Frugal Foodie Mama: "Breaded" Buffalo Chicken & Rice Casserole

Monday, September 9, 2013

"Breaded" Buffalo Chicken & Rice Casserole

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The casserole has been a weeknight dinner staple in American households since the 1950's. It is easy to see why...
They come together quickly.
You typically have your protein, starches, and veggies all together in one dish.
And more likely than not, they will make everyone in the household happy.

I love casseroles just as much as the next mother when it comes to feeding my family quickly and frugally.  What I do not like is how unhealthy some of these casseroles can be with their cream of this and cream of that, and butter, and tons of cheese.  
Don't get me wrong- that all tastes good, but I have been striving lately to make more healthier dinner choices for myself and my family.  
I love that Country Crock spread offers me a delicious alternative to all of that with their variety of buttery spreads that have 70% less fat than traditional butter per serving and contains absolutely 0 grams of trans fat per serving. :)

Feeding my family a tasty, healthy, and low effort dinner makes us all happy.

Casseroles generally are quick weeknight meals, but here are a few tips to get that casserole in the oven, on the table, and in your family's tummies just a little bit quicker...
  • Cook any pasta or rice that the casserole calls for the night before.  Drain and place in a plastic container.  The next evening when you are ready to throw together the casserole, just run the cold pasta under hot water for a few minutes to loosen it up.  You can nuke the rice in the microwave for a minute or two. 
  • Cook any meat that your casserole calls for in your slow cooker all day.  For my "Breaded" Buffalo Chicken & Rice Casserole, I threw 3 frozen chicken breasts in my slow cooker with a tiny bit of water and cooked them on low all day.  Then I just had to chop the chicken before making the buffalo chicken mixture for my casserole.  You can also do this with ground beef although I would suggest defrosting it first.  You don't want to come home to a huge clump of cooked ground burger. ;)
  • Want to make a casserole, but are missing an ingredient or two?  Don't waste time making a quick run to the grocery store!  Use what you have on hand!  No bread crumbs?  Try crushed up crackers or potato chips instead.  Rice and pasta can be swapped out in casserole dishes easily.  No cream cheese?  Try sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.  Get creative.  
We are huge buffalo chicken fans in this house.  If it is buffalo chicken anything, it is pretty much guaranteed to be a hit with my family.  This "Breaded" Buffalo Chicken & Rice Casserole was a no-brainer for me. ;)

"Breaded" Buffalo Chicken & Rice Casserole

by Frugal Foodie Mama
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Ingredients (8 servings)
  • 2-3 large chicken breasts, cooked & then chopped or shredded (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups white rice, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 8 oz brick cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat.)
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup Country Crock Spread, melted
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 dashes garlic powder
  • 2-3 stalk of celery, chopped
For the "breaded" topping
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp Country Crock spread, melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray (or do as I did and just spread a little Country Crock spread around the sides and bottom).
Press your cooked rice into the bottom of your prepared pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the chicken, cream cheese, hot sauce, 1/4 cup melted Country Crock spread, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, vinegar, and chopped celery. Drop the buffalo chicken mixture over top the rice in the pan, and then gently spread to even out.

In a small bowl, mix together the panko bread crumbs, 2 tbsp of melted Country Crock spread, salt, and pepper. Evenly sprinkle the breading mixture over top of the buffalo chicken mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the "breaded" topping is slightly golden brown.
Allow to cool & set up for about 10 minutes before serving.
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This "Breaded" Buffalo Chicken & Rice Casserole was a big hit with the family.  Even baby girl loved it!  And I loved knowing that I was feeding them all a healthy meal. :)

Do you have any tips for putting a healthy dinnertime casserole on the table even quicker?  I would love to hear them! 

Get more tasty, quick, and healthy casserole and dinner ideas by popping over and visiting Country Crock on Pinterest

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.