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Chicken casserole from someone who didn't like to cook

"Baked Chicken Salad" fits the requirements of most people that don't like to cook:  good, fast and easy!
"Baked Chicken Salad" fits the requirements of most people that don't like to cook: good, fast and easy!photos: Daniel Dedmon

For those of us who enjoy cooking, getting a new recipe is always fun! Whether we get those kitchen treasures from friends, relatives, neighbors or whoever, it's always fun to see what others prepare in their own kitchens. And, whenever we have something that's really tasty, we want to duplicate it, so being on the receiving end of the recipe exchanges is always a pleasure.

The recipe I'm passing along was fun to get, simply because it was from someone who hated to cook! Many years ago, I knew the Agricultural Extension Agent, Jessie Wingo, from the Cleveland County, North Carolina area. She served as the Home Economics agent for over 25 years, working with local consumers regarding cooking, canning and freezing. When she retired in 1985, a newspaper story was done on Jessie, including some of her favorite recipes. What was so interesting is that as she gave copies of her favorite recipes to the news reporter, she admitted, with a whisper, that she hated to cook! Therefore, she chose recipes that were quick and easy, but good. And today, I'm sharing one of those recipes, which is for "Hot Chicken Salad". Knowing how much she disliked cooking, it was fun to get and make this recipe!

This is a good main dish salad for lunch or dinner and has an added crunch. It gets its crunch from toasted almonds, water chestnuts, celery, and a topping of potato chips. Thinking ahead, if you happen to be cooking turkey during the holidays this coming Thanksgiving or Christmas, you could make this same dish with it, too.

As Jessie stated, this is indeed easy to make. You combine all of the main ingredients together, which include in addition to the chicken, celery and almonds, some mayonnaise, cream of chicken soup, lemon juice, grated onion and some salt. This gets mixed together and placed in a casserole dish. Grated Cheddar cheese goes over the top, along with the crushed potato chips. Then it's baked for 20-30 minutes. It's now ready for the table!

A hint for preparing toasted almonds: the almonds can be placed in a shallow dish and placed in the microwave. These are cooked on high power for about 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Any kind of nuts can easily burn in a microwave, so you'd want to stir them often to prevent that from happening. At the end of the 3 minutes, taste an almond to see if it's cooked to your liking. If not, continue cooking them in this same manner until they're as toasted as you prefer.

To go with this salad, I would suggest a hot bread. Quite a while ago, I did an article on homemade biscuits and included three recipes for them that were good and easy. If you missed this article, click on this link to get the recipes:

http://www.examiner.com/article/a-sacred-southern-staple-biscuits

If you like your food quick, easy and good, this is a recipe you'll want for your files...even if you hate to cook!

HOT CHICKEN SALAD

  • 4 cups cubed cooked chicken (or turkey)
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 can cream of chicken OR cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup crushed potato chips
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients except for the potato chips and cheese and mix well. Turn into a shallow 2-1/2 to 3 quart baking dish and top with the grated cheese and potato chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until hot and lightly browned. Yield: 8 servings.