Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Recipe: Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

This is one of my favorite easy family casseroles. I love casseroles. They may not be exciting or gourmet but I find the my family loves casseroles and they are easy to make with pantry staples. This particular casserole is made even easier because I try to keep extra cooked rice and already cooked and diced meat (chicken, ham) in the freezer. 



Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole
Servings: 8-10

8 cups cooked rice (I used mixed brown and white)
1 family size can of cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom or chicken soup
16 oz bag of mixed frozen veggies
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast cooked and diced into 1 inch pieces
2 cups shredded cheese
1 sleeve saltine crackers
3 tablespoons butter

Directions:  If like me you have the rice, meat and veggies in the freezer they need to be defrosted and/or brought to room temp in the microwave.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine the rice, chicken, soups and veggies.  Spoon half into a 13x9 casserole dish, spread and then sprinkle one cup of cheese.  Add the remaining mixture and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on how cold your casserole was when you placed in the oven).  Increase oven temperature to 415 degrees.  Crush the sleeve of saltine crackers finely (great job for a small child!).  Melt butter and combine with crushed saltines. Remove casserole from oven, sprinkle 3/4 cup of shredded on top of casserole.  Sprinkle the saltine/butter mixture evenly over the top and then remaining cheese. Return to oven until top is nicely melted and brown - generally about 10 minutes.  Enjoy.  This is a also a great dish to put extra servings in the freezer for quick lunches or busy weeknight meals. 

Variations:
Meat:  I have done this with ham, chicken and pork.  We prefer ham or chicken.  I generally try to keep some diced meat in casserole portions (about 2 cups) in the freezer so it is ready to go when I need to make dinner.  I season my chicken with my "pantry" seasoning which is a mixture of Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic before cooking.  But if you don't have seasoned chicken you will need to add some seasoning to the dish probably. Ham doesn't need as much seasoning (especially salt).  

Topping: I have used crushed pretzels, goldfish, different types of crackers and even breadcrumbs.  I generally use whatever is in my pantry.  My two favorites are goldfish and saltines. 

Veggies: You can use just about any veggies you have one hand - fresh, canned or frozen.  Fresh will need to be steamed or cook the casserole longer at 350.  I find that frozen end up with the best texture but I have used all depending on what was in the pantry.

My almost 3 year old smashing the saltines for me - he had a blast!


I think he was a little surprised that I asked him to break something. I think he would have happily crushed the whole box of crackers.
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