It was a favorite when the kids were home. It could be thrown together in a hurry so we could rush out the door to the next event.
I'd forgotten about it, but I saw a similar recipe on the back of the instant rice box the other day. I will admit that I get in a recipe rut sometimes. This was the cure for the "same old, same old."
I realize it's not gourmet fare. I realize it's not going to be featured on the Food Network anytime soon. But it's real food, eaten by a real Kansas farm family.
Quick Ham & Cheese Casserole2 cups instant rice (you can use instant brown rice)
1 can cream of celery soup (or other cream soup)
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. instant minced onion
2 cups cooked ham, diced
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 can (2.25 oz.) sliced ripe olives, drained (optional) I didn't use this!
Cook rice as directed on package, also putting instant onion in with the water and rice. (I always use the microwave, cooking the rice in a large, 2-quart glass measuring cup so that there is room to add the rest of the ingredients after the rice is done. Fewer dishes to clean up! When I cook rice for casseroles, I usually throw in a teaspoon or two of instant chicken soup mix to give it more flavor. I buy that at Glenn's Bulk Foods.)
Combine cooked rice, ham, milk, soup, half the cheese and olives (if desired). Put in 1.5-quart casserole. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted.
If you want to dress it up, you can also do a crumb topping. (I don't usually because it's more calories and takes more time.)
But if you want to, combine:
3/4 cup slightly crushed corn flakes or crushed Ritz crackers
3 tbsp. butter melted
Combine the corn flakes (or crackers) and butter. Sprinkle over the cheese. Bake as directed.
Another note: The recipe on the box said you could add 1/2 cup of frozen peas. I didn't make this addition. Instead, I served it with a fresh green salad with fruit, a sprinkle of feta cheese and a raspberry vinaigrette, along with a homemade roll I pulled from the freezer.