Returning to Casserole Basics with Surprise Chicken

Think back to when you were a young’un LOL.  If you are over the age of 30 you will remember when your mom used to make food that would seemingly feed the masses.  How did she do that?  Back then we probably didn’t think about it too much or you thought she was just magic.  Well, the reality of the situation is that she probably made a lot of meals that were inexpensive and would stretch…Spaghetti (or really any type of pasta dish), Casseroles with rice at the base, Stew, Pot pies, etc.  In an attempt to cook more at home, my family has been adding more freezer meals, soups and casseroles to our meal lineup.  This will help us to not only save money, but to save time and meet some of our health goals as well.  Talk about life transitions!!!

Identifying the Lies We Tell Ourselves

I remember when I first started doing this, I really had to sit back and be honest with myself as to why I wasn’t cooking as much as I could.  At the time I was single, but I know you’ve used those same excuses before, some may have used them more recently than they’d like to admit.

You know the excuses I’m talking about…I’m too busy to cook, it’s cheaper for me to eat out or I’m too tired, it’s too hard to cook for one person…yeah yeah yadda yadda.  Lets just be honest with ourselves…we are just being L.A.Z.Y…yeah I can say it, because when I used to make those excuses I was being lazy.  Now, that’s not to say we weren’t busy, but we always find time for what we really want to do.

Well, I realize that you can’t change a habit overnight, but I can definitely help you to change one small step at a time.  I have for years made this dish that is absolutely delicious and it doesn’t take much at all.  I am going to post the recipe here (as I make it) and will link to the recipe.

Anniversary Chicken (my adapted recipe from click the title for the full recipe)

HtCasey’s Photo from


  • Chicken (however much you want)
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki basting sauce (low sodium)
  • 1/2 cup Ranch-style salad dressing
  • Shredded Cheese (whichever kind you prefer)*
  • Bacon bits (real or canned)*
  • Rice (enough to serve number you are feeding)
  • Water (enough to cover the rice)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Place chicken in a baking dish, pour teriyaki sauce and then the ranch dressing over chicken evenly.
  3. Sprinkle rice in between the chicken pieces and pour water over rice (Don’t add too much water at the beginning, you can add more later to thin sauce out if necessary).
  4. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Baste chicken with sauce halfway through cooking time.
  5. *Optional – You can add bacon bits and cheese to the top of your chicken at the end of cooking until melted. Garnish and serve.

Tips:  The teriyaki sauce and ranch dressing and water create this delicious sauce that the chicken and rice cook in, so depending on your preference you can make the sauce thick or more liquid by adding more water.  I usually turn and baste the chicken (stirring and blending the sauce some) halfway through the cooking time.  Remember teriyaki sauce is sweet and can be high in sodium so I usually buy the low sodium sauce.  You can adjust your teriyaki to ranch dressing measurements based on your preference.

This meal is very inexpensive and can feed a ton of people based on how you make it.  It takes me maybe 5 mins to prepare and the magic happens all on its own.  You can omit the rice from the recipe and make it separately if you choose…I just like one pot cooking whenever possible and the sauce that is made is mixed with the rice which is delicious.  So, try this recipe and let me know how it works for you.

About Dana LaRieal Morales

Dana LaRieal Morales is the Founder of The Happiness Bucket where she coaches individuals and teams on having a better work-life balance. She is a Certified Project Manager, an Alum of the University of Tennessee Knoxville, where she earned her degree in sociology with a concentration in criminal justice and she is also an Alum of Tennessee State University where she earned her Masters in Public Administration, She uses her vast organization, project management and process improvement experiences to help those around her be their best selves.

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