Entree/ Family Favorites

All American Casserole

I do not come from a casserole family. I grew up unaware of this Americana staple, and I’m still holding a grudge against my parents for the unforgivable absence of what COULD HAVE BEEN SO MANY CASSEROLES. My perception of The Casserole was the stereotypical image of gloopy, highly processed, tacky food. I’m sure those are out there, but you won’t find them in my kitchen.

broccoli cheddar casserole ingredients

I’ve developed a deep love for recipes that, when the ingredients are combined, coated in a delicious liquid, and topped with cheese, become a hearty, hug-in-a-bowl. They are easy for entertaining, perfect for giving to a new mom or busy family, and make the best weekday leftovers and school lunches.

chicken seasoning

I like to pretend that these casserole recipes are healthy because I try really hard to use ingredients that represent a “complete” meal: protein, vegetables, dairy, carbs. Let’s be honest though: there’s some fat in a casserole. Like just a LITTLE. But I have a four year old who picks like a bird and will go days without eating real food, so if I can find a recipe she’ll repeatedly devour whole bowls of, I’m putting aside the question of calories. You can also play with the ingredients by using alternative pastas, wild rice in lieu of pasta, adjusting the liquid ingredients, etc.

The key to a good casserole is the right liquid mixture (UNGLOOPY) and seasoning each element so that there’s great layers of flavor. This recipe is FAR from plain: the blue cheese is subtly funky, the chicken slightly spicy, the cheddar sharp and smooth. It is the perfect meal for a cold evening or a big Sunday meal.

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole

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Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 1 hour 10 mins approx

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large head of broccoli, chopped into varied sized florets. I prefer a mix of finely chopped and larger chunks to ensure broccoli is spread throughout the dish.
  • 10 ounces pasta
  • 1 10.5 oz can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
  • approx. 10 oz cream (use the soup can for measurement)
  • approx. 10 oz stock (use the soup can for measurement)
  • 8 oz grated sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 ish cup of crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2

Season your chicken (I use a seasoning blend but use whatever you like), cook, and chop or shred and set aside.

3

Cook the pasta, adding the broccoli to the pot for the last couple of minutes. Drain, and pour into a large baking dish. Add the chicken and stir to combine so that the pasta, broccoli, and chicken are evenly spread.

4

In a sauce pot, whisk together the condensed soup, cream, and stock. Bring it to a boil, stirring, and allow it to bubble for a minute or two.

5

Then, lower the heat, whisking in the garlic, salt and pepper, paprika, mustard, and cayenne. Slowly add 3/4 of the cheeses until fully melted and combined.

6

Pour the sauce over the baking dish, stirring so everything is coated.

7

Top with the remaining cheese and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the dish is bubbly and beautiful.

Notes

Rather than use a separate measuring cup, I tend to just use the empty condensed soup can for measuring out the milk and stock. You're looking for about a total 3 cups of liquid to ensure a creamy, but not thick or heavy, sauce. Feel free to adjust this as you prefer.

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