28 February 2013

Crock Pot Gourmet: Chicken with Broccoli and Cheese

My kids love to have broccoli and cheese-stuffed chicken breasts and tater tots or fries for dinner. And I've got to admit, I kind of love it too. Except, there's never enough broccoli stuffed inside those fried chicken breasts, and a meal this high on fried food content leaves me feeling weighed down and sluggish.
So we came up with this much healthier alternative dinner. Broccoli Chicken with Cheese and Rosemary Garlic Potatoes. This version is full of flavor and much lower in fat, and since we assembled it to cook in the Crock Pot, it was almost as convenient as the frozen, pop-in-the-oven dinner pictured above. (Note: this is a great meal to get the kids involved in cooking. They loved pounding the chicken breasts flat!)
First, assemble your ingredients. You will need:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 lb. frozen, chopped broccoli
1/2 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
pinch of salt
1/2 c. uncooked orzo or rice (optional) - For a gluten-free recipe, choose rice - or omit this ingredient!

Line your table or counter top with plastic wrap. Lay the 3 chicken breasts on top. Cover with another layer of plastic wrap. Then, pound with a rubber mallet until each chicken breast is between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick and roughly the size of your 5-quart crock pot.

Spray the crock with cooking oil, and if desired, put about 1/2 c. orzo or rice in the bottom.
The chicken and broccoli will let off a good amount of juices as they cook, making for a slightly soupy dish. But the orzo or rice will catch the drippings and cook up to be yummy and flavorful. This won't yield enough to make a proper side dish for the chicken, but you can set it aside for a later meal, or give everyone just a small portion. Alternately, you can add up to 1 lb. of the pasta or rice, but if you choose to do so, you'll need to add about 1/2 c. water or broth to the dry grains to hydrate the extra. (This entire step is completely optional. If you don't mind having the drippings in the crock when you serve the meal, you can totally skip the orzo/rice!)

Add one chicken breast to the crock.

Top with one pound of frozen, chopped broccoli.

 Sprinkle with about 2 oz. cheese

Add another chicken breast.

Repeat layers, ending with the third chicken breast. Top with remaining cheese

and cook on low for about 5 hours.

Slice into sections and serve with Rosemary Garlic Potatoes. (This made 8 good-sized portions.)

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