This creamy garden chicken casserole is one of my very favorite casserole recipes because it is so colorful and flavorful. Since it involves multiple steps, more than one or two pieces of cookware, and takes more than 30 minutes to make, it violates almost all of my rules for a weeknight dinner. However, it is always a hit with company, at a potluck, or when I make it to bring to a friend who is ill or who has recently had a baby. If you’ve read my other recipes, you know I only go to any degree of effort in the kitchen if the outcome is amazing so I promise this is worth it.
First, you have to cook your chicken. I like to boil mine since I think it stays moister that way. I like to add a couple of garlic cloves and a slice of lemon or a tablespoon of lemon juice to the water for a hint of flavor.
While the chicken is cooking, I start the rice. Instead of water, I cook my rice in chicken broth. It’s an easy switch and makes a big difference in the flavor of the dish. If I am making the dish for my family or a friend who I know eats healthy, I use brown rice. For everyone else, I use long grain white rice. Other than swapping chicken broth for the water, I follow the cooking directions for the rice that are printed on the package. I cook it in my largest saucepan so I can add the other ingredients later.
Next, I saute the onion, carrots, green pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil. When the vegetables are soft, I add the wine and bring it to a boil.
After it cooks for just a couple of minutes, I pour the vegetable wine mixture over the rice and stir it all together. Then, I add the chicken and mix well.
For this next step, you probably should use a saucepan but since I’ve already got my skillet out (from the sauteed vegetables) I use that instead to make the cream sauce. For the cream sauce, I combine the cream cheese, evaporated milk, and shredded cheddar cheese. Then, I stir over medium low heat until all the cheese is melted and the sauce is fairly smooth.
When the sauce is ready, I pour it over the chicken vegetable rice mixture and stir until everything is coated in the sauce.
Finally, I pour the casserole into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. I sprinkle sliced almonds on top before covering and putting it into the oven.
After that, it just needs to bake for 35 minutes covered and another 15 minutes uncovered.
Because of the rice, the casserole actually has great structure and can be cut into slices. I prefer to scoop out servings into bowls though. It’s entirely up to you. It taste just as good whether you serve it on a plate or in a bowl.
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 small carrots, sliced
- 1 small green pepper, diced
- 4 large mushrooms, diced
- 1 cup white cooking wine
- 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- Boil chicken breasts for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and dice into small pieces.
- In a large saucepan, prepare rice according to package directions, substituting chicken broth for water.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 13 in baking dish.
- In a large skillet, saute onion, carrots, green pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add wine and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour wine and vegetable mixture over rice and mix well. Stir in chicken.
- In a medium saucepan, combine cream cheese, evaporated milk, and cheddar cheese. Cook over medium heat until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Add to rice mixture and stir well.
- Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top of the casserole. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 10-15 minutes or until bubbly.