Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Homemade Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, And Rice Casserole

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What a great weeknight meal!  Casseroles are a magical thing. Everything baking together in one dish. Hot and bubbly, with a golden brown cheesy top. What’s not to love about that?  My cheesy chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole will set you on the path to “Comfort Town”.

Not as traditional as most of the chicken, broccoli, and rice casseroles you may have encountered. I do add mushrooms to mine, but the big difference is, I use a combination of white and yellow cheddar. I prefer a good white English cheddar.

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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 6-8 servings

1 box of low sodium chicken broth (poaching liquid)
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 pint of sliced cremini mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2-1/2 cups of cooked rice ( 2 boil-n-bag rice packets)
2-1/2 cups of thawed and roughly chopped frozen broccoli florets
3 cups of cooked diced chicken (4 boneless chicken breasts)

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup of sour cream
2-1/2 cups of whole milk
1-3/4 cup of shredded white English cheddar
1/4 cup of shredded yellow cheddar
2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 11 x 9 x 2 baking dish with cooking spray.

Note: Make sure to defrost the frozen broccoli florets. If they are not thawed completely, place them into a large bowl of really warm warm water for a couple of minutes. Using a colander drain thoroughly.

Poach 4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts in low sodium chicken broth with dried thyme, Kosher salt, and black pepper. The stove should be on medium heat so the chicken poaches low and slow. Place the chicken breasts in a single layer, into the pot, to cook evenly. Pour the chicken broth over the chicken so the chicken is completely covered. Once the liquid starts to boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cover. This process should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. The chicken should be opaque in color and be at 165 degrees internally. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and transfer to a plate.  Next dice the chicken into 1 inch cubes.

While the chicken is poaching, start with the quick cooking rice in a bag. Follow the instructions on the box. Once cooked, remove from the bag and transfer to a large bowl. N

Next, in a large saute pan on medium heat, heat olive oil. Add diced onions, cook 3-4 minutes, then add sliced mushroom, Kosher salt, and dried thyme and saute for another 4-6 minutes. Saute until all the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are brown. Add in the broccoli florets, toss through and saute for another minute.

Transfer the mushroom and broccoli mixture into the large bowl with the cooked rice and cooked diced chicken. Toss all the ingredients together and set aside for the time being.

For the cheese sauce, in a 3 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour over the melted butter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt and beat with a whisk. Cook 1-2 minutes or until mixture turns light brown. Slowly beat in the milk, about 3 tablespoons at a time until smooth and combined. Heat to the mixture until it starts to boil, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down and continue to cook and whisk for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Next, whisk in the sour cream, Parmesan, white, and yellow cheddar cheese to the sauce mixture, reserving 4 tablespoons of the Parmesan for the top. Add the cheese sauce to the large bowl with the chicken and vegetables, stir to combine. Pour into baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the reserved Parmesan cheese over the top. Dot with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter cut into tiny cubes, scattered over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes or until heated through.  Turn broiler on and cook another 3-5 minutes,or until top is golden brown

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Scrambled Eggs With Chives And Goat Cheese Breakfast Casserole

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This is one of my “go-to” breakfast recipes. I’ts everything you want for breakfast all in one dish. The topping, well… I love Pico de Gallo so yes it’s in there along with potatoes, sausage, cheese, and scrambled eggs. First, let’s take some help from the grocery store to make this wonderful breakfast as quickly as possible.

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To start, in a large non-stick saute pan, on med heat,  I sauteed some diced onion, with red and yellow bell peppers in a little unsalted butter. Then, adding in a bit more butter I added in some store bought shredded hash browns. I stirred all these ingredients together so that the melted butter would coat the peppers,onions, and hash browns. Now let the hash browns do their thing and don’t touch them for a couple of minutes so they brown really well before turning them. Once you’ve turned them, let them brown for another couple of minutes on the other side. After the hash browns with peppers and onions are done. Place them into a casserole dish as the bottom layer to this breakfast feast. Next the sausage.

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In my freezer, I just happen to have some breakfast sausage links. I sliced them up and browned them off in the same large skillet that I browned of the hash browns in. Now you could of course use the bulk breakfast pork sausage, or even the spicy variety. It’s just that, this is what I had on hand that day. I sauteed the sliced sausage pieces off until they got nice and caramelized on the outside, and laid them on top of the hash brown in the casserole dish. Using the same pan, I started on my scrambled eggs that have been mixed with heavy cream , and mixed with chives and goat cheese. I took some paper towel and just wiped out any left over fat that may have been released from cooking the sausage slices. Honestly, there wasn’t much at all. Low and slow, I scrambled the eggs, and when they were done, I turned the heat off and added in chopped fresh chives.

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I spread the scrambled eggs with the chives on top of the sausage. To the eggs, I crumbled some fresh goat cheese. The heat coming off of all these ingredients in the casserole dish melts the goat cheese beautifully. Now if you know anything about me, I will put Pico de Gallo on everything I possibly can. This is no exception. So all over the top I lay on the Pico.

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So what you have is those delicious and familiar breakfast item on the bottom with a cold citrus and spicy fresh salsa on the top. I ask you, what could be better?

Yields: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes (for the veggies and Pico de Gallo)
Total Cooking Time: 40-45 minutes
Ingredients for Pico de Gallo: (search Pico de Gallo two ways on my search bar)
1 package of shredded store bought hash browns
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter ( 1 tablespoon for sauteing the pepper and onions, reserve the rest for potatoes)
1 red bell pepper diced
1 yellow bell pepper diced
1 onion diced
1 package of breakfast sausage of your choice (mild or spicy)
1-4 ounce package of goat cheese
3 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup of heavy cream
10 large eggs beaten
1-1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt ( 1/2 a tablespoon for the hash browns)
2 teaspoons of black pepper ( 1 teaspoon of black pepper for the hash browns)

Directions: First saute the onion, and peppers in the butter. Next add in the rest of the butter, let it melt and then add in the potatoes. Stir until everything is coated, and on med heat, let them brown on both sides. This may take around 10 minutes. After the potatoes are done, lay them in the bottom of a casserole dish. Next the sausage, then lay them over the potatoes. Then scrambling the eggs that are mixed with heavy cream for richness, chives for a mild onion flavor, and that glorious goat cheese for their finish. Place the eggs with chives over the sausage. Top the eggs with crumbled goat cheese. Finally the Pico de Gallo for that burst of flavor and color.

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Baked Grilled Chicken Caesar Pasta

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When I was in my twenties, going out to eat with the girls was so much fun. Having a cocktail and always ordering the Chicken Caesar Salad. I can remember having this dish for the first time. You know the cold Caesar salad with the warm grilled chicken on top. Oh, and the cheese, that cheese, so good! Now the chicken that you ordered for you salad came one of two ways, grilled, or blackened. I always chose the blackened, because I loved the spiciness of the chicken alongside the cool creamy Caesar dressing. I thought how can I transform these flavors into a pasta dish. I started with the chicken. I want to remind the home cook that it’s really important that you get to know your butcher because they can answer any questions you may have like about the different cuts of meats or even grinding certain cuts up for you that they may not have available in the meat case. Let’s start out with the chicken.

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Here I seasoned 6 chicken breasts with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of blackened seasoning. Steve can’t handle his food too spicy so I went really easy with the blackened seasoning on the chicken. I seasoned both sides with the blackened seasoning, a sprinkling of Kosher salt and black pepper. I grilled the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side. I’m not worried that the chicken may not be completely cooked because it still has to bake. I don’t want the chicken to be dry before it goes into the oven to finish baking.

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Set the chicken breasts aside and let them cool down a bit so you can slice them on the bias before adding them to the other ingredients. Moving on, here is where I start the topping to my pasta bake. The crunchy topping is just as important as what’s on the inside. Let me tell you how I made the topping. First I took have 3/4 of a stick of unsalted butter and melted it into a large saute pan. Then I added 1-1/2 cups of Panko breadcrumbs. These are those Japanese bread crumbs that are available in pretty much all grocery stores now.

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Stir the breadcrumbs until they are all coated with the butter and just let them toast for a couple of minutes. You don’t want them too brown because they have to bake in the oven to finish browning.

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At this point, the breadcrumbs are done and I just add 2 tablespoons of dried parsley flakes for some color. I set the topping aside while I move on to the next step. Now I start with a large deep pot to make the base flavors for this dish.

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I start out with 1/2 a stick or 4 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter. To that, I add 3 tablespoons of minced garlic and 2 tablespoons of anchovy paste and let those infuse with the butter on med heat. Now if you love Caesar dressing you know there are anchovies in it, so don’t let this freak you out. You will be surprised how well it works in this sauce. I add equal parts flour to butter, so that’s 4 tablespoons of flour and whisk that through until all the raw flour taste has cooked out.

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Now I slowly add the milk into the pot while still on med heat. Continually whisking the whole time. As the liquid comes up to a boil, you know then that it’s as thick as its going to get. I don’t want it to be super thick so after I see how thick the mixture is, I will determine if I need to add a bit more milk to it because I want the mixture to have somebody to it but not so thick that it won’t coat all the pasta and thicken even more in the baking process. Before I take this off the heat to add my cheese to this sauce, I stir in about 3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce.

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Moving forward to the thicken sauce I add 2 cups of grated Parmigiano- Reggiano to this pot before adding in my cooked Penne pasta, approx. 1-1/2 boxes. This will give the cheese a chance to melt through the sauce and then coat all the pasta when I add it. Make sure your pasta is undercooked by a couple of minutes, remembering that it’s still going to continue cooking in the baking stage of the dish.

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Stir this all together then I add the sliced chicken in and stir that all through.

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In a buttered casserole dish, I pour all the chicken Caesar pasta. Smoothing it out so it’s evenly distributed through the dish.

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I sprinkle the breadcrumb topping on and add more of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. I dot the top with small pieces of butter all around. This will ensure a nice brown crust on the top. I spray a large piece of foil on the underside with non-stick cooking spray so nothing will stick, while it bakes in the oven at 375 for 35-40 minutes. Then uncover and bake until the top is golden brown.

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Make sure to let this rest for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it. This will give the dish time to set. I like to serve this dish with a light Romaine salad because of the richness to this “pasta bake”

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There you have it the best of two worlds in one dish, pasta, and chicken Caesar.

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Sweet Italian Sausage Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

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Strata just mean a layered casserole. They can be sweet or savory. I guess you could say it’s almost like a type of bread pudding. Anytime I’m looking for a recipe that will feed at least six people this is the type of dish I go for. Not to mention, that it’s such a comfort food in every sense of the word. Le’ts start from the beginning…

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I have here a Fresno chili, 2 cloves of garlic, and about 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves. I going to start with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan, on med heat,  and add these ingredients to the oil. I want to flavor the oil before adding the mushrooms,

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Now that the flavorings have started to soften, I’m going to add in some sliced mushrooms, 1 pint of your favorite is just fine. Here I used some white button mushrooms.

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Now what I like to do at this point is let these mushrooms get a nice brown color to them so I saute them on med heat until they get some great color to them.

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At this point, I sprinkle in a little Kosher salt and pepper making sure to season each layer of this dish. I wait until the mushrooms get brown before salting them, otherwise, they release to much water from the salt and will steam instead of sauteing and getting nice and caramelized. Next, I add 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage to the pan with a few spices.

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I add a teaspoon each of fennel seeds, oregano, and dried thyme.

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I also add 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, but dried will work just fine too. Rosemary and sausage just go so well together. That earthy piney sent is awesome in this dish.

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Now I start to brown of the sausage with the mushrooms.

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I let the sausage saute, again adding a pinch of kosher salt and pepper, until it has some beautiful color and is cooked through.

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Moving forward it’s time to add the fresh spinach and chopped thawed frozen asparagus to the mixture. Another sprinkling of Kosher salt.

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I want to keep that beautiful green color, so I immediately turn off the heat once the spinach has wilted and I throw in the chopped thawed asparagus. Remember this dish still has to go into an oven, so at this point just set this mixture aside.

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Next is the bread portion of this recipe. I used a Ciabatta that I cubed up into 2-inch pieces. I set the oven to 300 degrees and baked them until they were dry for about 20 minutes. I don’t want them to start browning just to become dry. Having bought the bread that day, it was necessary to place them onto sheet pans so they would dry out a little before adding them into the dish.  I had the bread cubes in the oven while working on the other ingredients for the filling. Adding the custard into this dish, the bread will absorb the liquid and still hold its shape. Ideally, you want to use day-old bread, nothing that too fresh. Fresh bread would just fall apart after adding the liquid to it and that just wouldn’t be good at all.

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Now I don’t want any brown color on the bread, I just want it to be really good and dried out. That’s why I had it in the oven on a low temperature and watched it carefully. As soon as they feel like hard nuggets take them out. Let’s move on to the custard portion. I know it seems like a lot of steps but they are very easy ones and the end result will be well worth it.

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First I like to make sure the eggs and milk are at room temperature. In a large bowl crack 1 dozen large eggs. To that add 2 cups of whole milk,1 cup of half and half. Grate up 4 ounces each of Fontina and Gruyere cheese and 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Reserve 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano and a little each of the other cheeses back, to sprinkle all over the top of the strata.

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Whisk the eggs, milk, and half and half together then add 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. To that add the cheese.

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In the largest bowl, place the sausage and mushroom mixture along with all the cubed bread.

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Next pour the custard mixture over the top of this.

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Mix this all through really well and let sit for around 10 minutes so the bread can absorb all that liquid, or at least most of it. In the meantime get a deep casserole dish and lightly butter it all over. This will make it easier for the strata to come out later.

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After the 10 minutes or so has passed, pour the mixture into the casserole dish and sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. I then drizzle a little olive oil over the top to ensure the bread browns evenly.

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I bake this in a 350 degree, pre-heated, oven for anywhere from 45-55 minutes. Check on it after 40 minutes or so to see if it has set. It should feel somewhat firm to the touch, and you shouldn’t see any liquid around the sides or coming up through the center. I like to stick a wooden skewer into the center and if it comes out clean then it’s ready. Let the strata rest for a least 20 minutes before cutting.

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Does this not look delicious! You can #tastethelove from here.
Yields: 6 servings
Prep Time: 30-40 minutes ( this includes the cooking of all the ingredients going into the Strata)
Bake: 350 degrees F.
Cook Time: 45-55 minutes
unsalted butter for greasing the dish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 seeded and mince Fresno chili
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1 pint of sliced button mushrooms
1 tablespoon plus teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage
1 sprig of fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 package of fresh spinach leaves
1 package of thawed frozen asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces
1 loaf of Ciabatta cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes and toasted
a dozen room temperature eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup Half and Half
4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese (reserve a little for the top)
4 ounces grated Fontina cheese (reserve a little for the top)
1/2 cup of Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for the top)

Directions: Butter casserole dish for the Strata. Next cut the Ciabatta cubes up into 2-inch cubes, spread them out on sheet pans and bake for 20 minutes or until dry at 300 degrees. While the bread is in the oven start the filling.

On med heat, add the olive oil to a large saute pan. Next, saute the Fresno and garlic until fragrant. Next, add in the sliced mushrooms and thyme leaves. saute this until mushrooms have browned, about 5 minutes or so. Then season with salt and pepper.

To the pan, add in the sweet Italian sausage. Break the sausage up with a wooden spoon. Add in the rosemary, fennel seeds, dried oregano, dried thyme, Kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Saute until all the sausage is nicely brown. This should take another 10 minutes or so. Once the sausage has browned and cooked through add in the fresh spinach leaves. Toss the leaves through until just wilted, then turn off the heat. Add in the thawed chopped asparagus pieces and toss those through.

Set the filling mixture aside while making the custard. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, add the milk, grated cheeses, salt, and pepper. Whisk all those together. Next, remove the bread cubes from the oven. Let the bread cool down for 10 minutes.

In a very large bowl, mix the sausage mixture together with the bread cubes carefully. To that, pour over the custard and toss through gently. Let sit for 10 minutes giving the bread a chance to absorb the custard. Then, pour all this into the buttered casserole dish and spread everything out evenly. Take the reserved cheeses and sprinkle them over the top.

Bake this dish for 45-55 minutes or until you can see no more liquid coming up on the sides or up through the center. Once a wooden skewer comes out clean, the dish is done. The Strata should be nice and golden brown on the top.

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