Here's the Dish

Comforting Chicken and Rice Casserole

By Charlotte on August 19, 2012 6:35 AM

My mother-in-law Mary Jo and I were alike in many ways. With dreams of becoming reporters, we majored in communications, got teaching certificates just in case that journalism thing didn't work out and had sons who share our love of writing. Sometimes, you just get lucky.

Although never one to interfere, Jo taught me a lot. It's fine to recycle last year's gift bags at Christmas. In fact, we expect it. Bob's favorite meal is stuffed round steak, black-eyed peas and chocolate pie. And Eleanor's Chicken & Rice Casserole makes any day better.


Ready to eat - 600.jpg

Jo first fixed this comfort-food classic for us in 1997. She and Bob's dad John stayed with Cole in Colleywood while Bob and I celebrated my 40th birthday in New York City. (I never would've guessed that 15 years later our one-and-only son would be living in the Big Apple, but that's another story.)

 Jo & John - Cole's HS Graduation 250.jpg

No one warned me but turning the big 4-0 was way more traumatic than hitting 30, 50 or any of the other milestones. So instead of feeling elated after our whirlwind trip, I came back depressed. Somehow, my always perceptive mother-in-law understood, welcomed us home with a round of hugs and improved the situation immediately by serving Eleanor's Chicken and Rice Casserole with a side of caring conversation.


Since then, I smile and think of her every time I fix what has become one of our family's favorite meals.


John and Jo with Cole years later

 when he graduated from high school.




Although I'm not sure who created this yummy concoction, it's named after one of Jo's best girlfriends from her years living out west in Big Spring, TX where Bob grew up. My version stays pretty close to the original recipe but includes a little more zing.


Besides being downright delicious, this seven-ingredient treasure is super-fast and E-A-S-Y to prepare.  


Ingredients - 600.jpg

There's no chopping or dicing involved unless you choose ready-made rotisserie chicken or grill your own instead of using canned. I often go that route because this casserole tastes even better when made with Bob's fabulous grilled chicken, which works best shredded here. Otherwise, if you can open a can, you're home free.


Start by preparing Chicken Rice-A-Roni on the stovetop as the package directs. It includes rice and spices, everything you need except for water and a little butter. That takes about 25 minutes. When it's done, put the Rice-A-Roni in a 13" x 9" pan.


Ready for the oven - 600.jpg

Then combine cream of chicken soup (or cream of mushroom, whichever's handy), sliced water chestnuts, chicken, green chilies and sour cream in a medium bowl.


Mixing - 600.jpg

Spoon that mixture over the rice layer, spreading it to cover the rice. Sprinkle on some shredded Pepper Jack cheese (that's Monterey Jack with Jalapenos) and bake about 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


Great for weeknights, Sunday lunch or pot luck, this simple, one-dish meal appeals to everyone. It's lightly seasoned, oozes with creamy goodness and has just enough kick (thanks to the peppers) to keep things interesting. Even better, it can't help but fill you with the feeling that things are looking up!



Eleanor's Chicken and Rice Casserole


Serves 6 - 8


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Prepare the Rice-A-Roni as instructed on the box.


Spritz a 13" x 9" baking dish with a nonstick spray like Pam. Then add the cooked Rice-A-Roni.


Combine all the remaining ingredients except the cheese. Stir until blended. Place over rice mixture. Top with cheese.


Bake until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted.


Enjoy with a side of sliced fresh tomatos and thick, crusty slices of warm French or multi-grain bread. Freeze any leftovers; they tend to lift your spirits even more when all you have to do is warm them up!


Here are some of our other favorite casseroles:

Love FREE stuff? We've teamed up with Stubb's Legendary Bar-B-Q to give away a $30-value coupon bundle good for an assortment of their fast, smokehouse-flavored favorites. Click here for details on how to enter. Contest ends Aug. 21, 2014.

Follow @BoomerBrief on Twitter for tweets about this and other fun happenings on our blog.


Red Thong Strong: Girlfriends Little Secrets to Smoothing Lifes Panty Lines
In the Mirror

IT Cosmetics New Confidence in a Compact

Hero_Compact_Medium_RGB_NR 600.jpg

Some beauty bloggers try any and everything. But I'm pretty picky about what I test, especially if I'll be putting it on my face. Unfortunately, I'm on the sensitive side and making a wrong choice could (and has) cost me days, even weeks of recovery time. Yikes!

That's why I'm big on brands I know and trust like IT Cosmetics. They're one of my fav anti-aging makeup and skincare lines. Think Bye Bye Lines Serum, SuperHero Mascara and much more. The folks at IT work with doctors to develop serious beauty solutions based on ingredients that are both cutting edge and good for your skin.

Continue Reading »

Playing Favorites

Grace & Frankie

In the mood for a quirky comedy? Netflix' favorite female odd couple, Grace & Frankie, returns to the streaming service March 24th. For those of you who haven't discovered the quirky Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin series it may be one for your watch list.

Continue Reading »

Follow Us

Follow us on Twitter: @BoomerBrief 

and @CharlotteBoomer

Follow Charlotte on Pinterest:  Follow Me on Pinterest

Follow Bob on Pinterest

Know someone battling cancer? Baylor Health Care System's Sammons Says... cancer blog is a great place to go for help. Here, you'll find information, resources, physicians, support groups and just about everything you need to help you navigate your way through this illness.

Now Trending 

We Like These Sites 

Senior Forums is a great place to get the news and share views on everything from hobbies and healthcare, to food, family & travel. 

3CouponCode is home to thousands of the latest money-saving coupons and deals.

Matt Drudge gets the goods and his site ain't bad either.

The Huffington Post is the gold standard of political blogs.

You don't have to live in Dallas to enjoy D Magazine.

More →