Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Casserole


This is a recipe I made last week when I wasn't sure what I wanted to make and I had some leftover fried chicken breasts I wanted to re-purpose and use up. I found a recipe online and modified it some for what I wanted, which means this is my recipe as I fine-tuned it to be what I wanted it to be. I still think it needs some fine-tuning as I want to make it more healthy, but for now, Bob said he likes it and I can make it again. That means it is a winner for him. This is a good dinner dish for your family, just add some salad and a hearty bread with butter, or it would be good to take to a pot luck as it feeds a lot of people. You can half this recipe. I didn't think to take a picture of the entire pan, but I did take a picture of my bowl before I dug into it to eat it! It didn't have enough broccoli as I only had a partial bag in the freezer, but this recipe below has the right amount.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Casserole

4 cups cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
16 ounces noodles ( I used Rotini)
2 cans of cream of celery or cream of chicken soup*
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
12 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated, divided*
1 Tbls. dried onion
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1- 2 oz. pimentos, drained
1 bag (16 ounce) frozen broccoli, thawed some*
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed fine*
1 stick real butter, melted

Cut up chicken while waiting for water to boil.
Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.
In large bowl, combine soup, sour cream, milk, 8 ounces of the cheese, dried onion, salt and pepper. Add noodles and mix well. Blend in pimentos and broccoli till well incorporated. Pour into a 9" x 13" pan, spreading with a spoon or spatula to make it even all over.
Crush crackers and mix with butter till well covered. Sprinkle all over casserole.
Bake at 350 degreesF for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining 4 ounces of cheese and bake for another minute or two until cheese is all melted. Let set up about 5 minutes before serving. Makes enough to serve 8-10 people.
To add another layer and dimension to the taste of this casserole, you could finely chop up onion, carrots, and celery. Green pepper, too, if you like. Also, cut up half a pound of bacon in small pieces and fry, along with diced vegetables until bacon is done, and vegetables are cooked and tender. Mix this in in place of the dried onions.

*Instead of the soup, you can make a comparable amount of thick white sauce using chicken broth in place of water or milk. You can also cook small pieces of celery in broth.
*I like Cheddar, but you can use any cheese you favor.
*You can use any frozen vegetables in this casserole. I prefer broccoli.
*You can replace the crackers with about 1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs, either plain or Italian, homemade or store-bought. Just make sure your bread crumbs come from bread with no HFCS or MSG in it.

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