Make-Ahead, Freezer-Friendly Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

We’re just days away from the first day of spring. And It’s trying to be spring. It really is.

Here in Minnesota, we’ve had just a couple of those really warm days – the kind where you don’t really need a jacket. The snowbanks are diminishing, leaving gray piles of rock-hard ice and road-salt behind, but it’s okay because there are puddles everywhere, and sometimes you can even hear birds chirping.

owen-puddles

But the reality is that we’re still a couple of months away from flip-flops and fresh produce.

seasons-winter-comic-funny-cartoon- (1)

image from the blog A Cup of Jo; illustration by Sarah Lazarovic

And around here, we’re still happily on the winter-comfort-food bandwagon.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

We’re also on the Make-Ahead, Freezer-Friendly bandwagon because, gosh, two kids has been an adjustment. I mean, yes, I may have the world’s easiest newborn. And yes, we’ve had family come to stay, who have overwhelmingly blessed us by cooking for us, bringing us meals, and entertaining Owen for hours. But still.

But most days, I’m on my own. For eight hours. And I still feel like I get nothing done. And for the most part, I’m trying to learn that that’s okay.

But we still need to eat.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

So, we turn to the last of our freezer meals. Today, I’m happily thawing out this casserole. It’s has everything a casserole should have: a little meat, some veggies, and cheese. Plus, with pre-cut frozen veggies, this casserole couldn’t be easier to make. We got the recipe from Sarah over at Finding Joy in My Kitchen. A fellow Minnesotan, Sarah knows the beauty of a good “hotdish.” Her recipes are so often simple and delicious, and she is a total inspiration for from-scratch cooking! I look to her menu-plan posts when I’m doing my own meal planning. I’m not sure why I’ve only met Sarah once – I’m pretty sure we’d quickly become fast friends while inhaling her game-changing honey butter popcorn.

I’m so glad I doubled this recipe when I made it and have it to pull out and bake tonight…nothing like a good casserole to get you through the dregs of winter.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

(recipe from Finding Joy In My Kitchen )

(yields one 9x13" pan)

This casserole is super easy to assemble, and topped with parmesan cheese, is some serious comfort food. This dish freezes beautifully as well! I altered the recipe only by replacing mushrooms with carrots and adding garlic salt.

Ingredients

3 1/3 c. chicken stock, divided

1 1/2 c. dry brown rice

1 tbsp. butter

1 onion, diced

12 oz. frozen carrots, sliced

12 oz. frozen broccoli, chopped

2 c. cooked chicken, shredded

1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 c. heavy cream, divided

salt and pepper to taste

1-2 c. parmesan cheese, grated (amount to taste)

Instructions

Cook the Rice:

Bring rice to a boil in 2 1/3 c. chicken stock . Once boiling, reduce heat. Then cover and let simmer from 35-45 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Set aside.

Prepare Casserole:

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes until soft. Add in the broccoli and carrots, the remaining 1 c. chicken stock , chicken, and garlic salt. Simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and 1/4 c. of cream until the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour the cornstarch mixture and remaining cream into the skillet, stirring to mix. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until mixture thickens. Taste and add salt & pepper as needed. Once thickened, remove from heat.

Assemble Casserole:

Grease a 9x13" pan. Pour cooked rice into the pan and spread out over the bottom. Spoon the chicken mixture over the top of the rice.

To Bake:

Preheat oven to 350*.

Once casserole is assembled, cover with foil (or place a cookie sheet over the top of the pan). Bake for 25-30 minutes until most of the liquid is gone and mixture is bubbly. Remove cover, top with parmesan cheese, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

To Freeze:

If you'd like to freeze this dish, DO NOT ADD THE CHEESE. Allow rice/chicken mixture in pan to cool completely. Then, cover tightly with foil and be sure to label! When ready to use, allow casserole to thaw completely (at least 24 hours in the fridge), then bake as directed above.

 

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8 thoughts on “Make-Ahead, Freezer-Friendly Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

  1. I love that pic of your little boy jumping in the puddle! We’ve had a few of those really warm days (ok, it was 55 degrees), … and my littlest thinks it’s time to break out the shorts and t-shirts. Ummm … not quite that warm!

    I want to make about 5 of these casseroles and eat one and then freeze the rest. Genius. Loving the veggies and rice and cheeeeese! YUMMMMMM!

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