I have a confession. I am a butter lover.
I have another confession. I don’t eat enough veggies.
I have a final confession. I don’t let Bean eat butter and I make him eat all his veggies.
It’s warped, but it’s true. The fact is, I just don’t like vegetables. I’ve tried ‘em steamed, grilled, raw, fried…you name it. I’m not a vegetable person. Which is why one of my all-time favorite comfort dinners to make is a one-casserole dish, oven-baked, chicken and rice number with nary a vegetable to be found on the plate. It’s a crowd pleaser, but my momma wouldn’t be happy.
Needless to say, when Country Crock (mmm….buttery spread of goodness…) asked me to make over one of my favorite dishes and include more veggies, I immediately thought of this dish. Heck, adding ONE pea would have been adding more veggies!
I did my due diligence though and discovered that the USDA guidelines for what a meal should include have changed a bit since the food pyramid of my youth which was built on a firm foundation of carb laden bread. Now, your plate should look like this for portions:
Guess my days of chicken and rice are a thing of the past… So, to move into this new age of eating, I decided to make over my basic and beloved chicken and rice recipe to include some, like, healthy stuff. Like carrots. And peas. And corn. And potatoes. And green beans. And whole grain wheat bread.
For the original recipe, I would make two cups of white rice and dump it into a casserole dish with a little salt and pepper. Then I’d throw two (or four) chicken breasts on top and smother them with cream of mushroom soup. Toss that puppy in the oven and bake at 350 for 45 minutes and – voila! – a satisfyingly unhealthy meal that will make you feel all warm and bloated-like.
This time, I decided to kick the rice and instead used diced potatoes for the starch. Better than the empty calories in white rice anyway.
Next, I threw those diced, raw potatoes into a casserole dish and added one can of mixed veggies, which included peas, green beans, carrots, and corn. I also added fresh diced carrots, celery, and onions because I’m from the south and you aren’t REALLY cooking unless you add the Trinity. (Hint: Frozen mixed veggies would work here, too)
Then I popped the top on a can of cream of mushroom soup because I’m from the south and you can’t REALLY make a casserole without cream of something soup. Pour half the can over the vegetables and mix that all around till everything is good and smothered. Be sure to season with salt and pepper at this step, too.
(Hint: If you are more culinarically advanced than me and can make your own rue, that would be a great way to add in some grains. Or, you could make your own cheese sauce and add in some grains and dairy. But, alas, I am a culinary misfit and so cream of mushroom saves me every time…)
Finally, take your chicken breasts (I used boneless and skinless because they were on sale) and brush them with butter or a healthy butter alternative (we’re a Country Crock family ‘round these parts). Place them whole on top of the vegetables. Season these with salt and pepper. Then cover the chicken breasts with the rest of your cream of mushroom soup. Cover and throw that bad boy into the oven on 350 for 45 minutes.
When it came out, it was like heaven on a plate. Seriously. I didn’t even miss the rice and the added vegetables made the meal much more hearty. Chris and I were so excited! When I try something new, we never know if it will actually be edible, but this was delicious! Still though, it had to go through the tiny food critic, Bean. Much to my surprise, Bean gobbled it up. He even ate the chicken, which is a rare miracle since I think he’s decided to be a vegetarian. He did tell me it was “spishy,” so next time I might cool it on some of the pepper. It was a little spicy for the little dude.
Overall though, I was pleasantly surprise that with just a little imagination and thinking outside the box, I actually managed to improve a household favorite by ADDING vegetables! Who would’ve thunk?
My favorite part of the meal though was the Italian multigrain bread with a dab of Country Crock. You can’t make this without a side of bread. What would you slop up all the gravy with?!?!
(Gravy is on that new food pyramid, right?)
County Crock is so excited about the new USDA guidelines and my fine culinary expertise…well, more so about the USDA thing… that they are graciously sponsoring a $100 Cooking.com gift card to one lucky reader to help you buy your own supplies so you can make my recipe.
To enter to win, break out your casserole dish and try out my recipe or try one of your own! Just be sure you are sticking to the new USDA standards and filling at least half your plate with veggies. Then come back here and post a comment telling me what you think. The giveaway will be open until September 30 and I’ll post a winner shortly after.
Good luck and happy cooking!
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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.
Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by email.
You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
Enter between September 2 – September 30.