Another snow day dinner: mac & cheese and chicken fingers

The onslaught of winter weather calls for comfort food.  My husband, who is a teacher, had two snow days this week so I decided to make something that reminded me of snow days when I was a kid.  Macaroni & cheese and chicken fingers.  I love mac & cheese right out of the box, but the homemade version is so much more decadent, and you can be more creative with the flavors.  The recipe below is pretty basic, but feel free to mix up the cheeses and toppings.

Three-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese, based on a recipe from Cooking Light

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

 

  • 1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3  cups skim milk
  • 1/2  cup Swiss cheese
  • 1/4  cup  grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3  cups  cooked elbow macaroni (about 1 1/2 cups uncooked)
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4  cup  panko bread crumbs
  • 1  tablespoon  reduced-calorie margarine, softened

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place flour in a large saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add cheeses; cook 3 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in macaroni and salt.

Spoon mixture into a small casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Combine bread crumbs and margarine in a small bowl; stir until well-blended. Sprinkle over macaroni mixture. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Baked Chicken Fingers, adapted from All Recipes

yields 8 tenders

  • 8 chicken breast tenderloins or 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into finger-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs (I like to use panko or Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with a nonstick spray.
  2. In a bag, mix together flour, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. On a plate, mix the bread crumbs with the rest of the garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and salt.
  3. Shake the chicken pieces with the seasoned flour. Beat egg whites with 1 tablespoon water, and place egg mixture in a shallow dish or bowl. Dip seasoned chicken in egg mixture, then roll in the seasoned bread crumb mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake for about 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Use tongs to turn pieces over. Bake 8 minutes longer, or until chicken juices run clear.
  5. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.  I like to drizzle with Frank’s brand Buffalo Wing sauce or the Buffalo Barbeque Sauce.

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