Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice Casserole

There’s also some broccoli in there, too. All the food groups represent: cheese, carbs, leftover protein, and green stuff. If that doesn’t scream balance, then I do not know if there’s help for you.

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice Casserole

With the coldest night since April on tap for us tonight – 44F, BRRRRR! – I wanted something warm and not-chili for dinner. I took the house – and Thanksgiving favorite – Cheesy Broccoli and Quinoa Casserole and grabbed a can of chipotles and that leftover shredded chicken in the fridge that needed to be eaten, like, yesterday.

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice Casserole

It’s still all the things you love about the traditional broccoli, cheese, and rice casserole: one baking dish, cheesy, gooey, not-very-pretty comfort food. But this version, it gets a little added kick from stirring a few tablespoons of minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce into the cheese sauce.

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice Casserole

It’s a little spicy. It’s still super cheesy. And insanely comforting.

Cheesy Chipotle Chicken and Rice Casserole

The cheesy comfort food favorite gets a spicy kick from chipotle peppers.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups uncooked white rice (or enough to yield 3 cups cooked, check your package instructions)
  • 16 oz frozen chopped broccoli
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp minced chipotles in adobo sauce*
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover shredded chicken
  • *I put the entire can into a mini-chopper and mince and then save the leftovers in the fridge. Or freezer.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, cook the rice in water with a generous pinch of salt, according to package, directions and then set aside.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.
  4. Whisk in the flour, onion, garlic, 2-3 tablespoons of minced chipotles (if you're sensitive to heat, start with 2), a generous pinch of salt and black pepper.
  5. Let cook 1-2 minutes and then slowly add the milk, whisking until the sauce is smooth.
  6. Let the sauce simmer, reducing the heat if necessary, about 5 minutes until thickened and bubbling.
  7. Remove from heat, whisk in the cheddar a handful at a time until completely melted.
  8. Taste for spice/seasoning and add additional chipotles, salt, and pepper to taste.
  9. Add broccoli, rice, and chicken to the pot and mix well.
  10. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and bake ~35 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.

Notes

Yields: 8-12 servings

Adapted from Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa

Estimated time: 1 hour

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Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

This is the greatest restaurant ever, momma.

There are some points you just can’t argue against.

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

Last week, Landry & I took a Mommy-Daughter day. A field-trip with her preschool class to a local farm, flu shots (because I am the epitome of fun), half-marathon packet pickup, and a trip to the Lego Store was capped off with a super late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.

Side note: The look of wonder on a sweet 4-year-old’s face after she discovers what’s hiding inside the fried mac & cheese far surpasses the magic of any five Christmas mornings.

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

My very very favorite dish is the Chicken Bellagio. It is a wonderfully delicious calorie- and sodium-bomb of perfection. You have a half pound (or more) of pesto spaghetti topped with fried chicken cutlets, topped with prosciutto, topped with a simple arugula salad.

For $15, it feeds us 2 bigs and 1 little twice. But you can shave the calories and sodium and price down quite a bit at home without a lot of effort.

And you don’t have to put on pants or mascara to do it (though I do recommend wearing pants while cooking the chicken). (You know.) (Because splatters.)

Cheesecake Factory Chicken Bellagio Copycat

You have three components here: the pasta, the chicken, and the salad. Put the pasta into the boiling water at the same time as you start cooking the chicken and with the exception of quickly tossing some salad greens with some olive oil, lemon juice, and parmesan, everything should finish up at the same time.

Copycat Chicken Bellagio

A copycat recipe for the Cheesecake Factory's Chicken Bellagio. Make it at home and skimp on the calories, not the flavor.

Ingredients

  • For the pasta:
  • 8 oz uncooked thin spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup cream, optional*
  • For the chicken:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup panko
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • For the salad:
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • Your favorite dark salad greens (I had a baby spinach-kale mix on hand)
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon wedges
  • Parmesan
  • *I was looking to lighten the dish and didn't want anything as heavy as cream in the recipe. The restaurant obviously uses a cream-based sauce - so if you want to go big, stir in a bit of heavy cream.

Instructions

  1. Bring water to boil in a large pot.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp water and pour into a plate or small pan (I used an 8-inch sq baking dish).
  4. Mix together the panko, Italian seasoning, a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and cheese in another plate or small pan (I used a dinner plate).
  5. Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally and place in a large zipper bag (or between sheets of plastic wrap) and lightly pound a few times to even and thin them out (thin enough so that they cook quickly but not thin enough that you can see through them).
  6. Add flour to the zipper bag and shake to coat the chicken.
  7. Shake off the excess flour and dip the chicken into the egg mixture, flipping to coat.
  8. Press the chicken into the panko mixture and flip and press again. Transfer to another plate or pan and set aside, repeat for the remaining 3 pieces of chicken.
  9. Put the pasta into the boiling water at the same time you start the first two pieces of chicken in the frying pan.
  10. Cook the chicken two pieces at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side, decreasing the heat a little if it browns too quickly.
  11. Before draining the pasta, pull out ~1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
  12. Drain the pasta and return to the pan with half of the pasta water and the pesto. Toss until a creamy sauce forms, adding additional pasta water, as necessary.
  13. Divide the pasta between 4 plates and top with the chicken cutlets as they come out of the pan. Season with additional salt and pepper.
  14. Top each piece of chicken with a slice of prosciutto.
  15. In a medium bowl, toss 4 handfuls of salad greens with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a squeeze of 2 lemon wedges, and a small handful of grated parmesan.
  16. Divide between the 4 plates and enjoy. Without mascara. Pants also optional.

Notes

Yields: 4 generous servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 45 minutes

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Honeycrisp Apple and Clementine Sangria

“Is there something special about these apples?”

It was the first time I’d seen honeycrisp apples in… I don’t even know. I eagerly paid too much, too early, for far too many apples. (I’ve never tried to keep my hoarding tendencies a secret.) So much so, that the cashier looked at me like there must have been some kind of a mistake.

But to answer her question: Yes. There is something special about Honeycrisp apples. They are my very, very favorite apples. Sweet, beautifully crispy, and they actually taste like an apple should. Eat them straight from the shopping bag, make chicken salad, applesauce, or bake them into a slab pie. They work everywhere.

Also? Sangria.

Honeycrisp Apple and Clementine Sangria

When my HEB “Ciao Italia” Primo Picks arrived this month celebrating Italian food, I zeroed in on the Clementine Italian Soda. Central Market’s line of Italian sodas are some of my very favorite things in the world to make sangria (and margaritas) with.

The Clementine Soda isn’t very sweet and it’s less carbonated (compared to “regular” soda) so it was perfect to knock the edge off of that bottle of budget, “too-sweet red” that I had stashed in the wine shelf for emergency sangria. And if the sudden need to make sangria for football Sunday with some spendy first-reappearance Honeycrisp Apples doesn’t qualify as an emergency, then I don’t know what does.

Honeycrisp Apple and Clementine Sangria

HEB has provided a selection of this month’s Ciao Italia Primo Picks to a lucky reader. To enter the giveaway, simply answer this question in the comments below: What is your favorite Italian dish or beverage?

The lucky winner is Eva! Eva, please check your inbox for instructions on how to claim your prize!

Besides Sangria? Carbonara, either traditional or in any of it’s many, many wonderful forms.

Honeycrisp Apple and Clementine Sangria

A fall sangria with sweet honeycrisp apples and clementines.

Ingredients

  • 750ml bottle of any sweet red wine
  • 2 cans of Clementine Soda
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 2 clementines
  • Additional sugar or sweetener, as desired

Instructions

  1. Add the red wine and apple slices to a pitcher.
  2. Using a citrus zester, make a couple of passes over the clementine to pull off a few strands of zest and add to the pitcher.
  3. Peel the clementines, roughly chop the segments, and add to the pitcher.
  4. Just before serving, add the clementine soda and taste to see if you require further sweetening.

Notes

Yields: 6 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 10 minutes

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This recipe was developed in conjunction with H-E-B and I was provided ingredients as well as compensated for my time. Messy fingers, stretchy-waisted pants, and baby-Elmo-clogged-toilets are all mine. You can find H-E-B on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. And if you’re as lucky as we are, 3 locations within a 5 mile radius.

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Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

Well, actually three ways. But I didn’t photograph the third way.

(Can’t wait to see those Google keyword searches next week!) ([giggle])

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

Let me introduce you to the most amazing thing to come out of my crockpot since… well, that last amazing thing that came out of my crockpot.

I call it Honey Chipotle Chicken. And I call it dinner for 4 nights this week.

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

It starts with 3 lbs of chicken breasts, some honey, a can of chipotles in adobo, and some onion and garlic. ~5 hours later, you have enough chicken to feed a small army for nearly the rest of the week. An army that will absolutely adore you.

The cooking sauce is defatted (it’s a word) and thickened and then drizzled over the shredded chicken. The sauce has a pretty amazing balance of sweet and heat – my 4 year old actually claimed it to be “too spicy”… but I watched her mop up every single drop of sauce with her quesadilla because seriously – what won’t that kid do for a bowl of Blue Bell? (Besides not cleaning her room.)

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

The first night we made those tacos and quesadillas (because my 4 year old will not eat a taco that hasn’t been sufficiently smashed), topping them with pico de gallo and some crumbled goat cheese. For lunch the next day, I served it over a bowl of some fancy rice-quinoa mix.

Then we made enchiladas. And I have no reservations about telling you this: They are absolutely the best enchiladas I’ve made or eaten. Ever. Sweet, spicy (but not craaazy hot), and cheesy comfort food.

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos and Enchiladas

And I’ve still got 1/2 lb of shredded chicken and a cup of sauce left. I can tell you one thing – the weekend’s football munchies are going to be killer good.

Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Chicken

Sweet and spicy Honey Chipotle Chicken made in the crockpot. Tacos, enchiladas, sandwiches, or gameday appetizers - it's uses are as endless as the dish is amazing.

Ingredients

  • For the Honey Chipotle Chicken:
  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 7 oz can chipotles in adobo
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • To serve as tacos:
  • Tortillas
  • Tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Crumbled goat cheese
  • To serve as enchiladas:
  • 12 tortillas
  • 4 oz grated Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Cilantro

Instructions

  1. Place chicken breasts in a large crockpot.
  2. Place the chipotles, honey, onion, garlic, a couple dashes of Worcestershire, and black pepper into a blender (you can chop/mince everything by hand if you'd like). Fill the empty chipotle can with water and add the water to the blender.
  3. Blend for 15-20 seconds until you have a pourable sauce (super smooth, homogenous liquid not necessary).
  4. Pour the sauce over the chicken and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
  5. Remove the chicken and shred (I am still loving this method!); cover and set aside.
  6. Skim the fat from the top of the sauce or pour the sauce into a fat separator (I have this one and didn't use the strainer attachment).
  7. Transfer defatted liquid to a sauce pan on the stove over medium high heat. Pull out ~1/2 cup of liquid and whisk it with 3 Tbsp cornstarch. Add it back to the sauce pan and cook until it the sauce boils and thickens.
  8. I tossed 1/2 cup sauce with the shredded chicken to keep it moist and then stored the two separately (I had 3.5 cups of liquid).
  9. To make tacos, serve the shredded chicken drizzled with 1-2 Tbsp of honey chipotle sauce and top with chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and crumbled goat cheese.
  10. To make enchiladas, place 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 375. Wrap chicken and a pinch of shredded cheese in each tortilla and place in the dish (I used half the cheese inside the enchiladas, the other half on top). Top with 1-1.5 cups honey chipotle sauce and the remaining cheese. Bake ~15 mintutes, until browning and bubbly. Serve topped with chopped cilantro (if you're not a hater).

Notes

Yields: A Whole Lot

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride, method inspired by The World Famous Honey Sesame Chicken

Estimated time: 5 hours 30 minutes

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