Cheddar Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
and a tribute to an incredible woman …
There was this amazing woman at work … her name was Wanda. You could go to Wanda with any question about just about anything in our software and she knew just what to do. She was super knowledgeable, yet always so easy to talk to and so sweet and funny. Her smile would light up a room. I worked with her on several projects, and I went to her for advice on everything related to medical billing or reports. I was floored the day I walked into work and found out she was gone …
It was shortly before Christmas … when I walked into the office, I saw our Support manager Kelly in the hallway talking on her cellphone. Kelly was crying, but I didn’t know why. When she saw me walk by, she held up her finger as if she had something to tell me, but I didn’t get it. I kept walking, but slowed my steps, trying to puzzle out in my brain what was happening. Before I got very far, Kelly caught up with me and told me what had happened, with tears in her eyes. Wanda had died. “What happened?!?!!?” I asked, because Wanda was such a part of our daily lives, but Kelly didn’t know the details. I stumbled up the stairs, stunned, disbelieving … how could this be?
Later that morning, I heard that Wanda had died of a heart attack. A signup sheet appeared at work for everyone to contribute something to the family. I didn’t know Wanda’s family–I only knew Wanda, but I knew I had to do something. I went up and put my name on the list to bring dinner for the family.
I fretted over the meal … what should I make? What do they like? How many of them are there? I don’t know anything about them … I only know I loved working with Wanda and I’m so sad that she is gone. I decided it should be comfort food, to help them with their grief, but something kinda healthy too. My mind debated but then I settled on this. Something comforting, cheesy, and yet a little healthy.
This recipe is for your loved ones, Wanda, but also for you, for all the trials and tribulations you helped us through. May you find peace and joy in the afterlife. We miss you so much, dear friend.
- 1/2 - 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium/large sweet onion, peeled & chopped
- 1 - 3 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
- 1/4 cup flour (for gluten free, use tapioca flour)
- 2 cups lowfat milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoning)
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 pinch cayenne
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup cooked, chopped chicken
- 1 strip of bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped fine
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 cup frozen broccoli, thawed and cut into small bits
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (use gluten free breadcrumbs for gluten free)
- 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. and spray a 9x9x2 inch square pan (or 4 oven-proof bowls) with cooking spray.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is very soft and starting to brown. Add the flour and stir to coat the onions. Slowly stir in the milk and then add the seasonings. Reduce heat to medium low, stir and cook for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Stir in the cheese until melted, then add the chicken, bacon, rice and broccoli and stir to mix well. Pour this mixture into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it out.
- In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with 1/3 cup shredded cheese and seasoning. Sprinkle the top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake at 400 F. for about 20 - 30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are browned and the cheese is melted in the middle. Serve hot.
RECIPE SOURCE: http://www.sumptuousspoonfuls.com/
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This recipe was shared at Full Plate Thursday.