Tired of coating your chicken in plain old bread crumbs?? Did you know that you can bread your chicken with just about anything that crumbles? So, leave your bread crumbs in the pantry and pull out a box of Cheez-Its instead.
I have to admit, I’ve been on a major Cheez-It binge lately. I don’t recommend this diet to any health-minded individual. Nor am I proud of the quantity of Cheez-Its I’ve consumed in the past few weeks. They’re irresistible to me. If only my local grocery store would ban me from buying them. (But thank goodness they don’t!)
But, back to the chicken. If you can crumble it, you can coat your chicken with it. Cheez-Its, crackers, potato chips, croutons, cereal…the possibilities are infinite. Like Doritos? Smash them up and coat your chicken with ‘em. More of a corn chip fan? Go crazy with crushed corn chips. Another fun option? It turns out that those crunchy French-fried onion pieces, which you’ve probably seen on green bean casseroles, make a delicious chicken breading too. Have fun and liven up your chicken. It’s a great way to get the family excited about a simple baked chicken dinner. Follow the same procedure you would to coat your chicken in bread crumbs; season with salt and pepper, dip in an egg wash, coat with the crumbs, and bake.
On the side, we’re serving another dish with a twist. Bird’s Eye makes a fantastic frozen vegetable dish, called Beans with a Twist. It’s a super tasty combination of green beans, wax beans, baby carrots, and dried cranberries, in an herbed butter sauce. To Bird’s Eye’s credit, it is absolutely delicious and free from the unnecessary preservatives or sweeteners which are so commonplace in many other prepared foods. I’ve bought this dish for myself on several occasions and always enjoy it.
Recently, while rummaging through the freezer, the kids found one of my packages of these tasty veggies and requested to have it with their dinner. The possessive side of me wanted to save them for myself, but what mom is going to deny their child’s passionate request for veggies?? The kids loved the simple veggie dish. So, along with our chicken, I decided to serve our own homemade version of Beans with a Twist.
This entire recipe is full of opportunities to get kids involved in the kitchen. Children of all ages are expert food crushers. In fact, my experience has been that toddlers come preprogrammed with impressive destruction abilities. The best way to go about crushing your Cheez-Its (or other desired breading) is to place the quantity in a ziploc and let the kids go to town. Running a rolling pin over the bag or smashing with a child-safe mallet or fists are all effective methods.
Cutting the soft, steamed green beans is another excellent, kid-friendly task for tonight’s recipe. I wasn’t the only one to receive new cutlery for Christmas. The boys received a set of child-friendly, but effectively sharp, plastic knives. Made by Curious Chef (available on Amazon.com), these knives are not toys, but rather real, functional kitchen tools for little chefs. Before using, we reviewed a few basic knife safety rules, such as watching out for fingers and I modeled how to safely hold the green bean with one hand, while cutting with the other. Then, under close supervision, the boys took care of chopping the beans. My boys will be cutting julienne and brunoise vegetables in no time! A regular plastic dinnerware knife would also make an appropriate cutting tool for most young chefs.
So, join in on the Kids Cook Monday fun and get cooking as a family. And if you don’t have any pint-sized helpers of your own, borrow someone else’s kids or simply awaken your inner child. Just be careful with those plastic knives!
Breaded and Baked Chicken with a Twist
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 3 Eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups Cheez-Its, crushed (substitute crushed potato chips, French-fried onions, chips, or other crackers, if desired)
- Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken breasts in the beaten egg mixture. Then, press the chicken into the crushed cracker crumbs to coat. Place the coated chicken in a baking dish and bake until fully cooked. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken. My large chicken breasts took about 35 minutes at 375 degrees. Chicken is fully cooked when it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, as measured with an instant-read meat thermometer.
Green Beans and Carrots with a Twist
Inspired by Bird’s Eyes’ Beans with a Twist
- 2 cups Green Beans and Wax Beans, steamed until tender, but crisp
- 1 1/2 cups Baby Carrots, steamed
- 1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 cloves Roasted Garlic, smashed into a paste*
- 1-2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives, chopped
- Salt and Pepper
*Click here to see my photo guide on How to Roast Garlic.
Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the roasted garlic paste and stir until well combined. Add the beans, carrots, dried cranberries, and chives. Toss to coat with the roasted garlic butter. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.