Saturday, March 1, 2014

For the Love of Casseroles

One of my favorite things to make is a casserole. There's just something truly satisfying about throwing a bunch of ingredients together and baking them into a meal. It's like making cookies, but as dinner and not dessert.

I know I've written about casseroles a few times on this blog. Here, I'd like to share with you my two favorite casseroles (and some ideas to tweak them) that I have in my recipe arsenal.
1) Chicken Cheese Casserole

  • Cover the bottom of a glass casserole dish with cooked chunks of chicken (1.5 to 2 cups). Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Then sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese. 
  • In a saucepan, heat cream of chicken soup (condensed) and 1/2 can of chicken broth. Add a 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Warm and stir until cheese melts. Pour over chicken in the casserole dish. Cover with breadcrumbs and drizzle with 1/4 cup melted butter. 
  • Bake 1 hour at 350F.

This is the traditional way that I make this casserole, which was taught to me by my mother. (I believe she got it from a coworker.) The actual recipe calls for a can of green beans to be put over the chicken, but we have never made it this way. Not a bad way to get some veggies into this dish, though! I was thinking broccoli florets would also be quite tasty with the cheese and all. Some day, I may try this. Or a broccoli-cauliflower blend. Or brociflower! (Wow, I haven't had that in years. Was possibly my favorite vegetable as a kid.) It occurs to me crumbles of bacon might also be good to try, but since I don't eat pig bacon, I will leave that up to someone else to experiment with.

When I made this last week, I had to tweak the recipe because of Greg's chicken broth allergy. I used turkey broth for the chicken broth and cream of celery soup for cream of chicken. It made the flavor even richer.
2) Almond Chicken Casserole

  • Cook 2 servings of rice. Cook 3 cups of chicken, chopped.
  • While the rice and chicken are cooking, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet. Saute 4 tablespoons of chopped onion and 2 cups of diced celery until soft. 
  • In a large glass casserole dish, combine chicken, rice, onion, and celery. Then stir in 1 cup of mayonnaise and 1 can of cream of chicken soup, followed by 1/2 cup of slivered almonds. Top with breadcrumbs. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of melted butter over breadcrumbs.
  • Bake for 45 minutes at 350F.
Again, I now substitute cream of celery soup for the cream of chicken. Since there is already celery sauteed in butter in this dish, the cream of celery soup just enhances that flavor. Incidentally, this is another recipe that I got from my mother. (I don't remember if this one came from a coworker or not.)

I was thinking about ways to play with this recipe while eating leftovers at work on Sunday (this casserole always feeds me for days). I think that adding a sprinkling of shredded or grated cheese with the breadcrumbs would have positive results. Maybe adding more vegetables, though I can't point to any in particular. 

So there you have it, my two favorite casseroles. If you have any casserole recipes you'd like to share, please comment below!

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