Easy Chicken Strips & Vegetables with Cheese Sauce
When it comes to quick tips and clever shortcuts, Crystal Sheckles-Gibson of Beespring, KY, is a pro…she has to be. Not only does she run a housecleaning service and work part-time for the U.S. Census Bureau, she also has to plan meals that accommodate her husband's schedule and her daughter's dietary needs.
"My 7-year-old daughter, Cheyenne, has quite a few food allergies, so I plan menus around them, as well as what's on sale at the grocery store. And since my husband, Wayne, is busy, I try to prepare dinners that reheat well or can stay warm in the oven."
Her slow cooker, which she uses several times a week, is an invaluable tool. And her backyard garden keeps her fridge stocked with a supply of fresh veggies. "I'm learning how to can them, too," she says.
One of Crystal's favorite meals is this kid-friendly menu that she loves serving to family and friends. "I came up with Easy Chicken Strips one night when I was looking for a new, fast way to serve chicken. They make great appetizers, especially when served with barbecue or sweet-and-sour sauce for dunking. I've been told they're restaurant-quality."
Crystal keeps the compliments coming with her Vegetables with Cheese Sauce, which would please even picky eaters. "The cheese sauce is great with other veggies—like summer squash or potatoes, too," she says.
End the meal on a fun and refreshing note with Lime Milk Shakes. The method is so simple, kids could fix them. "Cheyenne likes to make them in our blender," says Crystal. "I turn them into popsicles by freezing them, or use orange or rainbow sherbet and orange juice concentrate to switch up their flavor," says Crystal. No matter what spin you put on it, this is one meal the entire family will love!
Here's the plan:
- Set out sherbet to soften and chill glasses
- Prepare and bake the chicken
- Microwave the veggies and begin cheese sauce
- Make the milk shakes and remove chicken from oven
- I save myself time during the week by preparing whole chickens and roasts, which I dice or shred and then freeze for recipes later. It's also helpful to make biscuits, meatballs, soups and even cakes in large batches so you can tuck some into the freezer for later.
- When buying large portions of meat, such as chicken or pork loin, trim the fat off, cut into individual portions, wrap each one and then freeze.
- Get more fruits and veggies. When making meatballs or meatloaf, I add a small package of frozen, chopped spinach. My family doesn't even notice. And when I buy packaged muffin mix for breakfasts, I stir chopped, frozen berries into the batter.
- When making soups and stews, I'll take out some of the cooked veggies, puree them and then add them back. This way, my kids still get nutrients even if they pick around some things.