Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Poppy Seed Chicken

I have a love for anything with a good crust, any good casserole and anything that can be made ahead or frozen. I feel like I'm always bringing a meal to someone who just had a baby and I find it easiest just to make a big batch of what we're having for dinner and split it up so I have some for the new momma as well.

One of my coworkers had a baby a few weeks ago and I wanted to make some good old comfort food (i.e. an awesome casserole). I've made poppy seed chicken before and assumed I could make it ahead of time and freeze it before baking. So over the weekend, I made up a batch of the awesome casserole - put half of it in an 8x8 for Paul and myself and put the other half in a foil 8x8 for my coworker. The day before I brought it over to her, I cooked up a big batch of brown rice to split between the two of us and picked up an extra bag of broccoli Steamers. Voila -instant comfort meal.

Poppy seed chicken is one of those recipes that you see all over the blogosphere. I decided to go with The Girl Who Ate Everything's rendition. I like that she provides a bunch of different ways to kick it up a notch. I added Worcestershire sauce and celery seed. I've made it with cheddar cheese before too (although that definitely doesn't help the healthful factor).

I guessed that each 9x13 pan would provide about 8 servings of the casserole. Each serving of the original recipe would provide:
511 calories
29.1 g fat
17.1 g carbohydrate
0.1 g fiber
44.9 g protein

I made a few substitutions that you could easily do at home. First, I used fat free sour cream instead of full fat sour cream. I don't really care for fat free sour cream as a topping, but in recipes its usually a pretty good substitute. Next, I used reduced fat Ritz crackers. Lastly, I only used 2 Tbsp of melted butter, instead of 1/2 a cup. I sprayed the top with nonstick spray to ensure that it browned nicely. Overall - pretty AWESOME.

Poppy Seed Chicken - BETTER

5 cups chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups crushed reduced fat Ritz crackers (about 1 1/2 rolls)
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
nonstick spray

Additional ingredients to make it fancier (and not included in the nutrition facts):
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp pepper

Boil raw chicken breasts with salt and pepper until done. I usually do this in a crockpot with frozen chicken breasts and a 1/4 cup of water on high for a few hours. Let chicken cool and cut into one inch cubes. Place cubed chicken in a 9x13 casserole dish. (If splitting, use two 8x8 pans).

Stir together condensed soup and sour cream. IF you wish to add the additional flavorings, add them in now. Stir well and pour over the chicken.

In a separate bowl, stir together the crushed crackers, poppy seeds and melted butter. Sprinkle over the chicken and sauce. Evenly spray with nonstick spray.

Cover with foil and place in freezer if keeping for later. When ready to bake, thaw completely in the fridge. Uncover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the top of the casserole is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve plain or over brown rice.

Makes 8 servings. Per serving:
393 calories
12.4 g fat
21.6 g carbohydrate
0.1 g fiber
45.4 g protein

On another note.... I'm hosting 15 people over at my house on Sunday and want to make something in the crockpot that will be ready after church... any suggestions?

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