Tuesday, December 6, 2011

X-Treme Food Stamp Challenge--Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole and more

Yesterday, I decided to fake it until I make it and get my butt in gear in order to make me feel like getting my butt in gear.  Of course, I didn't decide this until the afternoon, so my husband and I didn't have our breakfast of blueberry muffins (I had a Diet Coke, he had water, the kids had milk) until about 3 in the afternoon.  The kids had cereal for breakfast several hours before that.

I spent much of the afternoon and early evening rounding up recipes to make groceries from the basic ingredients I either have on hand or can afford, as well as coming up with a recipe for last night's dinner of cheesy chicken and rice casserole.  I was quite pleased with the recipe I came up with, which was loosely based on a recipe that apparently was based on a recipe from the book The Best Make-Ahead Recipe, so it was something that could be frozen as well and had a option of eating some now and freezing some for later:  my kind of deal!  I only used about half of the same ingredients, cut out a lot of the work, and made it a heck of a lot cheaper than the original recipe though, especially since I used leftover Thanksgiving turkey I had frozen instead of chicken, chicken stock I made instead of store bought chicken broth, milk instead of cream, and veggies gleaned from my mom's garden.  Oh, and I used mild cheddar that I bought in bulk instead of the sharp cheddar the recipe I was working from, so I only paid about $2.50 for the entire recipe, which yielded two casseroles to be eaten on different nights, not a bad deal!
Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole
1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup cooked chicken or turkey, shredded 
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
1 1/2 cup carrots, sliced or diced
1 1/2 cup peas
2 cups Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp lemon juice
black pepper and salt, to taste
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cayenne.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the stock, water, and milk.  Bring to a boil and boil uncovered for about 10 minutes.  Stir in rice; cover.  Simmer 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently, until rice is just tender.  While rice is cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  When the rice is done, remove from heat and stir in chicken, peas, carrots, Cheddar, and lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour mixture into 2 casserole dishes.  Mix together bread crumbs and melted butter until it becomes crumbly.  Spread over the 2 casseroles.  Cover one with plastic wrap and foil.  The other, bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Label the covered one with instructions for serving:  "Let thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours before baking.  Bake, covered, at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until hot and bubbly.  Uncover and bake 15-20 minutes until crumbs are crisp."  The second casserole can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days or frozen for up to a month.
So now I have a yummy, homecooked meal in the freezer for another night.  Yay!

After dinner (we had milk to drink with dinner, except my husband, who had water), I tried to make blueberry bagels, but apparently there is a reason I couldn't find a recipe for blueberry bagels using frozen blueberries, because it turned into a gooey mess that couldn't hold a bagel shape.  Since bagel dough and bread dough are basically the same thing, just cooked differently, I just plopped that gooey mess into an oiled breadpan, let it rise and baked it like I would a loaf of bread, so it wouldn't got to waste and we could have blueberry bread for breakfast today.  While the bread was rising, I made popcorn on the stovetop for the family to snack on. 

When the bread came out of the oven, I was just starting to work on making some homemade pretzels, when I got a call from a relative who needed me to come over right away and help out with some things, so I grabbed a couple cans of Diet Coke for the road, since it was the middle of the night and I needed to make sure I stayed awake and alert.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you really know how to stretch a dollar, I will have to try this.