Cheesy Cheddar Chicken

When I was in college, a staple dinner of mine was Shake & Bake chicken, a cooked veggie (usually steamed broccoli), and a Knorr’s Pasta or Rice. I was so proud that I had advanced past the days of Hamburger Helper (blech!). Nowadays, I think I’ve lost touch with the more simple meals. I’m always trying something new and spending insane amounts of time in the kitchen. When I came across this Crispy Cheddar Chicken recipe from Jamie Cooks It Up!, it reminded me just how simple a great dinner can be.

I made her recipe exactly as written, until I got to putting everything in the pan to cook. It was a disaster and I completely failed at getting everything to stick tot he chicken. So I said Enough! and proceeded to dump the topping (cheese & cracker mixture) on top of the chicken. It still tasted fantastic! The recipe below includes my modifications. The sauce is totally optional, and while I thought it was good, Ryan wasn’t crazy about it. In fact, he used some of the leftover gravy from the Chicken Fried Steak and said it was awesome.

One last thing: DON’T forget to spray the pan and/or line it with foil. The worst part about this meal was that I was rushing to get it in the oven and totally forgot to spray the pan. After dinner, guess who stood in front of the sink for 20 minutes trying to coax the melted, baked-on cheese off the pan? Yep, this girl.

Cheesy Cheddar Chicken

Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 20 min | Serves: 8 (1/2 breast each)

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 1-2 sleeves Ritz crackers (I used the vegetable flavor)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup milk or 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated (I used fat free)

For the Sauce:

  • 1 – 10 ounce can cream of chicken soup (I used Healthy Request by Campbell’s)
  • 3-4 Tbsp sour cream (I used fat free)
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a 9×13 baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray. Foil is optional, but cooking spray is a must-have (or use a small amount of oil).
  2. Grind up 2 sleeves of Ritz crackers in a small food processor. I had to do 1 sleeve at a time because I have a mini 3-cup food processor that holds next to nothing. Add the salt and pepper to the crackers, and dump them in a small bowl or dish.
  3. Slice each chicken breast in half so that you have 2 pieces that are the same shape as the original piece, but half as thick. (Does that make sense?)
  4. Pour the milk (or egg) into a container with a lid or a ziplock bag, add chicken (you might have to do this half at a time), and shake so that the chicken is all covered in milk (or egg).
  5. Arrange the chicken in the greased, lined pan. I had to use a 9×13 and an 8×8, but I had really large chicken breasts.
  6. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese all over the chicken, using it all. Then sprinkle the crackers on top of the cheese, pressing lightly to secure the crackers to the chicken. I only used about half of the crackers, but I didn’t coat it very heavily. If you don’t get raw-chicken-fingers in the cracker mixture, you can store the leftover in a clean ziplock bag and use it another time.
  7. Bake chicken for approx. 20 minutes, or until cooked through. The cheese will be melty (unless you used fat free cheese like me, in which case it won’t quite be melty) and delicious.
  8. If you’ve chosen to make the sauce, combine the cream of chicken soup, sour cream and butter with a whisk. Stir over medium high heat until the sauce is nice and hot and the sour cream and butter have mixed in completely. Serve over the chicken.

Do you ever use quasi-convenience food items, like Shake & Bake or Hamburger Helper?

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