Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Chicken, Broccoli, Rice, Cheese Casserole - Broccolicious Good!
We spent today running around doing errands, enjoying every moment of this glorious day. Our daughter is due to give us another grandson around February 14, and we spent time buying some baby boy things today. Even though she has a 23 month old son and he had lots of stuff, every baby deserves a few new things just for them don't you think? Besides, Grandma and Pawpaw like to shop for the grandsons. It is so much fun. You can get so wrapped up in looking at all the amazing things they have for babies these days. There are so many wonderfully handy things that I wish had been available when our children were little, but we survived. Sure wish I had thought up a few of them though.
It was mid afternoon by the time we returned, and there were those inevitable chores to do. You know, the ones the elves never come and do. They are always waiting for you when you get home. When the sun shines so brightly in the windows, you can see how icky the kitchen floor is along with the windows and everything else. Ugh. I opened the refrigerator to check out what I could make for dinner and decided that it needed cleaning before I did another thing! It was just one of those moments when one thing led to another. I tossed out some things that were past their prime and said thank you for coming,then wiped down all the shelves and drawers. That felt good. One thing accomplished. Now the floor was demanding attention, so I mopped it. Awesome. Another accomplishment. Whew. Still, what to fix for dinner.
There were two whole chickens in the fridge that needed to either be cooked or frozen before they passed their prime. I decided to cook them. I got out the 12 quart stock pot, put the chickens in, filled it with water and let them cook until done. Guess that meant something with chicken for dinner. Don't you hate when it's always your decision what to fix for dinner? Anyway, I decided some kind of casserole since I now had a huge bowl of chicken I had picked off the bones. Broccoli sounded good. Cheese always sounds good. So, I fixed a really, really delicious chicken, broccoli, rice and cheese casserole that has a wonderful home made cheese sauce and is topped with crushed Ritz crackers that gives the casserole that "what is that" flavor. Oh, and strawberry banana muffins. Yeah, they are fantastic. That will be tomorrow's post. I love when I am ahead of that curve ball, because tomorrow is our volunteer day at a local non-profit organization we support. We sure are busy for retired people.
Anyway, here is what you need for this fantastic casserole.
1 lb fresh broccoli, cut into florets and steamed for 2 minutes. (I also cut thin slices of the stems about half way down and used those too)
3 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup minute rice
1 8 oz block cheddar cheese, grated and divided in half
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups milk
1/2 of the grated cheddar cheese
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (not too fine)
1/2 stick butter, melted
Grease a 9x13 casserole or baking pan. Place the steamed broccoli on the bottom of the casserole. Cover with the chicken, sprinkle the cup of dry rice over the casserole and cover it with 1/2 the grated cheese.
Make the sauce:
Melt 1/3 stick of butter (5 tbsp) in a heavy sauce pan. Combine the cornstarch and cold water and stir until dissolved making a slurry. Add the cornstarch slurry to the melted butter. Add 1/3 cup chicken broth, seasonings and 2 cups milk. Cook until sauce starts to thicken. Turn heat to low and add the other half of the grated cheddar cheese. Stir until completely melted. Pour over the broccoli, chicken, rice and grated cheese in the casserole dish.
Crush one sleeve of Ritz crackers in a large zip lock bag. I used my rolling pin. Don't crush too fine, you want some bigger pieces. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in the microwave and pour over the crumbs which you have placed in a bowl. Sprinkle topping over casserole.
Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes until bubbly. Remove from oven and serve.
The buttery Ritz cracker topping gives a wonderful crispy crunch to the goodness of the chicken, broccoli and rice in the casserole. The home made cheese sauce is so much better than any canned soup you can use. It is delicious and easy! For us, it is "just right" as Goldilocks would say. Feel free to add more cheese if you like things cheesier. Also, you can add another sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers and another 1/2 stick of butter if you like really thick topping. It's up to you.
This recipe reheats beautifully. So, if you need something "make ahead" for any occasion, this is the casserole for you. You can add a salad, maybe some strawberry banana muffins and you are all set. Dinner is served.
I am happy that I have plenty to reheat tomorrow night so I don't have to come home from a day of volunteering and cook. Yippee! Hope you give this casserole a try. It is broccolicious good!
Things to remember: