Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lil' Round Chickens, Macaroni and Cheese, Green Beans

We had two kid (and adult) favorites for supper last night: chicken nuggets and mac n cheese.  And, we had our usual roasted green beans.  (I really need to start making other vegetable sides.)  These were not frozen or from a box.  They were made from scratch at home.  Compared to the typical frozen/boxed varieties, I was able to eliminate some preservatives and add some whole grains.

My mom made lil' round chickens for us when my sister and I were growing up.  This has always been one of my favorite ways to eat chicken.  They are really easy to make.  Mom always used Bisquick in the batter.  I made my own "baking mix" based on a recipe in Whole Foods for the Whole Family.  This mix can be used to make pancakes, biscuits, etc. like any store-bought baking mix.  Only this has whole wheat flour and no partially hydrogenated oil. 

Baking Mix Ingredients
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 heaping Tab baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil

Combine dry ingredients.  Cut in oil using a pastry blender or your fingers to make fine crumbs. 
Store, covered, in the refrigerator. 

Lil' Round Chickens Ingredients
1 1/2 cup baking mix
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup milk, or more as needed
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into small pieces
canola oil for frying (1/2 cup or so)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Mixture should be slightly thicker than pancake batter. 
Pour enough oil into large skillet to about 1/4" deep (oil should come halfway up the side of a lil' round chicken).  Heat over medium heat.
Working in batches, dip chicken pieces in batter to coat.  Let excess batter drip back into bowl.  Carefully drop chicken in hot oil.  Cook until golden brown and flip.  Cook until golden brown all over and remove to a plate lined with paper towels. 
Serve warm with sauce- we like dijon mustard, Sriracha, and "honey mustard" made by combining honey and mustard.

I got the macaroni and cheese recipe from Food and Wine Books Pasta.   It was good, but not great.  I was hoping for a bit more cheese flavor.  Jacob loved it.  In the future, I might experiment with adding different cheeses.

I cooked and combined everything into a baking dish while Jacob was napping and put it in the refrigerator.  Before supper, I made the bread-crumb topping and put the dish in the oven to bake. 

Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients
5 Tab butter, divided
3 Tab flour
2 cups milk
3/4 lb sharp cheddar, grated
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch cayenne
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 lb elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

In a medium saucepan, melt 3 Tab butter over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook, whisking for 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk.  Bring to a boil, whisking.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat.  Add the cheese, mustard, cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Whisk until cheese melts.
Cook macaroni according to package directions and drain. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish.  Combine the macaroni and cheese.  Transfer to dish.
Melt 2 Tab butter and combine with bread crumbs.  Sprinkle over the macaroni. 
Bake until the top in brown and the sauce bubbles, about 30 minutes.

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