The first day back to school after vacation is always tough. We never sleep well and that first day back to work and school is spent in a kind of haze. My daughter asked me if I heard her brother singing Lion King Jr. songs at 3 am. His auditions are this week and he is so excited. I thought she would be upset about him keeping her up but she said, “No, I couldn’t sleep and just thought it was funny.”
I wanted a fairly simple dinner for the first day back. Also, today is my partner’s birthday and my daughter and I will not be home for dinner as it is a late dance class night so we celebrated last night. I wanted something that was kind of nice that I knew she would like and I could serve with a salad and lots of vegetables on the side. This seemed to fit the bill.
This was much better than I thought it would be. When I thought of a casserole with no potatoes, rice or noodles I thought it wouldn’t be filling and would be too weird for my family to eat. Well, they all loved it! The addition of the Italian flavored bread crumbs on top added a great flavor to the whole dish.
The time on this looks long but it spends 40-45 minutes baking and 8-12 minutes boiling the sauce so the recipe is actually easier than it sounds.
I served this with asparagus and hearty green side salads.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
- 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 lb. ham, diced – this can be leftover ham, deli ham or ham steak – whatever you have on hand
- 1/2 lb. swiss cheese, thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 3 1/2 cups of fat-free half and half
- 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cups Italian flavored bread crumbs
- 6 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 pan with non-stick spray.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook through about 8-10 minutes. Place chicken in casserole dish leaving any butter in the skillet.
- Top the chicken with diced ham and then layer the Swiss cheese over the top to cover the entire pan.
- Wipe out skillet and melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Sprinkle the flour over the top of the butter and stir well. The mixture will thicken quickly into a paste. Add 1/2 and 1/2 to pan with mustard, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir constantly for the next 8-12 minutes scraping the bottom of the pan and sides so that the milk does not cook on the pan. You want a fairly thick sauce, like a thick milk gravy. Just when you think the sauce is not going to cook down and you will have to throw the whole thing out and start over it will start to thicken.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken, ham and cheese allowing it to ooze into all the crevices.
- Melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add bread crumbs to bowl. Mix well until all crumbs are coated in butter. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, top will be slightly browned and bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.