Fat and Happy


On a cold, blustery March day there is nothing better than the delicious warmth of a chicken casserole for dinner. Paired with a green salad and crusty french bread, this chicken and wild rice casserole was enough to put me into a creamy dreamy casserole coma this past weekend while March rolled in like a tornadic lion. (I would have never believed tornadic is actually a word, but I heard the weatherman say it and dictionary.com confirms it.)

This is easy enough to whip up ~ I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken and I left out the water chestnuts because while I can't believe tornadic is a word, I do believe water chestnuts are a total waste of time and space.  What's the point of them anyway?   They have no color, taste, or smell.  I don't need a crunchy filler food in my casserole just because.  Anyway, back to the point I'm trying to make....this casserole is easy to make and best of all, it's freezer friendly so it's great to make ahead and have in the freezer for impromptu company or on those days when you just can't be bothered with making something for dinner.


Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
Southern Living, December 2011

1 (2.25-oz.) package sliced almonds
2 (6.2-oz.) boxes fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix
1/4 cup butter
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
5 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 (10 3/4-oz.) cans cream of mushroom soup
2 (8-oz.) cans chopped water chestnuts, drained
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups (16 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan 4 to 6 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

2. Prepare rice mixes according to package directions.

3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add celery and onions. Sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, next 6 ingredients, rice, and 3 cups cheese. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 15- x 10-inch baking dish or 2 (11- x 7-inch) baking dishes. Top with breadcrumbs.

4. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese, and top with toasted almonds. Bake 5 minutes.

To Make Ahead: Prepare as directed in Steps 2 and 3. Cover with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 1 month. Remove from freezer, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Toast almonds as directed in Step 1. Bake casserole, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 55 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese and toasted almonds. Bake 5 more minutes.

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