Friday, February 13, 2009

Cibus Corner: Comfort Foods

Back again this Friday with another installment of Cibus Corner, courtesy of my sister Jane (aka Chef Babs). This week, she's talking comfort food, which is food I can always get behind.

Chef Babs, aged 2

As promised this week's meal is delicious and good for you -- but since it's "comfort food", no one has to know that it's healthy. I've always been a fan of comfort food. To me, there is nothing better than a biscuit and mac-and-cheese. Fried chicken is also very hard to beat, as well. The only problem with eating the full-fat version is that you find that your pants are a little tighter the next day. For those of you that long for comfort food but still want to look good in skinny jeans (okay, any pair of jeans) this meal is ideal for you. It's low in calories, tasty, and will please the entire family!

Oven Friend Chicken with Almonds

This recipe comes from my aunt Joe Ann. It is easy, kids love it, and it stays good in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. In fact, I have to confess that these chicken fingers taste pretty good cold. Even better: they're lower in fat because they are baked, not dredged in flour, and use crushed almonds to add flavor, and cuts down on the amount of bread crumbs needed to make the coating. I have made these for everyone from boyfriends to roommates, and I must say no one has turned them down yet. Another version of this recipe is to use chicken breasts rather than the chicken fingers. I find that if you are serving adults, they'll prefer full-sized breasts. Hmm...that didn't come out right...okay, moving on! The recipe:

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp dried thyme
pepper (to taste)
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. chicken tenders

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine bread crumbs, cheese, almonds, garlic, salt, thyme and pepper together in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. Place oil in a shallow dish. Dip the chicken tenders into the oil one at a time and then dredge tenders into the crumb mixture. Place chicken tenders in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Ellie Krieger's Mac-and-Cheese

There's nothing I love more than mac-and-cheese. I still eat it about every other week (only now I have traded in my Kraft for Annie's Organic). So when I saw this recipe from Elle Krieger, I had to try it (click here for the recipe). The secret is using pureed butternut squash (which you can purchase already pureed in the frozen food aisle at most grocery stores) for the base of the cream sauce. For those of you who don't like butternut squash, don't worry, you won't be able to taste it. I promise: the squash simply acts as the creamy agent to make the sauce smooth and, in this case, a lot less fattening than traditional mac-and-cheese. I used pipe shaped pasta rather than elbow macaroni. I encourage you to experiment with the pasta shape, like fuselli, in order to make it more fun and appetizing.

I served this meal with a side of French green beans garnished with lemon. Altogether, a great family meal that is perfect for large gatherings or weekend dinners in.

Next Week: Divine Desserts.


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