Comfort foods made with homemade ingredients

Photo Credit: courtesy Jo Cooks

How do you prepare comfort foods with homemade ingredients? One classic comfort food is chicken and rice casserole.  Instead of using canned creamed soup, you can make a homemade cheese sauce, it’s easier than you think!

Also substituting brown rice for white and adding something green like broccoli, helps make this comforting and healthy!  

Lisa B. Smith, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with the Southern Ute Shining Mountain Health and Wellness.

Chicken Brown Rice and Broccoli Bake


  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, prepared according to package directions.
  • 2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets.

For the Sauce:

  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 T flour (regular or GF)
  • 1 ½ cups milk of choice (cow’s, almond, soy)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried mustard
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ tsp salt (to taste)
  • ½ tsp pepper (to taste)
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray non-stick cooking oil into a large baking or casserole dish and set aside.
  2. Cook brown rice according to package directions.
  3. While brown rice is cooking, place 1 T olive oil in a large skillet and heat to medium-high.  Add diced chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  4. In the same large skillet, heat the remaining 1 T oil and sauté onions until translucent.
  5. Add flour to onions and whisk quickly for about one minute.
  6. Slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk.  As it starts to bubble, add the garlic, onion, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.
  7. Turn heat down to low and while stirring, let mixture simmer until thick and bubbly (about 3 minutes), then turn off heat.
  8. Add 1 cup shredded cheese and stir until melted.
  9. Add cooked chicken, cut broccoli and cooked rice to mixture, stir to combine.  Place in the large, prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese.
  10. Place baking dish in oven and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until heated through, broccoli is tender, and cheese is melted and golden.
  11. Remove from oven, sprinkle with fresh parsley.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  12. Enjoy!

Serves 6

Nutrition per serving: 482 Calories, 12g Fat, 60g Carbohydrates, 5g Fiber, 33g Protein, 467mg Sodium

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