The Loving Cook: "Healthy Meals Made with Love"

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Chicken & Spaghetti Squash Casserole

There are a bazillion casserole dishes out there, but this one is different! I promise!

My most picky clients, those who for some reason shun casseroles, give this one two thumbs up and often make quick requests to have it again. "What makes it different?" you ask. Well, for starters, although it does have a can of cream of mushroom soup, you would never know it. It's not a real creamy, saucy casserole. The focus is on the beautiful tri-color peppers, spaghetti squash strings and plump organic chicken bites.

Another reason I love this one is because it was inspired by my mom (Beverly). I have her recipe notecard in her handwriting and all. It's one of my most treasured things. And though mom had great intentions and her "Ham and Swiss Noodle Casserole" was delish, I think she'd also love my much healthier version!

Let's do a little health comparison:
Bev's Recipe: Ham
My Recipe: Organic Chicken

Bev's Recipe: Swiss (high in fat)
My Recipe: Parmesan (low in fat)

Bev's Recipe: Noodle layers (high in carbs, low in nutrients)
My Recipe: Spaghetti Squash layers (low in carbs, high in nutrients)

Bev's Recipe: Peppers & Onions
My Recipe: Peppers & Onions!

I just revamped her recipe a little and substituted in ingredients that are fitness approved! It became an entirely new dish. Now I can serve it to anyone and feel great about feeding them well!

Whenever I draw a blank on what's for dinner, or just feel like being a sweetheart and let Dan the Man decide the dish, this is what he chooses! No lie!

Before our beloved winter squashes are out of season, this you must try!!!

"Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill." - Elsa Schiaparelli
Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 medium to large spaghetti squash (look for bright yellow and dense squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 organic peppers (red, yellow & green), chopped
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 can lower-sodium cream of mushroom soup
1 tablespoon reduced-fat Safflower mayo
1/2 cup organic ranch dressing
Sea Salt & Pepper
4 organic chicken breasts
Cooking Spray
1 6-8oz container fresh grated parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400.

Vertically slice spaghetti squash in half from top to bottom (length wise). Put squash halves flesh side down in a 9x13 casserole dish. Add about a half inch of water to bottom of dish. Bake in oven for 45 minutes. Pull the casserole dish out, flip the squash to flesh side up, put back in and bake for additional 15 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, boil water in large sauce pan, a little more than half way full. On a clean plastic cutting board, cut raw chicken into one inch bite size pieces. Add chicken to boiling water (so chicken is submerged), cover and cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and white throughout.

Add olive oil to a separate large skillet on medium high heat. Saute tri-colored peppers and onion until soft but not mushy (about 7 minutes) turn off heat.

Drain chicken in colander. Add cut chicken to peppers and onions in saute pan, leaving heat off. Mix in soup, mayo and ranch. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Remove squash from oven, pour out the water from the dish, and once cool enough to handle, take a fork and pull down the flesh of the squash in spaghetti-like strings. Place squash strings in a medium bowl. Continue to remove the squash strings like this until you get to the hard skin. You will have a big bowl of spaghetti squash strings. Discard skin halves.

In your 9x13 casserole dish coated with cooking spray, layer ingredients starting with half of the spaghetti squash strings, covering the bottom of the dish. Then layer with chicken and peppers mixture. Then layer the rest of the spaghetti squash. Then top with the cheese.

Bake 30-40 minutes at 400, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Cook's Notes: Cutting the chicken breasts before cooking them makes them perfectly lock in their own juices. If you cut the chicken after it's cut, a lot of the time the juices just flow right out, and you end up shredding the chicken instead of getting the good chunky bite size pieces that you want.

Enjoy!

Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Casserole Recipe

Lindsey Crouch
The Loving Cook

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