Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Debunk the Junk: Home Bakes

Every so often I'm going to post about "Debunk the Junk." The idea of these posts will be to illustrate how I am replacing a particular modern food item with something much healthier and usually tastier.

For dinner tonight I made a real Home Bake. I didn't use a box kit, I made it from scratch. I now, truly appreciate why Home Bakes exist: convenience. I've been sick for a few days so I was moving slow. All told it took me a little over an hour to prep dinner, plus 25 minutes of cooking time. I think mostly that was because I was sick and not really thinking that clearly. I've outlined a more streamlined process below.

Even though I'm congested up to my eyeballs, it still tasted pretty good. My hubby also really enjoyed it. Plus it was a lot more filling than the store version, lower sodium content, and no preservatives. Usually, for an 8x8 pan of Home Bake, we eat 3/4 of the 8x8 pan. Tonight, we only ate about 1/3 of the 8x8 pan. I think partially it's because my version filled the pan all the way to the brim, but I think less processed food is just more filling.

1 large or 2 medium potatoes
1/4 to 1/2 a med/large onion
3-5 cups misc. veggies (I didn't measure, sorry!)
1/2 to 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken (leftovers or...)
1 to 1.5 cups chicken stock / broth
1.75 to 2 cups milk
1.25 cups flour (I use ww, but you can use whichever)
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp baking powder
misc spices, according to your preference

First, chop and put the potatoes on to boil. I left the skin on for a more homey feel (plus I like the skin), but you can peel it if you don't like it.
Then take 2 tbsp butter and melt in a pot. Once melted, add 2 tbsp flour stir constantly for 3 minutes.
Then, slowly add 1 cup of milk. Make sure not to add it too fast, it will turn lumpy if you do.
Once the milk is well combined, add the chicken broth (and some chicken fat if you want), garlic powder, pepper, a little salt, a little parsley, bay leaves, or oregano; add what you like. Cover and turn to low or simmer.
Preheat oven to 350.
begin chopping your veggies in order of longest cooking time to shortest: carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, peas, corn.
As you chop a veggie, add it to the white sauce.
Add the chicken last.
By the time you are done chopping veggies, the potatoes should be done.
Drain, dump into a bowl on top of 2 tbsp butter and let the butter melt.
At this time, make the biscuit topping: 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup oil, 2 tsp baking powder, 3/4 cup milk. Mix. Set aside. (It should be sticky, but not too liquidy)
Mash the potatoes, adding a bit of milk and any spices you want. I added garlic powder, a bit of salt, some parsley.
Spread the mashed potatoes in the bottom of the 8x8 pan. (I had about a 1 inch layer of potato)
Next, pour the veggie / sauce mix over the potatoes. (this almost filled the pan to the top)
Spread the biscuit dough over top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Total Prep Time was 50 minutes, plus Bake Time = 1 hr, 15 minutes.

Make sure you stir the butter & flour mixture at the beginning constantly and for the whole 3 minutes, otherwise it will taste like flour or char.
I made the mistake of not adding the veggies to the sauce as I chopped them so then had to spend time microwaving the veggies separately before mixing them into the sauce.
You can add just about any kind of veggie you want and I think it would be fine. I actually ran out of room before I added the corn, but I didn't miss it. I bet some kind of bean would be good in it, too.
It might be an easier meal to do once you have some leftovers built up: having some mashed potatoes on hand alone would reduce the time by 10 minutes.
I had a hard time telling if my biscuits were done or burning because I used ww flour, but it turned out great!
When it starts to bubble at the edges you know it's almost time to enjoy!

What do you think? Do you know a faster way to do it? Do you like this recipe? What would you put in it?

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