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I’m not sure why I’m on a casserole kick lately but I guess you could say I’m also on a “don’t waste food kick” too.  I prepare a lot of chicken in our house for our dinners (oven-fried and simple-to-prepare breaded cutlets are mainstays).  It’s definately a favorite with the kids and of course leftovers are generally a part of that as well.   I incorporated leftover broiled chicken into this casserole.

Casseroles offer a way to be more efficient with your food budgt by including leftovers into your recipes.  I approach soups in a similar way: using leftover veggies to make terrific vegetable soups.  Check out this version of a chicken and wild rice casserole.  I’ve tried to reduce the calories where possible.  It’s still bathing suit season after all.

Lightened Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole 003Lightened Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

2 (6 ounce) packages long-grain and wild rice mix (I used Uncle Ben’s)

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp vegetable oil

4 celery ribs, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 (8 0unce) water chestnuts, chopped

4 cups cooked chicken, chopped (I used only breast meat)

1 (10 3/4 ounce) fat-free cream of mushroom soup

1 (10 3/4 ounce) fat-free cream of chicken soup

1 (16 ounce) container of light sour cream

1cup milk (I used skim)

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup homemade breadcrumbs

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese*

Method

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 13-in x 2-in baking dish.

Prepare rice according to package directions.  Melt butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat.   Add onion and saute for 3 minutes.   Add celery and continue to saute 7-8 more minutes or until vegetables are tender.   Remove onion-celery mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Add water chestnuts, cooked rice, and chicken.  In a separate large mixing bowl, blend both soups, sour cream and milk.  Add soup mixture to vegetables, rice and chicken.

Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.  Top with breadcrumbs.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  Bake 7 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

*Although my goal was to lighten this casserole by using fat-free soups and light sour cream, I opted not to use reduced calorie cheese because it doesn’t melt very well.

Servings: 10

Kitchen Note:  This casserole is so simple that it adapts to changes well, such as changing the soups, using Panko breadcrumbs or additional vegetables.

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