Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole

We all have them, those favorite cream of soup recipes. This is one from my childhood that I remember and love, the only problem is that I really don’t care for cream soups. I hate the way they glob out of the can, I hate the strange ingredients on the list (mehcanically separated chicken anyone?) and so I have worked hard to replace them in my cooking.
Tonight was a huge success.

Ingredients:
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 1/4 lb. of chicken breasts, cubed
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
4 cups of chopped fresh broccoli
1 t. salt
1/4-1/2 t. pepper
1 T. chicken base
1/4 t. allspice
1/2 t. rubbed sage
1/4 t. marjoram
1 t. dried parsley
2 T. flour
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2 t. cholula
2 to 3 cups of shredded medium/sharp cheddar cheese
1 package stove top stuffing
3 T. butter

I know that seems like a long list of ingredients, but once you start adding things to the pan, it’s quite simple, plus you are cutting back on the processed foods by cooking from scratch and gaining a knack for using spices in freestyle cooking.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

First, heat a large frying pan over medium high heat with the butter and olive oil, once hot, toss in the chicken, the onion, and the garlic and saute until the chicken is cooked through. Once cooked, add in the broccoli and top off with a small amount of water to saute the broccoli. Now, chicken base, the herbs and spices, salt and pepper, and flour, stir briskly to make a thick roux in the pan. Once the flour is mixed in, add in the whipping cream and whole milk, allow to heat, then add the cheese. Stir and add in the cholula. Once done, grab a spoon and check the flavor for salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into a large 9×13 and set aside.

In a large microwave bowl melt the last butter, toss with the stuffing mix until evenly coated, then bake for about 20 minutes.

Pat yourself on the back and enjoy your lovely dinner.


Chicken Dijon

This is a favorite from my childhood that relied on “cream of soup,” which I try to not use anymore. I decided to make this recipe over for dinner tonight, with great success.

Back in our low carb days, I searched for a good substitute for flour in creamy sauces.  In doing so, I discovered a new best friend. Maybe you’ve met her. Her name is cream cheese.

Here we go:

1 onion, diced

1 cup sliced mushroom

1 T. butter

2 T Dijon mustard

1/2 t. dried parsley

1/4 t. marjoram

1/4 t. white pepper

1/4 t. black pepper

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed

8 oz. cream cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sour cream

salt to taste

egg noodles

 

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 1 T. butter, then toss in the onion, mushroom, herbs and spices and when the onion is soft, add in the chicken and saute until cooked through. Add the cream cheese, and stir until nice and creamy. Once creamy, add in the cream, and when warmed, add the sour cream, then salt to taste. Serve over warm egg noodles.

 

*You could easily make this meatless by making the sauce and ditching the chicken.


Chicken Margherita

You know when four o’clock hits, and you still aren’t sure what to make for dinner? I did that today. I was lounging around on the couch after my Jillian Michael’s workout not wanting to move. Then I remembered that I had fresh mozarella, pesto, and tomatoes waiting for me in the fridge.

Which left me feeling excited, and confused. Because suddenly, the possibilities seemed endless.
If you have never purchased fresh mozarella, then you are missing out on one of life’s great culinary pleasures. Mixed with good pesto, garlic, tomato, and balsamic vinegar it is divine.
1 recipe for Balsamic Baked Chicken balsamic sauce prepped
3 chicken breasts, thawed
6 oz. fresh mozarella diced (Use an egg slicer and slice it three different directions to get a perfect dice easily)
2 Roma tomatoes diced
2 T. fresh Pesto (I buy mine in the fresh foods section at Costco, it’s the best pesto I have found)
1/2 t. kosher salt

In 9×13 baking dish prep Balsamic Chicken sauce and set aside.  Lightly combine the mozarella, Roma tomatoes, pesto and kosher salt. Take thawed chicken breasts and lightly slice into the side, creating a deep pocket in the meat. Stuff the meat to the brim with the pesto mixture and place into the baking dish, careful turning to coat with the balsamic sauce. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. I reserved my left over pesto mixture for a pasta side dish, it was awesome.
This will serve two adults and four children. If you need more, plan to double the recipe.
For easy variations, you can bake the balsamic chicken without stuffing it, and top with the fresh pesto mixture.

Southwestern Egg Rolls

Because I can, and now you can too.

Tortillas

1/2 can corn
1/2 can black beans (well rinsed)
1 cup spinach chopped
roasted red pepper chopped (optional)
1/2 small red onion chopped
finely diced jalapeno (optional)
1/4 t. garlic powder (or one pressed clove)
1/2 t. cumin
1 drop liquid smoke (optional)
salt and pepper
1/2 lb chicken breasts
8 ozs. pepper jack cheese, shredded

Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts and saute in 1 T. oil until well cooked. Chop into as small of chunks as your sanity can manage*. Then, toss into the sauce pan and add the spices, onion, red pepper, jalapeno, spinach, black beans, corn, and liquid smoke (about three shakes then mixed in really well), and saute until onion is soft. You may want to add a half cup of water or so to keep the chicken moist, and then just cook it down until the water is gone and the onion is cooked, but it isn’t necessary.

Put the mixture into a bowl and let it cool a bit. When somewhat cooled, toss the shredded cheese into the bowl and mix well.

Heat the tortillas in the microwave until soft and pliable. I leave them in the package to keep them really moist. Then, put about 1/4 cup into each tortilla, fold the sides over, and roll it up.
Heat about 1 inch of cooking oil in a frying pan over medium high. When a drop of water spits and sputters in the oil, it is ready. Lay the southwestern egg roll in the hot oil, being careful not to let them touch each other, they need breathing room to cook well. Let it fry away until nice and golden brown, turning and rolling as necessary.
You can also oven fry them with a good coat of pam at about 450 degrees for probably ten minutes (watch them) and you can also put them in a non stick fry pan and “toast” them but they won’t get the nice flaky crusty covering unless you fry them.

*Chopping them all to be about the size of a black bean will really help.

For the sauce, just take some good ranch dressing and throw it in the food processor with an avacado and a spot of lime juice and 1/4 t. cumin and process until very smooth. Check for saltiness. It may need salt.
Then, toss with some chopped pico de gallo. Easy and yum.

Pico de Gallo,

Seeded Chopped Roma tomato, pressed garlic clove, chopped white onion, chopped cilantro, lime, salt, and pepper to taste.


Green Chicken Enchi-sagna

Oh how we love this recipe.

Las Palmas Green Enchilada sauce
1 brick cream cheese, softened
1 big can of refried beans
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (or shredded cheddar in a pinch)
3 cups shredded crockpot chicken
4 flour tortillas

In a large bowl combine 2/3 of the enchilada sauce with the softened cream cheese. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining enchilada sauce with the shredded chicken.

In a 9×13 baker spread the entire can of refried beans onto the bottom of the pan. Drizzle 1/3 of the enchilada sauce and cream cheese mixture over the beans, then sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the sauce and beans.

Lay two flour tortillas over the beans, then spread the chicken mixture evenly over the tortillas, following with two more tortillas on top.

Pour the remaining enchilada and cream cheese sauce over the tortillas and spread evenly, topping with the remaining cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve with shredded lettuce, sour cream, and salsa.


Dilled Chicken Salad

This is a great stuffing for a croissant, and if have a can of Pillsbury croissant rolls this is a great filling to stuff them with prior to baking.

2 cups shredded crockpot chicken
1 red pepper, diced
1 cup broccoli chopped
1/3 cup mayo
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 T. dried dill
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Combine all of the above in a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined. At this point you can roll out a can of the Pillsbury crescent rolls and fill the center of the rectangle with the filling, then fold the sides up and over and score the top to let steam escape. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Other times I have made this mixture and rolled it in bread crumbs then sauted in butter like a crab cake, which I really enjoyed. You could also serve it cold on a bed of lettuce with a fresh roll like classic chicken salad.


Balsamic Chicken

I love a simple chicken recipe, especially one that has enough flavor to not taste like chicken. I know, right?
So, I tried this one out of my head last night, and it was awesome.

I had two big chicken breasts (probably about 3/4 to 1 pound) which I thawed out. I then thinly filleted them into six pieces of chicken.

Then, in a 9×13 baker I drizzled 3 T. of olive oil.
To that, I then drizzled about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar.
Sprinkle with:
2 t. of kosher salt
1 t. pepper
2 t. garlic powder (or press a two cloves into the pan)
2 t. dried basil (or oregano or thyme…you get the idea)

Then I took a whisk and kind of whisked it up in the bottom of the pan. Taking each fillet of chicken I set it into the yummy sauce, then flipped it over to coat the other side. When all of the pieces had been lightly coated I then sprinkled lightly with kosher salt and pepper.

I baked it for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. This was so good. It would make a great sandwich, salad addition, tossed with pasta and Alfredo or pesto sauce, or even sprinkled with bread crumbs or grated Parmesan cheese. Very versatile, very easy and good.

This was enough to feed me, my hubby, my three elementary aged kids, and my one year old. you may want to adjust based upon the size and age of your crowd. You could always do four chicken breasts, slice them with a greater thickness, and double the sauce to bake.

This go round I topped mine with the following: fresh chopped spinach, homemade ricotta cheese, chopped bacon, and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. Easy, delicious, and impressive.