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Zesty Italian Chicken & Veggie Pouch

6 Jul

After a few weeks of trying to get by solely on peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, and grilled cheese as my entire diet outside of when I’m at work, I was seriously dying for a home-cooked meal.  Being housed in a dorm for the summer, however, has it’s limitations.  The building fortunately has a “kitchenette” with an oven and stove, but unfortunately, I have no pots and pans to cook in!  Actually, up until last week, I only has a much-overused panini press to cook my meals on, and I swear if I had to eat another sandwich last week, I would have screamed!

This is when I decided that it was time to get creative.  It was actually those ladies in the Reynolds Wrap commercials that came to my rescue! I didn’t need pots and pans to cook a delicious meal, if I just got a roll of heavy duty foil!  So after some careful planning, I went to the store to get some ingredients that I could use up in the next few days and make multiple different meals from, all in an aluminum foil pouch!

Since I’m probably missing out on all sorts of vitamins and minerals with this “living on grilled cheese” diet of mine for the last few weeks, I was actually craving vegetables.  Seriously. I just wanted something healthy.  For this no pots and pans meal, I used only three main ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 package of Bird’s Eye Steamfresh veggies (Baby Potato variety – but pick what you like)
  • 1 packet of Grill Mates Zesty Italian marinade

The trick to living in a dorm this summer, other than not having proper cooking tools, is that I also do not have a microwave, or a freezer, which means I can’t enjoy favorite simple “meals” that I usually do at home/school, like the Bird’s Eye veggie steamers.These are seriously great things on their own and with a microwave, but I had to improvise.  Instead of following the package directions, I just cut open the bag & sprinkled just a little mix of the dry marinade inside, then closed the bag and shook it to coat my veggies.

I put the seasoned veggies and trimmed/seasoned chicken (plus a little salt & pepper for flavor) onto a piece of aluminum foil and folded into a pouch.  You can find the instructions for how to fold the foil, here.  Just make sure you use a piece of foil that is big enough to allow for a little air pocket around your food.  This helps with heat circulation.

I cooked my chicken pouch in the oven for approximately 35 minutes at 450 degrees F.  This oven is kind of temperamental, so you may want to check on your chicken a little early if you decide to do this recipe at home.  The Reynolds Wrap website recommends about 20 minutes at the same temperature for a similar recipe.

Finally, I was able to enjoy a simple meal that tasted home-cooked, even while living in a dorm!  Another huge bonus was using things that were relatively cheap to begin with & could be used over.  A pack of chicken breasts was around $5.30 for 3 chicken breasts, which I was able to use later in the week, the Zesty seasoning packet was about $1.00, but I have more than half of that left to use another time, and the Steamfresh Veggies were only around $2.00.  Being able to cook a delicious, and healthy meal for one person can sometimes be challenging, but if you get creative, you might be able to find new ways to use common products. And, if you cook in aluminum foil, “clean up is a breeze.”

The Reynolds Wrap website has some great recipe ideas for food that can be cooked in this style! Definitely be sure to check it out!

WE ARE… thankful for cheesy Reynolds Wrap advertising for easy cooking ideas!

Cheesy Broccoli-Chicken Bake

3 Oct

Last night my roommate and I put together this casserole recipe from a combination of two other recipes, one can be found online, here, at AllRecipes.com, the other is from my Better Homes and Garden: 9X13, The Pan That Can cookbook.

Combining the recipes, mostly took the recipe for Creamy Chicken-Broccoli Bake from the 9X13 cookbook, and the cheesiness from the AllRecipes.com post with added potatoes.

What You’ll Need: Nonstick cooking spray, 1.5 lb boneless chicken breasts (or chicken tenderloin), 1 small onion (white or green), 3 medium Idaho potatoes, 1 10 3/4 oz can of condensed cream of broccoli soup, 1 8oz carton of sour cream, 1/3 cups chicken broth, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 16oz package frozen chopped broccoli (thawed & drained), 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs, 10 oz shredded Colby & Monterey jack cheese, 2 tablespoons butter (melted), oregano (optional)

Start off by thawing the broccoli, then set aside. Next, I poked holes in all my potatoes with a knife and steamed in Zip-loc baggies in the microwave (like making a quick baked potato) for 4 minutes.  They should end up nearly, but not entirely cooked.  Dice your chicken into 1-inch cubes and saute in skillet with oregano until no longer pink.  Dice onions and add to the chicken for a few minutes.  Then put the chicken and onions into a large bowl.  Peel and dice the potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes and add to the chicken/onion mixture Add the broccoli, soup, sour cream, dry mustard, pepper, chicken broth & cheese to the bowl with the chicken, potatoes and onions, then stir until thoroughly combined.

Pour into a 9X13 baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.   Add bread crumbs to the melted butter and spread across the top of the broccoli-chicken mixture.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 35 minutes.  After 35 minutes, uncover and allow to bake for another 20 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

This filling casserole dish can be eaten on its own, or is delicious served with garlic toast (which is what we did).

My Tips:

  • Get the potatoes and chicken done first!
  • You can peel & boil the potatoes instead of baking if desired
  • We’re going to try using cream of chicken instead of cream of broccoli next time

WE ARE… enjoying a lazy Sunday.