Over the weekend Rob and Judah were up at Scarlett Homestead doing some random little projects and I wanted to make something warm and comforting for when they got home for supper. It was a cold snowy day! I had chicken and broccoli and so I decided to make a casserole with what I had. I searched online for some easy chicken broccoli casserole recipes and found 2,542,657,234.25 recipes to choose from. I’ve made a million casseroles, but oddly enough I’ve never made a basic chicken and broccoli, so I wanted to follow something to get it right.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but do you ever get overwhelmed with the amount of options for one recipe you Google? I find it to be too much sometimes. Google should give you an option to do a small search where it only gives you a few choices. Actually, I still remember the very first time I went on the internet and did a search. It was the early 90’s and I was at my best friends house and her parents had just got it, along with a brand new computer. They were pioneers in our neighborhood and it was a big deal. I will never forget her saying to me “Think of anything in the world you want to look up and type it in”. So we did. We thought of crazy stuff, but what I clearly remember is that maybe only 3 options would come up (if it was more obscure) or just one or two pages. Can we go back to the 90’s please? I really enjoyed the 80’s too. Based on how big my hair sometimes is, I often question if I ever left. Sigh.
The word we’re all looking for now is, anyway……
I didn’t really like what I was seeing (mainly because I didn’t have all the ingredients!), so I took a few ideas of what I did comb through and came up with the rest based on what I had in my pantry. Cooking a casserole is one of the most forgiving dishes you can play around with. Never be scared to branch away from a recipe and make it your own.
So here’s my very first chicken and broccoli casserole that I’ve ever made, and boy was it good. I understand now why everyone and their dog makes it, posts it online and claims they have the best recipe ever for it. Out of the 2,542,657,234.25 recipes out there for this, I’ll do like everyone else and call it “The BEST Chicken, Broccoli & Cheese Rice Casserole you have EVER tried”! Just because I want to crawl out of the 90’s and try to be like the other cool kids online. (My son is going to be so embarrassed of me one day. Mouhahahahahaha)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 chicken breasts, diced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¾ cup uncooked rice
1 10oz can of cream of broccoli cheddar soup
1 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon parsley
2 cups broccoli, cut into small florets
2 cups grated medium cheddar cheese
Cook your desired brand of rice as instructed on package and set aside, ready to use.
Dice the onion. Dice the chicken into small bite sized cubes, cut the broccoli into small florets and grate the cheese and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat up the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the diced onion and the chicken and fry until the chicken is cooked and onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in garlic until aromatic.
Add the can of broccoli cheddar soup to the pan and then the chicken broth and combine completely. Stir in the parsley. Then add the ¾ cup of cooked rice and combine. Then the broccoli florets. Cook together for a minute or two until it is all heated through and the broccoli has turned a bright green color and just got soft. It should be a thick mixture.
Using a 9×9 or 9×12 baking dish, pour in half of the mixture and spread evenly. Layer half the grated cheese on top. Then pour on the remainder of the mixture and finish the top off with the other half of the cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Sprinkle on parsley for garnish just before serving.
Here’s how it turns out:
Make your rice. This is jasmine rice, and it’s pretty much what I use for most things that call for it. I like the flavor and texture.
Then I get all my ingredients cut up and ready.
I got my skillet heated with oil and wildly through in my onions.
Then the chicken. Stir em’ up until it’s cooked through.
Then add your salt & pepper and garlic. It should be smelling good by now!
I’m aware that this looks sort of clumpy and gross. But this soup from a can often does right? Shrug your shoulder, say “eh, oh well” and just put it in there.
Then add the chicken broth and stir this until it’s smooth and completely combined.
I would suggest using fresh, flat leaf parsley if you have it. I only had dried at the time, but fresh is always better!
Then in goes the cooked rice.
And the broccoli florets. Stir it all up for just a couple of minutes until it’s hot and the broccoli is just turning that beautiful bright green color.
It should be pretty thick in consistency and look about like that.
Then have your baking dish ready. I just want to show you my new casserole dish very quickly (which is actually what inspired the casserole for this meal). My best gal pal, same one from the first days of the internet back in the 90’s, got this for me for my birthday. If you know me, you know that cooking gadgets, bake wear, cookbooks etc. are what make my skirt fly up. She knows me. She also knows my colorful past of internet searches. Thankfully old friends are the best secret keepers. Isn’t this gorgeous though? The line is called Temp-Tations. If you are interested, here’s more like it.
Pour in half of the mixture and spread it out evenly across the bottom. Then put half the grated cheese on top. I think I grated more like 3 cups of cheese. This looks like way more than I put in the ingredients. Oh well.
Then the second half of the mixture on top of that.
And lastly, more cheese on the top. And yes, that’s more than 2 cups of cheese in total. I’m not counting. I like eyeballing ingredients at times. Here’s a good example of that. Put this into your oven for about 40-45 minutes.
The cheese will be bubbly and just getting golden around the edges. It really smelled wonderful while cooking as well. It made me hungry!
I sprinkled on a little parsley at the end for garnish, because I think food should always look pretty when you serve it. It makes me want it more.
This would pair perfectly with a leafy green salad for a nice healthy meal, but I didn’t do that. Nope, I cut up a loaf of multigrain bread I made that morning and put butter on it and served that instead. And I wasn’t sorry. That bread is good man.
Besides, you need something to wipe the sides of the plate with right? No baby spinach leaf can do that for you.
This was a beautiful casserole and I will absolutely make it again. I noticed that in most online recipes, they all call for a can of cream of chicken soup. I didn’t have one, which is why I used the cream of broccoli cheddar, but I loved this flavor so much I don’t feel the need to try the chicken soup. I know what I like and I stick with it.
You know what else I know I like? Music from the 90’s. I know most of it was awful, but it shaped my teenage years. And I’m listening (and singing) to it right now.
– The 90’s Version Homesteaders Wife