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Real food for lunch! Fish Sticks

Posted Apr 15 2010 1:00am
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Yesterday I talked about working to reclaim lunches in our household.  While I am generally quite content preparing more complicated and time-consuming dinners, the same cannot be said of lunch (and even less so of breakfast).  Fast and easy rules the day when it comes to lunches.  What to do when you have a child that doesn't care for the traditional fast and easy lunch - the sandwich?  Well, in the past I've turned to a box of macaroni and cheese , but it's time to put that crutch away.  In that light, I hope to show you a few of the new lunches making the rounds at our house here and there over the next several weeks.

First up, baked fish sticks!  I am not a fan of fish, so this is not a meal that I've turned to in the past.  My kids, however, are big seafood fans - especially my son.  I was struck by the (maybe not-so-novel) idea of making homemade fish sticks for my kids as an easy lunch option.  Ok, yes, this takes a bit of work, but what makes this easy is that I can prepare a lot of fish sticks and freeze them.  Voila!  Lots of future super-easy lunches!

I used cod because I assumed that this was a fish used in a lot of processed fish sticks, and cod was one of the more inexpensive fish the day I was shopping.  I know next to nothing about fish, so use whatever makes you happy.

The verdict on these fish sticks - my son loved them!  My husband thought that they were tasty too.  They were easy to reheat in the oven after being frozen.  A little bit of up-front effort seems to have yielded quite a few quick, healthy lunches!

A note on the recipe...I have turned into my mother.  It always drives me slightly crazy the way my mother doesn't really use a recipe.  She uses a little of this and a pinch of that and a temperature just so.  I like a recipe - ingredients and amounts written down to follow precisely (or change how I see fit, as I usually do).  Well, when I'm making up a recipe on the fly, that's not how I work.  Just like my mother, I use a little of this and a pinch of that.  Sometimes I think ahead and write down what I do so that I can more easily share the recipe...and sometimes I don't.  The following recipe is hopefully an accurate representation of how I prepared these fish sticks.  It's at least very close!  You should certainly modify to suit your own tastes.  Use the seasoning that makes you happy.  Don't have panko?  Use all regular bread crumbs or cornmeal instead.  Make it yours and enjoy!



Homemade Baked Fish Sticks

1 lb fish fillets (I used cod)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (read the ingredients!  Some brands of panko have some pretty sketchy ingredients.)
2 eggs, lightly beaten and thinned with about 1 TBSP of water
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp seasoning salt (or to taste)
cooking spray (like Pam)

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine the flour, thyme and garlic powder in a shallow bowl.  Pour the thinned egg into a separate shallow bowl.  Last, combine the breadcrumbs and panko in a third shallow bowl or plate.

Cut the fish fillets into 1" wide strips.  Sprinkle the fish on all sides with the seasoning salt.  Dredge each strip first in the flour mixture, then in the egg, and last in the breadcrumbs.  Place the coated strips on the baking sheet.  Lightly spray all of the strips with oil.

Cook the fish for 10 min or until flaky.

To freeze: 
Place cooked strips neatly on a baking sheet.  Make sure that there is a little space between each strip.  Cover with foil or plastic wrap and put in freezer for a few hours until the strips are completely frozen.  Store in a container of your choice.

To reheat, cook the frozen strips in a 400 F oven for 10-12 min or until strips are completely warmed.

Want some more healthy lunch ideas?  I love the weekly menu planning posts at Super Healthy Kids .  Lots of wonderful ideas for every meal of the day ripe for the pickin'!  

Babble.com recently listed their Top 50 Mom Bloggers.  No, I didn't make the list, but I was nominated in the "Who Do You Like" category.  Care to make my day and give my blog a thumb's up?  Go here and vote for A Life Less Sweet!
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