My husband loves casseroles. I mean, he’s crazy about them. He also loves rice. Lucky for him, I had chicken breasts in the refrigerator, some leftover shredded carrots, cheese, and 1/2 bag of broccoli florets. I can make rice. What I didn’t have was sour cream. I always have sour cream. What was I going to do?
Lucky for my grandsons, I bought 2 quarts of plain yogurt that we used a week or so ago to make strawberry-banana smoothies. The smoothies were awesome, but I overestimated the amount of yogurt I’d need. Why not substitute yogurt for sour cream? I’ve done it in salad dressings and baked goods in the past. OK – no problem. A healthier chicken, broccoli, and cheese casserole was about to be born.
Here’s a tip: Yogurt is a healthy substitute for sour cream in recipes. It’s lower in fat, and great for both dips, dressings and the like, as well as in baked goods. Opt for whole milk Greek yogurt rather than low fat. Regular yogurt is more liquidy than Greek yogurt, and may throw off the end result, especially in baked recipes. (Although, it was not a problem in this recipe.) But regular yogurt is perfectly fine for dressings, dips and the like. Because yogurt has less fat than sour cream, you’ll need to use a lower temperature when adding it to sauces. Either lower the stove top temperature or take the pan off the heat completely before adding yogurt.
This recipe was originally authored by Trisha Yearwood. I don’t think she’d mind if I changed it up a bit. In addition to the yogurt substitution, I had 1/2 bag of shredded carrots, and they went into the casserole as well.
I love recipes that are flexible with ingredients. If I’d had some, I would have thrown in a handful of frozen peas, too. The carrot and pea additions are also great if you have children who might not like to eat the vegetables on their own, but mixed into creamy-cheesy-goodness, how could they resist?
If you like mushrooms, you could throw in a cup or so of those quartered. No mushrooms in the fridge, so I used a can of low sodium cream of mushroom soup. Trisha’s recipe calls for cream of chicken soup, but none in the pantry. Or you could substitute cream of celery soup, if you wish.
This recipe is also a good way to use leftover rice, like rice from takeout Chinese. And a rotisserie chicken shredded would be a time saver, and very flavorful, I imagine.
Richard was so pleased with the result, he ate more the next day for lunch. Even our dog, Auggie, couldn’t get enough. Thanks Trisha for the tasty inspiration!
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s make a casserole! It’s easy!!
Love ya – Mimi
- 3-4 bonless, skinless chicken breasts, or leftover chicken, or shredded rotisserie chicken
- 1 medium head of broccoli or a bag of fresh broccoli that is cut into florets
- 2-3 cups of cooked rice, white or brown
- 1 10oz can of cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, or cream of celery soup
- 1 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, full fat works best
- ½ cup mayonnaise, full or low fat
- 1 cup of shredded carrots (if desired)
- ½ cup of frozen peas (if desired)
- 8 oz button mushrooms, quartered (if desired)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2½ - 3 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray or butter.
- If using raw chicken breasts, put the meat in a pot, fill the pot with just enough water to cover, bring to a boil, put a lid on the pot, reduce the temperature to a low simmer, and poach the breasts for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and juices run clear. Remove the chicken from the pot, and allow to cool, even slightly. Using 2 forks or your fingers, shred the meat.
- If using leftover chicken, just make sure it's shredded.
- Steam the broccoli for 2-5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Run under cold water to stop cooking.
- In a large bowl, mix the soup, yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, shredded chicken, and ½ of the cheese, and carrots, peas, and mushrooms if using. Season with salt and pepper. Mix ingredients.
- To Assemble:
- Spread the rice in an even layer in the baking dish.
- Distribute the broccoli in an even layer over the rice.
- Top with the remaining cheddar cheese.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until bubbly.
- Remove from the oven, and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.