We’re back! We’re back, we’re back, we’re back! My Spatular and I just returned from the most incredible trip. We spent 12 days traveling through the Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria. I can’t wait to tell you all about it, but right now after hours of travel, I just don’t have the words to know where to begin. So let’s just talk about food, ok?
What do you like to eat when you get home from vacation? I don’t know about you, but all I want is a home cooked meal. I love eating out while traveling, visiting new restaurants and trying new foods, but man all I want right now is some homemade comfort. Good thing I was thinking ahead before we left, and made a casserole to leave in the freezer for us to toss in the oven when we walked in the door.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole is a favorite for both Spatular and me. I whipped it up for the first time last winter to use up some leftovers, but we loved it so much I went back and made it again. I love the way that the cheesy sauce covers every single pasta noodle, bite of chicken, and piece of salty ham. Its the perfect meal because its all your food groups in one pan (minus the veg, so I just serve some steamed broccoli on the side) and it freezes perfectly! You don’t even have to thaw it before sticking it in the oven. This recipe makes a 9×13 pan or two square baking pans. In my case I made a 8×8 pan to go in the freezer, and a couple individual bakers to eat the week I made it.
I’m exhausted and running out of things to say, so I’ll just leave you with some photos and the recipe. Check back over the next month to see photos and hear stories from our time in Prague, Munich and Vienna!
- 12 oz short grain pasta (I used bowties)
- 1 lb cooked chicken chicken breasts
- 12 oz ham (I used ham steak, but leftover ham works great!)
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 8 oz shredded swiss cheese
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the pasta al dente, drain and set aside.
- Cut the chicken and ham into bite sized pieces and set aside.
- In a large non-stick skillet, melt 2 Tbs of butter over low heat. Add the flour to the melted butter and whisk together to form a roux. Continue whisking for another minute to cook off the raw flour taste.
- Turn the heat up to medium and pour the milk into the skillet. Continue whisking, breaking up all of the flour lumps and allowing the sauce to thicken. It should take about 5 minutes.
- When the sauce has thickened, whisk in the salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Add the shredded swiss cheese to the sauce and whisk until melted and fully incorporated.
- Pour the pasta, chicken, and ham into the skillet with the sauce and gently fold together until all of the ingredients are well coated.
- Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray and transfer the casserole to the pan. Top with panko bread crumbs and bake for 30 minutes.
**Note: If you are baking the frozen casserole, it will need to bake for closer to an hour.
It feels good to be home… sorta.