Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Something: Chicken, Vegetable and Rice Casserole

I decided to start a Sunday Something series.

It used to be Sunday Poetry but since there are a lot of other interesting things I find myself wanting to post on Sunday, I decided it could be anything—including food.

I have a pretty busy life. I want to get as much time to write when I'm not working so even though I love good food, I want to be smart about making sure I'm getting as many meals as I could out of the couple hours I put in in the kitchen.

My husband and I like to go out spontaneously—whether it's for a nice drive or just to go shopping, and lately, I've been finding myself scrambling to put dinner together at eight on a Sunday evening. By the time it's done, I've got no time for anything else before hitting the sack so I've come up with a solution.

I've decided to spend a couple of my early Sunday morning hours making a big batch of something that we could have for dinner and lunch for a few days. It's quite nice actually because I get to feel good about letting my husband sleep in (he's not a morning person but then neither am I) while I get to enjoy the solitude of a still-darkened kitchen, sipping my coffee and getting things together for the big meal I'm doing. It frees up the rest of my day and saves me from having to make dinners and lunches for a good couple of days.

Last week, I made a pretty amazing meatloaf (for the first time ever) but I haven't been back to blogging then so I don't even think I have photos for that. We'll skip that until I make it again.

Today, I went with a healthy and relatively simple casserole from a recipe I've found online and tweaked a bit.

It's got chunks of chicken, lots of veggies, and earthy wild rice to add to the texture and taste.

The original recipe is from (submitted by Campbell's Kitchen) called One-Dish Chicken, Vegetable and Rice Bake but the recipe I'm posting is one I've changed up slightly and taste-tested myself.

Prep Time: 15 minutes (including chopping, browning and putting casserole together)
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Price Range: $ (max being $$$) Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples and can also be easily swapped.

  • 1 (10 oz) can of condensed Cream of Broccoli and Cheese Soup (can be substituted by Mushroom or Chicken variety)
  • 1 and 1/8 cup of chicken broth (without the added salt if possible)
  • 6 ounces chopped, fresh vegetable mix (carrots, white mushrooms, broccoli crowns) (may substitute with frozen version—don't thaw)
  • 1 cup mix of wild rice and white long grain rice (such as basmati or even jasmine)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided in half
  • 2 large or 3 medium boneless chicken breasts, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • pinch of paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • Heat up oven to 375 degrees F; set rack in the middle.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until no longer pink and meat starts to brown. Set aside.
  • While chicken cooks, chop up vegetables. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix soup, chicken broth, rice, vegetables and half the cheese. Season with paprika, salt and pepper. 
  • Spread mixture over a 3-quart shallow baking dish. Top with chicken and the rest of the cheese.
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for an hour. If there's still a lot of liquid, lift one corner of the foil open and bake for another 5 minutes. Take out and let it sit for another five minutes before taking cover off completely.
  • Add more cheese if your heart desires it! 

Make-Ahead Tips:
  • Cook the chicken ahead of time and keep in fridge until ready to use for the next couple of days. Make sure to cook the chicken thoroughly. I don't bother to temp-check when I'm just throwing it into the casserole right away but if you're storing it in your fridge, make sure it's fully cooked.
  • Chop the vegetables ahead of time and seal in a bowl with plastic wrap to keep them fresh.
  • If you find the casserole too liquidy after you take it out of the oven, take a turkey baster and pump some of the liquid out. This lets you suck some of the fluid out without compromising the flavor or the entire casserole itself in case you have the crazy idea of tilting it slightly over the sink to get rid of the extra liquid. Giving it time to sit allows the moisture to settle and be absorbed by the other ingredients.


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