Poppyseed Chicken Casserole

One of my favorite go-to meals for new moms, courtesy of my sweet sister-in-law who treated us to a version when we welcomed Colette.

Poppyseed chicken casserole:
3-4 large chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups homemade cream of chicken soup base (see below)*
8 oz sour cream
3/4 stick butter
1 sleeve whole wheat ritz crackers, crushed
1-2 Tbsp. poppyseeds

Poach chicken in a large, high-sided skillet. Add whatever you have on hand to help flavor the poaching water (which will become your chicken broth for the next step*): onions, garlic, celery, carrots, whole peppercorns, etc. Remove and shred cooked chicken. Reserve 1 1/2 cups poaching liquid. Make cream of chicken soup base.

Put shredded chicken on bottom of 9 x 13 dish. Mix homemade cream of chicken soup, sour cream and salt and pepper, to taste. Pour evenly on top of chicken. In a separate bowl, melt butter and add crushed ritz and poppyseeds. Sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

*Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup Base
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
 (reserved from poaching chicken above)
1 1/2 cups milk, divided
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1/4 tsp. each onion powder, garlic powder
, parsley
1/8 tsp. black pepper

salt to taste (depending on how salty your broth is)
dash of paprika
3/4 cup flour

In medium-sized saucepan, boil chicken broth, 1/2 cup of the milk, and the seasonings for a minute or two. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk and flour. Add to boiling mixture and continue whisking briskly until mixture boils and thickens. Yield: 3 cups (about 2 cans). Use half for the casserole above, reserve half for another use.