Everyday Mom's Meals: July 2023

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Summer Time Comfort Food

 Hello! Did you think I disappeared? Fell off the face of the earth? It's been over a month since my last new recipe, so I wouldn't blame you!

When I posted the last time I mentioned how crazy things were because of the oldest graduating high school. It had been a while since I shared a recipe then too. After the end of school I thought maybe we could get back to our regularly scheduled programming; but guess what? Life just got busier!

However, this hiatus was for a fantastic reason. For the first time in four years, we were able to get away for two weeks to the beach and have tons of family time in the sun, sand and surf. This trip was our graduation gift to Alex and we sucked every last drop of fun out of the 14 days we could. We were blessed with amazing weather, had some fun adventures, including holding a live baby alligator, and we even discovered the wonder that is Buc-ee's travel plazas. (You can read all about our experience here in the article I wrote for Parade.com!)

We've been home for a week now and I am still trying to get back into the swing of things, all while being crazy busy. There is less than a month until Alex heads off to college, we have VBS, Max's birthday and his first day of 1st grade....so much to plan and keep straight. But in all the chaos, I do have a new recipe for all of you.

Chicken Noodle Casserole is pure comfort food for those nights when you need to sink your teeth into something that will feed your soul. It is a great use for leftover chicken and uses my favorite store-bought noodles, Reames brand found in the frozen aisle. (That isn't a paid advertisement. I just love their noodles, and they are the closest thing to homemade I've ever tasted.)

If you are watching summer zoom by like us, wishing you could stop time in its tracks, take a little breather with a delicious casserole supper this week!

Chicken Noodle Casserole

What kind of chicken should I use? 

This recipe is perfect with leftover, shredded chicken, a deli rotisserie chicken or even canned chicken. 

Can I use other vegetables?

Absolutely! I think frozen corn, green beans or even broccoli would be delicious in this as well.

Can I use chicken broth instead of stock?

Sure! I happened to have stock on hand but broth will work just fine.

Do I have to use heavy cream?

This homemade cream sauce really needs the richness of the cream. Half-and-half might work, but I haven't tried it. 

Why the cracker topping?

The buttery crackers give the casserole an extra layer of flavor and texture. If you don't have Ritz on hand, Club crackers would be a great swap.  

 Best Tips:

Save some time and prepare the chicken ahead of time. I roasted some fresh tenders in the oven, shredded the meat, and had it in the fridge waiting on me. 

Reames noodles can be found in the frozen food aisle, usually near the other frozen pastas or breads.

If you need to double the recipe, be sure to use two different baking dishes. This casserole filled my deep dish 9x13. 

Serve with a side salad, fresh fruit or crusty bread.

I haven't tried to freeze this casserole, but I think if you prepared it, without the cracker topping, cooled it completely, then froze it, you could add the crackers and bake off when ready.

Chicken Noodle Casserole 

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

1 (12 oz.) bag frozen egg noodles, such as Reames

1 (12 oz.) bag frozen peas and carrots

2 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup + 1 TBS butter

1/4 cup flour

15 butter crackers, like Ritz, crushed

 2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp onion powder

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Salt and Pepper 

Preheat oven to 350. Cook noodles according to package directions. In a large skillet with high sides or Dutch oven, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium high heat. Cook garlic for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly pour in stock and cream, whisking constantly. Add Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 5-7 minutes until slightly thickened. Add cooked chicken and frozen vegetables. Stir well. Cook until warmed through. When noodles are cooked, drain well. Add to skillet and stir to combine. Transfer to a greased 9x13 baking dish.

Melt 1 TBS butter and mix with crushed crackers. Sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown on top. 

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Inspired by The Recipe Rebel