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Winter warm-ups

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 4:43pm

As the blustery winter weather moves your parties and gatherings indoors, warming up guests is not only done by the fireplace, but also by what's cooking in the kitchen. Tasty winter favorites like Buffalo wings, chili, and homemade pretzels have seen their share of variations over the years. For example, the Buffalo-Style Chicken Fingers recipe below uses chicken breasts instead of wings. They may not be the wings you've had in years past, but they're a delicious alternative.

These winter warm-ups are from the Now That's Cookin' cookbook (www.farmhomecollection.com). These recipes are especially popular if you've got a crowd coming over to cheer on your favorite team. But they're just as tasty for family get-togethers.

So come on in out of the cold. Grab a warm bowl of chili, a few chicken fingers, or a homemade pretzel dipped in cheese and enjoy these easy-to-make recipes.

Prep: 25 minutes, Bake: 18 minutes, Oven: 425 degrees F.

1 cup crushed corn flakes 1 tablespoon finely snipped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup bottled blue cheese salad dressing
2 teaspoons water
1 to 2 teaspoons bottled hot pepper sauce
Celery sticks
Bottled blue cheese salad dressing

Step 1: Combine crushed corn flakes, parsley, and salt in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Cut chicken breasts into strips about 3/4 inch wide and 3 inches long. Combine the 1/3 cup dressing, water, and hot pepper sauce in a large mixing bowl. Add chicken; stir to coat. Roll chicken pieces individually in crumb mixture to coat. Place strips on a foil-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

Step 2: Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place frozen chicken strips in a single layer in a lightly greased 15101-inch baking pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until meat is no longer pink in center and crumbs are golden. Serve warm with celery sticks and additional blue cheese dressing for dipping. Makes 12 servings.

Make-Ahead Tip: Place frozen strips in a freezer container. Cover and freeze up to one month.

Nutrition facts per serving: 184 calories, 12 g fat, 26 mg cholesterol, 408 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 11 g protein.

Prep: 40 minutes, Cook: 30 minutes

1/2 pound boneless beef top round steak
15-1/2-ounce can kidney beans
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup chopped onions (2 medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
14-ounce can low-sodium tomatoes, cut up
8-ounce can low-sodium tomato sauce
2 stalks celery, bias sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chilies
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Plain nonfat yogurt or nonfat dairy sour cream (optional)

Step 1: Partially freeze beef. Trim off any fat. Thinly slice across the grain into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

Step 2: Drain kidney beans. Rinse under cold running water. Drain off any water. Set the beans aside.

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