I know there are people who just don’t cotton with using convenience foods — items such as gravy and soup mixes, pudding mixes, condensed soups, pasta mixes, instant foods and sauce mixes, and the like. I do understand and respect that — often, convenience foods tend to be higher in sodium and, depending upon the product, may likely be higher in fat and will probably contain preservatives.
But while I try not to rely heavily on convenience foods, they are, well, convenient, and I’m not above using them because they are, well, convenient! I do, however, try to find healthier versions of convenience products when I can — lower sodium, reduced fat, preservative free, and so forth.
I’m very sad to say that my 80-year old father-in-law has been doing very poorly of late. It’s been a strain on the family, of course, and everyone is doing what they can to help out. This past Monday, I offered to prepare supper and bring it to them if they wanted. They said yes, please. I rifled through my cookbooks, pantry, and freezer and decided that the situation called for a delicious, hearty, but easy one dish casserole that I’ve not made in ages: Sunday Rice Bake.
This recipe is my take on a recipe for Sunday Chicken-Rice Bake in my Better Homes & Gardens All-Time Favorite Casserole Recipes. Using convenience products such as condensed soup, dehydrated soup mix, and tinned or jarred mushrooms, it comes together quickly and makes for a nice one dish meal. Once you have it all together and in the baking dish, you just put it in the oven, set the timer, and go on about your business until it’s done. If you like, you can make it ahead and refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake it (which is what I did for my in-laws — I made up the dish in a disposable aluminum baking pan and brought it to them with the baking instructions written on a Post-It).
The original recipe calls for using a whole, cut-up, bone-in broiler-fryer chicken. You can do that, of course, but I have always made it with boneless, skinless chicken breast. However, this past Monday, I realized I had lean, boneless pork chops (bought on sale, no less!) in the freezer, but no chicken. So instead of using chicken, I used pork chops — which was fortuitous, as one of my sisters-in-law who was partaking of the meal with my in-laws had been craving pork chops of late, so this dish hit the spot with her.
But you know, despite the name of this dish, I don’t think I’ve ever made it on a Sunday! Perhaps I should remedy that.
Regardless of what day of the week you make this casserole, it smells — and tastes! — so yummy, you’ll find yourself breaking into song!
Sunday Rice Bake (Serves 4)
- 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup (I use reduced-sodium, heart-healthy mushroom soup) (NOTE: You could also use cream of celery or cream of chicken soup)
- 1 cup milk (I used 1%)
- 1 envelope dehydrated onion (or onion mushroom) soup mix
- 1 small tin or jar sliced mushrooms or mushroom pieces and stems
- 1 cup regular white rice
- 10 ounces frozen vegetables, thawed (I used mixed vegetables — corn, green beans, carrots, and peas)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts OR 4 lean, boneless pork chops (approximately 1 1/2 pounds — you could also use chicken breast tenders)
- Course ground black pepper, if desired
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir together condensed soup, dehydrated soup mix, milk, and UNDRAINED mushrooms. Reserve 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside.
- In the remaining soup mixture, stir in the rice and vegetables. Season with some coarse ground black pepper, if desired.
- Lightly spray or oil a baking dish (12″ X 7 1/2″ X 2″ is what’s called for in the original recipe; I’ve never come across a dish that precise size. 13″X 9″ will work, as will a slightly smaller casserole dish).
- Pour the soup/rice/vegetable mixture evenly in the pan. Top with chicken or pork chops. Spoon reserved soup mixture over meat. Sprinkle top of casserole with paprika.
- Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 375F until rice is tender and meat is done, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.