Friday, January 27, 2012

Simple is always better (at least in my opinion)

I love experimenting with different recipes, putting my own tweak on things. I scour the internet in search of different ideas... Sometimes I come up with gold, like in this instance... My version increases the whole grain values and can be modified in any number of ways... My name for it is "Brown Rice, Chicken, Spinach, & Cheese Casserole".... I know, it's a rather lengthy name... I'm still working on another one, but I haven't come up with one yet. I'm open to suggestions!

1 c. chopped onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
about 1 tsp. olive oil
1 & 1/2 c. long grain brown rice
2 c. chicken broth
2 c. water
10 oz. raw spinach
cheddar cheese
1 rotisserie chicken from the store deli
seasonings - chef's choice!

Preheat oven to 375.
In a large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender.
Onion & Garlic, slap-chopped!
Add rice, stir, and cook for about 2 minutes.
Rice in the pot!

Add liquids and bring to a boil.
I added seasonings with the liquids...

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes (if using white rice, simmer for about 15 minutes).

While the rice is cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients... Roughly chop the spinach and get your significant other to pull the chicken meat from the rotisserie chicken and then shred the cheese (if you "forgot" to buy pre-shredded cheese at the grocery store).
Make sure that your significant other has paid enough attention that bones are not included in the chicken...

Rough chop of baby spinach...

Cheese... yum!

After the rice is done, mix the chicken pieces and about 2/3rds of the cheese into the rice mixture.
Chicken, cheese, and rice combine to a nice creamy sauce!

Then add the chopped spinach and let it wilt a bit.
A lid helps speed the wilting process...

Thoroughly mix the spinach into the rest of the mixture.
Green is good!

Pour the chicken/rice mix into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
I usually like a little more cheese than this, but Aaron got lazy and didn't want to shred anymore...

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown. It will seem a little watery. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes and the water will absorb and it will cool enough to serve.
All done! About 6 hearty servings!

Ready to eat!
This recipe can be altered in any number of ways... The choice of meat, green veggie, and cheese is completely changeable, and so is the seasoning combo! Salt and pepper is a given, but you can add whatever else you like. Feel free to experiment in your own little way!

One preference note - I have made this and tried to freeze it... I only recommend this if you actually like the earthy flavor of spinach. The freezing process intensifies the spinach flavor (which I didn't care for, but Aaron didn't mind). If freezing, I would recommend using another green veggie, like broccoli.

Healthy and happy eating, everyone!



  1. Thanks so much for posting Jen. I've been jonesin for some spinach lately. I definitely will try. I'll let you know what I came up with. You might want to try some broccoli-rabe? Another name is Rapini. It is leafy with small broccoli heads.

  2. Broccoli-rabe would probably be excellent in this dish! I'd probably get a little more adventurous with the cheese and seasonings to do broccoli-rabe. Asparagus would also probably be OK, but I would mix it in raw just before putting it in the oven. That way, it won't turn to mush. I usually end up using a packaged cheese blend (already shredded) of at least 4 cheeses. Using nothing but cheddar was good, but not as good as the blend. I end up using a whole bag of the blend, so that might be part of the difference :)

    Hmm... I wonder what gouda would taste like in this dish...

  3. I tried your recipe Jen, only a few alterations. When I made the sauce I used 1 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 1 tbsp of arrowroot flour (it is a natural thickener), and 1 1/2 can of condensed milk, and a tablespoon of Penzy's forward spice. I used 1 chicken boiled, deboned and skinned and cut in 1" pieces. Also I use 1 good bit of Kale, stemmed, cut, and blanched. With the rice which I had already cooked, about 2 cups, put in a 13x9 pan included the chicken, broth,and kale, then topped with sharp cheese, (only one on the island, Bahamas, I could find this week). Baked for 25 min on 350. and walah, delicious. Thanks for all of your encouragement. I love casseroles and this one will definitely be made again. You could feed a large family of 8 with this.