Recently, I was at the grocery store to buy yogurt and mysteriously ended up in the cracker isle with a box of Cheez-Its in my hand. Very curious, considering the yogurt is nowhere near them. I was about to put the box back, but then had a reminiscent glimpse of my Mom crumbling them as a topping for the occasional chicken casserole. Chicken breasts in fact were chilling in my fridge waiting to become the night’s tacos, but these cheesy snack crackers insisted I take them home. I decided dinner would go a different direction. I love to make comforting casseroles on chilly nights, and thought I’d turn the chicken and some on-hand ingredients into a one-dish meal. I’m a huge fan of chicken & rice with mushrooms, and I’m equally fond of broccoli cheese bake, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone, and join them harmoniously together. And so, a delicious Chicken & Rice Broccoli Casserole with mushrooms and cheese, was born. This dish would also be boasting a crunchy topping, with the help of our newly purchased crackers. The result? An upgraded home-style casserole with tasty texture!
Luckily, I had the components for this already, and used fresh broccoli florets, and crimini mushrooms. Though you could use frozen broccoli and canned button mushrooms if you’ve got them, but I like to grab fresh vegetables whenever I can. Since the dinner menu was decided early, I had time to marinate the chicken breasts in Italian dressing for several hours in the fridge. This gives us a little extra flavor & seasoning. Then it’s only a matter of skillet cooking the chicken, steaming the broccoli and making some rice. Mix all ingredients together, put them in a dish, crumble-on said crackers, bake and…Voilà! You have a very satisfying dish with some good-for-you vegetables & a lean protein, and well . . . some Cheez-Its . . . and umm, they fall into the cheese food group I’m assuming. *(Warning−consuming a third of the box of addicting, baked-cheese snack crackers in the preparation of this meal is NOT recommended . . . not that I would know from personal experience or anything.)
It’s time to put down the crackers & cook
- 3 chicken breasts (medium sized)
- ~4 cups fresh broccoli florets, steamed & chopped chunky
- 4 cups leftover cooked white rice (Or make 2 cups dry uncooked rice - I make with chicken broth in my rice cooker)
- 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced (I prefer crimini)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
- 1 (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup (low fat)
- 1 (10.75 oz) can cream of mushroom soup (low fat)
- ½ cup light sour cream (I prefer Daisy brand light)
- ½ cup milk (I used non-fat)
- 1 (8oz) bag shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ~3/4 cup Cheez-It or baked cheddar crackers (crumbled for topping)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp kosher salt (add more to taste)
- ¼ tsp ground mustard
- *1 cup Italian dressing, for marinating chicken (I prepare Good Seasons variety with red wine vinegar)
- Marinate fresh chicken breasts in Italian dressing for a few hours, in the refrigerator (optional, but recommended!)
- Remove marinating chicken from fridge ~20 minutes before cooking, to bring closer to room temp.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees & oil a large casserole dish.
- Cook chicken on skillet (stove top) adding all remaining marinade juices, until cooked-through, set aside and when cool, chop into chunks.
- Cook 2 cups dry white rice to package directions (I cook with low sodium chicken broth in a rice cooker).
- Steam broccoli florets until just tender (but not too soft), then roughly chop into larger chunks.
- In a large bowl combine canned soups, sour cream, milk, salt, pepper, ground mustard & shredded cheese, whisking to thoroughly mix.
- To mixture, gently stir in minced garlic, sliced mushrooms, cooked/chopped chicken breasts, chopped steamed broccoli & rice, combining well.
- Evenly pack mixture into prepared casserole dish (enameled or glass) and crumble baked cheese crackers on top as crust, pressing crumbles down slightly with a spatula.
- Bake casserole in preheated oven for ~30-40 minutes, checking throughout to make sure cracker crust is not over-browning (if so, tent casserole with foil towards end).
Add more shredded cheese if you prefer this one cheesier!
Traditionally, I make chicken & rice casserole using uncooked rice and chicken, letting the dish bake longer in the oven cooking all at once. For this one, I used leftover white rice I had already cooked, so to speed up the process, I pre cooked the chicken breast and broccoli. This is also a great dish when you have leftover cooked chicken breasts to get creative with. I love the creamy texture, and keeping the chopped ingredients chunky makes for a heartier, rustic bake. I made enough for friends and leftovers, but I wasn’t bummed about that in the least! This one is already on the radar again for later in the month. You can easily add more cheese and seasoning to your taste, but definitely don’t skimp on the crunchy cracker topping, it makes for one ridiculously easy and unique crust (and it’s a nice indulgence since I don’t eat snack crackers very often). I guess wandering down the wrong aisle at the grocery store has its perks, enjoy!Pin It