Tuesday, July 5, 2011

America's Pastime: Casseroles

Casseroles are amazing things. Take a bunch of stuff, dump it in a pan, then bake it for 30-45 minutes on 350 degrees. A balanced meal in one steaming package. Brilliant! The really handy things about casseroles is I can make one on my day off, then have meals for the rest of the week. And since my hours have gone way up at work, having food at the ready is especially useful. 

At the request of my roommate, I returned to an old recipe that my mother gave to me, almond chicken casserole. I made this once when Kimmy and I were living together in Azusa, CA and she has never forgotten it. The requirements are as follows:

2 cups uncooked long grain rice
1/2 T butter
4 T chopped onion
2 cups diced celery
3 cups cooked chopped chicken
1 cup mayonnaise
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 cup bread crumbs
2 T butter

I thought this would be something quick and easy to make before heading into a late work shift. I was mistaken. I realized rather quickly that not only did I need to coo the rice, but also the chicken. I also needed 2 cups of rice, and the instructions on the bag were for 1 cup. I had chosen brown basmati because it is the one brown rice that I actually enjoy, but I am less certain of how to cook brown rice. So rather than try doubling the amount of rice and water (my old rice cooker taught me that this is not always possible, especially with the more cantankerous brown variety), I cooked one cup of rice in two pots. 

While that was simmering away, I thawed the chicken in the microwave, cubed it, and cooked it in my little frying pan in batches since there was so much and my stove was already half taken up by rice. Not a huge problem doing all of this together, but time and space consuming. 

The only thing I really substituted was a can of cream of mushroom soup for cream of chicken because I already had two cans of it sitting in my cupboard that my mother had given me countless months ago. It gave the casserole a different flavor, but not an unpleasant one in my opinion, and Kimmy - not a mushroom lover like myself - enjoyed it just the same.

I also used Italian bread crumbs because that is what I had on hand. It also added a different flavor - a delicious flavor. I think this tasty trend will be continuing since the almond chicken casserole fed us for truly most of the week. (And before that it was a tuna noodle casserole made by Kimmy.) 

I guess casserole is my new theme?

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