Monday, August 11, 2014

Chicken Broccoli Hotdish ~ Freezer Meal Extraordinaire

My kids seem to almost always request the SAME thing for birthday dinners! If I write "chicken broccoli hotdish" on the menu board on any given day, they squeal with delight and countdown until that precious day. I honestly don't know what it is about this, but they love it! Comfort food at its finest. 

It has protein, it has veggies, it has CHEESE. Serve over rice and you are good to go!

I figure if I'm going to make one then I might as well make extra to freeze. Thus I have done chicken broccoli hotdish freezer days a few times a year to re-stock our freezer. Then, as if they are as valuable as gold, I pull them out one by one and walk around wondering what to do with myself because clearly dinner is a cinch that night.

I should stop talking about them like they are so amazing...your crew may think they are terrible.

They are pure gold, I tell ya!

These are also great to have in the freezer to be able to pass along to friends who have just brought home a new baby, just adopted,  or just need one night to not have to wonder, "what's for dinner?!" 

Our lives were greatly impacted by the kindness of friends who took turns bringing us a meal once a week for a WHOLE YEAR after our adoption.

That will change you.

Now, no matter how much I despise cooking I will spend all day in the kitchen if it means I have meals to share with friends and can make my kids smile in the process. I usually do six meals in one day...this time I overshot and ended up with twelve. Who knows what I was thinking. I was in bed by 9pm that night from sheer exhaustion. We delivered meals to three friends that night and still had plenty to put in the freezer. I collapsed a happy momma. Enjoy!

One pan calls for the following ingredients. 
(Multiply ingredients for doing numerous pans at once.)

2 Small Packages Frozen Broccoli
4 Chicken Breasts
2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup, undiluted (or 1 large can)
1 Cup Mayo
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
3/4 Teaspoon Curry Powder
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Cook chicken for about 20 mins at 350*. Next, cube chicken and arrange in the bottom of 9x13 pan. Cook and drain broccoli 
(keep it a little firm), arrange on top of chicken. Combine soup, mayo, lemon juice and curry. Pour mixture over broccoli. 
Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover to freeze or bake at 
350* for 30 minutes or until heated. 

First, I pop the chicken into the oven and begin working on getting the mixture going. 

I like to buy the bigger cans of soup because then I have less cans to open. I also like to combine the various ingredients in multiple bowls when dealing with such large quantities. This way the flavor is consistent and I know how much mixture should go in each pan. In this case, I doubled everything for each bowl and will just split the mixture into two pans.

You can cook the broccoli on the stove, or, I like to use steamable bags that can be cooked in the microwave. I will put them in for about half of the normal time that they usually take to cook. 

Once the chicken comes out of the oven I cube it and begin the layering process. 
making freezer meals
I then put a layer of saran wrap over the pan and then a layer of foil. I'll either write the date on the top or write out the heating instructions if the meal is going to a friend...if you're giving it away make sure you tell them to take the saran wrap off that's underneath the foil before cooking! (We may or may not have remembered to pass that info along this time around...oops.)

freezer meal to give to friends

Sam was kind enough to deliver the meals while I cleaned up the kitchen. 

I'm definitely still learning the art of freezer meal cooking. At this point I haven't expanded my recipes beyond this one. I look forward to doing more, but for now...this is one tried and true recipe that I foresee being a family favorite for years to come!

Chicken Broccoli Hotdish Freezer Meal

Do you have any favorite freezer meal recipes?

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  1. Hi Sarah, I don't do many freezer meals so I need to ask...does this need to be thawed before baking? I'm thinking that it does but I'd like to make sure! :)

    1. Patti,

      Great question, I should have mentioned that!

      It works great either way. Most of the time I forget to take it out of the freezer to thaw it in time. That being the case I usually put it in a 350* oven frozen for two hours. I'll start checking it after about an hour and a half to see how much longer it needs to be heated in the middle.


  2. For any gluten free families, you can easily make this recipe GF by making your own cream of chicken soup sub. Here's one such recipe.

    1. Thanks for posting that Keturah! :-)


  3. Fantastic! Question--- what's the approx. cost per serving (including rice)? I assume one pan will feed 6 ppl? Also: is there a way to incorporate the rice in the dish?

    1. Approx. cost including foil pans but not including rice was about $11.50 per pan. I bought the chicken at Sam's club which is inexpensive but I did splurge a little on the steamer bags of broccoli. Various factors could alter the price but that gives you a rough idea. One pan over rice lasts our family of seven one full meal with leftovers for lunch the next day. These are great for pulling out when company comes because it can feed more than just our family especially paired with some corn bread, maybe a salad, etc. I don't know the answer to whether the rice could be incorporated. The ingredients alone fill up the pan and we like having fresh rice that I just throw in the rice cooker the day of. I hope that helps!


  4. How much broccoli is in one small bag? I prefer buying fresh when it comes to broccoli. I only like corn and peas frozen :-)

    1. The bags typically vary. The amount of broccoli used can vary as basically just want enough to cover the chicken and leave enough room for the mixture and cheese on top. I personally like to load the broccoli on. I would guess that about 1 1/2 - 2 heads of fresh broccoli would work.


  5. This recipe sounds great! Thanks for sharing. I'm trying to do more freezer / crockpot meals since I work 2 jobs and feel bad when my family doesn't have a good meal they can pull out or dish up easily when I'm not home. I can't wait to try this! Hope you find lots more recipes for your family. I have lots on my pinterest boards, some I've tried and some I haven't. Feel free to follow my boards and I'll continue following yours. :-)

    1. Thanks Jamie, I'll check it out. :-)


  6. Is it best to bake this with or without the foil covering?

    1. Kimberlee,

      I've done it both ways. I like it when the cheese is crispy on top (foil off) and my husband likes it when the cheese isn't crispy (foil on). A good compromise is doing it like a frozen lasagna where you keep the foil on and then remove it for the last 10-15 minutes. :-)



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