Wish Upon A Dish: Two for Tuesday - Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

March 13, 2012

Two for Tuesday - Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

When I was working retail, I managed a million dollar store and I was very good at delegating but the one thing I continue to I stink at is time-management, namely mine.

Not wanting to throw just anything in a pot, I took my time and put a substantial amount of thought into this dish. The whole idea of us doing this is to show people that by making small but substantial changes in the ingredients they usually cook with, they can make a very healthy rendition of a dish I think their family would not object too.

I finally found the time this weekend to finish up my second collaboration with Annie Bakes, which is a healthier version of Chicken Spaghetti Casserole. While the concept of cleaning out our refrigerator to use up all the odds and ends is something our Mommas taught us, I have found we all make different dishes with them.

I make a soup every week and Annie bakes a casserole. I am a soup junkie and Annie's family loves a cheesy casserole. It's all good, but sometimes even good can be better.

If your family is like Annie's and loves casseroles but you would like to lighten them up a bit, you don't have to stop making them, just switch the canned soups to the low-fat, low-sodium ones that are readily available and you can cut the fat and sodium just doing that alone.

Turns out my soup was as thick as a chowder and satisfying, very creamy, tasty and, yes, cheesy. Instead of baking the cheese in the dish, I made a Parmesan crisp, that I floated on the chowder, with a pile of mozzarella on top and baked in the oven until oozy, gooey good.

Annie's Original Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Serves 6
* 12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) broken pasta
* 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
* 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of chicken soup
* 1 cup sour cream
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1/4 cup butter, melted-divided
* 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
* 1 teaspoon garlic powder
* Salt and pepper, to taste
* 2 cups mozzarella cheese-shredded
* 1 cup Parmesan cheese-grated
* 1 cup frozen peas
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 5 cups chicken-cooked and cubed
* 1 1/2 cups cornflakes-crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a mixing bowl, combine the soups, sour cream, milk, 2 tablespoons butter and seasonings. Add the cheeses, peas and onion. Stir in the chicken and pasta.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 dish. Combine the cornflakes and butter and sprinkle on top. Bake, uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly.

I eliminated the corn flakes completely and got the crunch using a Parmesan crisp. Using less cheese and butter = much less fat.

Sue's Chicken Spaghetti Chowder
Serve 4

* 1 (12oz) package button mushrooms, sliced
* 1 1/2 cups broken whole wheat angel hair pasta, or any soup pasta
* 1/8 cup flour mixed with 1/3 cup chicken broth
* 1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
* 1 quart low sodium chicken stock fortified with 1 chicken bouillon cube
* 1/2 sweet white onion, chopped
* 1/2 medium carrot, diced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 bay leaves
* salt & pepper
* 1/2 cup white bean puree
* 2 cups cooked chicken, bite-sized pieces
* 1 Parmesan cheese rind
* 1/2 teaspoon dried whole thyme leaves
* 1 tablespoon dry sherry

makes 4 crisps
* 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
* 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Baked 4 piles of Parmesan cheese at 325° for 9 minutes. Cool.
Place 2 tablespoons mozzarella on each crisp and bake at 375° until the cheese melts.

1. Heat stock to a boil and add all the ingredients except the chicken, lowering heat to a simmer for 30-35 minutes until the carrots are soft. Add chicken, remove cheese rind and bay leaves. Adjust seasonings.

Fill 4 bowls with the hot chowder and place one cheese crisp on top of each bowl.

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