Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chicken n Rice and ??? Whatever Casserole!

So I started off watching Anne Burrell making her Jambalaya dish this morning, and I thought, I should do that with the rice pilaf mix I recently bought containing wild rice. I had leftover chicken, some frozen shrimp, some vegies...did I have any celery. A quick check and, nope! Oh well, Lee and Taylor don't care much for celery for some reason. Even though its Fat Tuesday, I wasn't really feeling the Creole, either. By this time, Rachel Ray was on and making her 30 minute Risotto with a fried egg on top...mmmm, creamy.  So I decided I should make this chicken and rice casserole I found on Pinterest. It called for making a cheese sauce, and I did have some cheese in the frig already, so yeah, that's the ticket. I could use up some of the leftover vegies in the frig and make room for the new box of vegies that will be arriving on Thursday. Even better, I could make this today and we'll eat it tomorrow night after my long day at work. Tonight I could use up that Bok Choy all up (we got a LOT in the last shipment). Good, good, good. I also was inspired to roast my golden (delicious!) beets and make some kind of a beet salad, maybe just to put into our lunches. I want to make it just like a little Italian deli in town makes theirs, but I haven't quite figured it out yet. It has vinegar, white, I think, and mint! It's delicious, that's for sure. 

So anyway, the casserole: First I put 1-1/2 cups of the rice into the rice cooker, added 3 cups of water and let it cook. (I love my rice cooker!) I took one of the leftover chicken breast from last night and picked off all the meat, cutting it into bite-sized chunks.I grabbed carrots, an yellow onion, some green onions, mushrooms and broccoli out of the frig. I diced up the carrots and onion and proceeded to saute them in a dab of olive oil. Then, still thinking about the Jambalaya, I got out some bell peppers from the freezer and gave them a chop. I find myself freezing some vegies like bell peppers because I don't use the fresh ones up fast enough. I might buy three or four on sale, use one or two and then cut the remaining ones into strips and put them in a freezer bag. Our next major kitchen purchase is definately going to be a food sealer, just for stuff like this, and breaking down bulk packages of meat, and storing leftovers for lunches. I probably could come up with a zillion uses! I still wanted to add broccoli and had two small heads to use up. I trimmed off the bottom part of the stem, then chopped the rest of the stems and sauteed them with the bell pepper. Two small diced cloves of garlic were added to that and into the pot it went with the rest of the vegies, chicken and rice. Then I put the broccoli tops into the saute pan with a little bit of water and let them steam for just a few minutes before adding them into the mixture. I stirred in two diced green onions and added a little salt and pepper. I guess I could have added some other herbs or seasonings, but I didn't. That's it!


Now, the cheese sauce. It was pretty simple: melt the butter, stir in the flour, added salt and pepper, then whisk in some chicken broth. When the sauce thickened a bit, I added some shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and the sauce was finished. Except then I remembered most cheese sauces had a bit of dried mustard powder in them, so I add a couple of shakes of that, too. Now its finished. 

The sauce was then mixed into the rice-chicken-vegies concoction and then poured into a buttered casserole dish. I put some foil on top and into the frig it went, all ready to reheat tomorrow evening. Oh, I am gonna be so glad I cooked ahead this week!

Chicken Rice Vegie Mixture
1 large cooked chicken breast
1-1/2 C cooked rice ( I used a wild rice blend)
1/2 chopped yellow onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
8-10 fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small heads broccoli, with stems, diced
Fresh green onions, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the yellow onions, carrots, bell pepper, and diced broccoli stems and mix with the chicken and rice. Saute the mushrooms separately for just a minute or so and  then add to the mix. Steam the broccoli florets for a few minutes and add them too. Season with salt and pepper and some fresh diced green onion. Now its ready for the sauce.

Cheese Sauce
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 Cups chicken broth
1 Cup each shredded cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Whisk in flour, salt, pepper and dry mustard, then slowly pour in the chicken broth. Heat to almost boiling, stirring with a whisk until smooth and thickened. Add in the shredded cheese and stir until it is all melted.

Pour the cheese sauce over the chicken-rice-vegies mixture, saving about a half cup. Spread the rice mixture into a 13 x 9 casserole dish and smooth out, then pour the remaining cheese sauce on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted through. Serves 6-8.


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