Friday, March 20, 2015

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole - Create a Casserole

One of the Greatest things about Food $ense (and you know I think that there are a lot of great things)
Is the idea that you can make a meal with what you have on hand - whatever that may be. 

That you can Create with what you have. 

All you need is a pattern instead of a recipe. You need to know a few simple techniques and you can put together whatever you are in the mood for - or whatever pleases your family. 

My family goes bonkers for the taste combination of Chicken Cordon Bleu. Really what is it but ham and cheese and chicken - pretty simple, but who has the time to stuff chicken and wrap it and do all that. Plus, I am pretty sure if I actually made the real thing, my kids would be like, "what the HECK is This!" 

So here is how you go about it: 

Step 1: 
Choose one starch; 
• Brown Rice: 1 cup rice, 2 cups water: Combine rice and water. Bring to boil. Turn heat to low and cover pan with lid. Simmer until water is absorbed, about 45 minutes.
• Whole grain pasta or noodles: 2 cups pasta or 3 cups noodles, 6 cups water: Heat water until it boils. Stir in pasta or noodles. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Look on the package for specific instructions.
• Potatoes: 3 cups diced potatoes, 6 cups water. Heat water until it boils. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
• Whole grain tortilla: Flour or corn.

Step 2: 
Choose one protein; 
1 (15 oz.) can or 2 cups cooked dried beans or lentils (pinto, black, white, kidney, etc.)
• 2 cups chopped hard-boiled eggs
• 1 (12-16 oz.) package extra firm tofu, drained
• 1½ cups cooked and diced chicken, turkey, ham, beef, fish, or pork
• 1 (6-8 oz.) can beef, chicken, tuna, salmon, or other fish
• ½ pound cooked ground beef

Step 3: 
Choose one or more flavors 
• ½ cup chopped onion, celery, green pepper, or salsa
• 1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 - 2 teaspoons dried herbs (oregano, basil, cumin, chili powder, thyme, rosemary, sage, etc.)
• ¼ cup sliced black olives
• Salt and pepper to taste

Step 4: 
Choose one to three vegetables: 
Broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans, peas, squash, mixed veggies
• 2 cups frozen vegetables, cooked 
• 1-2 (15 oz.) canned vegetables

Step 5:
Choose one or more topping (optional) 
• ¼ cup breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, ¼ cup grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese

Step 6: 
Choose one sauce

• 1 (10 oz.) can soup (cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, cream of celery, tomato, cheese, etc.)
• 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes with juice
• 2 cups gravy:
 2 tablespoons cornstarch OR 4 tablespoons flour
 ¼ cup COLD water
 2 cups HOT chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
Mix cornstarch or flour into cold water with fork. Make sure you have no lumps. Slowly add mixture to boiling stock, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and continue to cook and stir with whisk until thickened.

I used pasta for my starch, ham and chicken for my protein, I used garlic and onions that I sauteed for my flavors. I served it with a side salad for my veggies. And I used a creamy soup for the base, that I added grated swiss cheese to.  How simple is that!  And I made two so I could put one in the freezer.