Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chicken and Rice Casserole

For Christmas John's grandmother, Mimi, gave me The Lady and Sons cookbook, based on recipes used by Paula Dean and her sons at their southern restaurant. I wanted to start with an easy recipe, as well as a recipe that would yield leftovers. As a house composed of a preschool teacher and a dental school student, we need to pack lunch each day. This recipe was super easy, delicious, and it reheated so well that we enjoyed a few lunches from our dinner. The combination of ingredients made for a very bright presentation and the flavors combined very well. It's a very comforting meal, filled with almost every food group. One small helping and were stuffed - in a good way!

*3 cups diced chicken (I used three fresh chicken breasts, diced and cooked on the skillet. Note: chicken must be cooked before being added to the casserole)
*1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice, cooked according to package instructions
*1 can cream of celery soup
*2 cans French-style green beans, rinsed and drained
*1 4oz. jar pimentos, drained (Note: After much searching I found these in the mustard/dressing aisle on the bottom shelf. They are easy to miss!)
*1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
*1/2 cup mayo (recipe called for 1 cup, but after my first time making this I felt it could do with less. I used 1/2 cup reduced fat mayo and John said he couldn't taste a difference. Score!)
*1/2-1 medium onion, diced and sauteed

*Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

*Be sure to cook chicken and rice. Both must be cooked before going into the casserole. I found cooking the chicken with the onions on a skillet, lined with olive oil, made the chicken more flavorful and allowed the onions to become soft enough not to be too potent in the casserole. Obviously if you enjoy very onion heavy dishes you can modify how you cook them.

Combine all ingredients in an oven-safe casserole dish.

*Be sure to mix the ingredients well enough so that all ingredients are evenly dispersed. Place in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until warm.

*For reheating: you may reheat in the oven or in the microwave. Both made for yummy leftovers!

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