Monday, November 1, 2010

Perfect for Mondays: Quicky Chicky Casserole

Hi, my name is Christy and I have the tendency to behave like a small child. Hence, the name of this recipe.

All of the recipes I've posted so far take up a little more time than the average family has on a weeknight, so I thought I'd share one of my favorite faster dinners. Serve this puppy up with some salad and crusty bread and you have a meal!

Can I toot my own horn here? I mean, look at that crust!

In all honesty, this casserole was born out of pure curiosity. I saw Campbell's cream of onion soup at the store and grabbed it, wondering "what on earth can we do with THIS?!?!" Then, one night when I was far too tired to hang out in the kitchen much longer than it takes to pour a glass of cheap Shiraz, I raided my pantry and went to work. I was kind of craving chicken and macaroni and cheese, but wanted to take the interstate route to the flavors instead of back roads. There it was, collecting dust in the cabinet- the cream of onion soup. I knew I'd found a use for it.

Can I confess something here? I LOVE onion with a good sharp cheddar. This is no casual affair, though. I will take a slice of cheddar, put it on a cracker, and top it with a piece of raw onion. It is divinely funky, and you should try it. Unless you want to kiss your spouse within the next 24 hours.

This is a great use for leftover cooked chicken*, or the leftover turkey that will invade your fridge near the end of this month. I am usually not a fan of bagged shredded cheese -- so do yourself a favor and don't use it here. You can grate cheese while the noodles cook.

Anyhoo, cheese + onion + chicken + noodles = delicious. So here's the recipe:


1 ten-ounce package egg noodles
1 lb chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can Campbell's condensed cheddar cheese soup
1 can Campbell's condensed cream of onion soup
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
salt and pepper to taste

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup panko (japanese bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

 Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly coat a 3qt. casserole with butter or cooking spray.

Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes. You want them just barely underdone, since they'll be going into the oven. While the noodles cook, mix up the topping; just toss the cheese, panko and melted butter in a small bowl till the crumbs are well coated in butter.

A match made in processed food heaven. Notice my "cookbook" - currently only available in raggedy handwritten form.

Drain the noodles and return them to the pot. Stir in the soups, milk, Lawry's and chicken. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Hey, look! It's NOT my Le Cruset! (but it IS my Paula Deen cookware)

PLEASE taste this concotion before you go all willy-nilly with the salt. The soups are high in sodium, the Lawry's has salt, and if you are using leftover or rotisserie chicken it may already be seasoned. You may not need to add any at all!

Dump the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle the topping evenly all over. You should get a nice thick layer. (Optional -  sometimes I'll top the topping with some fresh ground pepper and a little fresh or dried thyme)

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, till hot and bubbly. To get the topping a nice crispy brown, I'll turn on the broiler for about 2 minutes before I take it out (just be sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn). Let it stand about 5 minutes before serving.

* "but Christy, I don't have any leftover chicken!" HOGWASH! Theres no excuse to not have chicken ready to go! The next time you cook chicken breasts for your family, cook 2 extra pieces. Then cut them up and toss them in the  fridge or freezer, depending on when you plan to use them. It doesn't add a lot to that night's cooking time, and it takes a lot off of the next night's!

Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think ~ and as always, please share on facebook and twitter!

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