Tag Archives: cream of mushroom soup

Poppy Seed Chicken and death

I apologize. Right from the start. I will talk to you about Poppy Seed Chicken, one of the South’s greatest inventions. But first, death. In a funny way.

My husband is a lawyer and a few days ago he got a letter in the mail from a company that records your message to your loved ones to be left with your will and “enjoyed years after (your) death.” Really? Is that a good idea? Here’s my message to Mark: Hi, honey. Miss me yet? Have you fed the cats and cleaned the litter? How about the trash? I know you love the tall trash, the kind that spills out of the garbage can in the kitchen. Did you empty it? Are the doors locked? You know my OCD about locking the doors. Are you sure they’re locked? Check again. No, check three times. Hey, I have a great view of the house now and I think I see some cat vomit in the living room. Can you clean that up? Miss me? By the way, the mortgage is due.

So, Poppy Seed Chicken. There is no greater threat to public grooming than poppy seeds. You do not want to eat a poppy seed bagel at an important business meeting. Just as you’re about the seal the deal, you smile. Oh, God. And yet, we love our Poppy Seed Chicken. We serve it at potlucks, funerals and christenings. We just don’t smile much on those occasions.

Poppy Seed Chicken

1 supermarket rotisserie chicken

2 tablespoons butter

8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms

2 cans cream of chicken soup

16 ounces sour cream

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 sleeve Ritz crackers

1/3 cup butter melted

Remove the chicken from the bones and shred it. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and cook the mushrooms until they have released all their juice and they are well browned. Reserve. In a large bowl, mix the chicken soup, sour cream, and poppy seeds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and the chicken.

Pour chicken mixture into a 9-by-13 dish. Crush the crackers and mix with the melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chicken and stuffing casserole

Sometimes you just need easy. You need not feel guilty about pulling out a box of cornbread stuffing (O.K., Stove Top), looking on the back of the box and just letting her rip. I have embellished the time honored recipe of chicken and stuffing casserole on the back of the box. I am sure mine is superior.

And so I will feel better about presenting this, yes, pitifully easy recipe I will give you a couple of tips. First off, almost anything you make except cornflakes and milk is improved upon by adding lemon juice. Lemon juice brightens up vegetables (yes, kale haters, even kale). It gives punch to any pan sauce. It adds dimension to dips. Don’t waste the rind. Grate down to the white part (no white part – bitter!) and add the grated lemon zest to almost anything (not cornflakes).

My second tip is about mushrooms, which are improperly prepared too much of the time. About 90 percent of the constitution of a mushroom is water. And when you put them in a pan over medium heat they will produce that water right in the pan. Do not despair. Work through the pain. Crank the heat up and continue sauteing until all the water is gone and the mushrooms have turned a deep golden brown.

And I have to tell you one of the things I love about my sad, unimaginative chicken and stuffing casserole is that you don’t need to cook the chicken first. The thing I hate about casseroles is that they take so much effort on the front end, prepping all the ingredients, that when you’re done you just want to shoot yourself. This is pitifully easy and it tastes really yummy.

Chicken and Stuffing Casserole

1 box cornbread stuffing

2 chicken breasts

1 can cream of mushroom soup

½ cup sour cream

Juice of ½ lemon

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons butter

8 ounces mushrooms

8 ounces frozen green beans, thawed

Prepare the stuffing according to the package directions. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and mix with the soup, sour cream, lemon juice and smoked paprika.  Melt the butter in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms until they have given up their liquid and are nicely browned. Mix the mushrooms and green beans with the chicken and put it in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with the stuffing.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and chicken is cooked through.

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Smothered pork chops

If it wasn’t for Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, we might starve to death. And I don’t think this is a Southern thing, although we can slap wear out a can of cream of mushroom soup for almost any occasion. Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup is a universal addiction. And it has to be Campbell’s. Spare no expense.

I am not sure I know anyone who eats Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup as just plain soup. I’ve never seen it in a bowl. It is actually a sauce. Somehow heat and the addition of other ingredients transforms the soup into a silky, rich sauce.

And the perfect example is smothered pork chops. This is a busy-night, go-to meal. It takes an hour to cook, but just 10 minutes to assemble.

Smothered Pork Chops

4 bone-in pork chops

16 ounces sliced mushrooms

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

2 tablespoons minced dried onion

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Salt and pepper the chops and brown them on both sides.

Lay the mushrooms in the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking dish. Put the pork chops on top.

Mix together the mushroom soup, dried onion and Worcestershire sauce. Spread over the pork chops.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until the chops are tender.

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Country fried steak with mushroom gravy

So I am sitting at a features editors’ convention in Arizona in the early 1990s and there is a segment where various editors from around the country present their best story ideas. And there, on a big projector screen, pops up the absolute best idea I had ever seen to date and still to this day. It was brilliant in its simplicity. The editor, Susan Leathers, asked her readers: What do you do with cream of mushroom soup?

Susan, who it just happens is now the editor of the Brentwood Home Page, hit an extremely important nail on the head with that idea because it doesn’t matter what part of the country you’re from, if you don’t have at least three or four recipes featuring cream of mushroom soup then I don’t think you spend much time in the kitchen.

I am probably one of the few people who actually ate cream of mushroom soup as, well, soup. That’s because my mother didn’t cook and since the can said “soup” on it, it didn’t occur to her that there was anything else to do with it but heat it up and pour it in a bowl.

Cream of mushroom soup is practically required for any casserole you make in the South. Either that or cream of chicken soup. Sometimes cream of celery weasels its way in. Some outsiders may turn up their nose at the notion, but we all notice who’s coming back for seconds.

One of the best and highest uses for cream of mushroom soup is in country fried steak with mushroom gravy. The boys absolutely lapped this up the other night. And my cheap self loves that you can make an absolutely lip-smacking meal, if I do say so myself (which I do), for probably less than six bucks.

Country fried steak with mushroom gravy

1 pound cube steak

Soy sauce

All-purpose flour

Freshly ground pepper

Vegetable oil

8 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons marsala

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 tablespoons minced dried onion

¼ to ½ cup water to thin sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Rub a liberal amount of soy sauce into both sides of the cube steaks and let sit for 20 minutes. Put about a cup of flour into a sturdy plastic bag and add a liberal sprinkling of pepper. Add the cube steaks to the bag and shake to flour.

Heat about a ½ inch of oil in a skillet and fry the cube steaks until they’re well browned on both sides. Remove steaks and add mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms are brown and then add marsala, reducing it to a thick glaze. Add cream of mushroom soup and minced dried onion. Stir and add enough water to thin out the sauce if it is too thick. Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper and add steaks back to pan, coating them liberally with the sauce.

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Five Guys potato casserole

I’ll just get right to it today. The Mayhews are devoted to Five Guys hamburgers and fries. I will speak a little heresy here. If you are from Nashville, you will understand this. Five Guys hamburgers are better than Rotiers, Browns Diner or Gabby’s. They just are. However, there is one thing I take exception to at Five Guys and that is the over-serving of their fabulous French fries. You order a regular order. The fries come in a paper cup, but they also dump a mountain of extra fries in the paper bag your order comes in.

In the years we’ve been going to Five Guys we’ve never come close to finishing an order of fries, even if we’re splitting them. And it pains me to throw them away. Until now. Because I have brilliantly come up with a way to use leftover Five Guys fries.

This occurred when Noah was home and we really over-ordered on the fries – a large order for three of us. My cheap nature told me to bring the leftover fries home and make something out of them. And what I made is the best potato casserole ever.

You start by processing the fries until they are coarsely chopped. And, by the way, you don’t need to do this immediately upon returning home. I had those fries in a Tupperware container in the fridge for two days before I made the casserole and it didn’t make a bit of difference.

At any rate, after you process them, you mix them up with the traditional Southern ingredients of creamed canned soup, sour cream and cheese. Since I always have these three ingredients on hand, I feel like I made this casserole for free, which appeals to my stingy nature enormously. I threw in some green chiles for a little heat, but you could leave them out or substitute diced green pepper.

I think I will have to contact Five Guys corporate offices and tell them of my invention. I believe there should be a reward involved.

Five Guys Potato Casserole

4 cups leftover Five Guys French fries

½ medium onion, diced

2 tablespoons butter

1 can cream of mushroom soup

½ cup sour cream

½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ cup chopped mild green chiles

Salt and pepper to taste

Seasoned breadcrumbs

Process French fries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Saute onion in butter until it starts to brown. Add onions, soup, sour cream, cheese, paprika, chiles to potatoes and combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with seasoned breadcrumbs. Bake in a oven-proof dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Chicken Divan

I just love casseroles and it’s a good thing, let me tell you, because with Noah eating me out of house and home casseroles are the only way to keep up.

In the South, there is barely a casserole recipe that does not involve cream of mushroom soup. Or cream of chicken soup. Cream of anything soup, really. I, for one, do not understand why some people sneer at cream of mushroom soup. Like using it is some kind of crutch. My brilliant friend Susan Leathers, once a features editor at the Santa Rosa, California, newspaper,  thought up an article based entirely on how people use  Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. Every features editor in America stole that idea, including me.

So last night I made Chicken Divan, one of the great casseroles of all time. It has everything in one dish, which is really the whole point of a casserole isn’t it? Chicken, broccoli, rice, creams of mushroom and chicken soup, mayonnaise and cheese, of course. All the basic food groups are represented.

I had it for lunch today (casseroles are always better the second day) and didn’t feel one shred of guilt crumbling up some potato chips on the top because Chicken Divan is so healthy to start with. Yes, I am kidding.

Chicken Divan

2 chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

½ cup mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon curry powder

1 package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

2 packages Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Ready Rice

Shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts and sauté them until done (or use leftover chicken). Chop and let cool.

Mix together the soups, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and curry powder.

Microwave the broccoli and let cool, draining any accumulated water. Add the chicken and broccoli to the soup mixture.

Put the rice in a casserole dish. Top with the chicken and broccoli mixture. Sprinkle Cheddar cheese over the top.

Bake for about 30 minutes.

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