Chicken Nugget Casserole

Casseroles are always fun to me, but I like the variety of different textures and flavors. This dish has good variety and tastes like chicken parmasean and pasta. The chicken has it’s own flavor, the pasta has it’s own texture, the cheese adds a bit more savory flavor to the dish, and the dices tomatoes added more fresh flavor and additional texture. My chicken nuggets are always precooked, but your best bet would be to bake them early if you are nervous about them being cooked through, or you can bake for double the recommended time on your package. My nuggets said to bake for 15-20 minutes, so I baked them for 40. This dish created 4 1/2 adult sized meals.

  1. Heat a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add 8 oz Farfalle, and boil for 10-15 minutes until al dents. Strain and place into a 7 x 10 casserole dish.
  2. Heat oven to 350 F.
  3. Add to the pasta 10-15 frozen chicken nuggets and mix. In a large sauce pan, add 1 jar of pasta sauce and 1 can of diced tomatoes. Heat until hot and bubbling.
  4. Pour hot sauce over your pasta. Cover with 1 1/2 cup mozzarella, then bake for 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before eating.

Quarantine Chicken Divan

This is a recipe I received from my mother-in-law several months ago. Josh grew up eating this dish and I’ve been able to make it for Josh a time or two according to the recipe. However, with this pandemic, I’m not able to get to the store as much as normal, and things with short shelf lives are used up very quickly in my house because I don’t want them going bad. So, things this recipe would usually call for, like sour cream, I didn’t have.

There are many things I did differently with this recipe, or should have done differently. First, I didn’t microwave my broccoli before baking. Though the broccoli did cook in the oven, there was water in the bottom of the casserole dish. Cooking and straining the broccoli would help this, you could also use fresh broccoli if you have some. I baked my chicken breast for 40 minutes since it was still half frozen. I took the internal temperature and it was up to 170 F, so though the juices from the chicken have some color, it isn’t dangerous, I also had to bake it again in the casserole, so even if there were under temperature spots, they would be cooked again in the casserole. I made a lot of alteration to the sauce. The recipe called for less mayo and sour cream. I don’t usually have sour cream on hand, and I also had no vanilla yogurt for that tangy flavor. So, I added in ranch for a bit of that dairy tang, and I really enjoyed the extra flavor from it. I didn’t realize the onion and garlic flavor would taste so good in this recipe! I also added lots more curry powder than original, and I added some cumin for even more flavor. The sour cream and curry powder made me think this recipe has an inspiration from Indian cuisine, so I added the cumin to add a bit more of the Indian spice without the heat. I also didn’t add all of the spice into the sauce mix like I should have. I tasted the sauce and it was lacking, so I gave the sauce a dusting of curry powder and cumin once it was already spread in the casserole dish. It’s an inconsistent way of measuring so it’s best to put it in the sauce and mix it in evenly. Then I shredded a block of sharp cheese. I keep them in the freezer because they tend to go bad in my fridge, and shredding frozen cheese is so much easier! I then grabbed a loaf of homemade bread I made last week, crumbled it over the top of the casserole, then sprinkled it with the standard stuffing herbs, sage and thyme. I dusted very lightly over the top, because you don’t want too much stuffing flavor, you want more of the Indian spice flavor. This dish made 6 serving for us.

  1. Bake a 1 lb chicken breast at 400 F for 30-40 minutes until an internal temperature over 165 F is reached. Spray an 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Grab a 12 oz bag of frozen broccoli and microwave it as directed. Strain any excess water from your broccoli and make one even layer in your casserole dish.
  3. Let your baked chicken cool for 5 minutes, transfer into a large bowl and shred the chicken using a hand or stand mixer. Evenly spread the shredded chicken over the broccoli.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, mix together 3/4 cup mayo, 1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup, 3 Tbsp ranch dressing, 3 tsp of curry powder, and 2 tsp cumin. Stir until mixed, then spread in an even layer over the shredded chicken.
  5. Reduce oven to 375 F
  6. Shred 8 oz of sharp cheese and spread evenly over sauce. Cube about 2 cups of bread (use stale bread if you have any) and spread evenly over your cheese layer. Sprinkle over the top a dusting of sage and thyme.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Mashed Potato and Ham Casserole

Casseroles are large meals that are designed to feed many people or for leftovers. This casserole is filling and flavorful. If you choose not to add a veggie, you should serve it with a side of veggies. The onion and ham go very well together, and the butter brings new flavor to the mashed potatoes. This meal is heavy, so it’s not as healthy as a salad, but if you need a filling meal this will do. You can also substituted out the ham for whatever meat you have, and you can add other veggies and/ spices to your taste.

  1. Dice up 1 medium onion (about 1 – 1.5 cups), and dice 2-4 slices of ham (about 2 cups). Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Melt in 4 Tbsp butter, add your diced ham and onion and stir regularly. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Prepare instant mashed potatoes as directed on package (microwave or stove top, you may also choose to make homemade). You will need about 4 cups of prepared mashed potatoes.
  3. Place the potatoes, onion, ham, and butter into a 9×11 baking dish. Mix until everything is evenly distributed, pack it down into the pan, and top with shredded cheese (about 3-4 oz). Bake in the oven for 30 minutes uncovered. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.

Easy Tuna Noodle

Tuna noodle casserole is a staple of depression era cooking. It’s a simple dish that requires very little to feed many people for the night. Though I’m sure there are fancier ways to make tuna noodle, this is the way I grew up with and the way my mom grew up with too. This recipe makes enough to serve 3 adults, but the recipe can easily be stretched by adding more noodles, or doubling/tripling the existing recipe. You can also then stick it in a casserole dish once mixed and add a crisp topping and bake, however I’ve always had it without, and I tend to prefer it quick and easy. Since I don’t do the casserole step, I tend to just call it tuna noodle, since I don’t make it into a casserole.

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil
  • Add 1/2 a bag (8oz) of egg noodles and cook to al dente, and strain.
  • In a dutch oven add one strained can of tuna, one can of cream of mushroom soup, and one can of Milk. Bring to a boil and stir till smooth.
  • Once smooth, add the noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes, and serve. Sauce thickens upon standing. Best serves with buttered bread and sweet peas.

Thanksgiving: Leftovers – Turkey Shepherds Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is a great way to use up any mashed potatoes or any other Thanksgiving leftovers you have left. I used 1 can of sweet peas and 1 can of sliced carrots, and I added what little corn I had left from Thanksgiving. I used up my leftover veggies, my thanksgiving mashed potatoes, and the remaining turkey that hadn’t been frozen yet. I also used a mixture of light and dark meat. As always, my recipe is very forgiving and versatile, and making it your own is encouraged!

  • Chop a medium onion (1 cup) and cook in butter/oil (5 Tbsp) until translucent.
  • Once that is cooked, you can add any uncooked veggies you desire (corn, peas, carrots), cook until soft, then add any other veggies you have left or desire.
  • Dice up any turkey you have left maxing at about 3 cups for a hearty meal, then add to the veggies. Add 1 Tbsp of ground thyme and dried sage (or any other variety of the 2 herbs).
  • Add 4 cups of turkey or chicken stock cook until hot, then slowly add flour while stirring to reduce clumping. Add flour until the mixture begins to form thick coating on your spoon (about 5 Tbsp).
  • Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and top with mashed potatoes and optional grated cheese.
  • Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Wait for it to cool about 35 minutes to serve.

To see the other recipes I cooked this year, head back to my Thanksgiving: Overview post!