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The Big Yum

August 26, 2011

I made this casserole recipe for my handsome half recently, served him a normal portion and then discovered that he went back for another full helping when I wasn’t looking.  He’s not as interested in food as I am – which is a very good thing for me as that means that he’s not demanding – pretty low maintenance, actually.

So, when he goes back for seconds, then suggests that we eat the leftovers 2 nights later – he’s also not a big leftover fan – and talks about the dish to friends, then I know that the recipe is a winner.  The primary recipe is for a chicken casserole, but with 2 substitutions, you can also make a tuna casserole.  Both are really yummy with the correct amount of creaminess and crunch. I’ve also included instructions for how to make ahead and/or freeze.

Chicken Casserole

(with a Tuna Variation)

3 cups of frozen mixed microwaveable-in-the-bag vegetables

2 cups small, cooked and drained shell or elbow pasta  (1 cup dry)

2 cups shredded, sharp Cheddar cheese, divided use

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (which is ½ of a chicken)

1 (10.75 ounce) can of cream of chicken soup

1 (6 ounce) can of French-fried onions, divided use

1 5 ounce (2/3 cup) can of evaporated milk

1 tsp. of ground black pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a glass, 9” x 13” with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine: cooked vegetables, cooked pasta, 1 cup of cheese, shredded chicken, soup, half of the can of onions, milk, pepper, garlic powder and salt.  Spoon into the prepared baking dish.

Mix remaining French-fried onions and cheese in a small bowl and set aside.

Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with remaining French-fried onions and cheddar cheese mixture. Put back into the oven and bake another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Tuna Variation

Replace the chicken with 4 (5 ounce) cans of undrained chunk light tuna.

Replace the cream of chicken soup with 1 (10.75 ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup.

Use all the other ingredients and follow the recipe per the above instructions.

To Make Ahead and Freeze

You can make this a day ahead and place in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Also, refrigerate the onion and cheese mixture until ready to bake.

To freeze:  Place frozen casserole in the fridge the night before you plan to bake it and bake it when ready.  If you bake it while it is still frozen, place it in a cold oven, then turn the oven on to 350° as this allows the casserole to thaw as the oven preheats and then bake.

Remember to not add the onion/cheese mixture until after the casserole has baked for the required time (25 minutes)

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