Thursday, March 7, 2013

Freezer to Crockpot Chicken Broccoli Casserole

This is the dinner we enjoyed last night even though we are living in the basement without a working kitchen. We have now survived a week of the kitchen remodel and we have learned a few lessons - the number one lesson we have learned is that preparation pays off. The freezer to crockpot and freezer to microwave meals have been a huge success! I pull something out of the freezer in the morning (or the night before if I remember) and it is easily ready to go for dinner. We've kept it simple with side dishes. Some that have worked well are pre-washed lettuce salad, fresh veggies and fruits, canned fruits or veggies. Frozen veggies have also worked, we just heat them in the microwave.

Here is my casserole prepared, labeled, and ready for the freezer.

I prepared it along with 5-6 other meals the same afternoon a few weeks ago.

I don't usually worry about using the slow cooker liners, but without a kitchen sink, they have been very helpful.

Below is my recipe for chicken broccoli casserole. I have cooked it in the crockpot many times, but this is the first time I froze it first. I did alter the directions slightly to work this way. Mix soup, mayonnaise, sour cream (or plain yogurt) and seasonings together. Omit the bread crumbs and sprinkle the cheese on top of individual servings on each plate, if desired. We just skipped it all together. Place three full, raw chicken breasts in a gallon freezer ziplock bag. Pour the soup mixture into the bag. Plan to add the broccoli the last 30-40 minutes of cooking. Label bag and freeze. I made a note on my bag to remind me to add the frozen broccoli. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4. Serve over rice.

When it was done cooking, I fished the chicken breasts out and cut them into cubes and then returned them to the crockpot. You would not need to do this if you prefer serving your chicken breasts whole. With a family of mostly younger children, I knew I would be cutting it up for everyone anyway and decided it would be easiest to do this way instead of waiting until it was served onto plates.

This has been a family recipe for years—it is true comfort food.

1–2 lbs chicken, cooked and cubed
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cups frozen broccoli
1–2 tsp lemon pepper
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup mayonnaise
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup sour cream (plain yogurt)

Mix soup, mayonnaise, sour cream and seasonings together. Layer chicken, broccoli, soup mixture and cheese in a 9x13-inch pan. Top with bread crumbs. Cover with foil and bake at 325° F 30–45 minutes. This also cooks well in the microwave or crockpot. Stir a few times while it is heating. Sprinkle bread crumbs and cheese on top just before serving. We love this served over rice. This casserole freezes well. Thaw and then bake as above.

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