I really like recipes that you can “cook once” but then “eat twice.” You know what I mean. Recipes, you can easily make a double-batch of, serving half of it now and the other half later. Sort of like a two-for-one meal prepping plan. That means dinner on the table and a bonus meal for those busy nights ahead.
Here’s a basic chicken and broccoli casserole I recently made that does just that. It makes a meal for 8 but, to extend the meal into two meals, divide it up in half using 8-inch square pans. Cook one half of it now and freeze the other half until ready to use.
The nice thing I really liked about this recipe – besides that it makes a double batch – is it replaces traditional spaghetti and uses in its place, spaghetti squash. If you’ve never used spaghetti squash, you really must. Microwave it, then take a fork and start “raking” the interior into threads of “spaghetti.” It’s the coolest thing ever! By using spaghetti squash – a nonstarchy vegetable – in place of traditional spaghetti, this low-carb meal is a winner for anyone needing to watch their carb intake, such as those with diabetes.
In this version of a chicken and broccoli casserole, spaghetti squash takes on a creamy texture when baked with cream of mushroom soup. Use low sodium cream of mushroom soup, saving you excess salt which can aggravate high blood pressure.
Packed with fiber-rich veggies and protein-rich chicken, this tasty and flavorful dish will be a satisfying meal anytime of the year. Have it with slices of cut-up fruit such as apples or oranges on the side, and you’ll have dinner on the table in no time.
Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake – serves 8
Nutrition per serving: Calories – 273; Total Fat – 11 grams; Protein – 25 grams; Cholesterol – 71 milligrams; Sodium – 490 milligrams; Carbohydrates – 19 grams.
1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
4 cups of broccoli florets
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 10-ounce package sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 10-ounce cans reduced sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat two, 8-inch square baking dishes with cooking spray.
- Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place cut-side down on a microwave safe plate and add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on high about 10-12 minutes or until the flesh can be scrapped with a fork but is still tender-crisp. Scrape the strands onto a plate and set aside.
- Place broccoli in a microwave-safe dish, add 1 tablespoon water and cover. Microwave on high, stirring occasionally until just barely tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cut-up uncooked chicken and cook, stirring for about 8-10 minutes. Add onion and continue cooking until the onion is tender and the mushrooms and chicken are lightly browned.
- Stir in garlic, thyme and pepper, cook stirring for 30 seconds. Stir in soup (undiluted with water) and heat through. Stir in reserved spaghetti squash and broccoli, gently toss t combine well.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared baking dishes and sprinkle each with ¼ cup cheddar cheese. Cover with foil. Label and freeze 1 casserole for up to one month.
- Bake the remaining casserole until bubbling, about 25 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until lightly browned along the edges, 10 minutes more. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
NOTE: To cook from frozen – Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Spoon off any liquid that has accumulated in the pan, if desired. Bake as directed in step 7.