Recipe of the Week: Chicken and Zucchini Rice Casserole

I can not tell you how excited I am over the new recipe I tried on Sunday night. It was by far the very best dinner I have made in a long time.

I wasn't even that excited to make it because I don't really have a loving feeling towards zucchini and Andrew has never been one to have interest in casseroles (he's the same towards soup). It was a low calorie recipe though and my foodie friend Jason felt like it was a good one. So I made it and ohdearbabyjesus---it is DELICIOUS!!!!!

It seemed simple, but was more work than I normally prefer, but WAY worth it. And it makes me think that maybe I can make other wonderful meals! I used to be the kind who could not make a recipe turn out well, but I think those times are a-changin!

Zucchini zucchini zucchini! I used 3 1/2, but next time I'll use all four.

Squash of some sort. I used 1.5 because I wasn't sure what it would taste like..I know nothing of squash. Not even the sport.
Two peppers, any variety. I will probably use three next time, but it was okay with two.

And that's where the pre-dinner pictures end because time was ticking and it takes an AMAZING amount of time to chop all this stuff up. Next time I will be enlisting some help with the prep work. I also had to chop a full onion, and did I mention I have carpal tunnel? If I didn't before, I certainly do now. That was a lot of chopping. It literally took me about 40 minutes to do all the prep.

By the time I realized how much time I had spent prepping the veggies, it was getting really late and I had to make the decision to either have a really late (for us) dinner or find something else for that night. I made a quick stir-fry for that night and saved all my chopped veggies for the following night.

Which made for an easier night the next. It was a matter of heating the chicken broth and then mixing the veggies, broth and rice in the pan and then tossing in the oven for 45 minutes. The original recipe says to have it covered in the oven for 45 minutes and then uncovered for another 35, however, that seemed like a LONG time for rice to be in the oven. Have I mentioned I'm not a chef and not really qualified to stray from any recipe? True. However, I lived in Korea and so I am very qualified to make anything that involves rice. So after the original 45 minutes, I uncovered and then turned the oven down to 300.

The original recipe called for turkey sausage, which I'm sure would be fine, if you like turkey. Or sausage. Or turkey sausage. None of which I do....so we used chicken. Not a shock for anyone who knows me because I eat chicken about 6 times a week. I love me some chicken. And the chicken was just fine in this recipe. I used about 1 1/2 chicken breasts (diced), as that's what I had on hand, but next time I could see using two full breasts. It also called for jalapenos, I left those out just because I don't like them.
I didn't really get a great picture of the casserole when it came out of the oven because Andrew just walked in the door from work as I pulled it out and we both marvelled at it for about 30 seconds and then small animals dashed out of the way as we attacked this with our forks. But TRUST ME - it was A-EFFING-MAZ-ING (radio edit for little ears).
This looks like a mess. It tasted like gold in food form.
We could have eaten the entire pan in one sitting.
Yay for new recipes turning out well!!!

Here's the recipe my way, or visit Eating Well for the original:

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 cups diced zucchini , and/or summer squash (about 1 pound)
2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
1 large onion, diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese, divided
1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 chicken breast meat, diced
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
Preparation 
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Pour rice into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Stir hot broth into the rice along with zucchini (and/or squash), bell peppers, onion and salt. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove cover and turn oven down to 300 for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk milk and flour in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until bubbling and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add 1 1/2 cups Jack cheese and corn and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add chicken. Cook until lightly browned.
  5. When the rice is done, stir in the chicken and cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Jack cheese on top and dollop cream cheese by the teaspoonful over the casserole (I ended up mixing in the cream cheese dollops at the end because they were just big blobs that didn't melt or ooze anywhere).
  6. Return the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Per serving: 248 calories; 9 g fat (5 g sat, 1 g mono); 34 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 2 g fiber; 491 mg sodium; 273 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (56% daily value), Vitamin A (20% dv), Calcium (16% dv).
2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 high-fat meat



 Make it!! You'll love it and you will thank me!!

5 comments:

  1. Brian Miller said...:

    nice...not a hug zuchini fa..but this looks good and has great color...

  1. This DOES look good! I wonder if it freezes well..

  1. Lynette said...:

    it has some yummy veggies in it...that is for sure....now time for me to add a lil zest.....aka make it for myself.
    thanks for the dish

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