Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Broccoli, Chicken, 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 like adding mushrooms and a combination of a yellow and English white cheddar to this dish.

Why an English white cheddar you’re wondering? I’ve compared all kinds of white cheddar cheeses in the past, English white cheddar is the best.

I’m fortifying the flavor of my poached chicken for this dish. All that means is I’m using the poaching liquid to enhance the chicken flavor. This is my Broccoli, Chicken, And Rice Casserole.

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Parmesan Cheese

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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields: 6-8 servings
Equipment:  9 x 11 x 2 baking dish

Ingredients:
1 quart of unsalted chicken broth (poaching liquid)
4 boneless- skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon of good olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 pint of cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon of a Fresno chili (approx. 1/2 a Fresno chili, seeded and minced)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups of cooked white rice (Success, boil-n-bag rice, 2 packets, now available in brown rice)
2 1/2 cups of thawed frozen broccoli florets, roughly chopped
3 cups of cooked diced chicken (4 boneless skinless chicken breasts)

Cheese Sauce:
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup (8-ounces) Philadelphia Whipped original cream cheese, room temperature (or substitute 1 cup sour cream)
2 1/2 cups of whole milk, heated
1 3/4 cups of grated English white cheddar
1/4 cup of grated yellow cheddar
2/3 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese, plus 4 tablespoons

Directions:
Spray a 9 x 11 x 2 baking dish with cooking spray.

Note: Make sure the frozen broccoli florets are completely thawed. Transfer the broccoli florets to a large plate lined with a paper towel and pat dry as much as possible. Transfer the florets to a cutting board and give them a rough chop. Place into a bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepot, over medium heat, add 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (in a single layer), dried thyme, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Pour 1 quart of unsalted chicken broth, enough to cover the chicken. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer and cover. This process should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken is poaching, start with the boil-in-a-bag rice. Follow the instructions on the box. Once the rice and water are brought to a boil, boil for 8-10 minutes, remove the rice from the bag and transfer to a large bowl, set aside.

The chicken should be opaque in color and have an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and transfer to a plate. Next, dice the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Transfer the diced chicken to a bowl and set aside.

Next, in a large sautè pan on medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the diced onions, cook 3-4 minutes, until soft and translucent. To the onions add the sliced mushrooms, minced Fresno chili, and dried thyme, cook for another 4-6 minutes. Continue sautèeing until all the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are nice and brown. This is the time to add the Kosher salt to the pan, stir through. Finally, add the broccoli florets and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Transfer the broccoli, mushroom, and onion mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add to that the cooked rice and diced (cooked) chicken. Toss all the ingredients together and set aside for the time being.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Directions For Cheese Sauce:
In a 3-quart saucepan,  over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt and whisk. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the mixture turns blonde in color. Start by slowly whisking the hot milk in about 3 tablespoons at a time, until smooth and combined. Continue by slowly adding the remaining hot milk and whisking until the sauce thickens.

Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to low, switch to a wooden spoon and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

First, add the cream cheese, stir until smooth and combined. Next, add the grated Parmesan, white, and yellow cheddar, again stir to combine. Transfer the cheese sauce to the large bowl containing the chicken and vegetables, mix to combine.

Pour into a 9 x 11 x 2 greased baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle 4 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Dice 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter into tiny cubes. Take the tiny cubes of butter and *DOT the top of the casserole.

Bake for 25 minutes or until completely heated through. Turn broiler to the ON position and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until the top is golden brown. There you have it my Broccoli, Chicken, And Rice Casserole.

*DOT: a food process involving the placement of small bits (butter) and/or pieces of food to evenly distribute particles over the top that are to be melted or absorbed.

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Cabbage Soup

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Cabbage Soup has to be one of my very favorites when it comes to food for the soul. I believe, if you’re a fan of stuffed cabbage, you’ll love this soup.

I’m using Savoy cabbage (green cabbage is fine as well) and a 90% lean ground sirloin which makes for a healthier and better-tasting soup.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: 6-quart stockpot, chef’s knife

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 1/2 pounds of lean ground sirloin
5 cups of Savoy cabbage, core removed and chopped (substitute green cabbage)
1 cup of onions, diced
1 cup of carrots, diced
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 cup of white rice, (Sucess rice Boil-in-a-Bag), remove from the bag
2 quarts of chicken stock, unsalted
2 cups of good tomato juice
Homemade Ciabatta Croutons for garnish
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated for garnish

Directions:
Start by prepping all the vegetables going into the soup. This includes cabbage, carrots, garlic, and onions.

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat add olive and the ground sirloin. Using a wooden spoon begin breaking up the meat. Add Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently, for 7 to 10 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

Next, add the diced onions and minced garlic. Continue cooking, add the diced carrots, cook together for another 5 minutes. Throw in 2 bay leaves stir to combine.

Add the chicken stock. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the pot. Lower the heat to medium, slowly add the chopped Savoy cabbage. Using the wooden spoon to push the cabbage down into the liquid.

As the Savoy cabbage softens and wilts into the chicken stock, add the rice. Simmer (adjust the heat, to medium-low if needed, to a slow simmer) for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Finally, add the tomato juice, stir to combine. Turn the heat off, remove the bay leaves, and cover. Wait 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with Homemade Ciabatta Croutons and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

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Stocked Pantry

 

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A Stocked Pantry has saved me on so many nights. There have been many times where I’ve had to make a meal using just pantry items. A quick Minestrone soup or Farro/Quinoa with dried fruit and nuts for a sweet snack.

I like to keep my favorite jarred tomato sauce on hand when I need a quick and easy pasta with tomato sauce.

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