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Frugal Friday Dinner: Chicken Tenders in Pumpkin Sauce

Today's offering--Chicken Tenders in Pumpkin Sauce--is cheap, easy, nutritious, and delicious. You saute chicken tenders--or use boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips about 1 1/2-inches wide--for a few minutes on each side then build a savory sauce with canned pumpkin. Sound weird? Maybe, but the sauce is velvety smooth and rich tasting without a lot of fat. It also cooks quickly, so you can have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. Because the recipe makes a nice quantity of sauce, I recommend serving the dish with noodles, rice, or the grain of your choice that will soak up the sauce. If you want to increase the quantity of chicken to two pounds, feel free. You'll have enough sauce and extra chicken for lunches next week.

Chicken Tenders in Pumpkin Sauce

Chicken Tenders in Pumpkin Sauce -- Serves 4

1 tablespoon of canola oil

1 1/4- 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders

2 tablespoons of flour

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme

3/4 teaspoon of salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 14.5-15-ounce can of solid-pack pumpkin

2 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth (or 2 teaspoons of reduced sodium chicken "Better Than Bullion" dissolved in 2 cups of boiling water)

4 ounces of light cream cheese or 1 cup of plain non-fat yogurt

Parsley or dried parsley flakes (optional)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add the flour and chicken tenders to a plastic bag, seal the bag, and shake it to coat the chicken with the flour. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and saute it for five minutes or until it starts to soften. Add the chicken tenders to the skillet, sprinkle them with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and saute the tenders for a few minutes on each side until they've browned a bit. Remove the tenders to a plate (don't worry if they haven't cooked through, as they'll go back in the pan later). Add the pumpkin and chicken broth to the pan and stir them together. Add the garlic powder, thyme, remainder of the salt, pepper, and cinnamon and stir them into the pumpkin mixture. Partially cover the pan and let the sauce cook for 6-8 minutes. Add the chicken tenders to the sauce and let them cook in the sauce for about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Chop the cream cheese into chunks, drop the chunks into the sauce, and stir the sauce until the cream cheese melts and blends into the sauce. If you opt for yogurt instead of the cream cheese, the sauce will be thinner and less rich but good, nonetheless. Just before serving the dish, stir in some chopped fresh or dried parsley flakes and garnish the top of the dish with parsley, if you like.

Chicken Tenders in Pumpkin Sauce

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