Two Undeniable Words + Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers

After a 4-month hiatus, I’m back! I think this was a pretty good reason to take a break:

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Naomi Elizabeth is already 3 months old (what?!) and her brothers and daddy are quite smitten with her. I can’t keep my eyes off her, either.  We just returned to China last week after a Home Assignment, and I’m ready to dive into lots of new recipes with you! And, with a new oven!

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I never imagined myself in Asia. I did imagine myself overseas, but not in Asia. I was picturing somewhere in Africa, where I had spent some time in college.

My (now) husband pictured being somewhere in Latin America. His major was Spanish, after all, and he lived 2 years of his college career in Mexico. So, why not somewhere Spanish-speaking?

And then we started dating. He was in China at the time and on our first very long-distance phone call (after the “can we start dating?” phone call–talk about a surprise from across the world!), he laid it out for me. He felt the Lord calling him to stay in China, and if I wasn’t on board with that, we shouldn’t date.

Wow, dude. Little did he know I’d been waiting for him to ask me out for the duration of our 3-year friendship. I was willing to do pretty much anything to date him, but this?! I had purposely avoided going to Asia because “everyone else was doing it.” Literally. So many of my friends were going there. I was going to be different.

I’m sure God was laughing at this point. Little ol’ me trying to control things. Ha!

A few months later, I graduated college. I was fortunate enough to have been discipled all 4 years. When I graduated, I felt a little lost without that weekly time to chat and pray. I approached a pastor at church and asked if they had a mentor program. They didn’t. So they set me up with the pastor’s wife to meet with for the summer.

We didn’t know each other at all, so I had a feeling it was going to be a little awkward. At our first meeting, she blew me away. Soon after we sat down with our coffee, she said, “Ashley, on the way here, I was praying, asking God if there was anything He wanted me to know about you. I got 2 words: China and m-work. Does that mean anything to you?”

Um, wow. Yeah, lady, it kinda does.

That was it. That’s what God knew I needed in order to accept the calling he was giving my future husband and me. He knew I’d kick and fight if he didn’t make it plain as day.

I called and told Michael what had happened. I could hear him smiling over the phone. He knew how I felt about Asia, and was elated that God would make it so clear to me.

We got married within a year and began the long preparation to move overseas. Every time I got discouraged or thought I didn’t want to do this, I thought back to the undeniable word from God.

On those “China days” when I don’t want to be here anymore, I cling to the words the pastor’s wife shared with me. He clearly called us here. He’ll clearly call us to the next place.

So how did God get you to where you are?  

And now for the Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers Recipe!

Disclaimer: I took these pics a week before we came back to China. We had transitioned (yet again) to our friend’s house, our bags already packed. Half of them stayed at my parents house until they drove up to take us to the airport. My camera was in one of those bags. Ah! So, these are taken with my phone. They are terrible. But, we adapt, right? Aren’t we supposed to be good at that? Yeah… Visit the site I got the recipe from for prettier pics. 🙂

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An unashamed plug for my new favorite store while in the States. Sprouts: a mostly-natural market with mostly affordable prices. I miss it already. I’m sure I could find a “fresh” chicken around here, too, but I don’t like plucking feathers. 🙂

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(Let the wonderful phone pics commence!) Whisk or chopstick (my fave) your eggs and milk.

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I much prefer using a food processor to smash these up, but this works, too. Take out your frustrations and smash them to smithereens!

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IMG_0408The original recipe calls for sliced almonds. That’s not available to me, so chopping it is. I just ordered a nut chopper to ease this process. Not a fan of chopping these slippery goobers!

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I was in a hurry (what’s new with 3 kids!) and didn’t pulverize these enough. The taste is the same, but if you can get them into smaller bits, the coating will stay on even better.

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Perhaps a child was pushing on my left leg to make this one only half-blurry. *sigh*

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Next time I won’t be lazy and will cut these into thinner strips.

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If said children keep bugging you..er…wanting to help, bring them in for green bean snapping reinforcement! (our side dish) They will immediately turn into ninjas.

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This sauce is so. good.

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After baking, flipping, and baking again. Gettin’ golden!

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Dip ’em in the saucy goodness and bake a bit more.

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There is usually some sauce left over. I like to add more, more, more!

Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers

Serves 4-6

Slightly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 1.5-2 lbs chicken breasts cut into 1” thick strips
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 4 cups Rice Chex pulverized into 2 cups crumbs OR 2 cups bread crumbs*
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped almonds, divided
  • For the sauce:
    • 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
    • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 glove garlic, microplaned or minced
    • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (for extra spice–my kids think the chili sauce is just the right spicy!)

*I don’t have Chex OR bread crumbs where I live, so I will sub crushed up Ritz crackers, or make my own bread crumbs. Here’s an easy tutorial here.

Line 2 baking sheets with foil then spray very well with nonstick spray and set aside.

Whisk eggs and milk in a shallow dish. Add 1/2 cup chopped almonds to a food processor, process until mostly fine crumbs and then pour into another shallow dish. (You can also just chop them finely using a knife or nut chopper.) Add Rice Chex/bread crumbs to food processor, process until fine crumbs and then add to almond crumbs. (Alternatively you could add Rice Chex to a large Ziplock bag and pulverize by rolling over the bag with a rolling pin.) Season almond + bread crumb mixture lightly with salt and pepper.

Add flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a large Ziplock bag, then toss with chicken fingers until well coated. In batches, shake excess flour from chicken fingers, dunk into egg mixture, and then roll in almond + bread crumb mixture, pressing to make sure crumbs stick. Place onto prepared baking sheets, then refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to let breading fully adhere. Don’t skip this step or breading will fall off. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spray tops of chicken fingers with extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray, then bake for 10 minutes. Flip, then spray tops of chicken fingers again with nonstick spray. Place back into the oven, flipping and rotating baking sheets, and then bake for 7-9 more minutes or until chicken fingers are golden brown and cooked through. (Or, if you’re like me, with a glorified toaster oven, you’ll have to do 1 sheet at a time.)

Meanwhile, combine ingredients for sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to medium then cook until sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, 5-6 minutes. Pour into a wide bowl then dunk baked chicken fingers into sauce using tongs and place back onto baking sheets. Bake for 4-5 more minutes, watching closely to avoid burning, then serve sprinkled with remaining 1/4 cup sliced almonds and another spoon of sauce.

13 Comments

  1. Elizabeth March 23, 2015

    I LOVE call stories! Thank you for sharing this precious piece of your history and your heart.

    1. Ashley Felder March 23, 2015

      Elizabeth, ME too! Not gonna lie, I kinda love the times at the beginning of the school year when we have to do “mandatory” team sharing. Love seeing how He makes a path for people to get where they are.

  2. MaDonna March 23, 2015

    Ah, the call stories..yes. Okay, I blame my dad for me ending up in China. I wanted to go to Croatia on a uni trip and he told me he’d rather me go to China – so I did, which turned into a dream to return and live. I did go back right after graduation, and met my now husband. It’s funny because his “proposal” is very similar to yours…basically, this is what I’m doing and where I’m going with my life. I like you a lot, but if you are not willing to go along with this plan, then this relationship cannot go any farther. He’s a TCK/MK – so one of the “must be okay withs” was moving around often. HA!

    I have to agree with your quote about how He will clearly call you to the next place. It’s been true for us…with each move, it has been a direct “calling” or “leading” (whatever you want to call it) to the next destination. It’s not always been easy – but it has been very clear to both of us. Moving out of mainland was one of the hardest things we did, but it was very clear that it was the direction we were to go – too long to go into details, but that quote really resonated with me- especially since we are making another move in the fall. (I definitely married a TCK! HA!)

    1. Ashley Felder March 23, 2015

      Wow, MaDonna, what a ride you’ve been on! Hope the next move is as exciting for you as it sounds like it is for your hubby!

    2. Elizabeth March 23, 2015

      MaDonna, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you in the comments last week and also hopping over to your blog. I’d love to sit down someday and chat over coffee 🙂

      1. MaDonna March 24, 2015

        Thanks Elizabeth! I have really enjoyed getting to know you all, too. I felt that I was getting your stories and seeing who you all really are, but not sharing myself. How selfish of me! I decided I needed to just stop the insecurity junk and step out. I would LOVE to catch a coffee with you some day and chat. You never know what can happen – God connects me in person with people I never imagined I’d get to see again or get to meet. He’s cool like that. 😉

  3. Anna March 23, 2015

    Those look amazing. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story. I don’t have a “call story” but my husband and I were both interested in serving overseas.  God led us at the right time and gave us peace about where and when.  And we trust He will continue to do that each step along the way.

    1. Ashley Felder March 24, 2015

      Anna, I’d say that’s your call story. 🙂 He likes to mix things up…as we all know!

  4. Amy Young March 23, 2015

    Ashely, you and Michael make the cutest Ninjas (aka kiddos!). Welcome back from maternity leave. We missed you here at VA, but are so glad you could focus on other things :)! xoxox Amy

    1. Ashley Felder March 24, 2015

      Thanks, Amy! It’s good to be back. Can’t wait to share more recipes! Now, if only my kitchen was in working order…. Soon! It will be soon!

  5. Diane W March 24, 2015

    Ashley!  What a delight to just meet you on Sunday and then find you in my inbox the next morning!  I just want to reiterate how much I look forward to getting to knowing you.  It’s funny for me to hear that Michael also studied Spanish and ended up here…I majored in it, as well, but since I never managed to study abroad my fluency hit that lovely ceiling and it has faded into oblivion – or rather been replaced by this language.  🙂  Gd made it clear, though, that if He wants to use that language in this country, He will have no problem doing so.  Thanks for sharing this piece of your story and the thought about His clear direction…so good to be reminded.

    1. Ashley March 26, 2015

      Diane, yes, so good to meet you, too! Hope to hang out once we get a bit more settled. 🙂 Funny how He can lead us in multiple directions that we think have nothing to do with one another, but He ends up weaving them together. My hubby taught Spanish to his higher-level English students one year. Who would’ve though, right?!

  6. ErinMP March 27, 2015

    Love this by the way, a recipe and devotion in one! Yum–good for heart, soul, and body.

     

    Very cool love story and how God confirmed His word to you. Some teachers and I were talking about that the other day, because one co-teacher had a similar experience where he felt a calling from God, but was running away from it, and someone at church (I think he said a pastor’s wife too, but I’m not 100% positive on that) told him God had revealed to her that she should tell him–you will not find peace until you stop running from your calling to be a preacher.

    It’s great we have a God who will chase us down like that.

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