Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole
Growing up in the South I attended a lot of pot luck dinners. There were always certain things there, and amusingly, everyone had a different way of making them. Deviled eggs usually made an appearance, some made with pickle relish, some not, some sprinkled with paprika, some piped with a flower icing tip. Another sure bet was cornbread. You’d find some people made it sweet, some didn’t, and which ever camp you were in, you were adamant that your cornbread was the best. There was usually a Jello salad of some sort. And you’d almost certainly find some sort of Ambrosia salad. Potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken…oh my! No two were alike. Ever. Another sure bet was a chicken casserole.

Chicken casserole, oh the many ways this dish can be made! This variety is made with a cornbread/stuffing like topping. When I go to Tennessee these days, I end up cooking a few times while I’m there. My mom doesn’t enjoy cooking anymore and she jokes that she’s my sous chef and does the chopping and cleaning. Last week when I was there, I made Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Casserole and Irish Stew on Saint Patrick’s Day. This version of Chicken Casserole is mostly how my mom made it. It has a cornbread/stuffing topping, two kinds of cream of soups, lots of chicken, and a surprise ingredient that she usually didn’t add…sour cream.

This makes the perfect meal, paired with a salad. It’s hearty and the ultimate comfort food when you’re looking for something that reminds you of childhood, or my childhood at least. You can’t go wrong.

What You’ll Need:
2-3 cups of chicken, chopped (Note: You can use white meat or dark meat or a mix of both.)
1 can of cream of celery soup (Note: You can buy a soup or make you own. I usually make one, but this go around I stuck to the canned variety. Pacific makes some good cream of soups you could use. If you can’t find celery, you can use cream of chicken.)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (Note: See above.)
1 cup of sour cream
Sea salt
4-6 cups of crumbled cornbread (Note: I prefer unsweetened cornbread for this, but when I made it at my mom’s house we used a Jiffy mix and it was good. Again it’s a preference thing. I think it’s better with regular cornbread, but you can go either way. Use 4 cups if you want a thinner topping, 6 if you like a thicker variety.)
2 tablespoons of ground sage
2 eggs
1 cup of chicken broth

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray and spread out the chicken in an even layer:

Chicken Casserole: Chicken

Add soups, sour cream, a pinch of each salt and black pepper to the chicken:

Chicken Casserole: Soups, Sour Cream, Salt and Pepper

Stir to mix:

Chicken Casserole: Ready for Cornbread Topping

In a separate bowl, crumble the corn bread:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread

Add a pinch of each salt and pepper and the ground sage:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread, Sage, Salt and Pepper

Next add eggs and broth and stir to mix:

Chicken Casserole: Cornbread Topping Ready to Spread

Spread the cornbread mixture out over the chicken:

Chicken Casserole: Read to Bake

Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown:

Chicken Casserole: Baked!

Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes: There are so many variations of this casserole you can make. If you want, you can use a stuffing mix as the topping, instead of making a basic cornbread stuffing. More chicken is fine, so is less. You can switch out the soups and use different kinds. Mom had some sour cream that needed to be used, so that’s why I added it this time, as an experiment, and I ended up liking it a lot, but if you don’t have sour cream, you could use a little milk of cream instead, about 1/2 a cup.

Mexican Casserole

Mexican Casserole

If you’ve been a reader of Dianne’s Dishes for any amount of time you’ve heard me mentioned my love of Mexican food. The flavors are just fabulous! And while this casserole isn’t Mexican in the true sense of authentic Mexican cuisine, the flavors lend themselves to that theme.

This casserole is an adaptation of one from childhood. It’s one of the few times you’ll see a canned cream of anything soup on this blog. Of course I’ve tweaked it over the years, because we are talking about me after all, but it is still comforting in in familiarness.

This is also the perfect make ahead dish and leftovers are even better than first helpings! It’s just perfect for a week night meal or even a pot luck dinner. After all variety is the spice of life and in this case you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like!

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds of ground turkey (Note: You can use ground chicken or ground beef if you prefer. Or if you want a no meat option try some textured soy or vegetable protein.)
1 large onion, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 – 3.8 ounce cans of sliced olives drained
2 Р4 ounce cans of green Chile peppers, drained (Note: You can use jalape̱os if you prefer.)
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup (Note: You can use one cream of mushroom and one cream of celery, or two cream of celery, etc.)
1 – 16 ounce bottle of taco sauce, with 1/3 a cup set aside (Note: You can use hot, medium or mild.)
Shredded cheddar
Shredded Monterrey Jack
Corn tortillas

In a large skillet or stock pot sauté onions with ground turkey, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper in a little extra virgin olive oil until onions and tender and turkey is cooked through:

Mexican Casserole: Ground Turkey and Onions

Once the turkey and onions are cooked remove from heat and stir in olives and peppers:

Mexican Casserole: Ground Turkey, Onions, Chile Peppers and Black Olives

Next stir in taco sauce (minus the 1/3 a cup set aside) and cream of mushroom soups:

Mexican Casserole: Filling

Now it’s time to assemble everything!

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray or brush it with olive oil. Place a layer of corn tortillas on the bottom of the dish:

Mexican Casserole: Layer One

Next add half of the turkey mixture and spread it out over the top of the tortillas:

Mexican Casserole: Layer Two

After the filling you will add a layer of shredded cheese:

Mexican Casserole: Layer Three

Then repeat…Layer of tortillas, the rest of the turkey filling, another layer of cheese and then top with a layer of tortillas. Top this layer with the set aside taco sauce and spread it out to cover the entire surface:

Mexican Casserole: Ready For The Top Layer Of Cheese

And finally top this layer with a generous amount of cheese:

Mexican Casserole: Ready to Bake

Bake for 25-25 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned around the edges:

Mexican Casserole

Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes: You can garnish this any way you like, or even just eat it plain. I like to serve it with sour cream and/or guacamole.

Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese

Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of those ultimate comfort foods and the base usually uses flour to thicken the sauce. When I made a homemade macaroni and cheese at Christmas (linked in the sentence before) Jamison was very interested in it, but of course couldn’t eat it since it had flour in it and regular noodles. I decided to try my hand at making a gluten free version, but just never got around to actually making one. That changed yesterday.

Overall I was extremely pleased with how this turned out. At first Jamison wasn’t too sure about the dish, but in the end he said he’d give it 4 stars out of 5. That’s saying something for him! ;oP I think for him he might have enjoyed it more with all cheddar or possibly even a bit of Colby instead of Swiss. I may play around with it a bit more, but this version suited me just fine! This is just perfect if you’re looking for a familiar favorite, all while being gluten free. What’s better than that?

What You’ll Need:
1 – 12 ounce package of gluten free macaroni noodles (Note: I like Mrs. Leepers corn pasta.)
1 stick of butter
1/3 cup of corn flour (Note: Corn flour is NOT corn starch. They are made from different parts of the kernel.)
1/3 cup of tapioca flour
5 ounces of shredded Swiss cheese (Note: You want to shred and weigh the cheese yourself. Pre-shredded cheese has weird stabilizers in it so it won’t mold as fast and it doesn’t work as well. You could use it if you wanted, but your results won’t be quite the same.)
8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese (Note: Ditto to the note above for Swiss.)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper
Extra shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.

While pasta is cooking melt butter in a large sauce pan. Once butter is melted add, a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a generous pinch of cayenne pepper, corn flour and tapioca flour and stir until thick. It will thicken fast! Remove from heat and stir in cheese until mostly melted. Pour in the hot, drained macaroni noodles and stir until mixed.

Pour mixture into a a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Top the dish with more shredded cheddar and bake for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove casserole dish from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.

Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese

Notes: You could omit the cayenne if you liked.

Macaroni and Cheese

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn’t like a cheesy, ooey, warm macaroni and cheese? It’s the very epitome of comfort food and a childhood staple for many. For a while now I’ve been looking for a good homemade mac and cheese and I’ve been largely disappointed until this creation! I made this on Christmas Eve and knew I was on to something when Jamison looked at it and said “That looks good!” He’s never shown any interest in homemade mac and cheese before. Sadly though he couldn’t taste it because it wasn’t gluten free, though I want to try a gluten free version in the near future for him! Then I took a bite and oh my! So good! This is definitely one to pull out when you want to wow them!

What You’ll Need:
1 – 16 ounce package of pasta (Note: You can use any kind that you like…shells, macaroni, twists, penne, etc. I used chiocciole, which are like big macaroni noodles.)
4 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups of milk (Note: You can use any type of milk you like. I used skim.)
1 teaspoon of onion powder
A small pinch of sea salt (Note: Cheese is sometimes salty so go easy on the salt.)
A generous pinch of black pepper
8 ounces of Fontina, shredded
5 ounces of cheddar, shredded (Note: You can use whatever level of cheddar that you like. I used extra sharp.)
5 ounces of Swiss, shredded
1 cup of Parmesan, grated
1 cup of Panko bread crumbs

(Note: You really need a kitchen scale for this recipe. It’s best to weight the amount of cheese. It can be a little over or a little under the weight (0.1 or 0.2 ounces here or there) it doesn’t have to be completely exact, but a kitchen scale is a nice tool to have for this.)

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Preheat your broiler.

In a large pot melt butter and then add flour and stir to mix. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds to a minute, but do NOT let it brown! Add milk, onion powder, salt and pepper and stir until mixture thickens slightly (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from heat when the mixture is slightly thickened and add cheeses and stir until completely melted.

Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir gently until pasta is completely coated. Pour mixture into a 3 or 4 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle the top of the macaroni with panko and Parmesan and broil for 3-4 minutes until top is golden. Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

Notes: There are all sort of variations you could do with this. You could add cayenne pepper instead of black. You could add in some salsa for a Mexican variety. You could play around with the cheeses. The possibilities are endless!

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole

This is a holiday favorite in my family. Normally we would have it on special occasions including Christmas morning after opening gifts. When Jamison’s parents were visiting a few weeks ago I decided it would be the perfect time to whip one up. You can make it up the night before and then bake it the next morning, or you can bake it the day before and just reheat it right before serving. It’s simple, quick and delicious. What’s better than that?

What You’ll Need:
Bread (Note: I use whole wheat.)
1 pound of sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 cups of shredded cheese (Note: I used Colby Jack this go around, but Cheddar or Colby works fine too.)
10-12 eggs, beaten
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of milk (Note: Any dairy will work. I’ve used milk, half and half, heavy cream and even evaporated milk when it was all that is available in the past.)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch baking dish with non-stick spray and line with bread:

Breakfast Casserole: Bread

It’s ok if you have to tear the bread to get it to fit. I even like to plug some of the holes in between the slices of bread, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Next spread out cooked sausage over the bread:

Breakfast Casserole: Sausage

Make sure it’s relatively even, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Sprinkle the top of the sausage with cheese:

Breakfast Casserole: Cheese

Sausage and cheese…Doesn’t that look fabulous already?

Next whip eggs together with salt, pepper and milk. When thoroughly mixed pour into the baking dish:

Breakfast Casserole: Ready to Bake

Again it doesn’t have to be perfect and every inch of bread doesn’t have to be soaked with egg. It all blends together as it cooks.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and egg is set. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: There are many variations of this casserole. You can use hashbrowns for the base instead of bread, you can use ham instead of sausage, etc. I prefer it with sausage and bread, but to each their own. If you do make it with the hashbrowns it is gluten free which is nice, but Jamison wouldn’t eat this to begin with so it wasn’t a concern. My mom’s original recipe also called for ground mustard and buttering the bread and then cutting it into cubes, but I didn’t find that the ground mustard added anything, and the buttering and cubing was just extra steps that weren’t needed. If you want once it’s assembled you can put it in the fridge covered overnight and bake the next morning. Or you can bake it the night before and then reheat it on 350 F for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna: Topped With Sour Cream

Mexican lasagna has always intrigued me. I’ve heard about it for years, but had never tried it. I knew the general idea was that you used corn tortillas as you would noodles in a more traditional lasagna, while also utilizing more traditionally Mexican ingredients. I made this version sans meat and I must say I really liked the result! What’s even more fabulous is that the longer it sits the more the flavors just come together making it the perfect recipe for leftovers! And let’s face it leftovers are a good thing…Lunch anyone? 😉

What You’ll Need:
12 Corn tortillas
1 – 15 ounce can of pinto beans (Note: If you want you can use pre-made refried beans, but I like to make my own.)
6-8 scallions, chopped (Note: Both green and white parts.)
Cayenne pepper
A pinch of sea salt
1 – 4.25 ounce can of whole green chillies, drained and chopped
1 – 19 ounce can of enchilada sauce
Chopped peppers (Note: You can use any type of pepper that you like. I used chopped sweet banana peppers, but bell peppers will work fine too. If you really want to heat things up then you can use a hot pepper as well.)
Shredded Cheddar, Colby or Monterrey Jack (Note: I used Colby Jack. Or you can use a combo of any of them.)
Sour cream for garnishing if desired

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Mash pinto beans and stir in chopped scallions, a generous pinch of sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste. (Note: If you don’t like a little spice then leave out the cayenne, but I like for it to give a little kick. You can use as much or as little of it as you like.) Set aside.

Mexican Lasagna: First Layers

Spray and 8 X 8 inch baking dish with non-stick spray and place 4 corn tortillas in the bottom of the pan, overlapping, until the entire bottom surface of the dish is covered. Spread out half of the bean mixture to cover the top of the tortillas. Sprinkle with chopped chilies and peppers.

Mexican Lasagna Second Layer with Cheese

Next add a layer of enchilada sauce and cheese. Repeat these steps one more time.

Mexican Lasagna: Top

After you have done two layers add another layer of tortillas and top it with enchilada sauce and peppers. Then top with a layer of cheese.

Mexican Lasagna: Baked

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese melts and browns slightly. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Mexican Lasagna: A Slice

Cut into slices and serve plain or with a dollop of sour cream.

Note: Guacamole would be a good topper for this too. You could add some shredded chicken too if you liked, or even some mushrooms to continue in the vegetarian vibe.

Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole

Chicken Casserole reminds me again of childhood and this is my take on my Mom’s classic. It’s another one of those ultimate comfort foods! It’s also very versatile. Throw in what you like, bake and about 40 minutes later you’ve got a hearty meal! How comforting is that?

What You’ll Need For The Topping:
2 cups of cornmeal
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 – 2 cups of buttermilk (You may need more or less depending on humidity. You are looking for batter consistency.)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Mix all ingredients and put into a baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cook and then break into crumbles and set aside.

Chicken Casserole

What You’ll Need For the Chicken Casserole:
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 a large onion, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cups of crumbled corn bread (See recipe above)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon of rosemary
1 teaspoon of sage
1/2-1 cup of chicken broth (Notes: You are using this to moisten the topping. See the notes below in the recipe itself.)
2-3 cups of cooked chicken breast, chopped (Notes: Use 2 if you use extra mushrooms, 3 if you choose not to)
2 cups of mushrooms sliced
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup of fat free half and half

Saute celery and onion until just tender. In a large bowl mix cornbread, celery, onion, broth, a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper, thyme, rosemary and sage until mixture is moist. Use more or less broth depending on consistency. (Note: You are looking for the constancy of stuffing or dressing.) Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together chicken, mushrooms, cream of chicken soup, half and half, a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Once mixed spread mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with stuffing mixture and spread out to cover the chicken mixture entirely.

Bake for 30-45 minute, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes: I sometimes add sage and/or thyme into the topping for a bit of a twist.