I may start blogging again at some point...
But even though that has not yet happened, I wanted to get something down.
It's been rather hectic lately, and by "rather" I mean "tremendously." A traditional Christmas celebration very nearly did not happen at our house this year. I still feel a bit sick to my stomach at the amount of receiving (as opposed to giving) that I did during 12-2012. Perhaps I will buy and mail some late gifts over break. If I do, it will be at the expense of lesson planning. Sigh.
Thank the Lord for kids who can bake cookies, decorate trees and play carols on the piano.
My heart is also filled with thanks because Shannon came home and had her wisdom teeth removed on 12-21... and it went smoothly and she is recovering very well.
Probably I don't need to spell it out, but I was not at my peak regarding holiday plans, holiday shopping or holiday meals. When Christmas Eve rolled around, I realized that I had some cryovac-packed chicken breasts in the refrigerator and an old bag of chopped spinach in the freezer.
Does it happen to you the way it happens to me? I can plan, strategize and work my fingers to the bone preparing a nice meal for company and have everything turn out ho-hum at best. But when I have no plan, no recipe, no company coming, possibly not even any ingredients, this is when my culinary masterpieces occur. This is what happened Christmas Eve.
The result was delicious. I sat at the table and shared a chicken and rice casserole with my family, savoring each bite and thinking what a shame that I did not exactly know what I had done to bring it to pass.
It was good enough that, even though I don't remember what I did, I wanted to try to get something down in case I want to try it again some day. So here goes:
Crazy Christmas Eve Chicken and Rice CasseroleIngredients:
long grain white rice
raw chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
crushed red pepper
grated sharp cheddar cheese
(saute the 1.5 cups of rice in a couple Tbsp. of butter until warm, add 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover tightly, let sit 20 minutes or until ready to use)
(2) Cut up 4 good-sized, raw chicken breasts into bite sized pieces. Cook in a large pot in a little bit of olive oil. Add: granulated garlic, minced onion, kosher salt, crushed red pepper and cumin. I did not measure. I tend to be generous with seasonings. Cook the chicken and seasonings together until the chicken is no longer pink and the flavors have permeated into the chicken.
(3) Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour over the chicken and cook and stir until it is evenly coated and the flour seems to be lightly browned.
(4) Add 2 cups chicken broth. Stir well as you add it. Stir and cook over medium heat until it bubbles and begins to thicken.
(5) Add 2 cups whole milk. Stir constantly and continue to cook over medium heat until this also thickens and bubbles.
(6) Add about 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese (I did not measure). Stir in until melted.
(7) Add about 1 cup of salsa (again... I did not measure). Stir in. Turn off heat.
(8) Cook a bag of frozen spinach (16 oz.? 12 oz.?). Drain and snip with scissors into small pieces.
(9) Add the spinach and the rice to the chicken and sauce. Stir well. Pour into a large, buttered casserole dish.
(10) Top with additional grated sharp cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes (this is assuming that the parts were still quite warm when you combined them). When the cheese is melted and slightly starting to brown, and the casserole bubbles around the edges, it is ready to eat.