- Associated Press - Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just as summer demands salads, fall calls for casseroles.

The combination of a chill in the air and the chaos of children heading back to school means many families are looking for easy, warming one-pot meals that come together quickly and with little mess or fuss.

When we created this recipe, we kept things simple. In fact, to cut down on mess and time, it is mixed right in the dish it is baked in. We also turned to that ultimate workhorse of the weeknight kitchen — the rotisserie chicken. Add a few vegetables and a creamy sauce made from pantry staples, and dinner’s on the table in no time.

Some folks may turn up their noses at using cream-of-anything soup in a casserole. But busy families have been turning to it for decades for three simple reasons — it works, it’s delicious and it’s effortless.

CREAMY CHICKEN AND POTATO CASSEROLE

Start to finish: 1 hour (20 minutes active)

Servings: 8

½ cup light mayonnaise

10¾-ounce can condensed cream-of-chicken soup

½ cup milk

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon garlic powder

20-ounce package hash brown potatoes

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 cup green beans, cut into pieces

½ cup grated carrot

Meat from a 2-pound rotisserie chicken, cubed, skin and bones discarded

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, stir together the mayonnaise, soup, milk, pepper, salt, thyme and garlic powder. Stir in the potatoes, zucchini, green beans, carrots and chicken. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 40 minutes, or until bubbling and the vegetables are tender.