Chicken Vegetable Casserole

Greetings my dear readers! This is an updated version of a casserole I used to make when I first started a family many years ago. I am not sure where I got this but it is one of those canned soup recipes. And back then I used canned soups. I don’t anymore and haven’t for a long time. I have learned how to make my own cream sauce. I thought I would share this with you all. I had thawed chicken thighs and didn’t want to do another lemon chicken recipe. So here is what’s for dinner.

Original recipe: 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 pound large cut vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, shredded cheese if desired, and one cut up chicken.

Here’s my update:

  • 8-10 medium sized chicken thighs; I wanted to be “healthy” so took the skins off.
  • 1/2 super large bag of frozen Normandy style vegetables: zucchini and yellow squash, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower; use at least two pounds of large cut vegetables. You could cut fresh vegetables for this as well.
  • (I could have added about  4 ounces of mushrooms but the ones I had smelled too earthy for my liking.)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • generous sprinkling of seasonings of your choice; I used Herbs de Provence; it is my new go-to herb mixture
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt; I threw this in at the last minute to add a creamy “healthiness”
  • 1 cup shredded cheese; I used a mixture of cheddar.

Super simple to make: heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray your 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray, or oil it if you prefer. Place your vegetables in here. Place your chicken on top of the vegetables. Make your sauce.

Melt the two tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan. Add broth. Sprinkle on your seasoning or herbs. Mix the cornstarch with the half-and-half. Add to pan and bring just to boil. This will not be thick but on the verge of thickening. Pour the sauce on top of the chicken. This looked thin to me so I smeared the yogurt on top of the chicken. Sprinkle the cheese over this.

Bake for at least one hour. Test chicken for done-ness with meat thermometer: 165-175 for thighs.  Dinner is served. This has your vegetables and your protein. Rice or egg noodles could be a side which would be nice with the sauce.

Enjoy!

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Hoppin’ John

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It’s New Year’s Day and these are the ingredients for dinner. My Mom used to make something like this saying it would bring good luck in the New Year. The three basic ingredients are pork, rice, and black-eyed peas. Mom would soak dried peas overnight but I chose canned. The two ladies in the grocery store trying to find them also wanted to use canned although one said her mother also used to soak the dried. The three of us had a time finding these cans as they were buried in a stack of boxes and not readily available on the shelf. They are using a ham bone; I am using pork chops. Some traditions add greens, such as Collard, but I like spinach. I make this differently each time so here’s how I made it this year.

  • bacon, I hacked off about two half- inch chunks of bacon from the end of the package
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1-2 cups frozen spinach
  • about two cups of quinoa/rice mix; this was one envelope from this “cook in ten minutes” box cooked according to directions
  • one can black-eyed peas, undrained
  • several hefty shakes of red pepper flakes
  • one pork chop per person

For the Hoppin’ John, I cooked the bits of bacon and the onion in a cast iron skillet until the bacon was cooked. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes into this. I then added the spinach and continued cooking the concoction for about five minutes before adding the black-eyed peas and the prepared rice mix. Stir that all together and let heat thoroughly. The liquid from the can of black-eyed peas will reduce somewhat.

IMG_0838 1My original plan was to “stuff” each pork chop with the Hoppin’ John mixture. But Hubby wanted to glaze them with the blackberry preserves and he looked so endearing and delighted when he talked of it. So, in the spirit of compromise, I gave him the task of cooking the pork chops. He broiled them in the oven, flipped them over and put about a teaspoon of blackberry preserves on each and left them in the oven to glaze. This whole process took about ten minutes.

The Hoppin’ John was the side dish as well as leftovers for lunches for the week. Yum!