Friday, January 24, 2014

Obamacare Casserole (a.k.a. Chicken & Stuffing Hotdish)

So my boyfriend and his little one (hmm, LO… let’s call her Lola) walk in the door this evening to see me with my camera out, hovering over the cutting board.
            “Uh oh, she’s taking pictures of food again!” says boyfriend (hmm, BF… let’s just call him BF for now until I come up with something better and more creative).  They think I’m odd because I take pictures of food as I cook and then frantically arrange things to take pictures once it’s on the plate. 
            “I’m a writer,” I insist, “that’s what I do.”  Even though I don’t earn a living at it.  Yet, anyway.  There are always possibilities. 
            “So what are you making?” BF inquires, peeking over my shoulder.  “Drunk chicken?”
            “Huh?  What on earth are you talking about?” I ask, clueless. 
            “The chicken is in the can,” BF explains.
            “Oh, no, honey.  That’s unemployed chicken.  It’s been canned,” I reply sweetly.
            “I see,” BF pauses, thoughtfully.  “It’s Obamacare chicken,” he concludes.
Even our dinner is suffering the effects of the current political environment.  At least no one will attempt to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to consume my chicken stuffing bake, and no litigation will ensue.  No, sir – this dish is entirely optional, although my middle son highly recommends it.

I am insane.  It’s been confirmed.  This semester will be the last of my fine arts degree in creative writing, so I am packing in 20 credits to get it over with.  And I am also working on getting my real estate license so I can eventually get back to work.  Like my chicken, I’ve been canned (as of last summer) – but I do not plan on ending up as leftovers.  I am gearing up to turn my life into what I want it to be.  Which means I go to classes on campus two days a week, sit in real estate classes on Saturdays and Sundays (this Sunday is my last class!  Yippee!) and the rest of my time is spent writing and doing online classes. 

In a nutshell, I have less time to cook now than I did when I was working full-time.  But that’s ok.  Everyone’s busy; regardless of whether you are a working mom or a dad or a college student or just don’t want to spend your time in the kitchen, there’s no reason to spend more time doing something than necessary.  Unless you really like doing whatever it is that’s taking your time.  Either way, spend the time you have doing things you like with people you love (or just like).

I like to shop at Walmart and Costco.  They’re both pretty economical as far as I am concerned, with or without coupons.  While I like to buy things that are non-GMO (non-genetically modified in case you were wondering), organic and fresh and lovely, I still cave and buy canned goods for those evenings when I know I won’t want to cook everything myself.  And when I can get a whole year’s supply of canned chicken for $10 or less I buy it.  It’s higher in sodium, granted.  It’s canned, I’ll give you that.  But it’s also quick and tasty.  And I don’t have to cut off any goopy fat or stringy tendons because I’m picky like that.  I cut off all the “icky stuff.”  You should see me bone a chicken.

To make this lovely dish, first preheat the oven to 350°.  Grease a 9x13 pan or spray with non-stick spray.  I use the generic canola oil spray, which works just as well as the brand-name and is about a buck cheaper.
You will need the following ingredients:

(2) 12.5-ounce cans of canned chicken, drained  
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 cup of diced celery
1 cup of diced onion
2 cups chicken broth (it’s ok to use 2 cups water with a chicken bouillon cube dissolved into it)
5 Tablespoons butter (I like to use real butter, but margarine is also ok to use)
12-ounce package of cubed seasoned bread stuffing

Melt the butter over low to medium heat.  Turn the heat up to high and add the celery and onion.  Stir frequently, until the veggies are slightly soft and slightly translucent.

Add the chicken, broth and soup.  

Mix well and bring to a boil.  

As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, shut off the stove and stir in the entire package of stuffing.

Spread the mixture into the prepared pan, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove the foil and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes so the top gets a little brown.

Quick prep, cheap and filling.  For myself, I dished up a small plate to make it look like I’m eating an entire big plate of food, but still ended up with seconds for this one.  I guess I’m not that easily fooled.

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