Emboldened by my lasagna and cranberry bread triumphs, I put two new entrees on this week’s menu plan. Mark came home starving yesterday because he forgot his lunch, so I decided to make Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole, which takes only 20 minutes to cook, instead of the spaghetti squash I had planned, which takes more like an hour.

I started cooking about 3:45 and began by preheating the oven. I put the dish in to bake nearly an hour later. Way to be an energy-conserver, Jen! Here’s what took so long:

I heated the oil in my biggest pot, because I don’t have a 5 qt skillet. Is it just me or is that a really huge skillet? I diced and added the peppers (and left out the onions. yuck.) and then diced and added the ham. And then … uh oh … add cooked chicken? I haven’t even thawed any. So Mark thawed, grilled and cubed chicken while I started the sauce and rice. OH, oops, the rice takes 30 minutes to cook. Yep, this is why I hate cooking. Too much planning ahead.

Me: "Cooking sucks." Mark: "Look like you're having fun. At least we're doing it together." Me: "Barf."

I made the sauce (gravy?) of butter, flour and broth in a seperate sauce pan even though the recipe seems to call for mixing it in with the peppers and meat. That seemed strange to me and it was unclear so I figured seperate was the safe bet.

Then I put the sauce, ham/peppers and finally ready chicken into the baking dish and mixed them up. Then took a 15 minute break while waiting for the rice to finish cooking. I’ve never been very good at cooking rice. Today’s came out pretty sticky but I added it to the dish and stirred again. Topped everything with cheese and put it in the long-heated oven.

Rice stuck to pot

We’re out of tinfoil so I covered the dish with a baking sheet for the last 10 minutes. It worked fine. I’m not unprepared, I’m just reducing my garbage load. 😉

The final product was pretty good though not as good as the lasagna. I might try it with less rice next time.

Left: Connor enjoying his meal. Right: Casserole and Grace's empty chair because she ran away and refused to try it.

We followed up the meal with chocolate cake in a mug. We didn’t have cocoa powder so I used a packet of Swiss Miss. It was quite tasty for a 5-minute microwave cake.

Here is my slightly modified recipe to try next time.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Rice Casserole
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
½ lb diced turkey ham
2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon pepper
14 oz can chicken broth
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella or swiss cheese

Cook rice; cook and dice chicken. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute pepper. Add garlic, ham and chicken. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In sauce pan, melt butter then stir in flour and pepper until combined. Slowly stir in chicken broth until well combined. Put meat mixture, sauce and rice into a 9×13 inch baking dish and mix. Top with cheeses. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cover the dish with baking sheet for the last 10 minutes.