Make Dinner Simple With Breaded Chicken Bites

I’m a big believer in simplicity, especially when it comes to cooking. More complicated meals have their time and place, but for low-budget, week-night cooking, simple is the way to go.

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Simplicity is also one of the reasons I chose to create comics out of recipes. As a visual learner, I find seeing the steps is an easier way to understand what I’m meant to be doing.

Though I had some ideas about illustrating recipes brewing in my head, it was a recipe from Bon Appétit that cemented the idea. As I was flipping through the magazine, I came across the “Basically” section, which used photographs to give step-by-step instructions. I thought it was clever, showing me what each step should look like. Similarly, the “Prep School” section had small illustrations showcasing a few preparation hints to make the rest of the cooking go smoothly. I knew I could play off their approach and expand on it, making it my own. In November 2018, I returned to the concept and began experimenting with it. I started with a comic about pumpkin butter. The recipe seemed easy enough to turn into a comic and before I knew it I had created my first #comicaleats.

Though I’ve only drawn out three recipes, including the one on Chicken Bites below, I have plans to do several more.

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Here’s the stuff you really came for –– the Bites. I wanted to turn this recipe into a comic because of how simple it is. It’s great for beginning cooks, students, or those who need a quick, easy meal. These Chicken Bites are probably one of my favorites to cook and eat. If I have a signature recipe to my name, this is it.

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When using this recipe, I typically use Italian dressing to marinate the chicken chunks. Once the chicken is cut up and in a Ziplock bag, I pour the dressing (about half a standard bottle or a full small bottle) over the chicken and leave it in the fridge for at least an hour. However, Italian dressing is just one variation. I first learned to make Breaded Chicken Bites using an egg wash. The egg wash negates the need for a marinade and can be done right before breading. No need to wait for the chicken to be ready.

THE EGG WASH: Crack a whole egg into a cereal-sized bowl. Pour in a small glug of milk and beat with a fork. Dunk chicken chunks into the egg, covering completely.

From this point, the recipe proceeds as normal.

OTHER TIPS:

  • The bread crumbs should be put on a high-sided plate or a bowl to prevent spillage and more cleanup.
  • Using parchment paper on the pan also reduces cleanup.
  • If you want more color on your Bites, broil for two minutes.
  • These Chicken Bites taste great with mixed veggies. BBQ sauce can be a great addition but is not necessary.
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New Art for a New Year

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Playing around with new and different materials like coffee

In recent months, I’ve been experimenting with my art a lot. I felt the need for more variety and to breathe new life into the work I was creating. I began using watercolor pencils (which I love) in early 2018, but have only recently started playing around with them. I want to find the best way –– or maybe the proper way –– of using them. That is an ongoing project.

Another new practice I’ve been trying is 3D illustrations by way of layering cut-out pieces. I did not think of this on my own. While the concept is not new, I got the idea from Youtuber Kasey Golden. She usually uses watercolor, but has used papercuts to create an inspiring visual. So I tried it myself with recycled cereal boxes, watercolor paper, and glue.

For my first attempts with little understanding of what I was doing, I am proud of how my teacup elephant and comic self-portrait turned out.

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3D(ish) self-portrait. I was a bit to rough and impaitent when cutting out the letters resulting in a missing second “c” in “comics”. Lesson learned.

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Here’s to wishing teacup elephants were real. The backgroud is modge-podged newspaper strips.

Lastly, I have found a new subject for my comics –– food! Combining my love for food and art seemed almost inevitable. After all, I love to cook AND my initials spell out EAT. I figure I have to take advantage of those initals somehow. So, I’ve been drawing out recipe comics and calling them #comicaleats.

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Coming soon to #comicaleats: Breaded Chicken Bites

While I am still trying to figure out the best way to set up this variety of comics, I am happy with ones I’ve done so far.

A Reflection on Inktober

If my memory proves correct, I’ve attempted the month-long social media event, known as Inktober, only once before.

What is Inktober?
During the month of October, artists (of all skill levels) are challenged to create something new every day according to a theme. The rules aren’t very strict, allowing people to come up with their own themed lists or post as much or as little as they deem possible. Artists are not required to draw/post every day if they can’t find the time. The goal of Inktober is to give people a reason or the time to really work on their skills. A drawing a day for a month may not result in much visible progress, but it could help an artist to develop a habit.prompt

This year, I thought I’d join in so I could develop my skills for this comics blog. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I thought the attempt was worth it. I wasn’t able to complete the full 31-day challenge but I did as many as I could. I ended up with 20 drawings, some of which were comics while others were doodles. In the end, it was a fantastic challenge. It forced me to be creative every day instead of once a week. Knowing my comics and doodles would be going on social media, I put more effort into the ideas and the products. By attempting to stick with it and come up with decent drawings, I do think I improved. Plus, I gained some Instagram followers!

Comics Spotlight: Blondie

On September 8, 1930, Chic Young’s now insanely popular comic strip, Blondie, appeared in newspapers across America. It began with a pretty flapper girl, Blondie Boopadoop, and a bumbling, awkward, billionaire’s son, Dagwood Bumstead. At the beginning, Dagwood was just one of Blondie’s many boyfriends, but eventually, the two fell in love. They tied the knot in 1933, in a highly anticipated and memorable comic strip. As a result of their marriage, Dagwood was almost immediately disinherited and written out of his father’s will and “Dagwood and Blondie had to go out into the world and hack it like the rest of us” (Dean Young).

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Before I drew a comic inspired by Blondie‘s style, I figured I’d practice by drawing the two main characters and the logo.

Today the strip is written and illustrated by Chic’s son, Dean as well as head artist, John Marshall. Dagwood and Blondie’s day-to-day escapades revolve around their work and home lives. The Bumsteads have two teenage children, Alexander and Cookie, and a dog, Daisy, all of whom make frequent appearances in the strip. The strip also features the Bumstead’s neighbors and coworkers.

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A Blondie strip from Oct. 25, 2015, which includes characters from other newspaper strips such as Dustin, Zits, and Baby Blues. 

In its early years, the strip’s success led to the creation of several “Blondie” movies spanning from 1938-1950, and a 26-episode TV series in 1957. Blondie was portrayed by Penny Singleton in the movies and Pamela Britton on TV while Dagwood was played by Arthur Lake in both.

I think the strip’s enduring popularity comes from its ability to represent and show the absurd and hilarious in the mundane. While this is the aim of most comics, Blondie does it particularly well as it comes off extremely relatable and makes me laugh almost every time. Another reason I find Blondie so funny is that I see a bit of my dad’s personality (and maybe a bit of my own) in Dagwood. I think the most incredible thing is that the strip has been in print for almost 90 years. I can’t think of any other comic that has endured so long. The creators must be doing something right!

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My comic inspired by the Blondie comics. I wanted to find a way to include Dagwood’s famous sandwiches and it just so happens that I really DO get excited about sandwiches.

The Funnies

It comes as no surprise that print newspapers are on a steady decline to obscurity. So what does this mean for the comic strips published in the papers? Will they die out too, or will they continue in the digital realm? It’s hard to say, but with webcomics and apps like Webtoons, comics like Blondie, Beetle Bailey, and Garfield might be able to continue on.

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Garfield by Jim Davis (October 6, 2017)

While the “golden age” of comics tends to focus on comic books, it was a golden age for all comics. Newspaper strips also featured recurring characters and entertaining storylines. These comics were more aimed at small cracks of humor rather than a drawn out story. By creating comics featuring the same characters each day or week (depending on the comic’s publishing schedule with their syndicate) helped keep consistency and a loose focus for the overall comic. It also helped readers connect to the strips and develop a dedicated fanbase. However, it was the ability to have the characters in different situations or center on different topics that appealed the casual scanner of comics as well as readers looking for a little variety.

Typically, most comics (both strips and books) have simple backgrounds so the focus is on the action. Comic strips often simplify the background quite a bit, where some have no background (just white behind the character) while others use a flat color, sometimes to indicate emotion. To indicate place or setting, many comic artists just use a line to represent the ground, counter, or wall, while others will include simple furniture—such as a chair or table—to aid in the storytelling.

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Blondie by Dean Young and John Marshall (October 2, 2017)

Another difference between the two comic forms is the overall art style. Newspaper comics are all about simplicity. Most newspaper cartoonists have a daily strip and can’t afford to spend a lot of time on it. On the other hand, comic book artists have longer deadlines and typically use a more detailed style. I think the simplicity of strips is appealing because they allow a reader to fill in the details and see themselves in the comic if they wish.

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Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (this particular comic is from the collection The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book)

My love of comics began with newspapers. As a little kid, I looked forward to the weekends when I’d get good breakfast and could sit on my dad’s lap while we read the comics. He introduced me to the comics I still love to read today—Blondie, Garfield, Peanuts, Zits—and my all-time-favorite, Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson’s comic about an imaginative, troublemaking 6-year-old and his stuffed tiger remains my favorite because it presents mature themes through a child’s eyes.   

A quick note about my comics for today: I really focused on emulating the simple backgrounds. I often feel the need to fill the background space with something but I never know what to do. I think I’ve learned that comics don’t always need a background, and the simple addition of color can just as effective as a setting.

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A witchy comic I did for Inktober day 3. Here I use the flat color background I was trying to emulate.

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Nessie Vs the Tourists- Inktober day 4

It’s a Bird…it’s a Plane…it’s the Golden Age of Comics!

Previously on E.A.T.comics: Most historians and scholars say the idea of “comics” began in the late 19th century with The Loves of Mr. Vieux Bois (Topffer) and Hogan’s Alley (Outcault). 

The success of Outcault’s Hogan’s Alley inspired other cartoon artists to work with newspapers and magazines, popularizing the concept of the comic.   Fast forward about 30 years, just before the second World War and comics like Little Orphan Annie (Harold Gray, 1924), Popeye (Elzie Crisler Segar, 1929) and other “pulp heroes” were sold like mini-comic books, at 10 cents a book. Then, in 1938 a new kind of comic was released. Action Comics #1 introduced Superman, “the man of steel”. Written by Jerry Siegel and illustrated by Joe Shuster, Clark Kent/Superman is an alien from the planet Krypton, who works as a journalist at the Daily Planet, uses his various superpowers to protect mankind from the forces of evil. Siegel and Shuster’s creation opened the gates to superhero comic books and the Golden Age of Comics. About a year after Superman

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Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27

made his debut, a bored socialite turned vigilante came onto the scene. Creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane introduced the world to Batman in Detective Comics #27. Unlike Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne does not possess superpowers. He gained popularity with American audiences because he didn’t need superhuman strength or heat vision. Instead, he relied on his gadgets and detective skills. Since their creation, Batman and Superman have become two of the most popular superheroes, both with complicated storylines and a host of villains to save the world from. (Many years later the publications that supported Action Comics and Detective Comics merged and eventually took on the name DC Comics.)

“The Man of Steel” and “The Dark Knight” weren’t the only big name superheroes in the fight against evil. “The First Avenger”,

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Captain America #1

aka Captain America, was launched in 1941 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby of Timely Comics (later Marvel). Unlike the DC heroes, Cap premiered in a comic under his own name (Captain America #1).  Once a scrawny boy desperate to join the army, Steve Rogers was created to be a super soldier in the midst of WWII. His all-American boy persona and Nazi-fighting adventures were hugely popular with American audiences. These three superheroes have graced the panels of comic books for nearly 80 years. Not only did they pave the way for other superhero stories, but other comic book genres as well. All three have sold thousands of issues, had TV shows and movies, and remain popular figures in current pop culture.  

While the years of the era are disputed, most agree that the Golden Age started around 1938 with Superman and ended in the early 50s. Superhero comic books’ popularity began to decline after WWII. But comic books did not die here. They continued to flourish, giving rise to genres such as westerns, sci-fi, romance, crime and horror.

Who is your favorite Golden Age superhero?

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Marvel or DC? A lot of people take sides, but not me. Both are great.

The Love of Comics

From comic strips to comic apps and from comic books to webcomics, comics are everywhere and people LOVE them. But what is it about them that people love so much? Some people read comics for the stories, some for the art, and others for the humor or the characters. Readers may also find relatability is the best part of a comic.  And then there are people who read for the whole package. In short, each person picks up a newspaper, a comic book, or opens an app for a different reason. The beauty of it is the experience is totally unique and personal. Two people may read the same strip and both may find it funny, but they’ll have different reasons for finding it humorous.

Why do I love comics? Simply, I am one of those people who loves comics for the whole package. By combining art and humor, one can tell a story in a way books and TV shows cannot—they are visual and linguistic at the same time. Comics can be both simple and complex or stupid and smart. They have the ability to disguise intelligent themes as something simple and entertaining and can teach you more than you know. People can relate to comic characters when they see a piece of themselves in a certain character or situation. The possibilities are endless.

Why do you love comics?