Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sausage Rice Casserole and Green Salad with Apples and Cranberries

I didn't intend for this to be the Paula Deen Theme Week, but here's another favorite inspired by an article in a Paula Deen magazine.  (Sorry, I don't remember which one it was.)  Of course, I have altered the original recipe slightly to suit our family tastes and also to lighten it up a bit. 

This is a great comfort food casserole that pleases simple tastes.  This is one of the 3 year old's favorite dinners.  She also likes to eat the leftovers for breakfast or lunch or midmorning snack.  There's nothing fancy about this meal at all, but it's another one that I know will leave me with clean plates to just load into the dishwasher.  No scraping necessary.

This is another meal I have often taken to families in need.  It's one that can be reheated after it's been cooked without too much change in the taste or texture.  It can also be prepped earlier in the day and then just baked at dinner time to cut down on the craziness during the "witching hour".  Allow just a little bit more time in the baking process if you're putting it in the oven cold from the frig.  This is also a great one to pop into the oven before you head to a music lesson as it cooks in one hour.  Dinner will be ready when you come home.

This meal is a little on the salty side, so I like to pair it with a sweet side dish.  Usually we have maple glazed carrots and a tossed salad with fruit and nuts with some sort of a sweet dressing.  The meal is not too heavy, so it's also a great dish to pair for a night when you want to indulge your family with a rich dessert or go enjoy a family date ice cream outing.

Here's the recipe:

Sausage Rice Casserole
1 lb roll pork (or turkey) sausage (I like Bob Evans best, but any brand will work)
2-3 Tbsp onion, chopped fine
3-4 Tbsp celery, chopped fine (okay to use the inner stalks with the leaves)
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp long grain white rice
1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup (low fat or healthier version works fine)
1 cup chicken broth (just water with a dissolved chicken boullion cube will work)

1.  In a large skillet, combine the sausage, onion, and celery.
2.  Cook over medium high heat until the sausage is browned and the vegetables are opaque and tender.
3.  Drain the fat off.  (I find there is the least amt of fat with Bob Evans sausage)
4.  Stir in soup, rice, and chicken broth.
5.  Spoon into a greased casserole dish.
6.  Cover.
7.  Bake 1 hour at 350.  (Check rice and make sure it is cooked tender)

**I have experimented using brown rice or a mixture of brown and white rice, but we've had the greatest success with just white rice.  If you do use brown rice, you'll need to increase the baking time to almost 1 1/2 hours and increase the broth by about 2-3 Tbsp. If you use a mix of white and brown rice, you'll need to increase the bake time to 1 hour 15 min and some of the brown rice is a bit more al dente (or crunchy in the words of my 11 year old) in comparison to the white rice.  If you cook the dish until the brown rice is fully cooked, the white rice gets a little overdone.
Sausage Rice Casserole
I added the parsely on top for the photo
Then the 8 year asked, "What's the green stuff on top?!""

For tonight's salad, I tossed together a bed of greens and topped it with chopped apple, dried cranberries, and sugar glazed walnuts. I drizzled some raspberry vinegrette dressing over the top. It was the perfect sweet/tart combination for this meal.

Green leaf lettuce with chopped apple, dried cranberries, and sugar
glazed walnuts.  Drizzle with raspberry vinegrette and serve!

 We also had maple glazed carrots; forgot to take the photo in the midst of dinner preps!  They are super easy to make, however.  Remember the 6 pound of carrots I bought last week at Meijer for $2?  I just took 5 of them out of the bag.  The 8 year old helped me peel them.  I chopped them on the diagonal to give them a different shape.  Cook the carrots on the stove in some water for 15 minutes until tender.  Drain the water and remove the carrots from the pan.  Place them in the serving bowl and cover with the pan lid to keep warm.  In the pan that you made the carrots, melt 1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, and 1 Tbsp maple syrup.  Stir until bubbly (less than 1 min).  Return carrots to the pan and coat with the glaze.  Serve with a smile.

What's your favorite rice based casserole?


  1. That casserole dish looks great. I always hesitate to use rice in casseroles, because I never know how much liquid to add to allow the rice to turn out right. This will be a great standard for rice casseroles. Thanks Jill!

  2. Made this came out perfect! Thanks Jill, this is another keeper.

  3. what size casserole dish? 9x13? smaller? thanks

  4. White rice was hard after one hour. Wish I knew we would have to cook longer because my whole family was starving!