Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole

As you know, I have to cook whey-free for Johnny's sake. I've already battled that and now it's second nature to me. But, now I have a whole new list of things to avoid. I've been getting hives here and there, so the doctor gave me a list of common allergens to avoid and then re-introduce them to see if it sparks another outbreak. Amongst them are any nuts, any shellfish, certain spices, hot soups (they'll aggravate the hives), and tomato based things. This put a huge damper on dinner plans, especially since I'd planned out most of the menu and shopped around that.

Last night I searched around A Year of CrockPotting until I found a recipe that would avoid all of the ingredients on my list and not have whey. Phew, it took some time, but I found one!

A healthy version of that old favorite Campbell's "cream of" casserole with rice and chicken. This version is made in the crock pot and uses brown rice and no soup. I adjusted her posted recipe, so I'll list mine below.

1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk, divided (2% or lower, OR milk alternative - she used soy)
3/4 cup flour
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup fresh green beans, cut in thirds
1 lb. thin sliced chicken breasts
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika

Combine the chicken broth and 1/2 cup of milk in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat on the stove. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining 1 cup of milk with 3/4 cup flour. When the broth and milk have begun to boil, reduce heat, and slowly stir in the milk and flour mixture. When everything is fully incorporated, set the pot aside to cool.

Spray the inside of your crockpot with cooking spray. Add the rice and seasonings. Chop up the onion, celery, and green beans and add them to the crock pot. Stir in your broth, flour, and milk mixture. (This is important because I forgot to stir and my spices were all clumped together in the end!)

Lay the chicken pieces on top. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for about 8. When you take the lid off of the crockpot, stir the rice. If the rice is fully cooked and you have extra liquid, keep the lid off for about 15 minutes and the extra liquid will absorb quickly.

Stephanie (the Crockpot Lady) said she cooked hers on high for 4 hours, and kept it on warm for another 2 hours. She also said that it needed quite a bit of salt. Maybe my crockpot runs hotter than hers, but I cooked mine on high for about 3 hours and 45 minutes and it was over-done. The edges were really dried out, and the rice was overcooked and the chicken on the dry side. Along the edges and the bottom, the rice actually started to brown and crisp up. I'd try more liquid (maybe 1/2 cup more) in the future, or cook it on low, instead of high. Also, I added more spices than she called for, hoping that would accomodate for the lack of salt seasoning, but it didn't. I'd add 1 tsp of salt from the get-go, because it really could use it.

Overall, it was a GREAT recipe to learn. I love, love, love the idea of making your own "cream of" soup with milk, flour, and bouillon. Campbell's soups all have whey, and even if you're DF you can make these with a milk substitute and still re-introduce all of those beloved Campbell's meals back into the kitchen! I used to love making this chicken and rice bake, the enchiladas, etc. Making your own base from scratch also is a lot healthier than Campbell's soups. Their original Cream of Chicken soup has 120 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 870 mg of salt! And that's just for 1/2 cup, when you use 1 to 2 full cans in some of these casseroles!

Now that I know this trick, prepare to see some experimenting!


Nowheymama said...

I LOVE Stephanie's site. This looks great.

Anonymous said...

Wow, with so many things to avoid, I can't imagine how difficult meal planning would be! It's hard enough with no allergies!

Hope you had a good weekend - the weather was awesome!!

Jenn@slim-shoppin said...

Christina, so sorry to hear about possible allergies for you too!

That stinks! I hope they can figure out what it is.

Have a great day!

Trying to Eat Healthier said...

Thank you sooooo much for the soup free recipe. It seems that every recipe I pull up on the internet for chicken casseroles include canned soup. Thanks again for a healthier alternative.

Anonymous said...

thank you for a non-processed recipe for chicken and rice. i'm not a cook by nature but have always eaten healthy and am always looking for recipes. thanks for posting this.