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Strata, salad use chicken, eggs for budget-friendly meals

Strata, salad use chicken, eggs for budget-friendly meals

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Serving meals on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to be satisfied with a steady stream of soups, stews and pasta.

The key is in the ingredients. Chicken often is one of the less-expensive meats available and provides a base for many versatile dishes. And having an egg-based meal can further extend your money.

I like vegetables very much, so I enjoy grilled chicken cut up on green salad to boost the protein. Or I may poach the chicken in low-sodium chicken broth for added flavor. I add basil, rosemary, garlic and onion to the broth, too.

On a recent weekend, I made a chicken/brown rice dish with a zing of Indian flavor from curry and cinnamon. I cooked brown rice using low-sodium chicken broth in place of water to make four cups of cooked rice. I added 2 teaspoons of curry powder and a sprinkling of cinnamon, a half-teaspoon of dry, chopped basil, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes  and 1/4 cup of chopped white onion to the broth before adding the uncooked rice.

While that was cooking, I sautéed two chicken breast halves without the skin in olive oil and cut them into cubes. I also steamed 1 cup each of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas and green beans and 1/2 cup of frozen whole-kernel corn. When the rice was done, I added the other ingredients. You could add shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese, if desired. This will make eight meals for me.

Here are some more ideas for using chicken in budget-friendly meals from the National Chicken Council and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (You could substitute cooked rice for the mixed greens in the Panko-Parmesan Chicken with Warm Mushroom Vinaigrette over Mixed  Greens):

 For value in the kitchen, put chicken on the menu 

From the National Chicken Council and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, here are two new chicken recipes that are perfect for spring. Both are loaded with flavor and easy on the wallet.

Looking for that perfect dish to take to a potluck dinner, or serve for a brunch or an easy family supper?

Try Chicken Florentine Strata, a casserole dish that is as tasty to eat as it is simple to make. Just plan to assemble the casserole four hours --- or up to the day before ---you plan to bake and serve it, giving the flavors time to meld in the refrigerator.

Serve the strata with a dark green salad or other green vegetable for a complete meal.

Panko-Parmesan Chicken with Warm Mushroom Vinaigrette over Mixed Greens is a clever one-dish meal, light as a salad and filling enough to be served as an entrée.

A favorite crusty bread will complete this meal.

 CHICKEN FLORENTINE STRATA 

Serves 8 at a cost of  about $2.57 per serving. 

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced into thin strips

2 tablespoons olive oil

2  shallots, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 package (16 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained

1 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped

10 slices white bread, cut into cubes

2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

6 eggs

2 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Lightly grease a 3 quart casserole dish.

In large skillet over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add shallots to skillet and sauté 1 minute. Add chicken strips and cook 5 minutes more, or until cooked through. Season chicken with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Place a layer of bread cubes in the bottom of the dish. In alternating layers, place chicken, spinach, sundried tomatoes, cheese and bread, ending with a sprinkling of bread on top.

In large bowl, combine eggs, milk, mustard and nutmeg with a whisk. Pour mixture over the casserole, cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

While oven heats, remove casserole from refrigerator and warm to room temperature. Place casserole in oven and bake 35 – 40 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Nutrition facts per serving: 450 calories; 23 g. fat; 9 g. saturated fat; 25. g carbohydrates.

 PANKO-PARMESAN CHICKEN WITH WARM MUSHROOM VINAIGRETTE OVER MIXED GREENS 

Serves 4 at a cost of about $5.25. 

Chicken:

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

1 cup panko

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

Mushroom Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

10 ounces button mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

1 tespoon sugar

5 ounce package mixed greens 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup yogurt, Dijon mustard and basil. In another medium bowl, combine panko, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Place chicken breast halves first in yogurt mixture, turning to coat, and then into panko mixture. Turn breasts again, pressing panko onto chicken.

In large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoons oil. Add chicken to pan and cook to brown coating, about 3 minutes per side, turning once. Transfer chicken to a baking pan and place in hot oven. Cook 15 – 20 minutes until done.

Wipe out skillet with paper towel. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to pan; warm over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté 1 minute. Add mushrooms, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic, salt, pepper and thyme; cook one minute more. Raise heat to high, add vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and gently simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons yogurt and sugar.

Remove chicken from oven and slice each breast.

Divide greens between four plates, or pile onto one serving platter. Add chicken slices. Top with mushroom vinaigrette.

 Nutrition facts per serving: 530 calories; 31 g. fat; 6 g. saturated fat; 20 g. carbohydrates.

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