Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Creamy Stovetop Stuffing Chicken Casserole with NO Stovetop! {FREE DOWNLOAD} from "Better Than a Box"

October 7th, 2012 · 31 Comments · Recipes

Do you have a binder of recipes that your extended family gave you at your bridal shower that you wish you could use more, but all the processed ingredients make you squirm?

Are the family favorites in your recipe card box collecting dust because of all the fake foods on the ingredients lists?

Do you miss the comfort food casseroles that use cream of chicken soup because you refuse to buy those cans anymore?

If you wish you could cook from scratch without finding all new recipes, you need Better Than a Box.

KitchStew_BetterThanABox_Ebook_FINAL (386x500)

If your family complains that they miss their old favorites now that you’re trying to eat less processed foods, I can help.

The goal of Better Than a Box is to teach you to reverse engineer the processed parts of any recipe and create delicious real food renditions. You’ll gain confidence in the kitchen, finding the courage to toss in a little of this and a little of that, even if you’ve always been a “measure to the correct 1/8 teaspoon” sort of chef before.

From habits and routines to make sure you always have certain things on hand, to tips for saving dishes as you cook up a storm, and even “recipes” you will be able to cook by heart, this book will help you have the real food lifestyle you want without compromising the food your family loves.

Better Than a Box is so much more than a recipe book; it’s a way of cooking. It’s here! Buy Better Than a Box HERE in PDF or Kindle format!

farmhouse chicken gluten free one-dish meal (11) (500x375)

I’ve been working on this one behind the scenes for about two years now, no kidding. Recipe testers were trying things out for me in December of 2010 after readers sent me some of the “old favorites” to try to reverse engineer for real food.

It’s been fun tweaking others’ family recipes and then sending them back to see what the families think. Our family has discovered a few new favorites, that’s for sure!

Today I’m excited to share a sneak preview with you, a free printable download of just one of the recipes included in Better Than a Box.

It’s the classic creamy chicken casserole topped with Stove Top stuffing mix…but no boxes, cans, or even bags were opened in the making of the new and improved “real food” version.

There’s even a gluten-free rendition that is equally as good as, maybe better than, the original (and just as frugal!).

If you can’t see the PDF above, click HERE to download. You’ll need Acrobat Reader to view it.

BTAB Stovetop Chicken Casserole 2

The one-dish meal, gluten-free option

The entire first section of Better Than a Box is a teaching tool, an opportunity to step into the Kitchen Stewardship classroom and learn how to reverse engineer ANY recipe to make it work with real food.

I share strategies, checklists, tips, and visualizations, and then you get to peek into my head as I tweaked recipes just like the downloadable above.

Better Than a Box

CLICK HERE to check out Better Than a Box, now published!

Tutorial: Stovetop Stuffing Remix

Want to see from whence the crunchy-topped chicken casserole came?

The recipe was actually sent to me (at least) three different times, slightly different each time:

Chicken with Stovetop Stuffing

  • 1 pkg (6 oz) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
  • 1-1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/3 cup Breakstone’s or Knudsen Sour Cream
  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed, drained
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare stuffing mix as directed on package; set aside.
  • Mix chicken, soup, sour cream and vegetables in 13×9-inch baking dish; top with the stuffing.
  • Bake 30 min or until chicken is cooked through.

Chicken and stuffing

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breast, cubed and cooked
  • 2 boxes StoveTop stuffing mix, prepared as directed
  • 2 can cream of mushroom (or any flavor) soup plus one soup can of milk, whisked together to make a thick gravy like consistency (more or less milk if needed)Place chicken in the bottom of a greased, 9×13 pan, pour “gravy” over it, then top with prepared stuffing. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through.

The reader who sent the second version included a note:

“We love this as it is a real comfort type food, and easy and relatively quick to make. Those boxes and cans make it easy, but they’re also the reason we’ve avoided it for awhile – too many preservatives and other oddities for such a simple meal! I’d love for it to be real food, tasty and reasonably healthy.”

My goal as well!

How to Reverse Engineer a Recipe

farmhouse chicken two ways (7) (500x375)

I looked at the recipes, which I could tell were quite similar, and visualized it this way:

  1. cooked chicken
  2. cream sauce
  3. vegetables
  4. crunchy topping

The amounts in each recipe were pretty different, so I knew it would be hard to go totally wrong as long as I hit all four categories.

Another reader sent one from Tammy’s Recipes, which pretty much reverse engineered the sauce but still used stuffing mix on top. I decided to start with hers and fiddle from there, like so:

4 tablespoons butter (½ stick)
4 celery ribs, chopped
1 small medium onion, chopped
½ c. flour
2 cup milk 1 ½ c. milk + ½ c. chicken stock (but could use 2 c. milk)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed 2 c. cooked, shredded chicken
optional: 1-4 carrots, sliced or shredded, and 1-2 c. chopped broccoli, including stems
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 ounce package of stuffing mix

I increased the onion simply because I like more onion flavor. I added some chicken broth again, for flavor and nutrition reasons. I switched the chicken because I always have cooked chicken on hand from making whole chickens into chicken stock, and I advise as such in the book, too.

Reverse engineering the stuffing mix took a little more doing. I read boxes of stuffing mix in stores and wrote down what was in them, along with the “how to” instructions, which includes melted butter.

I estimated the quantity of bread crumbs that would be needed to nicely cover a 9×13 pan. I Googled “homemade stuffing mix” and started to compare the seasonings. I got an idea of what total quantity of seasoning should be used for 2-3 c. bread crumbs (about 2 ½ tsp. spices plus salt and pepper), and then I started experimenting.

It turned out it was pretty hard to go wrong with these delicious seasonings and toasted bread!

For a while I was making the dish with 2 ½ teaspoons total of parsley, thyme, sage, celery seed, garlic and onion powder, and another teaspoon of poultry seasoning! It was pretty intense flavor! I was making a new version at my mom’s, and she didn’t have the poultry seasoning.

I Googled “homemade poultry seasoning” and it was then that I realized poultry seasoning had a lot of the same ingredients as I was already using. Hence, the “either or” options in the recipe, which is kind of nice in case you don’t have something needed. Testers (and my family) have enjoyed the recipe both ways.

farmhouse chicken two ways (3) (500x375)

I’ve probably made the meal five or ten different ways, including sometimes two variations on one pan (toasted vs. untoasted bread, photo above, for example). Even with all the differences, I never made a meal that we didn’t like.

Be bold in the kitchen! Experiment! You can makeover your recipes from scratch!

Better Than a Box

CLICK HERE TO ORDER BETTER THAN A BOX VIA PDF + BONUS DOWNLOADS! CLICK HERE FOR KINDLE.

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31 Comments so far ↓

  • Amaryllis

    Nicely done recipe! Liked that you included tips for children helping. I will be trying this! Well done!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Joanne

    Oh my gosh this looks wondeful!! I have really misses this recipe since going Real Food/Primal. I even have a gluten free bread mix I can try to make the cubes bread for this!!! So excited to see more recipes from your new E-Book!! SOOO EXCITED!!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Joanne Reply:

    So excited that I made all kinds of grammar and spelling g mistakes in my comment post. LOL :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jessica

    Thank you so much for posting this! I am already planning on buying your book. It looks wonderful and you made the directions really easy to follow.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amy

    I am so excited I might just pee myself…I was so close to discarding a pinterest recipe for Crockpot Chicken Cordon Bleu, but decided to wait…I haven’t made it because it calls for stovetop…but it just looks sooooooo yummy! Now I can try to make it!!! yay!!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Pamela

    Love the format of the recipe, especially the variations and kids suggestions! I will be making it the near future and will let you know how the family likes it! Can’t wait for the book!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rebecca

    I was confused at first, because I didn’t know what Stovetop was, I have never had anything other than made from scratch stuffing. Ever.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Karen Reply:

    I had heard of, but never bought Stovetop. Probably because I love stuffing, and making it from scratch is sooo easy – right? So I would have passed the original recipes over, simply because everything was processed. (I’m a snob that way, and presume that recipes consisting of primarily processed “ingredients” are for people who can’t cook, don’t appreciate good food – arrogant snob?)

    However, now that it is reverse engineered, it sounds like something we would make quite often. I have some stewing hens taking up space in the freezer right now.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jenn

    I like reading your thought process in adapting the recipe. At first glance I thought “Chicken and cream sauce can’t easily be made kosher, phooey.”. But after reading through the recipe I realized that I could easily make it nondairy (sub in coconut oil for the butter and use all broth). I might try it the next time I have soup chicken to use up!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Karen

    I have your everything beans book on my Kindle and can’t wait to add this one. If my meal plans for the week wasn’t already arranged I’d be a tester for you….I’ve got everything but the chicken ready :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • natalie

    I’ll help u tastetest this! I grew up on stovetop (yuck!) & your blog has babystepped me thru real food. I’m a fan of your e-books. use them tons!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Suzanne

    This looks delicious! Can we buy your better than a box e book yet? Or is it not out yet?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Suzanne,
    Not out yet, but in the works! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Cindy Reply:

    Just curious as to the approximate time the book will be available and will it be available on Kindle. In time for Christmas?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Cindy,
    I’m just about to update the post, but I’ve decided that it’s better to wait until January to launch the book, for some logistical reasons and the fact that I want to make a quality product and not rush it. Sorry about that! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jennifer S

    Wow! I am so excited to try this. My husband grew up on creamed soup recipes and getting him interested in whole foods has been an uphill battle. I can’t wait until your book comes out. By the way, I love my Smart Sweets and Everything Beans books, too. Thanks for sharing your culinary creativity.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Christine P.

    This looks great, Katie! I’m so very excited about this upcoming e-book. I have all your other books, and enjoy them so much, because they are so detailed and full of helpful info. Not to mention the food is delicious!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lindsey

    This looks great! The original recipe has sentimental value for me; it’s what my husband and his buddies made for the ladies on our first date. I always made it on the anniversary of our first date but haven’t for the last few years because I can’t bring myself to buy “cream of ___” soups anymore. I’m definitely going to try this!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Awwww, that’s some serious history – I’d love to hear how the guys think of the remake! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Laura

    Yum… sounds a lot like the Chicken pot pie recipe I make from “good food great medicine” cookbook, just with a stuffing top rather than a crust. I think i will have to try this as it is a bit simpler and a great way to use up bread heels.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amy Spicer

    I made this tonight and it was soooo good!! My family all loved it and best of all I felt good feeding my family real food. This is definitely a keeper. Thanks Katie!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kim

    I have a recipe somewhat similar that uses fish. I would suggest that the meat in this dish could be easily substituted with whatever is on hand.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Stacy

    I think that I just found the perfect dish for the leftover turkey at our upcoming Thanksgving meal! I also love that you think of us that can not eat gluten! Thank you, Katie!

    [Reply to this comment]

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  • Amanda Yoder

    Have you tried this with any milk substitutes (almond/rice/coconut?), I can’t find raw milk where I live and have a lactose issue… (I know, just when you thought you thought of everything! LOL)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Amanda,
    I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve talked with people who are dairy-free and they say almond milk is the way to go, using it just as you would dairy milk in a white sauce. I do have notes on that in the book, coming out next Tuesday! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Deborah Jennings

    The only stuffing we eat is the one with cornbread as the main ingredient. But it must be a Texas thing. LOL We call it dressing, too.

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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