Family-Friendly Flavors

Chicken and Rice Casserole

Mix It Up with Jenny
It's true - the kitchen is the heart of the home. Ever notice how people always gather there? Whether baking treats, making dinner or spending time with family and friends, the kitchen is my favorite place to be. Since my day job is Consumer Test Kitchen Project Manager for the Nestlé Test Kitchens, you can bet I love to stir things up. This column lets me pass along to you some of my best recipes, tips and baking secrets.

Jenny Harper is Consumer Test Kitchen Project Manager for the Nestlé Test Kitchens and www.VeryBestBaking.com.

(Family Features) I think kids are secretly glad to get back into a school routine after summer's pursuits. I know I'm glad to return to a regular schedule, which includes dinner together at the end of a busy day. Sharing a hot meal makes me feel we're connected.

The dilemma many of us face is how to get dinner on the table every night. Here are some of my secrets for accomplishing family dinners:

  • Count on casseroles frequently, eliminating the need for many side dishes. Also, casseroles can conveniently be made ahead or frozen for a later date.
  • Plan once, cook once, eat twice! Make dishes that can be made ahead and frozen - make two and freeze one.
  • Enlist the help of family. Plan meals on a notepad and have the kids assist where appropriate.
  • Younger kids can set the table and clear the dishes; preteens can make a salad and do dishes. Have everyone bring a topic to the table to discuss; maybe it's something new they learned today.
  • Keep a list of family members' favorite sides and salad, and keep ingredients on hand. Some of our favorites are baby carrots with dip; coleslaw blend with Italian dressing; baby spinach sautéed in olive oil; microwaved, precut veggies tossed with ranch dressing.

Chicken and Rice Casserole delivers big, family-favorite flavors for very little effort. I find that a few tasty ingredients - chicken, rice, onion, jalapeño - blended together with cheese and evaporated milk creates tempting aromas, ensuring a hungry crew at the table.

Bring 'em to the table every night! For more savvy supper ideas and tempting goodies for dessert baking, check out the always-delicious ideas at www.VeryBestBaking.com.


Chicken and Rice Casserole

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, chopped chicken breast
  • 1 can (12 fluid ounces) Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Milk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon diced jalapeños (optional)

Preparation

  1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2-quart casserole dish.
  2. COMBINE rice, cheese, chicken, evaporated milk, onion, eggs, cilantro, butter and jalapeños in prepared casserole dish; stir well.
  3. BAKE 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

To Freeze Ahead:

  1. PREPARE as above; do not bake. Cover; freeze up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Uncover. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.
  2. BAKE 60 to 70 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 420 calories; 200 calories from fat; 22g total fat; 14g saturated fat; 0g trans fat; 165mg cholesterol; 340mg sodium; 25g carbohydrate; 0g fiber; 7g sugars; 28g protein; 10% DV vitamin A; 2% DV vitamin C; 45% DV calcium; 10% DV iron

Photo courtesy of Nestlé

Source: Nestlé

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