|Chicken Broccoli Casserole- Healthy and Yummy!|
It's a Rachelism, which means there's improvising and less measuring, but I came up with something good this time, I promise! It turned out delicious, and it was oh so healthy. But first, an update on my meal planning :).
In an effort to plan a couple meals a week, I went grocery shopping over the weekend after my cupboard challenge. I looked at grocery shopping entirely differently. No more random almond butter or dried mangoes just because. I purchased the fresh items I knew I'd eat over the next week, and with resolve determined to make meals from what I had available to me without making a random trip to the store again.
Whole chickens were on sale at Fred Meyer, so I bought one and roasted it over the weekend. David and I had fun scraping the meat off the bones, and the next day I used the chicken bones to make homemade chicken stock! I always thought homemade stock would be cumbersome and take forever, but goodness was I wrong. It was the easiest thing ever. Plop the bones/carcass in the pot, add garlic, carrots, celery, a handfull of black peppercorns and a little kosher salt. Cover with water and heat to a simmer. Walk away. EASY and I know what ingredients are going into that pot, so I don't feel bad about eating it! Low sodium, and I can skim off all the fat. Another bonus is now I have a freezer full of homemade stock just waiting for me to use for soup or sauces, ready to use for adding flavor to my rice or pasta. I need an easy button! That was easy!
Now for the awesome recipe you health foodies will have to try. I also bought broccoli at the grocery store and really wanted to make Chicken Broccoli Casserole, which is one of my childhood favorites. My mom used to make it with cream of mushroom soup, which is filled with fat and who knows what ingredients, I sure can't pronounce them! Now, please hear me out-- I'm not judging anyone who uses canned soup. I have canned soup in my pantry. I just know that anything processed can't be as good for us as something made from it's whole, natural state. So I resolved to make this casserole healthy, without the canned cream of mushroom soup.
Try googling Chicken Broccoli Casserole and good luck finding a recipe that doesn't have a can of creamed soup involved. It took me a while but I finally found one that sounded okay, but I just knew I'd miss out on that thick, creamy sauce from the canned soup. I had to find a better alternative. Lightbulb! Idea coming through!
Yes, you heard me right. If you've watched the Biggest Loser, you know they constantly endorse making whipped cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes. David's made it before and it turns out really good, so I thought, why not puree it to a smooth consistency and make that into a sauce for my casserole?
I got home from the gym and got my cooking on. Little bit of butter. And I mean a little. Add in some onion and garlic. Add in a little flour as a thickener, add in some of my homemade stock. Milk. Pureed cauliflower. Hope and pray it tastes good. It doesn't just taste good. It tastes AWESOME! So awesome I have to share it with whoever might actually read my blog. :) Here's the recipe, and believe me, it is delicious, and so healthy. I called David, and he was surprised. I don't know if he was surprised like "that's a good idea" or surprised like "oh boy, another Rachelism that she thinks tastes great like her chocolate scrambled egg souffle" (that's another post for another day!). Anyway, the point is I might be the only one who thinks this is good, but I doubt it-- I think if you try it you'll be surprised in the "it's yummy!" way. It's good for you and it tastes great!
- 1/2 a head of cauliflower steamed and pureed in the food processor (add milk or water to make a smooth consistency)
- 2 medium size broccoli crowns steamed (but still bright green and crunchy)
- 4 c. shredded chicken
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 c chopped onion
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 3/4 c. chicken stock
- 1/2 c. milk
- 2 Tbsp low fat sour cream
- 3/4 c. shredded cheese
- Frenches 'fried onions' for topping (but go light on this!)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Steam cauliflower until tender when pierced with a fork.
- Transfer steamed cauliflower to food processor, puree until very smooth (add milk or water if necessary)
- Steam the broccoli until crunchy. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a saucepan, and add onions and garlic until transluscent.
- Season with salt to draw out moisture from the onions, add pepper.
- Add flour until a roux is formed. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add chicken broth, and with a whisk combine until roux is fully incorporated with no lumps.
- Add milk, pureed cauliflower, and sour cream. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss chicken, broccoli and most of cheese (reserve some for the top) and pour into a 9x13 pan.
- Pour sauce all over the chicken, broccoli and cheese mixture.
- Top with remaining cheese and a few Frenches fried onions.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling and cheese has lightly browned on top.