"Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
They are allowed to bark out orders. "French Breakfast Puffs for breakfast!", "Hot dogs for LUNCH", "and chicken with ham chunks and that rice with black specks in it for DINNER".
I slap my heals together, wiggle my nose, salute to the birthday child and get to work. I really love it. Cause, well you know I love making people happy with food. Especially my little peeps. It's usually pretty predictable what they will want. But this year for Cece's eighth birthday the chicken rice request threw me for a loop. I could not for the life of me figure out what she wanted.
We did the big game of "you mean that one chicken thing I made for.....", "NO", "Oh that one casserole I made when we had so and so over???", "no", "HMMM you mean the one we had a couple weeks ago with mushrooms, I thought you didn't like mushrooms", "NO(whining/irritated with me). "I want the one that's cheesy too!". "Oh yeah with spinach in it." "Yeh only I don't want the spinIsh in it......"
So we were heading to our rental on the Lake Michigan with Big D and her family the day before my babies birthday....and this chicken dish is super easy to make ahead and throw in the oven...so I thought BONUS! Sure that's perfect I can make that and it will be an easy meal to throw in the oven, giving us extra time to play outside and not be messing around in the kitchen. This "casserole", I hate that word, because it says to me canned soup and lots of stuff dumped into a white dish and baked silly. I think casserole is actually French for just that, what I said there in the previous sentence. I have nothing against canned soup mind you, just well....OH forget it.....
So her it is my "casserole" Chicken Fontinella, because of the fontinella cheese.....you can use an italian blend already grated if you like, that would be a time saver if you are not into grating cheese.
2 box Uncle Ben's original recipe long grain wild rice (not the fast cook)
4 cups of water
6 oz ham steak cubed
1 lb. of chicken breast or ground chicken
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup fontinella cheese grated
1/2 cup mozzarella
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup milk
2 cups of spinach washed and chopped finely
There they are the ingredients.
Give your ham a cubin'. I know this is more than the above noted 6oz, I was making enough for 11 people, so I kind of doubled the recipe.
Chop your chicken breasts into cubes getting them ready to saute' in a pan with the butter and olive oil.
Then you can put the rice into a large saucepan, with water, spice packs and a 1/2 of the butter. Cook to the box directions.
When the rice is done scrape it into a large mixing bowl with the ham.
Then because I am frugal with my pan washing I use the same pan to cook my chicken, it's still hot, so throw in the butter and olive oil, let it melt. Then you can add the chicken and minced garlic. Saute until just done, not really browned. My youngest is not really into chicken chunks so if I have it sometimes I will use ground chicken then the chicken is virtually undetectable in the finished dish. Sneaky.
Garlic is a beautiful thing...unless you are my husband who despises garlic breath...then it is public enemy no.1.
When the chicken is cooked through then add it to the rice and ham.....
along with the cheeses and the other 1/2 of the butter...
and the spinach. Which I did not leave out per my child's request...because I don't think she ever knew it was in there until I blew it's cover, doing the guessing game. She never mentioned it as we were eating...Sneaky.
Mix it all together, the heat of the rice and chicken will start to melt the cheese...ooooh so good.
Now you want to add the milk just to give it a little juice help the cheese be cheesier.
There it is ready to take to the cottage along with alot of other baked goodies there as you see in the background. You can freeze it too, just make sure it's fully thawed before you bake it. It's one of those meals that is good to double and then put one in the freezer for a busy day when you know you won't have time to make a meal OR to have just to give to someone you needs a little comfort.
You want to bake it at 350degrees for 30-40 minutes it needs to get all bubbly and oohey gooey looking. I served ours with a crusty loaf and a green salad. Perfecta-MUNdo!