Chicken and Rice Comforting Casserole

When I was a kid, my mom could not cook. Bless her heart, she tried, but what ended up in front of my brother and me every night for dinner was usually boiled chicken, macaroni and cheese with hot dogs, or frozen pizza (Elios, it was, I think). But there was one little gem she would throw together once a week or so that I still to this day consider a healthy option (which Kraft does not exactly qualify as…). I believe the story goes that right after she had my brother, a friend brought us this chicken and rice casserole for dinner, and I loved it so much, she asked for the recipe. I’m sure she was beyond relieved when the recipe seemed rather simple: rice pilaf, chopped up chicken, carrot, celery, and cream of mushroom soup. Stirred together, baked in a dutch oven… and boom. Done. That’s it

Chicken and RiceI have vivid memories of eating this casserole at our kitchen table, and specifically, the dish she used to bake it in (which, sadly, was tragically cracked in half at some point in the last 21 years). It was an old, white bowl with a matching lid, both covered with light blue, traditional designs. Not the style of anything else she ever used or liked, but it was so homey looking — I loved it, and it reminded me of this meal.

So, when the weather recently went from 80 degrees on Wednesday to 40 on Thursday, and I was chilled to the bone, I decided this comforting casserole needed to make a cameo in my new home. With some stealthy hunting down of gluten-free cream of mushroom soup, I was off. Here’s the recipe — I hope you can form some memories around it, too!

Chicken and Rice Casserole

1 cup dry rice
2 cups water

1-2 large, or 3-4 small chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3-4 stalks celery, sliced
3-6 carrots (3 large or 6 small), sliced
1 can cream of mushroom soup*
salt and pepper
shredded cheese

*Note: you can use condensed, or regular. You can also use cream of celery. Pacific makes an organic, gluten-free condensed mushroom soup that I used this time around, and it came out great — just remember to cut it with equal parts of water (or milk)!

First, cook the rice. Follow package instructions, but generally, it’s about 1 cup dry rice to 2 cups water, cooked over low heat, covered for about 20 minutes. Once cooked, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.

Slice chicken into bite-sized chunks, and add to an oven-proof dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice carrots and celery, and add to the pot with the chicken.

Next, add in the cooked rice, and stir. Season with salt and pepper again.

Add soup. Stir until evenly combined.

Stir in a handful of shredded cheese.

Cover the dish, and place in oven. Let cook for about an hour, or until the chicken is cooked through and the mixture is bubbly. Stir halfway through.

Let cool a bit (it get’s really hot!!), and serve in bowls. Top with more shredded cheese, if you like, and some freshly ground pepper.


Beef Stir Fry with Tatsoi, Blue Aprons, and Friends

Back in September when my good friend Kelli told me she was leaving her job at Greatist, I was super super sad. Kelli was sort of my partner in crime at work in a lot of ways — I could always count on her to join me in inappropriately early office cocktails, and to join me on office errands or planning group activities (and making sure they actually happened seamlessly). 

But when I found out a little more about the company she was going to work for, I was super excited for her, and that this new company existed! Blue Apron is a grocery delivery service that sets you up with pre-measured ingredients and recipes/instructions for three meals every week (each recipe serves 2). They come up with some really awesome, inventive recipes and give you basically everything you need to make them. It’s home cooking made easy, basically.

Ginger Beef Stir Fry with Tatsoi

So one weekend a few months back after she started her new job, Kelli invited me over to test out a Blue Apron recipe and see for myself how their product worked. There was chopping and sautéeing and also lots of drinking. (It was this Saturday evening Kelli introduced me to my new go-to cocktail, the sidecar. I’ll have to share one of those recipes very soon…) The recipe we made — Ginger Beef Stir-Fry with Tatsoi and Jasmine Rice — was full of flavor and came with a pretty good proportion of protein-to-veggie-to-carb. We threw it together in less than 30 minutes and were perfectly full after chowing down. Blue Apron currently offers both Meat/Fish and Vegetarian boxes, and as soon as they offer a gluten-free box, I’ll definitely be signing up!

Head on over to Blue Apron for the recipe! And check out what they have in the lineup for next week and see if they deliver to your area, too. It’s a really fun concept to give a try, and I highly encourage you to test it out.

While you’re waiting for your first box to arrive (wink, wink), here are a few of their other recipes I’ve been dying to give a try!

Pork Tamales with Smoked Chili Sauce
Pork Tamales with Smoked Chili Sauce