Chicken Parmesan Casserole

The last stop on my cooking marathon yesterday was this dish – Chicken Parmesan Casserole! I love the idea of deconstructing a traditional dish and turning it into a casserole (see also Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac and Cheese). So I thought I’d do something similar to this Italian classic. The fact that I love fried chicken helped to add this to my dinner rotation for the week too. I have to say that it turned out great and every bite was definitely reminiscent of the original dish. Some of the breading from the chicken gets mixed in with the pasta and sauce and continues the flavor throughout. Yum, yum! I made own Italian bread crumbs (because I have yet to find a store-bought brand that is all-natural) to bread the chicken. By the way, frying chicken with these breadcrumbs and buttermilk just as a normal fried chicken entree is awesome, and even if this dish doesn’t appeal to you, I suggest you try it! Hope you enjoy!

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Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Vegetable oil (enough to fill a frying pan 1-inch)
1 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs (see recipe below for homemade)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 lb chicken tenderloins
1 lb penne pasta, boiled to al dente
6 cups marinara sauce (see recipe below for homemade)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella balls, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup shredded mozzarella (for topping)

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.) Heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Dip each chicken tenderloin in buttermilk, then dredge in the breadcrumbs, making sure to coat well on each side. Add to hot oil and fry until browned and cooked fully (actual time will depend on the thickness of the chicken – I cooked mine for about 5 minutes on each side). Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined plate. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into chunks. Set aside.
3.) In a large bowl (or the pot you cooked the marinara sauce in), combine cooked pasta, marinara sauce, parmesan cheese and mozzarella balls. Stir well until everything is well combined. Gently stir chicken into the pasta (so you don’t lose all the breading). Top with shredded mozzarella. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is browned and sides are bubbly.

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Chicken Parm Casserole

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Italian Bread Crumbs
1 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp dried parsley

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined and consistency is thinner.

Italian Bread Crumbs

Marinara Sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 26-oz boxes finely diced tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup fresh basil, julienned
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least an hour.

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Tuna Casserole

I feel like folks either love or hate tuna casserole… I love it. Turns out my little guys love it too. This is a pretty easy weeknight recipe… it took me a little over 45 minutes, but 30 minutes of that was “casserole in oven” time. It’s pretty classic comfort food, from scratch. Hope you enjoy!

Tuna Casserole

Tuna Casserole

12 ozs egg noodles (I used medium width)
4 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
8 ozs mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup frozen peas
2 cans chunk light tuna
1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs (for topping)

1.) Heat a large pot of salted water to boil, add egg noodles and cook according to package (probably about 7 minutes). Drain and set aside.
2.) Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle flour over onions and mushrooms, stir and cook for about 1 more minute. Stir in chicken stock and half and half. Cook for a few minutes longer until sauce has thickened and then remove from heat. Add parmesan, peas, tuna and cooked egg noodles and stir until well combined.
3.) Transfer to a 9″x13″ casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

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Chicken Tetrazzini

I’m not sure I had ever actually had chicken tetrazzini until just recently. We had an assortment of pasta dishes at the shower I helped host this weekend, and one of the other hostesses put this dish on the menu. Ever since Saturday night I’ve had the itch to make it, and while I knew it would be ambitious for a week night meal, Blake was home tonight and so I thought what the heck. Totally worth it. This is a Giada De Laurentiis recipe. I stayed pretty true to the original, but due to some of the quantities I had on hand (and the fact that I messed up a couple of steps), I veered ever so slightly. I am sharing the way I made it because I can personally attest to the fact that it tasted really, really good. I will definitely make this again, and it has potential to be a great care package meal too. Hope you enjoy!

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini

2 chicken breasts, boiled and shred
1 lb linguine
1 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp butter, divided
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup parmesan
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.) Add 1 tbsp of butter and olive oil to large dutch oven. Add mushrooms and sauté until any liquid is cooked up and mushrooms are golden. Add onion, garlic and thyme. Saute for another 2 or 3 minutes. Add wine and chicken stock. Saute until liquid is mostly evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in shredded chicken.
3.) While the mushroom mixture is cooking, boil linguine in a large pot of salted water for 10 minutes. Set aside when done.
4.) In a separate large sauté pan, heat remaining 4 tbsp butter until it is melted. Add flour and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add milk, heavy cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Once sauce has thickened (about 8 or 9 minutes), remove from heat.
5.) In the largest pot you used, add pasta, mushroom/chicken, cream sauce, peas and parsley. Stir until well combined. Pour into a 9″x13″ casserole dish. Top with parmesan cheese and then Italian breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and the top is golden brown.

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Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’s Chicken Tetrazzini

French Toast Casserole

Breakfast casseroles are a must-have during the holidays. We enjoyed this French toast casserole at my in-laws this Christmas and it turned out delicious! It was really easy to make – we were able to make this the night before and throw it in the oven in the morning. This was my first time making this but it won’t be my last!

French toast casserole

French Toast Casserole

1 loaf crusty sourdough or French bread, cut/torn into 1″ to 2″ cubes
8 eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (plus more to sprinkle on top)
1/4 tsp salt
1 pinch nutmeg
1 stick cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1.) Grease a 9″x13″ casserole dish with butter. Add cubed bread evenly to dish.
2.) In a medium bowl, mix eggs, milk, whipping cream, brown sugar and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
3.) In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add butter pieces and cut them into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter until the mixture has the texture of small pebbles. Store in a ziploc bag in the fridge.
4.) When it’s time to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle topping over the bread and then sprinkle some additional cinnamon on top. Bake for 45 minutes.

Adapted from Suburban Epicurean’s French Toast Casserole 

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Sweet Potato Casserole

This is my grandma’s sweet potato casserole. I’ve been eating it for as long as I can remember. It is by far, the best sweet potato dish I’ve ever eaten… and I recognize it’s hard to be objective about grandma’s recipes – but for real, this is great!

I made this a couple of years ago for my Thanksgiving lunch at work and some of the ladies in my office adopted this as their go-to sweet potato recipe. And so now that I can’t make it (with my son’s tree nut allergy), I’m happy that they’ve got this recipe down and I can continue to enjoy one of my favorites.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potatoes
3 cups canned sweet potatoes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup pecans (chopped)
1 cup coconut

1.) Mash together all ingredients for the sweet potatoes and place in a casserole dish.
2.) Combine topping ingredients with a fork.  Place evenly on top of sweet potatoes.
3.) Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

If you’re using fresh sweet potatoes, you may need to add a little more sugar to the sweet potato mixture. You can either bake or boil them. If boiling, peel, cube and then boil until fork-tender. If you bake, bake with skins on then scoop sweet potatoes out of skins.

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Squash Casserole

More of the Thanksgiving fare… squash casserole. I got this recipe from Blake’s Aunt June and first tried it at a family get-together. I was impressed by the flavor, the fact that it was not made with cream soup and how easy it is to throw together. It’s made it into my Thanksgiving all-star roster and I make it every year. Enjoy!

Squash Casserole

2 1/2 lbs squash, sliced (see pic below)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 egg
1 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 stick of butter, melted
Salt and pepper

1.) Steam squash and onion for about 10 to 12 minutes (or until fork tender). Place squash in a colander to allow all the excess liquid to drain.
2.) Mix all ingredients (except 1/2 cup of the cheese) in a large mixing bowl.
3.) Pour into a greased casserole dish and top with remaining cheese.
4.) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (or more if it’s sharing an oven).

I doubled the recipe in the pictures below.

Squash and onion

Squash and onion steamed

Crushed crackers
I think it’s easier to crush your crackers in the sleeve – less mess.

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Doubling the recipe it fits nicely in a 9×13″ casserole dish.

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Squash casserole

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Broccoli and Blue Cheese Casserole

Next up on the Thanksgiving recipe line up… Broccoli Casserole. But this one has a little something special – blue cheese. I got this recipe from my aunt and have been making it for years. Even before I was a big blue cheese fan, I have loved this casserole! It’s a great from-scratch recipe with no cream soup but a whole lot of flavor. I served this at our office Thanksgiving lunch today and they ate it up!

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Casserole

3 bunches of broccoli (about 9 stalks – see pic below)
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup blue cheese
2 cups milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup crushed crackers (see pic below)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Cut off broccoli florets (cutting large ones in half). Steam for about 10 to 12 minutes or until fork tender. Place in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice.
3.) In a saucepan, melt butter and add flour and salt to make a roux. Add milk while whisking. Add cream cheese and blue cheese and stir with a whisk until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Add mayo. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
4.) Add cheese sauce to broccoli in mixing bowl. Mix well until broccoli is evenly coated.
5.) Place into a casserole dish. Top with crushed crackers and bake for about 30 minutes or until crackers are golden and sides are bubbly. Longer if it’s sharing an oven with another dish.

I used 3 of these bunches… each bunch had 3 stalks

Broccoli cut up
Here’s the size of the cut broccoli

Broccoli blue cheese sauce
Blue cheese sauce

Broccoli and blue cheese sauce

Broccoli and blue cheese casserole pre crackers

Back to Nature Classic Round Crackers
These are my Ritz cracker substitutes – all natural and they taste exactly the same!

Broccoli and blue cheese casserole topped with crackers

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Mexican Lasagna

I was in the mood for Mexican today, and since I hadn’t made one in a while, I decided on Mexican lasagna.  This is not your typical Mexican lasagna – it’s full of black beans, corn and fresh salsa. This freshness works well with the taco sauce coated chicken and cheese so you’re left with a very balanced dish.  I slow cooked my chicken and shred it, but if you used a rotisserie chicken (Mojo flavor, maybe?) or made the chicken ahead of time, the rest of this dish is pretty simple and could certainly be week-night worthy.  I paired it with my Spanish Rice and it was the perfect compliment.  Since I slow cooked my chicken in stock and seasoning, I felt really smart because I saved it and was able to make the rice with it (I love when that sort of thing happens!). The recipe below ended up being enough for two casseroles, so I put the extra one in the freezer.  The second one was a little smaller than the one we ate tonight. All three of my boys loved this and I, especially, am really looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

10 Mexican lasagna

Mexican Lasagna
Recipe will make 2 casseroles – see below for pictures

3 chicken breasts, shredded (recipe below)
Salt and pepper
16 oz. taco sauce (I used Ortega)
2 14.5-oz. cans black beans, drained (not rinsed)
1 14.5-oz. can corn, drained (or 2 ears fresh corn)
16 oz. fresh salsa (I used Publix deli medium salsa)
4 oz. can of green chills, drained
9 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Add about 8 ozs of taco sauce and mix until chicken is evenly coated. Set aside.
3.) In a bowl, combine black beans, corn, salsa and chilis. Set aside.
4.) Spray the casserole dish(es) with olive oil and then add the remaining taco sauce to the bottom of the dish(es). Cut tortillas in half (or quarters) so that they will fit along the bottom of the casserole(s).
5.) Layer the casserole as follows: tortillas, chicken, bean/corn/salsa, cheese. Repeat one more time, ending with more cheese than the first layer.
6.) Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the sides are bubbly.

3 Shredded chicken and taco sauce

2 Bean corn and salsa

4 Mexican lasagna step 1

5 Mexican lasagna step 2

6 Mexican lasagna step 3

7 Mexican lasagna step 4

8 Mexican lasagna

9 Mexican lasagna

Mexican lasagna 2nd meal
This was the second casserole.

How to store casseroles in the freezer
To prevent freezer burn, I always wrap my casseroles with plastic wrap first (making sure there is a perfect seal around the perimeter of the casserole dish) and then cover with aluminum foil. I then write what it is and when it was prepared, because I would totally forget if I didn’t.

Update **Simple Mexican Shredded Chicken**

Boil chicken breast and shred with a fork. Stir in 1 tbsp of Taco Seasoning per chicken breast.

Mexican Shredded Chicken

3 chicken breasts
4 ozs. taco sauce
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper

1.) Place all ingredients in a dutch oven. Cover and place in a 250 degree oven. Cook for 3 to 4 hours.
2.) Remove chicken from broth and shred the chicken with a fork and knife.

1 Shredded chicken

Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac and Cheese

Disclaimer:  If you are on a diet or counting calories, I would stop reading now.  It is indulgent.  It’s in my top 5 favorite meals I’ve ever made.  It’s that good.  So I’ve been thinking all week about making some sort of Chicken Cordon Bleu dish – I had bought some ham and Swiss cheese this weekend, but just wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it.  And then this morning it hit me like a ton of bricks – make a chicken cordon bleu inspired mac and cheese!  Yes please!  I ended up staying home with a sick kid today, so the afternoon nap gave me the time to do this on a weeknight.  It was so delish, it prompted a 5 o’clock dinner time so it would still be warm.  This is a mac and cheese that feeds like a meal.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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Chicken Cordon Bleu Mac & Cheese

2 chicken breasts, boiled and shred
12 ozs elbow macaroni
6 cups chicken stock
Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
3 slices of bacon, diced
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup chicken stock (reserved from the 6 cups used to cook macaroni)
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream
2 bay leaves
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
1 1/4 cup white cheddar, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of deli ham, diced
3 tbsp butter
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried parsley

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add chicken broth to a large pot, add macaroni and cook according to package to al dente.  When pasta is done cooking, drain, reserving 1 1/4  cup of the chicken stock. Return macaroni to pot, add lemon juice and olive oil to pasta, stir well.  Set aside.
2.) In a non-stick skillet, add onion, bacon and garlic.  Sauté over medium-high heat until onions begin to caramelize and bacon is done, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.
3.) In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt butter and slowly add flour. Whisk constantly. Cook for about a minute, then, while stirring add chicken stock. Next, add heavy cream, sour cream, bay leaves, sugar and onion/garlic/bacon mixture.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.  Remove bay leaves, add 1 cup of Swiss and 1 cup of white cheddar.  Stir until cheese is completely melted.  Salt and pepper to taste.
4.) To make seasoned breadcrumbs, add the 1/4 tsp each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and parsley to the panko. Mix well.  Melt the butter in a small pan and add breadcrumb mixture, stirring until butter and breadcrumbs are fully incorporated.
5.) In a 9″x13″ casserole dish, add macaroni, shredded chicken, ham and cheese sauce. Mix until everything is evenly coated.  Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup each of the remaining Swiss and white cheddar.  Next, evenly distribute the breadcrumbs over the casserole.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is brown and the edges are bubbly.


Artichoke and Broccoli Bake

It was breakfast for dinner earlier this week.  Typically this is a go-to when I’m looking for a quick meal, but this time it was because I forgot to thaw out some meat. I hate when I do that!  So I was trying to think of something meatless to feed my brood and remembered this breakfast casserole.  I’ve made this with a variety of veggies – mushrooms, asparagus, spinach and broccoli – but broccoli is especially good!  Sometimes I use leftover broccoli, but if I’m making it from fresh I will steam it with lemon juice and butter and season it well with salt and pepper.


Artichoke and Broccoli Bake

2 to 3 cups of cooked broccoli (or other veggies)
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 14-oz can artichoke, drained and chopped
8 eggs, beaten
2 cups cottage cheese
4 ozs feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) In skillet, saute onions in butter. Set aside to cool.
3.) Mix together all ingredients and pour into a greased casserole dish.
4.) Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.