Originally created 11/29/00

Post-holiday bleus



If Thanksgiving has blessed you with leftover turkey and ham, this week's recipe for cordon bleu casserole will help you put them to good use.

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A cup and a half each of diced holiday turkey and ham taken from the freezer becomes a delicious casserole for a crowd. Or, use diced, cooked chicken breast and diced deli ham or a ham steak in place of the holiday leftovers.

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My parents have me hooked on frozen chicken tenders, which are found in the freezer section of Sam's Club and most supermarkets. They thaw quickly and can be microwaved, frozen, in a microwave-safe container. You'll need eight to 10 tenders for this recipe.

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Microwave them with a quarter cup of water, covered, for five minutes. Give them a stir and microwave an additional five to 10 minutes, or until done.

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Drain, dice and use in the recipe.

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The casserole gets its cordon bleu inspiration from the combination of poultry, ham and Swiss cheese. The classic chicken cordon bleu is a more labor-intensive dish of chicken breasts rolled around sliced ham and Swiss cheese, then browned in a skillet and finished in the oven.

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In today's recipe, mushrooms are sauteed until golden. Then the mushrooms, chicken and ham are combined with condensed cream of celery and cream of chicken soups, evaporated milk and shredded Swiss cheese.

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The mixture is tossed with fettuccine noodles, either regular or Florentine (a combination of egg and spinach fettuccine). Wide egg noodles also can be used.

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I use 98 percent fat-free cream soups in the recipe to reduce the fat content and noticed no change in the taste of the finished dish.

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In place of fresh mushrooms, feel free to substitute two small cans of sliced mushrooms, drained. And you can increase the cheese to suit your family's tastes.

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One trickis to combine the cooked fettuccine with half of the soup mixture, spreading the tossed fettuccine in the bottom of a casserole dish, then spreading the remaining soup mixture on top. Half of the Swiss cheese is reserved and is sprinkled on top before baking.

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Nutritional data:
(per tart)

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Calories: 364
Total Fat: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 6.8 g
Cholesterol: 112 mg
Sodium: 978 mg
Total Carbs: 30 g
Dietary Fiber: .9 g
Protein: 27 g

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Serve your cordon bleu casserole with sides of glazed baby carrots and steamed green beans. Simmer the carrots in water with a tablespoon or two of brown sugar until they are tender. It's the perfect meal to serve anytime during the holidays, and since it makes a hefty eight servings, it's the perfect dish to take to holiday covered dish dinners at the office, church or social club.

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Cordon bleu casserole

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12 ounces fettuccine Florentine, regular fettuccine or wide egg noodles

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1 tablespoon butter or margarine

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8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

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1 1/2 cups cooked, diced chicken or turkey

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1 1/2 cups diced smoked ham

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1 can 98 percent fat-free condensed cream of celery soup

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1 can 98 percent fat-free condensed cream of chicken soup

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1 5-ounce can evaporated milk

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1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, divided

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Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook fettuccine as directed. Do not overcook. Drain and return to pot.

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While pasta cooks, heat butter in a medium saute pan. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

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Combine chicken or turkey, ham, soups and evaporated milk in a large bowl. Add mushrooms and half of the shredded Swiss. Toss half of the soup mixture with the cooked fettuccine. Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and pour in the fettuccine mixture. Top with remaining soup mixture, spread to distribute evenly and sprinkle with remaining Swiss cheese. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until heated through. Toss lightly before serving to distribute the sauce.

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Makes 8 servings.

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Nutrient analysis provided by registered dietitians of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to augustadietitian@yahoo.com.

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Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send e-mail to karingca@aol.com.