Friday, September 2, 2011

Mom's Sour Cream Chicken Casserole and a Movie in the Park...



Casseroles.  They evoke so many memories since they played a major part in family dinners in my childhood, as I'm sure they did for many people.  A few months ago, some girlfriends and I started talking about the casseroles our moms made and what we loved about them.  They're warm and comforting and they usually have some sort of childhood favorite such as tator tots, cheese crackers or chips.  And no matter what the recipe is, it seems they're all made with cream of mushroom soup!  Which is always the beginning of something yummy.   :)

In July, we all got together for a movie and casserole night.  A couple of the girls made a North Dakota recipe since many of the people in Jamie's and my group migrated from Nodak down to Colorado.  Not me though - I grew up in South Carolina with good old Southern comfort food.




The casserole we ate that night was made with ground beef, onions and cream of mushroom soup, topped with grated cheese and tator tots.  Really, can you ever go wrong with tots?  I think not.  Tator tots and frozen fish sticks were one of my favorite childhood meals, and I remember requesting it for dinner after coming home from college for winter break.  Growing up, I liked being home, never wanted to be too far from my mom, and spent many tearful hours in my dorm room on the phone with her, crying over how much I wanted to come home.  So having that familiar dish just made me feel like I was really home again, and for just those few moments of eating that kiddie comfort food, exams, homesickness and the scariness of future responsibilities seemed to fade away.





The movie and casserole night got me thinking about my mom's recipes.  There was a casserole we had quite often, since the ingredients were cheap, and we didn't have money for a lot of extras.  It was a simple combination of beans, rice and cheese, and it was practically a weekly staple in our home.  I remember scooping it out of a vintage blue and white porcelain baking dish that my mom has displayed in her china hutch.

Another casserole that we didn't eat nearly as often was one we called "nacho casserole".  When I asked my mom about it a few weeks ago, she couldn't find the recipe anywhere, but if my memory serves me right, the dish was exactly what it sounds like - ground beef and onions, tomatoes, spicy chiles, corn chips and of course, Velveeta cheese or spicy queso smothering the whole thing.  It was spicy, filling and completely unhealthy, but oh how we loved it!





But the one that I remember the most vividly, and requested most often, was her Sour Cream Chicken Casserole ... moist chicken baked in sour cream and cream of mushroom soup, topped with crushed cheese crackers and butter.  I've told Jamie about this casserole, and decided he couldn't go without trying it, so when my parents came for dinner last Saturday night, I decided this would be the perfect main dish to make.





I added a few chopped green onions and sliced mushrooms to give it a little something extra, used fat-free sour cream and cream of mushroom soup to keep the calories down, and baked it in individual baking dishes just for the fun of it.  With our chicken casserole, we also ate Fig, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad, which I posted a recipe for a few days ago.  And my mom brought some freshly baked Bread with Cheddar and Dill, along with a beautiful vintage yellow loaf dish with a lid that she let me keep.  Such a nice surprise! :)




And of course, there was the Black and White Strawberry Tart.  If you haven't seen that post, well, you're missing out...  :)






After we finished dessert, we gathered up our outdoor chairs and a pile of blankets and headed to a park in Denver that was showing a movie right there in the park.  They were playing Iron Man 2, and it was a fun way to end the evening with my parents.  Colorado weather is so crazy, though, and while it was in the upper 90s earlier that day, we were freezing under our blankets from the chilly evening wind that tells me fall is not too far away...








Mom's Sour Cream Chicken Casserole
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped (about 3-4 chicken breasts)
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 scallions/green onions, sliced (both white and green parts)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups crumbled cheese crackers
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray (I used 4 individual baking dishes, plus a square baking dish for the extra).

In a large bowl, combine the sour cream, cream of mushroom soup and cheese.  Add the chicken, mushrooms and onions.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread in the baking dishes.  In a small bowl, pour the melted butter over the crumbled cheese crackers and toss with a fork to moisten.  Sprinkle crackers over the chicken.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the center is bubbling and the crackers are golden.

9 comments:

  1. I love, Love, LOVE casseroles! ....and casserole / movie night? Where do I sign up? I'll bring a casserole!

    I love that you have so many lovely memories of childhood casseroles!

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  2. I grew up without a whole lot of material things but a whole lot of love. I like your casserole but love your memories.
    Funny how much more we like being with parents than we I when we were teenagers.

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  3. My Dad didn't like his food to touch, so we didn't do that many casseroles growing up. Nothing beats Mom's recipes though!

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  4. Aww, recipes from mom are the best. :-) Lovely casserole!

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  5. Oh, this looks yummy...perfect comfort food :)

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  6. This entire post was "homey" and heartwarming -- wonderful to read (and see!) How nice that your Mom keep the yellow loaf pan! More food memories in the making... :)

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  7. I am totally cooking this for dinner. I have to use up mushrooms and sourcream before it goes bad so its perfect for tonight. Thank you for sharing. Loved the blog post too!

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  8. Boy, talk about comfort food, this dish just screams it! I love casseroles like this and do believe it will be on the family's dinner menu sometime this week. Many thanks for sharing your mom's casserole with us.

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