Thursday, October 14, 2010

Low-Carb Dinner: Crispy Onion Chicken Tenders with Roasted Acorn Squash

Sometimes, unbreaded meats and green veggies feel too much like diet food, and you need a dinner that sticks to your bones a little without going overboard in carbs.

Enter Crispy Onion Chicken Tenders with Roasted Acorn Squash.

A little spinach, and the meal is complete.

At only 3 carbs per 2 tablespoons, french-fried onions are a much better choice than bread crumbs, and their bold flavor makes regular old breading seem boring.  (They're also fantastic in meatloaf.)

For the chicken tenders, I used the Crunchy Onion Chicken recipe from the back of the can, with just a couple of tweaks.

Crispy Onion Chicken Tenders
-2 cups FRENCH'S® French Fried Onions
-2 TBSP soy flour (or other low-carb flour, or low-carb bake mix)
-seasonings to taste (I used this.)
-1 egg, beaten
-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
butter or nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 and grease a large baking sheet with butter or nonstick cooking spray.

Cut chicken breasts into long pieces and set aside. Put onions, soy flour, and seasonings in a gallon-sized plastic bag and crush fine.

Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Dip each piece in egg, coating both sides, then place in the bag with the onion mixture. (I did this in small batches of 4-5 tenders at a time.) Seal bag and shake to coat chicken with the "breading". It may help to squeeze breading onto the chicken through the bag. Remove chicken pieces and arrange on the greased baking sheet. Repeat until all chicken is coated, and press extra breading from the bag onto any bare spots on the chicken pieces.

Bake 20 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center. I recommend turning the chicken once halfway through cooking, as the onions on top brown significantly.

Now, for the squash. I used this Food Network recipe for Acorn Squash Pizza and just made the delicious-sounding squash to eat on its own. The combination of the sweet maple syrup and spicy red pepper flakes made this delicious. All I did was switch to sugar-free syrup, and this recipe was good to go.

Roasted Acorn Squash
1 (1-pound) acorn squash
2 TBSP Sugar-Free Maple Syrup
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (I cooked this on 400, watching closely, right along with my chicken tenders, and it turned out just fine.)

Slice the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide half moons and place in a medium bowl. Toss the squash with the syrup, olive oil, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the squash until tender and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. The skin will peel off easily after baking.