Back-to-School Dish – Chicken Casserole

  Another school year has started . . . without me! Seems impossible that I’ve been out of the AHS classroom for ten years!
    Elinor Hass has been “retired” for even longer and in August of 1994, she hosted a “back-to-school” lluncheon for those of us on our way back to the classroom. She was the only “retiree” in the group that year. Now, everyone (in that group) has retired, with Jacque Havice being the latest.
     Elinor continued to host the luncheon for several years and then others took turns. This year Betty Krenger sent out the annual invitation and we reminisced about the years we spent together at AHS as we lunched on a delicious chicken casserole, green bean bundles, fruit salad and rolls. Dessert consisted of sherbert with blueberry sauce and Betty’s chocolaty frosted brownies.
     The recipe comes from the 5th edition of Home-Cooking--Dickinson County Style “Capturing the Present and Remembering the Past (available at the Dickinson County Historical Society/Heritage Center), and was provided by Eileen Garten when I interviewed her for a Reflector-Chronicle food column in February 2006.

Chicken Casserole    Yield:  one 9”x13”  casserole dish
Casserole Ingredients
2½ cups cooked & cut up chicken (cook chicken in small amount of water with celery tops, bits of carrot and any other seasoning you like)
2½ cups cooked rice* (measure after cooking) — Cook rice in water used to cook chicken, or add chicken bouillon to cooking water.
1 cup cut up celery — sauté for about 5 minutes in a little butter
2 tablespoons onion, optional
1 can (10 ¾ oz.) cream of chicken soup
1 can (10 ¾ oz.) cream of celery soup
¾ cup real mayonnaise

Topping Ingredients
1 cup crushed cornflakes
4 oz. slivered almonds
1.  Casserole:
a.  Place chicken, rice, celery and onion in a large mixing bowl.
b.  In another bowl stir together the soups and mayonnaise. Add to chicken mixture and mix well.
c.     Place in large buttered casserole. (Note: Make ahead and refrigerate or freeze, adding the cornflake topping right before baking.)
2.     Topping:
a.     Sauté cornflakes and almonds in a little butter. 
b.     Top casserole with this mixture.
c.     Bake uncovered 45 minutes in a 350° oven. 

*Regular rice – 1 cup uncooked yields about 3½ cups cooked.
  Instant rice – 1 cup uncooked yields about 2 cups cooked.

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