One of the best ways to use up items sitting in your refrigerator is to make a casserole. Now, I have family members who snub their noses at casserole, but honey please, I don’t have any time for nonsense like that in my house. No, I am not a harsh “you eat, what you get” kinda cook; I put love in there and I would be upset if someone didn’t like my food, so if I am visiting them or vice versa, I don’t try to force casserole down their throats (though I do believe they would like it, if they tried it) but like a good southern girl, I keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. However, some days I thank the good Lord that I married a man who understands and relishes the virtues of a well prepared casserole full of luscious cheesy goodness.
For any casserole, you can substitute pretty much any vegetable and meat that you would like. And of course, if you are vegetarian, meat isn’t needed. This week, I had chicken and broccoli and lots of peppers, so that is what I put in my casserole. Next time, I am sure it will be a completely different montage. Get creative with it, put what you love in there and I bet you will discover that casserole is delicious.
Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
½ cup green pepper, diced
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
4 tbsp butter, divided
2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cup milk
3 cups cheese, ( I used a mixture of mozzarella, provolone, cheddar and Monterrey jack)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
8 oz. cooked noodles, (I used campanelli, but penne or macaroni will work)
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
4 tbsp bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large saucepan, sauté onions, bell pepper and celery in 2 tbsp butter for about 5 minutes. Lower heat and add flour. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and the flour has cooked out, about 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups cheese and cook until the cheese has melted. Season with salt , pepper and garlic. Stir until bubbly. Add chicken, broccoli and the noodles. Stir to incorporate. Pour into a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese and breadcrumbs over the mixture. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes and enjoy!