Friday, September 24, 2010

Whatevayougot Casserole

In planning to spend the last few days of the month on about $150, I decided to make some frugal culinary decisions. Also, I found this recipe book that my mother had given me, Quick Dishes for the Woman in a Hurry circa 1982, which inspired me with this dish. I really like that book because it is a blend of Paula Deen's fun'n'fatty food, and the 1950's quick-fix-canned-food stage. The recipe in the book called, "Jiffy Creamed Chicken" calls for CANNED chicken, and for some reason (assuming this book was written for the woman in a hurry) they think that you will always have a can of CHICKEN in your pantry. What is this? wartime? haha.
Anyways, reading the recipe, originally topped with bread slices cut into roosters/chickens with cookie cutters, I was reminded of Paula Deen, who always seems to make me feel warm and fuzzy. I was also brought back to a summer camp where they served the chicken and rice dish made from cream of mushroom soup, chicken, and rice. I then trotted over to my pantry where I pulled out my one can of Cream of Mushroom Soup (with roasted garlic) and started scheming. 
I then raided my fridge to find leftover chicken (precooked [which reminds me that the best thing to have in your fridge, just in case, is an extra breast or thigh, roasted. Any time you cook chicken, cook extra.]), leftover creamed spinach, frozen peas. I also decided to add some whole wheat shells to the equation.
Really, I just threw in leftovers with whatever else I thought would taste good from the pantry. You can take this Casserole any direction you want.

And I made my own croutons and didn't cut them into chicken shapes.

Also, here is a testimonial from my roommate/best friend, Mica: 
" This casserole was absolutely perfect. the mixture of flavors was satisfying and  delicious. it also used a bunchof leftovers we already had. i brought it to school for the lunch the next day, and it was just as delicious cold as it was hot. YUM.    "
Whatevayougot Casserole
2-3 slices of bread
1-2 chicken breasts, precooked
1/2 small onion
1 garlic clove (if you are using regular cream of mush soup)
1/2c frozen or canned peas
1/2 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeeze-drained or whatever veggie you like or have leftovers of (mushrooms would be good)
1 c precooked medium shells (or rice, or whatever starch you like)
parmesan cheese

1. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add chicken until it is heated through. Add Cream of Mushroom Soup, peas, spinach. Gently heat through. Salt to taste.
2. Cook the rice or pasta while the other ingredients are heating. Also cube the bread, toss with olive oil and garlic salt, and toast in the oven (350 deg for about 10 minutes or until golden and crispy).
3. Mix the soup mixture and cooked pasta together. Pour into a greased baking pan/casserole dish, top with croutons and cheese.
4. Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and the center of the casserole looks warm and slightly more firm than when it went in.