Monday, March 23, 2009

Cream Cheese and Broccoli Chicken

First of all, you'll notice that I am not posting any pictures of this recipe. You see, the broccoli was not so much bright green florets as muddy green mush. It all started with late night internet surfing for too many recipes, followed by grocery shopping after late-afternoon dental work...

I'm getting ahead of myself.

Okay, I admit that I spend FAR TOO MUCH TIME looking at food websites like Tastespotting and various food blogs. And yes, there are a GAZILLION food blogs. It all starts innocently enough, when you find out a friend has a food-themed blog and you browse through their posts. Of course, I'm one of those thorough types—I have to methodically check out new stores, aisle by aisle, shelf by shelf. My husband is normally the meticulous one, but even he doesn't understand this. So how does this affect how I look at blogs? I devour them. I read the profiles, I look at their archives, and I look at the blogs that they link to. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So, I stumbled across A Year of Crockpotting's Cream Cheese Chicken post and Southern Plate's Chicken Divan post during a weekend bleary-eyed late-night blog-visiting spree. I wanted to find a new recipe—something creamy and comforting that I could cook in the crockpot, something to use the boneless skinless chicken breasts I found on sale. I bought several pounds of chicken, and I wanted to fix something other than the usual suspects. Anyway, after stumbling out of the dentist's chair the next day, my husband and I went to the grocery store. As I walked the aisles, my mouth was so numb I couldn't keep from biting my cheeks and tongue; however, I had just enough feeling returning that I could TELL I was biting them. My jaw muscles were throbbing, I was tired from the aforementioned late nights, and the list only existed in my head (mistake!). The recipes above swirled together in my memory, so I grabbed a mixture of ingredients from them, as well as a few other items to round out the week's menu.

When I got home and pulled out the crockpot recipe, I quickly realized my mistake. It did not call for broccoli, but I did want to include it since I already had it. It also did not call for the ranch salad dressing mix that I mistakenly thought I had in my pantry. It called for Italian salad dressing mix. What I actually had was a packet of onion soup mix. I added some Italian seasonings to try to bring it back toward the intended flavor, along with some lime juice just to brighten it up a little. I don't like mushrooms, especially the odd black cubes that lurk in cans of cream soup; instead, I used cream of chicken. Oh, and I didn't have any chicken stock left, so I had to reconstitute some bouillon. So what I made was kinda like the original recipe. Just completely different.

The flavor was really good, but the color and texture obviously suffered from the broccoli fiasco. Next time I make it, I will add it near the end. I'll definitely use homemade chicken stock. I may also try the Italian salad dressing mix, or the homemade version of the seasonings. Who knows, I might even make homemade cream of chicken soup! So here's the recipe as I made it. (To refer back to the crockpot recipe for the seasoning changes, click here.) I realized I wanted something crunchy on top, so I checked to see what I had in the pantry. I ended up topping the individual portions with a strange multicultural mix—a sprinkle each of French-fried onions, chow mein noodles, and sliced almonds.

Cream Cheese and Broccoli Chicken

1–2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg onion soup mix
1/8 tsp parsley
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1–2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup hot chicken stock or reconstituted bouillon
app 2 Tbsp lime juice
app 8–10 oz frozen broccoli
8 oz neufchatel or cream cheese

  • Add chicken, soup, soup or dressing mix, seasonings, and garlic to crockpot. Pour hot stock over mixture.
  • Cook on low for 6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and tender. Remove chicken and chop or shred.
  • Add lime juice, broccoli, and cream cheese. Stir to combine and replace lid.
  • Turn crockpot up to high for another 30 minutes, or until broccoli is tender and the cream cheese is melted.
  • Serve over rice or pasta (I used medium grain brown rice, and I also replaced 1/4 cup of the water with the sauce—before the cream cheese was added—to add a bit of flavor.)


Crockpot Lady said...

this sounds wonderful! You cook how I do----I think I know what the recipe calls for, then do it completely different.
I'm so glad that you had a good meal.

Dinner Table Conversation said...

Thanks for visiting, Steph! In the future, I will not go grocery shopping after dental work and without a list...