Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stocking the Freezer AND Eating Tonight: Green Bean Chicken Casserole

I've grown to hold casseroles near and dear to my heart for several reasons. First and foremost, alot of times you have everything in one dish. Your protein, starch, and vegetable all in one yummy pile. Second, they usually make less dishes dirty and the dishes they do dirty, you can usually get washed while its baking so you can relax with the family after you eat. Third, they usually involve cheese or some other form of creamy goodness. Lastly, you can usually prepare them ahead and often freeze them and you can give them to people in need of ready made meals that they can reheat at their convenience. I mainly speak of friends who either don't cook or who are too busy to cook, say with a move, new baby, or illness or surgery.

When I found this recipe, I was super excited because I LOVE green bean casserole and was looking for an excuse to make it anytime of the year. This not only did that, but made it a main dish too. I was slightly disappointed because it was not very reminiscent of the famous Thanksgiving Day side, but it was still delicious!! Let's just put it this way, I had told a coworker that I would bring in leftovers because I know she enjoys green bean casserole as much as I do but there was none left!! I highly recommend this to anyone looking for all the benefits of a casserole; it's definitely a keeper! Oh, and another plus to this recipe, the amounts are for two casseroles so you can eat now and freeze one for later.

Green Bean Chicken Casserole
From Taste of Home's Freezer Pleasers Cookbook

1 pkg. (6 oz) long grain and wild rice mix
4 c. cubed cooked chicken, (I used a rotisserie chicken from the store for a quick fix)
1 3/4 c. frozen French-Style green beans
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted (Original recipe calls for cream of chicken and broccoli soup but I couldn't find this)
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced and sauteed (Original recipe calls for a 4 oz can stems and pcs., drained)
2/3 c. chopped onion, I sauteed these along with the mushrooms
2/3 c. chopped green pepper, I also sauteed these
1 env. onion soup mix
3/4 c. shredded Colby cheese (I used about this amount for ONE casserole)
Additional Ingredients for EACH casserole:
2/3 c. french-fried onions (I used half a large can for ONE casserole)

1. Prepare wild rice according to package directions. While the rice cooked, I sauteed my veggies. Stir in the chicken, beans, soups, mushrooms, onions, pepper and soup mix. Spoon into two greased 1 1/2 qt baking dishes. Sprinkle with cheese.

2. Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 3 months. Cover and bake the second casserole at 350F for 25-30 min. or until heated through. Uncover; sprinkle with french-fried onions and bake another 5 min. longer or until onions are golden.

3. To use frozen casserole: Completely thaw in refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator 30 min. before baking. Bake, covered, at 350F for 60-65 min. or until heated through. Uncover; sprinkle with french-friend onions and bake 5 min. longer.