Detox Monday

Do you have that one meal from childhood that will eternally evoke thoughts of comfort, homeyness, and contentedness? Maybe it’s a special dish that was prepared for birthdays, holidays, or other special occasions; or maybe its your favorite thing your grandma would make. For me, it’s my Mom’s Chicken Divan casserole that takes me back. I used to request this creamy chicken and broccoli dish when too much time had passed between appearances at our dinner table. A few years back, I asked her for the recipe so I could make it myself. After I went through the many steps to prepare the iconic dish from my younger-years, I was quite pleased that it was just as amazing as I had remembered.

With the 40 and 50-degree weather the past few days, cravings for comfort foods and casseroles have started to become the norm. I was flipping through Cooking Light’s Real Family Food cookbook, when I came across a lightened up recipe for Chicken Divan. Not only does this recipe include a homemade sauce (read: no cream of anything canned soup), it also seems to have fewer steps than the one I grew up eating. I want to mention that this dish doesn’t exactly fit with my usual “Detox Monday” recipes, however I thought this was a delicious alternative to heavier comfort foods. Although this will never be a replacement for my Mom’s Chicken Divan recipe, it acts as a great stand-in when trying to start the week off right.



Chicken Divan

What You Need

  • 4 cups broccoli florets, cut into (1-inch) pieces
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces grated fresh Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cups cooked long-grain brown rice
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional)

What To Do

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cook broccoli in boiling water to cover 5 minutes; drain.
  3. While broccoli cooks, place flour in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Gradually add broth, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk; reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Add butter, stirring with a whisk until melted. Add Parmesan cheese, next 4 ingredients (through pepper), and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, stirring until cheeses melt. Stir in broccoli, rice, and chicken.
  4. Spoon rice mixture into a 9x13 square glass or ceramic baking dish coated. Top with remaining cheddar cheese, and sprinkle with almonds, if desired. Cover and bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 additional minutes or until bubbly and top is browned.
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