Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Growing up in the 70’s I ate A LOT of casseroles.  I really do like the ease of casseroles and crock pot cooking, especially for a family.  This recipe is very rich and probably not the best if you are watching your weight, but it is some gooey goodness.  You can adapt this recipe to fit your family….Rice or no rice….a lot of broccoli and mushrooms or not….chicken or no chicken for a side dish. Make it your own!!

I made this for just 2 of us, but since many of you will probably make this for a family I am going to family size the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Breasts, cut into strips or diced
  • 3-4 Cups Roasted Broccoli
  • Pint Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • about 2 Tablespoons Garlic, minced
  • Olive Oil, as needed
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 packages Cream Cheese
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic salt
  • 3/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup Mozzarella
  • Rice
  • Chicken Broth (optional)
  • Panko (optional)
  1. The first step is to roast your Broccoli.  In a bowl, toss the broccoli florets with olive oil (enough to coat), salt, pepper and minced garlic to your liking.  Place on a cookie sheet and roast in  400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  After this is done cooking turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  2. Next you want to start your rice as that will take about 20 minutes too. Place 2 cups of chicken broth into a pot and let come to a boil.  Add 1 cup of rice, cover and turn to low.  I have never had a problem with cooking rice this way.  You can follow directions on the package or however you cook it.  If you are using brown or wild rice note the cooking time will be different. You can just use water rather than broth but I like how the broth adds flavor to the rice.
  3. Over medium- high heat add 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil to pan.  Add the onions and cook until translucent about 2 minutes.  Add chicken seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic.  **Actually I just used the same bowl I tossed the broccoli in to season my chicken since it still had a lot of garlic.  When chicken in almost fully cooked add the mushrooms.
  4. Sauce:  In a medium pot over low- med heat add the milk, cream cheese, garlic salt, and parmesan cheese.  Stir/ whisk until melted.  This can take a while and if you can multi-task you may want to start it at the same time of step 3.
  5. Spray your baking dish with cooking spray.  You can use a 9 x 13 or I used a 2.5 L round Corning Ware.  Some people have told me they have made a similar dish and mixed all together but I liked it layered as follows:
    1. Rice
    2. Half of chicken mixture
    3. Half of sauce
    4. Mozzarella
    5. Rest of chicken mixture
    6. Rest of sauce
    7. Panko (optional)
  6. Bake about 20 minutes.

Adaptions:  This recipe is very rich!!!  That being said you can easily change this recipe up.  Try using 1 package of cream cheese and/ or use chicken broth to make the sauce.  You can add a little milk to get the consistency you want.  You can also omit the rice and with a thinner sauce serve it over noodles.  I wanted a lot of veggies when I made it so I increased the broccoli and mushrooms and used only a small amount of chicken. Get creative and as I have said before make this your own recipe.

Ratatouille

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Ratatouille is traditionally a simple peasant dish from France made from zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers.  It is a stewed vegetable dish that can be served alone or with pasta, rice or potato.  Since we had a lot of vegetables from the farmer’s market and some left over from a veggie tray we decided this would be a great choice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Vidalia onion, medium dice
  • 2 large bell peppers, medium dice
  • 1 medium kohlrabi, medium dice
  • 2 medium round zucchini, medium dice
  • 1/2 cup purple carrots, medium 1/4″ rondelle
  • 2 pounds grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 Tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 3 Tablespoons of each Fresh Herb:  Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Sage:  chopped
  • Olive oil (about 1/3 cup and as needed)

**Yes we didn’t use eggplant as I didn’t have any in the house but guess what?  It still came out delish!!

  1. Heat the olive oil in  a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent (4-5 min).  Add garlic and continue about another minute.
  2. Turn heat to medium-low.  Add vegetables individually cooking until softens (about 2-3 min) before adding the next.  We did carrots, bell peppers, kohlrabi, zucchini, then tomatoes.  If using eggplant I would add before zucchini.
  3. Add stock and over low heat allow veggies to stew.  Season with salt, pepper and herbs.
  4. It is ready when veggies are tender and you have achieved the wonderful medley of flavors!!

This is such a great way to enjoy the vegetables of the season. I particularly like this alone or over noodles.  If you don’t want to introduce the pasta to your meal try serving it over spaghetti squash.  I even used the leftovers to bake over some cod fillets.

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FYI:  The larger carrots you see in photo were just left over from a veggie tray that we just throw in.

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Roasted Beets

I have loved beets since I was little.  I know I was a weird child.  My nana used to make me delicious Harvard Beets all the time.  This recipe is in no way similar to that but a simple recipe for this wonderful root vegetable.  We purchased some lovely red and orange beets at the farmer’s market.  We usually prepare them on the stove top but since I have been on a roasting kick with veggies I decided to give this a shot.

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You can use the beet greens if you want and sauté them but today I am just tossing into the compost.  So simply cut off the tops and the bottom (if it still has a long root) and scrub clean.  Toss with olive oil and place into a foil packet.  I had to put the red and orange into separate packets because the orange beets were a lot smaller.

Place packets onto a baking sheet and place into a 375 degree oven.  Roast between 1-2 hours.  The time depends on the size of the beets.  After one hour check by piercing the beets with  fork every 15 minutes.

Allow to cool and then peel the skin off of the beets.  The skin should easily come off by rubbing your hand on it.

Place olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Slice the beets and place into the pan.  Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and fresh thyme.  Sauté about 5-10 minutes and enjoy!

Notes:  You can use a cheaper oil for the roasting part as you are peeling off the skin.

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Balsamic Pork Roast (bone-in, crockpot)

This recipe was adapted from other crockpot recipes I use and from a balsamic chicken recipe I love.  I think my family may be sick of pork but the store kept having sales on it and it is “The Other White Meat”.  This is a very easy, extremely tasty and juicy roast.  Please note that if you buy a boneless tenderloin it will require less cooking as there is no fat.

I used a Bone in pork sirloin roast for this recipe.  Using the bone in gave me some nice slices of pork and then I shredded the rest that was around the bone and smaller pieces.  You could shred it all if you prefer.  My family enjoyed having it two ways.

Ingredients:

  • Bone in pork sirloin roast (mine was about 3 lbs)
  • Sea salt and black pepper (generous eye balling it)
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 Tablespoon honey or agave
  • Fingerling potatoes
  • Carrots, small whole

Rub the roast generously with salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic.  Now usually, I brown all sides of the meat before I put it into the crock pot to seal in the juices and seasonings, but I didn’t do it this time because I started late.  Feel free to do it both ways as I have gotten good results doing with and without browning the meat.  Place in crockpot.

Mix together the broth, vinegar, Worcestershire and honey and pour over the roast.

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Crockpot set on low for 7 hours then added potatoes and carrots.  Removed pork after another hour and turned on high for an hour.  You could add vegetables at the beginning but since we used fingerling and small fresh carrots I was worried they would get too mushy.  If you used a tenderloin the cooking time would be about half and I would be okay with adding the vegetables at the beginning.

If you are doing this while you are working definitely use a bone in or larger roast unless you are starting it on your lunch hour.  The fingerling potatoes and small carrots can go in when you get home  on high (take roast out) while you are getting other things ready for dinner.

I sliced what I could from the roast and covered with foil while the vegetables finished cooking.  I also shredded the rest of the roast and added juice from the crockpot to the meat in the serving dish.  The remaining juice from the crock pot was served along with the meal as an au jus if needed.  The meat was very moist and flavorful. The balsamic adds such a nice rich flavor along with the sweetness from the honey.

You can easily convert this recipe to an oven roasted roast or even use pork chops.