTLESS VEGETABLE QUICHE in



Spinach and Garlic Potato Patties – Delicious and flavorful Patties made with a mixture of potatoes, spinach and garlic.

Hello, pretty friends! Happy Sunday! Hope you are enjoying this wonderful winter-break and all the Holiday things that the Season brings!

I went to do a bit of discount-shopping on the 26th and was met with a hoard of thousands others that decided to do the same thing! Darn it!
As I approached the Holiday-themed aisles, I realized that just about everything was gone. A big red sign that read “50% OFF on Holiday Decor” was the only fixture still standing. DAMN!

Then I went to Macy’s and bought a new dress. Shoes, too. I plan to look good on New Year’s Eve. Clonk!

Fingers crossed I won’t be lookin’ good just for my living room, you know what I’m sayin’?

However, IF for some odd reason I end up staying at home, my new fleece pj’s, yogurt dip and a bowl of these potato patties will be happening.

I have a loving relationship with things shaped into patties. Or fritters. Or meatballs! You know… Anything that needs shaping into a bite-size treat.
Well, this is more like a two-bites treat, but you understand.

Also? If you’re ever in need of spinach-recipes, stop by! I have LOTS!



  • 1-pound potatoes (about 4 medium-sized potatoes), boiled, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bag (8 to 10 ounces) baby spinach
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, for frying (add more as needed)
  • Optional
  • Yogurt
  • Sour Cream
  • Soy Sauce


  1. Combine prepared potatoes and milk in a large mixing bowl; using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add chopped onions and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent.
  4. Add spinach and garlic to skillet; season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for 2 more minutes, or until spinach is wilted.
  5. Remove from heat and add spinach mixture to the potatoes.
  6. Stir in cheese and lemon juice.
  7. Add egg and panko/bread crumbs; stir until thoroughly combined and smooth.

You can find complete recipes of this SPINACH AND GARLIC POTATO PATTIES in



This single serving microwave cinnamon roll mug cake has cinnamon swirls mixed throughout a fluffy cinnamon flavored cake. It’s cinnamon roll meets cake in an easy mug cake form.

I’m pretty excited with how this mug cake turned out. It may be my new favorite. I especially love how the cinnamon swirls separate pieces of cake, just like they do for cinnamon rolls, so you can actually pull this apart and eat it with your hands if you wanted to.

My feed has been filled with “first day of school” stuff. Even though I’ve been in California for more than a decade, it still is mind boggling to me that school starts in August. Growing up in NY, Labor Day signified the end of the summer and the start of school. It must suck to start school in early August when the weather is still so nice and everyone is still in summer mode. But maybe once I have kids I’ll be looking forward to school starting as soon as possible. Until then, I’m trying to get as much of my summer to-do list done as possible this month.

This cake does take a little more effort than a regular mug cake because you have to do the cinnamon sugar swirl and the frosting, but it comes out so pretty and it’s well worth the effort.




  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/16 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp fat free milk
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

Cinnamon swirl

  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp butter

Frosting (makes enough for 2)

  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 2 – 2 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar


  1. Combine all the cake ingredients into a microwave-safe mug. This is a smaller cake, so using an 8 oz mug should be fine. Whisk with a small whisk until batter is smooth and no lumps remain.
  2. In a separate small bowl, combine cinnamon swirl ingredients. Microwave briefly, about 20-30 seconds, or until butter melts. (I recommend covering top with paper towel before microwaving.) Stir and mix until uniform. Pour into a small liquid container that has a narrow pouring spout.

You can find complete recipes of this CINNAMON ROLL MUG CAKE in



These easy Nutella No Bake Cookies are a fun and nostalgic treat to make in no time at all.  Perfect after school or midnight snack.

It has been way too long since I have enjoyed a no bake cookie around here. In fact, I really can’t remember the last time I had one. I actually think these no bake cookies that I shared 5 years ago was the last time I made and ate them.

5 years ago! That’s crazy. One…because when I looked back, I realized how tiny my kids were that day, and two…because no bake cookies are awesome. How could I have gone so long without have them in my life?!?!?!!

Actually, one reason I don’t make them more often is because of all the coconut in them. I end up eating the entire batch of cookies because my kids say they don’t like coconut. Yes, the entire batch!!! Diet fail going on right here! I’m going to need another 24 Day Challenge after all these cookies!

I’m wondering if I toast the coconut and give it a crunchy texture if that would change the crazy kids minds? That might just have to happen!!

All I know is that after one of these cookies I knew I had to make more batches because they were so dang good! Were good because I devoured them in like 9.456 seconds!



  • 8 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup Nutella spread
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut


  1. Place the butter, sugar, cocoa, milk, salt, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until melted and smooth. Bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute, while stirring constantly.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in Nutella until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add the oats and coconut and stir until combined and coated.

You can find complete recipes of this NUTELLA NO BAKE COOKIES in