Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli & Whole Wheat Orzo Bake

This is one of my most favorite casseroles, its super easy, full of great ingredients and can be made pretty quickly. I usually make it when I have leftover roast chicken or rotisserie chicken that needs to be used up. The sauce is creamy and cheesy, just the way a great casserole should be. The topping is crunchy and garlicky and the whole dish is so incredibly satisfying on a cold or rainy day! I have been known to fry up an egg, throw it over top and eat it for breakfast as well, its so good.

Instead of using canned soup I like to make my own cream of chicken soup base, that way you can control what your family is eating. Canned soups are high in salt (even healthy ones) and loaded with preservatives. If you are going to go through the trouble to make a healthy meal, from scratch, for your family then you might as well do this one extra step, it literally takes 5 minutes. Once you have made your own soup base or sauce you won't ever want to go back to condensed soup again! Its a basic skill that will allow you to make all kinds of other sauces just as easily. I use Pinch of Yum's recipe for homemade cream of chicken soup, click the link to check it out and make your own. I use organic chicken broth, pasture raised whole milk and unbleached, organic flour when I make mine. Its super easy and incredibly delicious! For this recipe I use onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt and fresh ground pepper as my seasonings.

The other thing I like to make homemade are breadcrumbs, they are so incredibly easy and save you tons of money! You can season them exactly how you want and they won't contain high fructose corn syrup. A lot of bread companies add this because it browns the bread and bread crumbs nicely, not necessary! Click on: homemade bread crumbs, to get my recipe and tips on making them yourself. I buy day old bread that is on sale and make a huge batch of them and store them in the freezer, they last forever and it costs me pennies! Plus I can use whole grain or wheat bread for the added health benefits!

This recipe serves 8-10, 1/2 cup servings.


Thigh & leg meat of a leftover farm raised, roast chicken or rotisserie chicken, about 2 cups of dark meat, removed from the bone and chopped.
1 Bag frozen, organic broccoli, thawed and drained.
3 Pieces pasture raised Canadian bacon, cooked and chopped.
Homemade cream of chicken soup, get the recipe at Pinch of Yum, you will use all of it.*
Few Sprigs fresh, organic thyme, leaves only, chopped, about 2 Tbsp.
1 Sprig fresh, organic rosemary, leaves only, chopped, about 1 Tbsp.
1 Cup young gouda, grated, you need a "melty" one so don't buy aged.
1/2 Cup parmesan cheese, grated.
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste, about 1 tsp each.
2 1/2 Cups whole wheat orzo, cooked by the package directions, brown rice can be substituted.
1/2 Cup homemade bread crumbs, get my recipe.
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Organic cloves garlic, peeled, whole.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine the first 11 ingredients, mix well to combine them all. Pour the mixture into a large baking dish, I use a glass dish and I don't grease it.

In a small bowl mix the bread crumbs and olive oil, grate the garlic into this mixture and combine till it resembles wet sand. Sprinkle it, evenly, over the casserole and bake for 30 minutes, or until its hot and bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

Remove and serve hot or at room temperature, enjoy!

Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner! I love to top it with a fried egg and Jojo's siracha!

*If you don't want to make the homemade cream of chicken soup I suggest using Pacific organic cream of chicken soup, it comes in a small cardboard container and you will need two of them for this recipe, add a half cup of milk and 1/4 cup of chicken stock to get the consistency you need, and thin it out. Cut back on the salt because this will be saltier than my recipe above.

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