I am a big fan of casseroles. Huge. Love them. Not sure if it’s the Dutch in me, but mixing up my food groups and slathering everything in a gravy or a cream sauce to create a new and delicious casserole is just totally my thing.
I am also a big fan of cleaning out the leftovers in my freezer and fridge.
Which often leads to pretty unique casseroles in my home. Some winners,
and some, not-so-winners.
Left-over Casserole Winner
This time, though, I think it worked out well enough to earn an official Schinkels’ recipe and blog post.
So, first thing I pulled out of the freezer was a little half-bag of hashbrowns.
Not enough to do anything usual for our family of 6, but it was in danger of freezer burn if I didn’t do something soon. To compensate, I quickly diced up two potatoes.
I had also found two single packages with chicken kinda loose in the freezer – one was bone-in and one was boneless breast.
Because I had taken them out earlier in the day, I was able to easily dice them as well.
Easy cooking Tip:
When trying to dice chicken, use a sturdy, sharp knife to cut it when it is still partially frozen.
Maybe about an hour after removing from the freezer… this is so much easier than trying to cut the floppy, slimy, soft chicken meat when it is fully thawed.
Unfortunately, that didn’t work as well with the bone-in piece, so I had to wait for it to thaw fully,
before deboning it and then dicing it the not-so-easy way.
Luckily, I’ve been putting in many hours at Schinkels’ lately and am getting quite
proficient at dealing with raw chicken.
But, if you aren’t a fan of this endeavor, feel free to just ask for the boneless breast.
Easy is good, too.
The item my kids had hoped I wouldn’t find was the half package of frozen spinach.
For obvious reasons.
I, however, love spinach and try to add it to as many casseroles and pastas as I can.
In the back of the freezer I found three ziploc bags filled with grated cheeses.
I think two were cheddar, and one was colby, but it might have been the other way around, too.
Maybe about 1 1/2 cups altogether.
In the fridge, there was some bacon bits, Parmesan, and pasta sauce from my youngest boy’s homemade pizzas.
So, these ingredients became my inspiration for tonight’s dinner.
A Fajita Twist
Cooking up the chicken with some diced onions in butter, I added a package of fajita season instead of my usual salt and pepper when everything was cooked through.
I layered the pasta sauce along the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole, then the raw diced potatoes,
chicken, bacon bits and spinach. I grated most of the parmesan over that,
and made sure I had a bit left for the salad I was going to serve this with.
It melted right away, so the picture doesn’t do it justice,
but there was a fair bit of cheese melting into the chicken.
I might have snitched a few pieces at this point,
taking care to have a good bit of cheese and bacon on the chicken bits I stole,
but I was sure to do it when none of my kids were watching, so it’s all good.
I mixed up some sour cream, cream cheese and milk, pretty much equal portions of each to
make a simple sauce that I poured over all of this deliciousness,
and then, finally, topped everything with the frozen hash browns and the grated cheeses.
Covered with foil wrap, and then baked at 350°F for just shy of an hour.
Crispy, Cheesy Wonder
One of my casserole tricks at this point is to uncover the casserole and
let bake just a few minutes under the broiler to get the cheese sizzly and just a bit crispy on the edges.
I will let you borrow that tip if you like crispy, sizzly cheese bits.
Once again, nothing better than a casserole.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t present when the casserole came out of the oven,
and then we were quickly setting the table, saying grace and
then digging in before I had a chance to take a picture of the finished product.
It did look pretty, though, for about 5 minutes before the casserole dish was almost empty.