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Wild Rice & Chicken Casserole

20 Aug

Sometimes when it’s the end of the week and you are left with very few options about dinner, you just have to make a casserole. They are quick, easy and taste good, no matter what you put in them. Whether it be leftovers or just a mishmash of frozen vegetables and rice, they always ALWAYS seem to turn out.

Well, I had one of those days where I had nothing planned for dinner and nothing in my fridge. “Surely…” I thought “there must be something I can make!” I scoured my freezer and pantry and came up with this quick casserole. Lucky for me I had a box of Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice and a can of cream of mushroom soup. If you have those two ingredients on hand, you will live to see another day, and your kids will get fed. After you have your basics down, you can change the rest of the recipe how you like. We tend to gravitate towards rice, chicken and broccoli a lot. It’s a pretty common and classic combination. However, this time, there was NO broccoli. (*Side note–I hate frozen broccoli. It is the only vegetable I hate to eat after thawing. It always tastes freezer burnt to me. Am I paranoid or do you guys taste that, too?)
Speaking of frozen vegetables, what a great deal! You get a lot of food for a little price and all those vegetables are typically harvested and frozen within the same day so you know they are fresh. I love having them on hand and throw them into anything and everything when I’m feeling spunky or when I’m in a pinch. Seriously, frozen vegetables are where it’s at.

For this particular recipe, I used my handy dandy frozen peas and carrots. They worked so well and tasted great with all the other ingredients even before it all was baked. But, use what you have on hand! I also topped my casserole with some swiss cheese and toasted almonds for a creamy crunchy bite. After the first bite my husband said “Wow….this is good!” in a surprised tone. He was skeptical at first, but the casserole won him over and he ate the rest for lunch the next day! How do you like that, Gordon? Haha!

I love using the random ingredients I’m left with at the end of the week to make great food my family will eat. It saves money and gives me a sense of accomplishment. So, don’t be afraid to experiment these next few days with the food you think you can’t make anything with. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll come up with! Happy Cooking!

Wild Rice & Chicken Casserole
yield: 4 servings

1 box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed (or any other meat)
1 1/2 cups frozen vegetables
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 stalk celery, diced
5 slices swiss cheese (from the deli; or use about 1 cup grated cheese, any kind you have)
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds

Cook box of rice according to packaged directions. In skillet, melt butter and sautee onion and celery over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Once cooked, spoon rice into large bowl. To the rice, add cream of mushroom soup, chicken, vegetables, cream, cooked onion and celery, and salt and pepper. Spread into a casserole dish. Top with cheese and almonds. Cover with foil and warm thoroughly at 300 degrees for at least 30 minutes (and up to 60). Serve with a side salad.


Delicious Potatoes Au Gratin (or for us normal folk Scalloped Potatoes!)

9 Jan

These potatoes make a fabulous and inexpensive side dish! Oh, and did I mention incredibly easy? I have been craving these potatoes ever since we arrived back to our home about two weeks ago. This and chocolate, although I always seem to crave chocolate, so….yeah.
Anyways, this will make a whole 9 x 13 pan full of delicious creamy potatoes that people will go crazy over. Maybe not everybody will go crazy, but I sure did. I just love my carbs. And just as a side note about the inexpensive part, I’m talking super inexpensive– potatoes, onions, flour, milk, butter: ingredients that seriously cost pennies! Love it when that happens. (and, yes I realize I live in Idaho which happens to be potato central where everyone practically gives potatoes away, but I promise they are cheap everywhere!) So, cook up some ham and make these for dinner because, oh baby, are they heaven.
Potatoes Au Gratin (ie Scalloped Potatoes)-YUM!
7 tablespoons butter, divided
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups skim milk (plus maybe 1/2 cup to keep your sauce from oven thickening, like mine did)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt (you may want more- I don’t like a lot of salt)
1 large onion, sliced
4-6 Idaho potatoes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On stovetop, preheat large skillet and large pot to medium heat. (Skillet is for cooking the onions, pot is for making the sauce) To skillet, add 3 tablespoons butter. To pot, add 4 tablespoons butter. Using melted butter from skillet, take a pastry brush and grease 9 x 13 glass dish generously. Place sliced onions into skillet and cook until soft and lightly browned (7-10 minutes). In pot, once butter is melted whisk in flour. Cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk to prevent lumps. Once milk is fully incorporated, add in seasonings. Continue mixing until sauce starts to thicken. Continue thickening until its the consistency of pancake batter. (That probably doesn’t help because pancake batters can be any sort of viscosity….hmm) Ok, you want it to be slightly thick because the sauce continues to thicken from the potato starches in the oven. If it gets overly thick, add in that extra milk I mentioned earlier. Kapish?
Now, for the potatoes. Peel those little suckers and then rinse them well! Slice into 1/8th of an inch slices or thinner if you can. The thinner you cut them the quicker they’ll cook. Just make sure they are all generally the same thickness. Now comes the fun part. Take about half the prepared sauce out of the pot and set aside. Toss all the potatoes and onions into the pot with the remaining sauce and stir to coat. More milk can be added if needed. Pour potatoes into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Top with remaining reserved sauce. Cover with foil and bake 1-1 1/2 hours. Its really ok to cook the life out of these potatoes. They just get better and better. Serve with something yummy like ham! Then prepare to die and go to heaven!

Leftover Turkey Casserole

30 Nov

Do you still have turkey in your fridge?! We certainly still have a lot, hence this recipe. I originally made this last year at Thanksgiving with my leftover rice stuffing and turkey. So this year, I made my own rice, mixed it with some leftover rice I had in the fridge, added in some sauce, veggies and cheese and voila! A dinner that will fill bellies and leave you feeling satisfied! Gotta love that. AND! Its seriously 4 steps. SERIOUSLY. Don’t you love when things come together so nicely like that? Thats what I’m talkin’ about.

Leftover Turkey Casserole

2 cups precooked turkey, cubed
2 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1-2 cups fried onions (you know you have some leftover from that green bean casserole!)
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds (optional)

STEP 1: Cook 1 1/2 cups rice according to packaged directions. Easy!

STEP 2: Steam broccoli-arrange them on a plate, put a little water at the bottom of the plate, cover with plastic wrap and microwave until they are cooked to your liking.

STEP 3: Mix it all together! This means you mix the rice, broccoli, turkey, soup, salt and better all together. Pour it into a baking dish big enough.

STEP 4: Top it off and bake! Cover the top of your filling with cheese, fried onions and almonds. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until all that cheese is melty and ooey gooey! Oh how I love food.