Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

I love chicken cordon bleu. It pretty much has all my favorite things... chicken, rice, ham, onions, cheese... you catch my drift. I've made stuffed chicken cordon bleu before and it's delish but it's a little labor intensive to prepare. So, I'd seen recipes for chicken cordon bleu casserole on Pinterest and got really excited. However, after digging into the recipe, all of them were complicated. The whole point of a casserole is it's supposed to be easy, right? Well, as fate would have it, a friend offhandedly mention he'd made chicken cordon bleu casserole just the other night and he rattled off the recipe. It was easy enough for me to remember so I was sold. I doubled the recipe and made it for a recent family get-together and it was a big hit. The only changes to my friend's recipe I made were the addition of thyme and I used panko breadcrumbs instead of crushed saltines.

4 cups cooked rice
4 chicken breasts
1/2 onion, diced
4 tbsp butter
1 large can cream of chicken soup
1/2 package swiss cheese
1/2 package deli sliced ham
1/4 tsp powdered thyme
1/2 package Italian panko breadcrumbs

1. Prepare rice and spread an even layer on the bottom of a 9x12 greased baking dish.

2. Cook chicken breasts with onion in butter on stove over medium heat for 15 mins or until cooked thoroughly. Remove and cut chickn into bite-sized chunks. Leave onions and remaining juices in pan.

3. Layer chicken piece evenly over rice.

4. Slice ham into bite-sized chunks. Layer evenly over chicken.

5. Layer cheese over top ham.

6. Mix cream of chicken soup with chicken juices and onions leftover in the pan. Add thyme and mix thoroughly. Spread evenly over entire casserole.

7. Layer Panko crumbs over top of casserole and cover with foil.

8. Bake at 400˚ for 35 mins. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15mins.