Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole

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Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole is soul-satisfying comfort food. Perfect for a chilly night. Leftovers are just as great too!

Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole | iowagirleats.com

Although I try and live my life with no regrets, there are definitely some experiences I’d go back and “tweak” a little if I could.

Like the time none of my girlfriends nor I had dates to our sophomore year homecoming dance, so we got gussied up and went to dinner all by ourselves – girl power! (This was at the height of the Spice Girls’ popularity, I might add.) A limo was supposed to come to the restaurant afterwards to whisk us off to the dance where’d we’d boogey the night away and have so. Much. FUN! Yeah, no. The limo never showed and we all walked home barefoot. I’d tweak that. 

Like the time I let Ben convince me that packing enormous hiking backpacks for our trip to Italy was a much better idea than packing suitcases. It’ll be so much easier! he said. Trust me! he said. Um, no. Within 30 minutes after arriving in Rome my over-sized, top-heavy backpack triumphed over the weary traveler, causing me to face plant on a majestic cobblestone street, nearly get run over by a moped, and start the vacation with a skinned knee and red face. I’d tweak that. 

Like the beginnings of this blog when I used multiple !!!!!! to emphasize each point (ok I still might do that on occasion!) and take photos so close to the food that you could hardly even tell what the dang dish was. I’d tweak that!

Seeing as how I’ve been writing this blog for 4+ years, there are plenty of yummy dishes from the early days that were documented slightly, well, un-deliciously. Dark, too-close, and unappealing photos don’t do a lot of those recipes justice, and so many of them have been lost in the archives. That being said, I’ve decided to launch a new series on the blog called Way Back Wednesdays!

Occasionally on Wednesdays I’ll highlight a recipe that I made way back in the day that either deserve another chance in the spotlight, or at least get their photos updated. This Wednesday I’m starting with a fabulous fall dish – Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole! 

Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole | iowagirleats.com

I first made this dish for the blog nearly three years ago to help Ben fight a nasty cold. Sauteed chicken, steamed broccoli, and fluffy brown rice are mixed with a homemade cheese sauce then quickly broiled for a fabulous, comforting meal. It’s kind of an “un-casserole” as you don’t have to let the dish bake in the oven, rather, everything is made right on the stove top then tossed together in a casserole dish and quickly broiled.

Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole | iowagirleats.com

I also tweaked a few of the ingredients from the original to make this dish a bit healthier. More broccoli, and the luscious homemade cheese sauce that brings all the ingredients together has less cheese, light sour cream, and skim milk. This casserole ROCKS. A total crowd-pleaser and fall must-have, for sure!

Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole | iowagirleats.com

Start by cooking 2 cups long grain brown rice in 4 cups chicken broth. Cooking rice in chicken broth gives it tons of flavor with minimal added calories. You could use white rice in here, but I love the hearty chew brown rice has. Plus when you smother it in cheese sauce, I don’t think anybody’s going to notice!

Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole | iowagirleats.com

When the rice has 5 minutes left to cook, add 4 cups broccoli florets and 2 chopped green onions to the pot, place the lid back on top, and let them steam until tender.

Skinny-Cheesy-Chicken-and-Rice-Casserole-05_mini

Meanwhile, cook 1lb chopped chicken breasts seasoned with garlic powder, salt, and pepper in 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Remove to a plate then very carefully wipe out the skillet with a dry paper towel and turn the heat down to medium.

Skinny-Cheesy-Chicken-and-Rice-Casserole-06_mini

To the wiped out skillet add 5 teaspoons flour whisked into 1/2 cup milk (I used skim,) then pour in 1-1/2 cups more milk.

Skinny-Cheesy-Chicken-and-Rice-Casserole-07_mini

Stir the milk and flour mixture continuously until thickened and bubbly, about 7-10 minutes, then take the skillet off the heat and add 6oz shredded cheddar cheese (freshly shredded, if possible!) 1/3 cup light sour cream, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper, and garlic powder. 

Skinny-Cheesy-Chicken-and-Rice-Casserole-08_mini

Stir the rice and broccoli mixture together with the cooked chicken and cheese sauce then scoop into a 9×13 baking dish, top with another 2oz shredded cheese and broil until melted and bubbly. Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes, then scoop, plate, and devour!

Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole | iowagirleats.com

Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole

Print this recipe!

Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 cups long grain brown rice
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
2 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1lb chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
salt, pepper, garlic powder
5 teaspoons flour
2 cups milk, divided (I used skim)
1/3 cup light sour cream
8oz shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions: 

  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot then add rice. Cover then turn heat down to medium-low. When rice has 5 minutes left to cook add broccoli and green onions on top to steam.
  2. Meanwhile, heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and then saute until no longer pink. Remove to a plate and set aside then very carefully wipe out skillet with a dry paper towel.
  3. Turn heat down to medium then whisk together flour and 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl. Pour mixture into skillet then add remaining 1-1/2 cups milk. Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until thickened, 7-10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat then add 3/4 of the shredded cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and stir until smooth.
  4. Preheat broiler. Combine cooked rice and broccoli mixture with cheese sauce then scoop mixture into a nonstick sprayed 9×13 baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese is melted then let casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

I could have started with a more photogenic recipe, but this dish was worth bringing back into the spotlight right away. Homey, comforting and so dang good, you’ll find yourself sneaking your fork back into the dish again and again. Enjoy!

Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole | iowagirleats.com

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Comments

  1. Sarah Jane 10.02.2013

    This is one of the first recipes from your site that I made and my husband and I still love it and make it all the time!

  2. C. 10.02.2013

    Yum! I love the idea of ‘way back’ Wednesdays. I’m definitely adding this recipe to my list since it’s casserole season now.

  3. Way back Wednesdays! Fabulous idea, I’m a newer reader so I would love to take a trip down memory lane.

  4. Runner Girl Eats 10.02.2013

    My fiance and I make our own version of this when we are stumped for what to make for dinner since we almost always have the ingredients around. It is definitely perfect for fall. Can’t wait to see more way back posts!

  5. TechChick 10.02.2013

    I’ve got to say, the new pictures make the recipe look awesome! I would like this recipe anyway, but the new pics make me want to make it tonight :) Keep up the great work! (!!!!!!)

  6. Way back Wednesday is a great idea. I would love to (re)visit some of your oldies-but-goodies. Thank you for the revival of these recipes!!!!!! (!!s just for fun)

  7. Molly 10.02.2013

    Love the new Wednesday idea! Very fun!! Also love your blog. I made your apple cake last night and it is delicious!! Happy Fall!

  8. Lindsay 10.02.2013

    I totally love this recipe. I make it all the time. It’s delicious doused in Frank’s hot sauce.

  9. What a cool idea! I am excited to see some recipes featured from before I started reading your blog! :) Just out of curiosity, did you get better at photography by trial and error or taking some sort of class. I definitely have trouble with light in some of my photos!

  10. oh my gosh this is such good comfort food. i love it.

  11. Such a good idea! I cringe at my first posts as well, although I’ll probably cringe at some of mine now, down the road. You know what I’m talkin about!!! ;)

    The story of you face-planting is hilarious. Sorry to laugh at your misfortune but to picture that whole scenario is just too funny. I’m sure Ben felt bad for that suggestion.

  12. Elly 10.02.2013

    I’m a IGE reader from waaay back, and I love this idea! It’s fun to go back and read your old posts. This casserole is a staple in my household, as well. YUM!

  13. Oh my goodness, this looks so good, love that it’s a little lighter!

  14. Teresa Bjork (@Iowamyhome) 10.02.2013

    Looking forward to more wayback Wednesdays! I’m going to make this casserole this week. Thanks!

  15. Kristin 10.02.2013

    That looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it, although I will be eating it alone as my boyfriend does not like cheese or broccoli. I know, it blows my mind too!! :)

  16. I don’t think there is ever a recipe on your blog that I don’t want to gobble up immediately! Once again a winner in my book. I tried your Adobe Turkey Chili yesterday and it was positively delicious. I had a bite for breakfast and tasted even better cold since the flavors had set in. I love this chili!

  17. Kristin 10.02.2013

    Is this the same recipe your friend bought you after you had your baby? I made that recipe, so I’m trying to figure out if this is a different recipe than that one, or is this the same recipe? I love this combination.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.02.2013

      It’s a different one!

      • Lynn 10.02.2013

        Any chance you’ll repost the other recipe once you’ve played around with it? I made it and REALLY enjoyed it. It would taste even better now that the fall season has arrived!!!!

  18. Skinny and cheesy in one sentence, is this true?! That is amazing! Great recipe, as per usual.

  19. I love this recipe!! Great idea to bring around old favorites! Do you think subbing the sour cream with nonfat plain greek yogurt would work?

  20. Emily 10.02.2013

    love the idea for Way Back Wednesday!!! :)

  21. Amy 10.02.2013

    Kristin, I love your idea of Way Back Wednesdays! I did the same thing when I started my blog: really zoomed-in photos that are, umm, basically cringe-worthy. (How I thought they were artsy, I’ll never know!) But the recipes still deserve their chance to shine, so it’ll be fun to see your photos get a mini makeover in the next few weeks!

  22. This sounds like a perfect weeknight meal. I can totally relate re: the awful photos I took early on for my blog. Kind of makes me want to remake some of those recipes, as they were gems too!

  23. Megan 10.02.2013

    I make this (the original) ALL THE TIME. It s definitely a family favorite. Not sure that this helps to cut calories at all, but I use greek yogurt instead of the sour cream. YUM!! I’ll definitely be lightening this one up a bit more with some of your changes. :)

  24. Gloria 10.02.2013

    I love the yellow casserole dish. Where did you get it?

  25. Kristen 10.02.2013

    Nice! I am currently stocking my freezer with meals for after my baby comes! I am adding this one to the list!

    • Sarah 10.05.2013

      Just wondering how this would freeze. At what point would you freeze it? Before or after baking?

  26. Sarah 10.02.2013

    Love this – but is there a gluten-free alternative? Thanks!

    • i used rice milk and turned out well!

    • Jill 10.06.2013

      I make most recipes gluten free by subbing corn starch for flour. Use half the amount the recipe calls for.

  27. Nessa 10.02.2013

    Yummy!

  28. Ellen 10.02.2013

    Way Back Wed. – be fun to see the original photo too.

  29. I think I’m going to love these new Wednesday posts. Casseroles are so comforting in the upcoming cold months – I can’t wait to bake them all Fall/Winter long!

  30. Kimberli 10.03.2013

    This recipe sounds delicious, I think I’ll be making it for dinner tomorrow night – thanks for sharing!!

  31. Cheesy, chicken veggie carb goodness? I’m sold!

  32. Cheesy, comforting and delicious. I’ll take it!

  33. Kathy 10.03.2013

    How long do you cook the rice?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.06.2013

      Hey Kathy! Brown rice cooking times vary, so just cook according to package directions.

  34. Staci 10.03.2013

    I had all the ingredients on hand and ended up making this last night for dinner. The husband loved it and I loved how simple it was. An easy dinner that came together quickly. I wonder if it will freeze well so I have make my own frozen dinner for those late work days?

  35. Jody 10.03.2013

    I recently started reading your blog and love it! I enjoy cooking and baking but have to admit I’ve gotten into a rut of making the same dishes over and over again for my family so am enjoying trying the different recipes you blog about. They are yummy and my family enjoys them!

  36. What a great way to sneak in some extra veggies! Can’t wait to try this one. I make a similar dish with spaghetti squash and it reminds me so much of macaroni and cheese.

  37. Tom 10.03.2013

    Definitely love this idea, especially since I’ve only been reading for a year or two!

    Also, there is nothing wrong with too many exclamation marks!!!! Ha! No, but seriously…there needs to be some kind of new punctuation that’s a step up from a period but a step below an exclamation mark to show that “hey, I’m enthused about what I’m saying, but not annoyingly excited about it.” Maybe I’m the only one that thinks about these sort of things, but…so be it :-)

  38. Laura 10.03.2013

    What kind of camera do you use to photograph? You’ve become quite the photographer over the years? Did you take classes?

    Thanks!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.06.2013

      Thank you, Laura! I use a Nikon D7000 and have just practiced over the years! :)

  39. Megan I. 10.03.2013

    I made this last night and it is DELICIOUS!!! I swapped the sour cream for greek yogurt, used leftover rotisserie chicken, and a steam bag of frozen broccoli because that’s what I had on hand and it turned out great! Thanks Kristin!

  40. Amy 10.03.2013

    Just received the email and made it already. I cheated and bought rotisserie chicken, brown rice from Trader Joes you steam in the microwave as well, broccoli you steam. Easy to make, quick meal for after school and soccer. I know they will like it. First time I’ve made something and posted a comment. Thanks!

  41. This dish looks super delicious to me. Comfort food for sure.

  42. I made this last night with things I had on hand!
    I substituted Trader Joe’s Brown Frozen Rice, 16 oz of Frozen Broccoli steamed in microwave, Greek Yogurt for the Sour Cream, added Smoked Paprika to the Cheese Sauce and used cheese from TJ’s that was already shredded. It was quick, filling and most importantly my husband loved it :)

    • I made this last night with things I had on hand!
      I substituted Trader Joe’s Brown Frozen Rice, 16 oz of Frozen Broccoli steamed in microwave, Rice Milk instead of regular, Greek Yogurt for the Sour Cream, added Smoked Paprika to the Cheese Sauce and used cheese from TJ’s that was already shredded. It was quick, filling and most importantly my husband loved it :)

  43. Debra Rose 10.05.2013

    That casserole looks so delicious – Yumm! Perfect comfort food for the whole family.

  44. […] Skinny Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli-Rice Casserole […]

  45. Audrey 10.06.2013

    I made this casserole last night and it was AMAZING! I love the homemade cheese sauce :)

  46. Emily3 10.06.2013

    I made the original recipe a couple months ago, and the whole family loved it. Tonight I made this “skinny” version and it was just as tasty. Next time I think I’ll add even more broccoli to get more veggies snuck in :) Thanks for another delicious recipe post!

  47. Oh the things I would “tweak” a bit if I could go back in time…and I would tweak the heck out of my posts from my early blogging days! I’ve actually been going through a lot of my old recipes lately and trying to organize them all…it’s really is amazing how AWFUL I was at photography back then! Ha! Some of the dishes you can’t even see because of a lack of light! I really like this Way Back Wednesday idea! I may have to borrow it and whip my old posts into shape! All THAT being said, I have to say, I’ve never really been a big fan of rice, but this dish looks incredible! You of course had me at broccoli (and cheese)! ;)

  48. […] dinner last night, I wanted to try this recipe for Skinny Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli-Rice Casserole that I saw on Iowa Girl Eats the other day. I love Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats and I have always […]

  49. Lori 10.09.2013

    I just made this and it came out perfect! There is nothing I would change. Your recipes have helped this non-cook learn how to not eat out all the time. Thanks!

  50. Laura 10.10.2013

    Yum! I’ve made this for dinner tonight, and put a few small dish versions ready for the freezer for my toddler. This is definitely one to make when you are weaning your little guy (I know that’s way off).
    I make my cheese sauces with light sour cream all the time, I love the flavor it adds. Plus we add a little franks hot sauce to our cheeses sauces. Gives a nice kick!
    Thanks for your posts, I always enjoy my weekly email round up.

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