• Tina Huggins

A Mama's Heart...

Once a mother...always a mother. It never changes does it? If you are reading this and you are a mom, mommy, mama, or mother, you know what I am saying. Whether you have a child that is a newborn or a grown adult child, the love never goes away, at least not for me. There are times as a mother that we are hurt, not heard, disappointed, frustrated, even irritated by a child, but there are also those glorious proud moments in which we celebrate, embrace and have a heart filled to overflowing with our child or children.


I am blessed to have three unique children...each wonderful in their own special way and all three love me immensely. I have been blessed with two bonus daughters, as I call them. I have never been keen on the word "step-daughter" and they have been a special addition to my family of children.


Two weeks ago, my grandson diagnosed with Covid. This prickly virus did not seem to mind attaching itself to my vaccinated daughter as she was doing everything she could to care for her very sick son. That's what we moms do....we often stand in the gap for our children...damn the consequences. There is nothing that will keep us from being available when there is a need.


Where does that leave me? I'm at home feeling helpless, because I can't go near...for many fear for my health and safety. Thank goodness, I'm a good cook! I got a call from my daughter, who hasn't felt like eating anything and for some reason she saw my Chicken and Rice Casserole in the "How'd You Cook That" cookbook that I made for each child several years ago. Oh, to feel useful is a wonderful thing!


I decided that since I have neglected my blog readers for the last month, this would be a great recipe to share with you. It makes a large casserole so I will be making several small casseroles to give to my daughter, my sister and for our dinner here at home. I hope you enjoy it!




Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Serves: 10-12

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 1 hr. 15 mins

Oven Temp.: 350º F


Ingredients

1 (2.25-oz.) package sliced almonds

2 (6.2-oz.) boxes fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix or cook 1 1/2 cups of wild and long grain rice

1/4 cup butter

4 celery ribs, chopped

2 medium onions, chopped

5 cups chopped cooked chicken

2 (10 3/4-oz.) cans 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

Preheat oven to 350º. 1. 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 or cook your wild rice following directions on the package.


3. 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 350º 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.


Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
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