Chicken Broccoli Casserole

I doubt even my husband knows this--because I'm usually too busy drooling over a Taco Bell commercial to bring it up--but this casserole is one of my absolute favorite comfort foods. I came across the recipe in one of my Mom's old cookbooks* back in high school, made it, and fell in love with the creamy, melty texture and the flavor of curry powder. Since then, I've made it here and there (the mayo in it usually reminds me that it can't be a weekly dinner), but love it every time. I hope it warms your stomach like it does mine!

-1 large bag of frozen broccoli (or veggies of choice)
-3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-2 cans cream of chicken soup
-1/2 cup mayo (the original recipe called for a full cup--see, I'm looking out for your health here ;))
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-2/3 cup of breadcrumbs
-1 tablespoon of butter
-1.5 teaspoons of curry powder (or more or less, to taste)
-Salt and pepper 
-Oil for browning chicken

I like to prepare the saucy part of the casserole first. To do this, simply mix together the cream of chicken soups, mayo, cheddar cheese, and curry powder. Set aside, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Next, get your broccoli into the microwave (or on the stove-top--I just love the convenience and crispness of the broccoli in those microwave steamer bags) and cook according to package directions. If you like your broccoli to have a bit more bite to it, take it out of the microwave (or off the stove) a minute or two earlier, because it will finish cooking in the oven later.

For the chicken (and to expedite the process), I typically cut my uncooked chicken breasts into cubes, salt and pepper them, and then toss them in a skillet with some oil to brown. When I was baking the casserole this time, however, I already had some leftover chicken breasts that I had baked from the day before and used those. Really, so long as you have some form of cooked chicken, you can't go wrong.

Set the chicken aside, then melt the butter in a small skillet and add the breadcrumbs. Make sure the breadcrumbs absorb the butter evenly and toast them for a few minutes until they get crispy (just be sure to keep stirring so they don't burn).

Finally, assemble the casserole. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Then layer the following in the following order:
1) Broccoli
2) Chicken
3) Sauce
4) Breadcrumbs

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until everything is heated through and the sauce is bubbly around the edges. And, if you want to get a bit more texture into the dish or just can't handle such a concentration of yummy creamy goodness, you could also serve the casserole over rice. Enjoy! :)

*My apologies, but I do not remember the name of the cookbook since this was about 10 years ago. Eesh, I'm getting old!!!

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