Iris’s Chicken Casserole

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Whenever I mention my godparents, there’s always someone who goes, “What are GODparents?” (Don’t even get me started on trying to explain godsiblings.) My sister, Caroline, and I are fortunate enough to have two sets of godparents: Kathy and Dave, and Iris and Bill-Bill. Dave is a long-time friend of my dad’s; they met at University of Richmond and were frat bros. They’re godparents to each other’s children, hence my godsister and -brother, Mallory and Taylor. Mallory and I were even fortunate enough to go to Longwood together! Iris passed away before I graduated high school, but she and Bill-Bill were long-time members of our church. Bill-Bill still comes as regularly as possible, but he’s in his 90s now and he lives about 30 minutes from our church. It’s truly a blessing to live as close as we do to both sets of godparents, and to be able to spend time with them regularly.

Both Kathy and Iris were/are magnificent cooks. One of my favorite recipes Iris used to make was a chicken casserole. My mom adapted it for me when I became a vegetarian, but last night, I made it for myself for the first time with real chicken. I’m partially recycling this post. Check it out:

Iris’s Chicken Casserole
1 large chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 C olive oil mayonnaise (or plain fat-free yogurt — note: doesn’t make casserole as creamy)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 can condensed cream of mushroom (or cream of chicken) soup
1/2 C chopped celery
1-2 tbsp diced vidalia onion
1/3 C slivered or sliced almonds
1 small can of mushrooms (pieces and stems fine)
1 C Pepperidge Farm herb seasoned stuffing crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
1 C brown rice

1. Mix all ingredients except stuffing crumbs and rice.
2. Put in casserole dish that has been coated with cooking spray.
3. Top with crumbs (may need to be crushed more finely).
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
5. Serve over rice.
Serves two people heartily, or one with plenty of leftovers.

I’m a pretty sentimental person. Whenever I make this casserole — which isn’t very often, because it’s so filling and it requires a fair number of ingredients — I feel like I’m paying tribute to Iris’s memory. Like I said, this recipe isn’t hers exactly, but it still reminds me of her when I eat it. It’s one of my favorite cold weather recipes (even though yesterday could practically have been described as warm) because it “sticks to your ribs,” as my mom would say.

P.S. My apologies for the lack of photographic evidence. I was wayyy too hungry when I started cooking, and I don’t like handling my camera while I’m preparing food. I *may* have a new toy come Christmas time, so there *may* be pictures galore! 😉

Question: Do you have a favorite cold weather recipe? I’m always looking to expand my horizons!

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