Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Make-Ahead Chicken Casserole

mmmmm - Mennonite comfort food is more like it.  This is an easy casserole with macaroni, chicken, and veggies that has to soak overnight before baking.  It does call for a can of cream of mushroom soup, which I do not buy or cook with; that can be replaced with a homemade extra-thick white sauce, or a homemade cream soup mix from Simply in Season which is what I used. (Just say the word and I'll post the recipe if you want.)

thaw turkey (picked off the Thanksgiving turkey bones)
hardboil eggs
cook up the cream soup
assemble casserole

Sunday morning:
set casserole on timed bake

Sunday noon:
open up cranberry sauce
cook peas
set table

Now a word about that canned cranberry sauce:  I keep some on hand to make sandwiches with.  It's great with brie and spinach.  However, in a pinch, it works well as a tart sauce.  There is going to be a lot of pinching around here because I am starting to teach another eight-week ESL class today.  In other times, I would have made cranberry applesauce.  It's something I'm thinking a lot about right now - the trade offs I make between family, teaching, and homekeeping.

Updated, with recipe:

Make-Ahead Chicken Casserole (tweaked from Mennonite Country-Style Recipes)
Combine in greased 8x12:
1- 2 c. diced cooked chicken/turkey
1.5 cups uncooked macaroni
3/4 c. grated sharp cheese
1 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup OR 1 and 1/4 c. cup very thick white sauce OR cream soup substitute below
2 c. milk and chicken stock combined
1/2 c. celery or parsley, chopped
2-3 hardboiled eggs, chopped
1/2 - 1 chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning (or sage and thyme)

Allow to sit in fridge at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.  Can double and bake in 9x13 (increase baking time 20 minutes).

I think this is a flexible recipe - it's just basically heating the casserole through, so you want to be sure you have a good ratio of solids to liquids. The first time I made it, I added more macaroni and milk instead of  hardboiled eggs.  I have never used the full amount of chicken, just increased the poultry seasoning.  I used fresh parsley this time instead of celery, making the casserole much prettier.  I think there's room with experimenting with peas or carrots too.

Cream Soup Substitute - - from Simply in Season
Mix and store, covered, in fridge:
2 c. dry milk powder
3/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. dry bouillion
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. dried minced onion

To use as one 10-ounce can of cream soup, combine 1 and 1/4 c. cold water with 1/3 cup mix in saucepan.  Cook and stir over low heat until thick.


Unknown said...

Oh yes! The recipe would be great - I'll make it for dinner this week : )

Kylie M. said...

Looks delicious, I would love the recipe!

Elaine said...

Yes, please post the recipe! There's no such thing as canned cream of mushroom soup where I live, and it is amazing how many recipes call for it.

Christian - Modobject@Home said...

What I love about chicken casserole is that everyone has their own way of making it yet it's universal enough for everyone to love. Your's sounds delicious, and I'm always up for trying a new twist on an old favorite so I'm sure I'll give it a try.

What is the ratio of the 2 cups of combined chicken stock and milk?

Margo said...

Christian, I guess I use about half of each, but it does depend on what I have on hand.

Beth said...

It sounds good! I've never heard of boiled eggs in a casserole, but I bet it really works...and I am all about extra protein and some healthy fats to make it stick to our ribs. I hope to try this one out.

And yes...the tradeoffs when our lives pick up speed...I think about this often myself...

Margo said...

Beth, I had not seen hardboiled eggs in a baked casserole before either. It's surprisingly tasty - I first thought the eggs would just be filler, but I do think they add flavor. I also, handily, have a surplus of eggs right now, thanks to all my friends who have chickens.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking a lot about trade-offs too, the sacrifice of time with one thing for another. Yesterday I read a book for HOURS and when I began feeling those pesky pangs of guilt about the neglected kitchen and unpacked boxes, I reminded myself that all that stuff will still be around after my reading stint. Somehow finding balance can be hard.

Margo said...

Punk, one of my friends and I were discussing this very thing on Sunday. She used the phrase "life-giving" a lot. Sometimes it is life giving to me to be in a clean, orderly house, so I clean up. . . other times to read and ignore everything else. It takes wisdom to know what to do!

Anonymous said...

Would this freeze well?

Margo said...

I think it would freeze okay after it was baked, kind of like macaroni and cheese. Hope that helps!