Today for lunch I made this wonderful Chicken and Wild Rice Recipe which I found in the December issue of Southern Living magazine. I had bought the ingredients I don't usually have on hand right after I found the recipe, but had not made it yet and then yesterday I discovered the page I had torn from the magazine with the recipe on it in a stack of papers I was trying to dispose of. I remember being attracted to the article because it was entitled "Get Creative With Make-Aheads. Since we have lots of guests I'm always looking for delicious recipes I can prepare ahead so that I don't have to spend all my time in the kitchen after the guests arrive.
Let me know if you try the variations. I would love to hear if you like them. I am not overly fond of shrimp so I doubt I will try that one unless I have a great recommendation from someone who has, but the Cajun variation sounds interesting so I'll probably try it soon. I will post the recipes on the Recipes #1 page under Main Dishes, too, so we can find it later.
I cut the recipe in half because it says the full recipe will serve 10-12.
Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
1 (2.25 oz.) pkg. sliced almonds
2 (6.2 oz.) boxes fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix (Can substitute 2 c. regular wild rice mix which takes about 50 minutes to cook and cook it while baking the chicken)
1/4 c. butter
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
5 c. chopped cooked chicken (about 16-20 chicken tenders, cooked and cut up)
2 (10 3/4 oz.) can creme of mushroom soup
2 (8 oz.) cans chopped water chestnuts, drained
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1 c. milk
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
4 c. (16 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
2 c. soft, fresh breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan 4-6 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. Saute 10 minutes or till tender. Stir in chicken, next 6 ingredients, rice and 3 c. cheese. Spoon mixture into lightly greased 15x10 baking dish or e (11x 7) baking dishes. Top with breadcrumbs.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 c. cheese, and top with toasted almonds. Bake 5 minutes more.
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 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 55 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with 1 c. (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese and toasted almonds. Bake 5 more minutes.
Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole: Substitute 2 lbs peeled and deveined, medium-size raw shrimp (41/50 count) for chicken; 2 c. (8 oz.) Monterey Jack cheese and 2 c. grated Parmesan cheese for Cheddar cheese; and 1 c. dry white wine for milk.
Cajun Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole: Omit salt and pepper. Reduce chicken to 2 1/2 c. Prepare as directed, sauteing 1 lb. andouille sausage, chopped, and 1 green bell pepper, diced with celery in Step 3. Stir 1 (15 oz.) can black-eyed peas, drained and 1 t. Cajun seasoning into rice mixture. Proceed as directed.