The day may be gray and dreary, but I like to think that I at least am the color of summer flowers and sunshine.
I say this, of course, after two cups of coffee. Before those two cups of coffee, I would be better likened to an angry stormcloud full of sleep and rage.
It's nice to step outside and not immediately break into a terrible sweat, but you get drenched anyway since it's been raining all morning.
I like this! I like rainy days. I like them more after moving our entire household in three-digit baking sunlight. I felt fried like an egg in a skillet after Saturday's moving and Sunday's un-air-conditioned cleaning time.
My coworker Dan bought us cinnamon rolls this morning, because he knows just how to make a quiet rainy coffee-soaked morning even better.
We had some vegetables to use up, and I've been trying to find something to do with a cookbook I bought semi-recently and haven't really done much with, the Old Salem Museums & Gardens Cookbook. I had bought it (along with enough Moravian cookies to choke a donkey) at the Spice of Life Food & Fitness Fest back in the spring. At such a health-focused event, one naturally feels compelled to buy too many cookies, and eat all of them.
In any case, my point: I have this cookbook, and I haven't really used it, and I thought I probably should. We had potatoes that we desperately need to use up, a parsnip, some celery and all sorts of things in the fridge.
So I took a recipe out of the cookbook, "Mushroom Potatoes", and I changed it until it was nearly unrecognizable, and it was delicious. So here you go:
Mushroom Chicken & Veggie Casserole
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
(I used cream of mushroom and cream of mushroom plus garlic, but that's up to you; we're garlic people)
2 cups milk
(I used skim, because that is what we drink. Whole or 2% would have made a thicker sauce)
2 tablespoons minced onions
5 cups potatoes
(We used small red potatoes)
1 large-ish parsnip
3 cups chopped celery
1 lb, roughly, diced chicken
(I just bought the discount stir-fry cut. You do not need fancy chicken here, people)
1 cup breadcrumbs
Butter, for the breadcrumbs
Hot sauce, to taste
Now, Onto the Creation!
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it is heating, chop your potatoes and parsnip into large pieces. Add to the boiling water and cook until tender.
While you're working on that, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Dice your onion and celery; this can be a rough dice or fine, depending on whether you like to have a lot of texture in your casserole or not. Dice your chicken as well.
Blend the cream of mushroom soups and milk in a saucepan. Once mixed well, heat slowly until hot all the way through.
Take a large casserole dish (this recipe makes roughly 5-6 large servings) and spray it with nonstick or rub it with butter, depending on whether or not you think there should be more butter. Put the onions and celery into the casserole dish.
When the potatoes and parsnip are tender, drain and then add potatoes and parsnip to your casserole dish. Add the diced chicken and then pour the soup over the top. Salt and pepper to taste and add hot sauce if you like things a little spicy.
Mix until well combined.
In a small bowl, take chopped butter and mix with breadcrumbs until you have a slightly lumpy, crumbly texture. Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs, as evenly as possible
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. The casserole should be bubbling around the edges.
Ladies, and gentleman, you may bow before the casserole queen.
Honestly, this is probably a better winter food than a summer food, but it was also immensely comforting after a weekend of seriously hard work, and a nice way to really settle in to the new place.
Like I told Jason, there is almost no way to go wrong with cream of mushroom soup. You can add it to almost any casserole and achieve greatness.
Not a pretty dinner, mind you... but still a great one.