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Do Ahead Chicken and Rice Dish

  1 cup parboiled (converted) long grain rice
  1/2 cup sliced green onions
  6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1 1/4 lb. total)
  1 clove garlic, minced
  1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  1 Tbsp. cooking oil
  1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  2 1/4 cups milk
  1 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese, cut up
  1 1/2 cups loose-pack frozen cut broccoli
  1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1/3 cup diced fully cooked ham
  2 Tbsp. sliced almonds

    Up to three months ahead: Cook rice according to package directions; stir in half the onions. Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towels. In a skillet cook chicken, garlic, and Italian seasoning in hot oil over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or till chicken is no longer pink turning once. Remove from skillet; reserve drippings.

    For sauce, cook remaining onions in reserved skillet drippings till tender, adding more oil if needed. Stir in cornstarch, add milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat till slightly thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; stir in cream cheese till nearly smooth. Remove from heat, stir in broccoli, Parmesan, and ham. Spread rice mixture in a 12x7 1/2x2-inch baking dish. Arrange chicken atop rice; season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle with nuts. Cover pan with foil, label, and freeze. To serve: The night before serving, place frozen chicken casserole, covered, in the refrigerator to thaw. Bake, covered, in a 350 [degrees] oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes more or till hot. Serves 6.

    When freezing dishes made with rice, use parboiled rice because it maintains a firm texture when frozen.

    To serve immediately, without freezing: Bake, covered, in 350 [degrees] oven about 20 minutes or till hot.

    Contributed by - Jenny Z.

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