Wish Upon A Dish: Extreme Budget, Day Fourteen - Chicken Cordon Blue Macaroni & Cheese

December 1, 2012

Extreme Budget, Day Fourteen - Chicken Cordon Blue Macaroni & Cheese

Sandy really threw me for a loop. I have lost not only my mind but my car keys, my sunglasses, my favorite pen, the control to a personal heating blanket (God forbid he isn't hooked up for football), a travel soap and the bag it was in (for taking showers at our neighbors house & which is still gone) and yesterday I thought I lost the registrations renewal form for The Nudge's Rogue, which meant he would have to go to the MVA. He would have killed me, there is always a 2 hour wait at that place. I called to see if I could do it for him and when the customer guy looked up the car info he informed me that the dealer bought a 4 year registration when we purchased the car. Boy, did I just dodge a bullet or what?

Well, the snow got here before my decorations got done and somehow the thought of spring rolls just didn't cut the mustard. I immediately moved the Macaroni and Cheese to the front of the line.

I have never made this flavor combination before but you would think other blogs would be all over it.
They are and they all call it a casserole, not a macaroni and cheese. Adding the macaroni was the easiest part. I wanted mine to be slightly different. Mine will be the next one you make.  I am going to give you a few shortcuts but tell everyone you thought of them, not me. Especially about the frozen chicken fingers thingy you could use instead of breading your own. Use whatever brand your family likes.
I do use a Knorr dried sauce mix to flavor the bechamela and take it over the top, you could omit it if you choose (I would like you to try it once).

Next time you are making breaded chicken cutlets, make extra for this dish.
Save the unused crumbs and the egg for another use in this recipe.

Chicken Cordon Blue Macaroni & Cheese
serves 4
* 1 chicken cutlet cut into bite-sized 1" strips
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1 cup bread crumbs
* canola oil
* 1 Knorr Hollandaise Sauce packet
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon flour
* 2 cups fat-free evaporated milk or regular milk
* 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
* 1 cup grated Swiss cheese + 1/4 cup for top
* 1 slice (1/4") ham
* 2 cups cavatappi or 1 1/2 cups small shell pasta
* 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.
1. Put a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 3 minutes shy of package directions. Drain and reserve a cup of pasta water.
2. Meanwhile coat chicken pieces in beaten egg then into bread crumbs. Saute in canola oil until browned on both sides. Remove to cool.
If using frozen chicken fingers: Cook according to package directions and cut into bite-sized pieces. Reserve.
3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk to blend and cook for 1 minute, Add the milk and when the mixture bubbles, add the Swiss and Romano cheeses, stirring until they melt. Add the sauce packet and bring it back to a boil. If it is thicker than the consistency of gravy, add some pasta cooking water to thin. You want the sauce to be on the thin side, the pasta will absorb all that liquid while baking.
4. Add the pasta, chicken and ham to the sauce, along with the rest of the beaten egg, and spoon into individual gratin dish or a casserole pan.
5. Top with the remaining bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Swiss cheese. Place a few dots of butter randomly across the tops of each casserole and bake until bubbly on the edges and the cheese starts to brown. Remove and rest for 20 minutes.

I do not make macaroni and cheese as often as The Nudge would like, but he really enjoyed this one. I like that the cheese is a low-fat Swiss and was surprised at how much flavor it added to the sauce as well as the flavor of the Hollandaise Sauce.

Cost for this meal: $4.48
Swiss cheese - $1.20
Chicken - $1.00
Ham - $1.50
Milk - $ .50
Egg - $ .27

Running total for 14 days: $45.25 ($4.75 under the goal of $50.00)

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