Recipe: Cheesy Broccoli, Chicken, and Rice

Thinking up new ideas for work-week lunches is always a challenge. I try to mix it up while keeping it easy, healthy, and portable. I saw Smitten Kitchen’s Broccoli, Cheddar, and Wild Rice Casserole recipe last month and decided to make my own version. It was time intensive but worth it for this yummy, one-tupperware-wonder, make ahead lunch!

Domestocrat’s Cheesy Broccoli, Chicken, and Rice (makes 10 servings)
3.5 lbs. (6.5 breasts) chicken
2 large yellow onions, sauteed and divided in half
9 broccoli crowns (8 cups trimmed florets)
3 cups brown rice
1/2 cup additional cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, whatever you like!)
EVOO, salt, and pepper to your preferences for the chicken, onions, and rice
For the cheese sauce:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. flour
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp. black pepper
10 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Start by baking the chicken – rub down with EVOO, salt, and pepper first – at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until your meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. Truthfully, we only cook meat now according to temperature, and not time. It’s much juicier and tender that way. When the chicken is done, remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. When the chicken has cooled, shred it up with two forks for perfect pulled chicken.

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While the chicken is cooking, multitask task with two additional steps:
1) Saute the onions over medium heat. Be sure to divide the batch in half when they are done. Set aside to cool.
2) Cook the rice and then set aside to cool.

When those steps are done there is only two things left to do:
1) Cook the broccoli – rinse, trim, and then boil over high heat for 1-2 minutes, rinse with cold water, and set aside to cool.

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2) Make the cheese sauce. Create the roux (cook butter, EVOO, and flour together over medium heat for 2-3 minutes), add the garlic and cook for another minute, pour in the milk and chicken broth and whisk together, add in all of the spices, add in the cheese, and finally add in the reserved caramelized onions. Stir together until smooth.

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On to assembly!

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In a large casserole dish mix together the chicken, broccoli, rice, and onions.

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Cover with the cheese sauce and mix together.

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Sprinkle a little bit of extra mozzarella or parmesan cheese over the top and bake on 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Serve immediately or portion into 10 tupperware for work-week lunches like I did. This dish was a great balance of healthy with a little indulgence, a perfect midday energy boost, and delicious to boot!

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The Monday Mix

Here’s The Monday Mix for this week! To visit past mixes, click here.

MondayMix

SNew

Today is Marathon Monday here in Boston. Despite the tragedy of last year’s race, Marathon Monday remains one of my favorite days of the year. I love the coverage, the sport, the elite runners, the stories, all of it. It’s a gorgeous day and I know it’s going to be an emotional one too. Boston Strong.

SDelicious

I don’t know if I would actually ever make this Beet Crust Pizza from Bakers Royale but it’s just so dang beautiful I had to share it here.

SBrain

This article (Mind Over Milkshake: How Your Thoughts Fool Your Stomach) takes an interesting look at how nutritional labels affect us and evoke a set of beliefs when we consider their contents.

SFun

Looks like Joe Biden just joined Instagram!

SCrafty

I have to admit that I cringe at most duct tape craft projects. I was so impressed and amazed when I saw Sarah Hearts DIY Duct Tape Table Runner. It’s so cute!

SReal

Here is a really cool map of the uninhabited areas of the US.

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Product Review: Graze Snack Box Update

It’s been 6 months since I signed up for a monthly snack box subscription from Graze. I’m definitely still loving it. In fact, many friends have signed up on my recommendation. My husband even signed up too!

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The variety of snacks has definitely diversified in the past 6 months. They’ve really upped the variety of snacks and the nutritional value too: each box is well balanced with a little bit of everything (dessert and savory snacks, fruit, nuts, dippers, high fiber, low calorie, etc).

Recent dippers:

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Recent nuts:

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Recent fruit/dessert snacks:

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These continue to be the perfect kind of snacks for me – easy, portable, healthy, and satisfying. Each box gets better and better too since I use the snack rating tool which logs your preferences for the next box.

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If you are interested in joining Graze, here is my “friend code” for you to use to get your 1st and 5th Graze box free: PC7L4LHXP.

(Product reviews are never sponsored; they are just my musings on products I’ve tried and want to share with you.)

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Recipe: Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats

Rice krispie treats aren’t always at the forefront of my dessert game but when I get a craving, it will not shake until I make some. Normally I would whip up my standard rice krispie treat recipe but I wanted to switch it up and make some with cocoa krispies. Then I got the wild idea to add even more cocoa flavor to them with cocoa powder. Wild? Nay. Genius!!!

Domestocrat’s Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats (makes 16 treats)
8 tbsp. (1/2 cup) butter
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
10 oz. mini marshmallows (roughly 6 cups)
4 cups cocoa krispies cereal

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the salt and cocoa powder and mix together.

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Next, add in the marshmallows and stir until they are fully melted and the base is completely smooth.

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The last step in the pot is to stir in the cocoa krispies. Make sure every piece is coated with the cocoa/marshmallow base mixture.

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Pour the krispies into a greased baking dish (mine here is an 8×8 glass Pyrex) and press down firmly into the dish to ensure a uniform batch.

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Chill in the fridge for 4-5 hours, cut, and serve!

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These cocoa rice krispie treats were as tasty and whimsical as regular rice krispie treats but with the added decadence of double the cocoa. It’s totally worth it to turn up basic recipes with the slightest of creative tweaks. Enjoy!

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The Monday Mix

Here’s The Monday Mix for this week! To visit past mixes, click here.

MondayMix

SNew

I finally watched Dallas Buyers Club over the weekend. I really liked it but have a few thoughts: 1) McConaughey’s free wheeling, bad behavior was much more believable since I had already seen all of True Detective. I think if I had seen DBC first, it wouldn’t have been believable at all to me (as a lover of his rom-com persona). 2) I obviously know now about all the Oscar buzz and success this movie had but if I had watched it when it originally came out I would never have pegged McConaughey and Leto as Oscar contenders for this one. Not that they weren’t good, I just didn’t think this movie was that level. 3) Speaking of which, in my opinion, the only Oscar-worthy thing about this movie was Jennifer Garner. 4) People always comment on McConaughey’s weight loss for this movie but it was Leto’s that shocked me more. Yikes.

SDelicious

How amazing does this Cacio e Pepe with Brussels Sprouts from What’s Gaby Cooking look?!

SBrain

Did you know that the US Navy has found a way to turn sea water into fuel? This is mind blowing stuff! More reading material here as well.

SFun

Really loving these fun and cute no-dye Easter Egg ideas from A Subtle Revelry.

SCrafty

Patterns like Laura’s Trellis Scarf over on The Purl Bee make me wish I were a knitter. So beautiful!

SReal

Really loved this thought piece in Time Magazine last week from Brigid Schulte about how overwhelming every day tasks make us feel like we’re mismanaging our time and squandering our lives: I’ll Finish the Dishes When I’m Dead.

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Recipe: Pepperoni and Cheese Bread

John keeps a stash of pepperoni in the fridge at all times – mostly for snacking but I also have a hunch that he hopes it will subliminally inspire me to whip him up something special with it. Well, it worked. The dude loves a meat and cheese based bread so I knew he would freak out over this pepperoni and cheese bread recipe I came up with.

Domestocrat’s Pepperoni and Cheese Bread (makes one loaf)
1 cup King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour
1 cup King Arthur bread flour
1/2 tbsp. active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. King Arthur Pizza Seasoning (you can swap this for any italian seasoning)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cups warm water
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup pepperoni (24 slices)

Like all of my recipes, the first step is to use really good ingredients. You know I’m obsessed with King Arthur’s Sir Lancelot flour; it’s light, soft, and gives any bread the perfect texture. John also loves this Wellshire Farms all natural, uncured beef/pork pepperoni.

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I also highly recommend King Arthur’s Pizza Seasoning – what a game changer this was in the dough!

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Time to get started with the dough! Mix all of the ingredients (minus the cheese and pepperoni) in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment on. Be sure to slowly add the water and only give the dough enough so that it comes together in a firm ball.

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Here is one of my favorite bread baking tips. In the winter/cooler months it’s harder for dough to naturally rise as it sits out on the counter because room temp isn’t very high. To help the dough along I create my own steam box – just boil a pot of water, pour the boiled water into a cast iron pan set on the lowest rack in the oven, put the dough in a bowl on the top rack, close the oven door, and let it rise in there for 1 hour. Make sure the oven is OFF though!

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After the dough has risen/doubled in size, prepare to put the bread together.

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On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle shape about 1/8 inch thick.

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Sprinkle the cheese on top of the dough in one even layer and then place the pepperoni on top of the cheese.

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Tightly roll the dough up from one end to the other.

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Use a little bit of water to seal the back seam as well as the folded over side pieces. Place the loaf seam side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and let it rise again (1 hour at minimum, I let mine rise for 4 hours at room temperature, no steam box needed here).

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The baking method I used here is my go to baking method for any bread. First, preheat your oven to 450 degrees with a cast iron skillet and baking vessel inside. A word about the baking vessel: you can buy a very expensive cloche bread baker (a pricey unitasker) or you can do what I did and use a dutch oven. Mine is a Le Creuset but you could use anything that can withstand a lot of heat with a cover or lid. Sorry, there are no pictures of the next steps because it happens fast! If you’d like to reference some pictures of the baking process, check out my sourdough boule post.

Once the oven was preheated, I placed my bread dough and parchment paper in the middle of my Le Creuset. I then poured a cup of water into the hot cast iron pan and closed the oven door quickly. This allows the dough to be fully surrounded by steam. Steam creates an amazing crust and enhances the interior of the bread (you’ll see later).

After three minutes in the steamy stove, I put the lid on the Le Creuset and baked the bread like that for about 15 minutes. This ensures that all of the steam inside the dough will be trapped there while the bread actually bakes.

I then removed the lid and baked the bread for an another 10 minutes until it was a deep golden brown. Here is the final result:

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Slicing into the bread was heaven. It was soft and pillowy, and smelled fantastic with the pizza seasoning studding the bread and the cheese and pepperoni all warm and gooey.

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The steam really created a lot of nooks and crannies. I might try to roll the dough tighter next time though, I’ll be honest, it was perfectly fine like this. John’s only request? More pepperoni. Go figure. Enjoy!

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The Monday Mix

Here’s The Monday Mix for this week! To visit past mixes, click here.

MondayMix

SNew

I’ve mentioned it in passing here but from December to March I was studying like crazy for a professional certification exam I had to take for work. I finally got my results back last week and I passed! I’m so excited!!!

SDelicious

I am definitely making Half Baked Harvest’s Quinoa Crusted Chicken Strips with BBQ Honey Mustard this weekend!

SBrain

Check out this really interesting article from NPR’s Planet Money Team about how spending changes from age 25 to age 75. Hint: less booze, more house.

SFun

Click here for an all emoji music video for Beyonce’s Drunk In Love. Laughed out loud through most of this.

SCrafty

Calling all crafty locals! The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston just opened their Quilts and Color exhibit which runs April 6th through July 27th. You can preview the exhibition here and check out The Boston Globe review here. I am definitely going to this!

SReal

Just because: George Orwell’s 11 Golden Rules for Making the Perfect Cup of Tea.

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