Friday, September 19, 2014

Not Your Grandma's Creamy Chicken and Rice ~ The Kitchen Witch ~ Comfort Food Classics

It's interesting to me how much my food preferences change with the seasons and as I look out my window noting the early signs of Autumn encroaching, I'm struck by a need both deep and primal for comfort. Foods connected to memory; fragrant soup bubbling on the stove top, the golden crunch of biscuits tempered by a warm blanket of velvety gravy, buttery mashed potatoes, and the certainty of casserole. These are the dishes that remind us of cold nights and warm kitchens; meals prepared by loving hands and made better with the familiar ingredients of our childhoods.

But after a summer of red ripe abundance, of tomatoes on the vine, the vibrancy of  basil, and the smell of grilled meats mingling with fresh cut grass on warm breezes, I realize that the sturdiness of the potato and the loving hug of cream sauce come with a price. Where once upon a time I would race in to dinner after a long round of hide and seek or red rover, an extra serving of grandma's tuna casserole had no affect on my health or pant size. But as I approach the Autumn in my own life, I am also reminded that winter will come and I become more and more aware of wanting to live well and live active.

At the same time, I have no desire to give up the foods, tastes, and textures I loved so much growing up. No desire to be lactose free, carb free, or whatever free, because that kind of freedom - for me - is its own prison. Instead, I've made it my passionate mission as a recipe developer to lighten up and make healthier the dishes I love like today's rendition of creamy chicken and rice.

There are many versions of this classic dish with a variety of twists like the addition of grated cheese, deep fried onions, or mayonnaise, but the unifying feature is the use of a cream soup as the base. Not one to mess with perfection, I too use a cream soup as the base for this dish - but I use the low fat version of Cream of Mushroom made by Campbell's. Instead of adding salt, I use fresh lemon juice, garlic, chiles, fresh thyme, and sodium free chicken stock to flavour the sauce. I also add fresh baby spinach and serve the dish over a bed of either brown basmati rice, or a mixed grain medley. Both are outstanding. It all comes together in ways that make this creamy chicken dish better than the original version from my childhood and is, for me, a new comfort food classic I turn to again and again.

I truly hope you will try this recipe!

Visit the printable version here: Creamy Chicken and Rice

Or visit me in the Kitchen Witch cottage, have a nice glass of wine, and cook it with me!

  • 1/2 lb chicken tenders
  • 8 sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp dried chiles
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • juice from 1 medium lemon
  • 1/2 cup no sodium chicken broth
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 can 1/2 fat Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 cup brown Basmati rice
  1. Rinse the rice and then cover with 2 cups of cold water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to the boil and then turn down, cover, and let cook for 40-45 minutes until tender.
  2. Saute the chicken and mushrooms in a non-stick pan spritzed with olive oil over medium high heat for about 7 minutes until the mushrooms begin to lose their water.
  3. Add the dried chiles, pepper, and garlic and saute an additional 30 seconds until fragrant. 
  4. Pour the lemon juice and chicken broth over all and add the spinach and thyme sprigs. Toss the spinach into the broth and then let simmer until the broth has reduced by half.
  5. Stir in the tin of mushroom soup and serve ladled over the brown rice.

  About Lyndsay the Kitchen Witch

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel where she puts out three new cooking videos each week.

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