Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chicken and Rice

Since it's the week of Thanksgiving, I knew I wouldn't have much time or be able to put in much effort with dinners.  We had leftovers on Monday night from our weekend of gluttony--we ordered that pizza Friday night, went out to Panera with my old college roommate on Saturday night, and went out to lunch with Dan's parents on Sunday...we had a lot of leftovers in the fridge!  So last night, I thought I'd go with an easy old standby for me--chicken and rice.  Another staple of my childhood, it's a dish I've been cooking our entire marriage--and the dish that caused Dan's and my first memorable married fight.

this is what all newlyweds look like when they go grocery shopping

We had just gotten to Colorado Springs, fresh off our honeymoon, and I was determined to start our marriage off right...with at least some attempts at cooking.  I didn't want my new husband to know how inept I was so early on--although he had known me for 8 years by the time we got married, so I'm pretty sure I wasn't pulling any wool over his eyes with respect to my domesticity.  He married me anyway.  :)  After we got settled into our apartment, we headed to the commissary (the military term for grocery store) to stock up our fridge and pantry for the first time--there was a lot to buy!  Dan and I really had never been grocery shopping together before--sure, we'd run into 7-11 to grab cartons of ice cream after going to see a movie, but had never been on a real grocery run together.  I had a list (that's how I roll), and I had written down the ingredients of some of the meals my mom always made for my family when I was growing up so that I could start making them in my own kitchen, for my husband.  I had grand good housewife illusions!  Things were going well at the store--even grocery shopping is fun and cute when you're newlyweds.  We got to the canned soups aisle, and I stopped in front of the Campbell's Great for Cooking! soups.  I picked up a can of Cream of Celery and marked that off my list, and then I picked up a can of Cream of Mushroom.  Dan had been patient with me thus far, and we were just chatting about foods we liked to eat and meals we wanted to make, but suddenly, Dan had an objection.  He would NOT eat anything with mushrooms in it.  I tried to explain to him that you really can't tell there are mushrooms in the final dish, but he was adamant.  Then I informed him that he had, in fact, already eaten this exact dish with the Cream of Mushroom soup in it at my parents' house when we were dating, and he basically started gagging right there in the soup aisle.  I thought that was a little over-the-top, since we weren't ingesting any mushrooms at that moment, but he was beside himself at the thought that I would willingly poison him with them.  We went back and forth for a few minutes (we're both pretty stubborn, although I will say that this particular time, I was less stubborn and more petrified to stray from a tried-and-true recipe that I actually had yet to even try making myself) before we compromised and I bought a can of Cream of Chicken soup as a substitute for the mushrooms.  That's the one and only time I've ever made chicken and rice with Cream of Chicken--every time after that, I've made it as the recipe intended, with Cream of Mushroom.  Dan hasn't known the difference and hasn't been harmed by mushrooms.  ;)

Dan's worst nightmare

Chicken and Rice was the one dish I knew how to make for a long I think Dan got pretty sick of it.  I haven't made it in a while (and by a while, I mean more than a year...) and figured it was safe to throw it back in the rotation.  I love it because it's a really easy meal--the prep time is really short, and there's just really not much to it (1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup mixed with 1 can of Cream of Celery soup and 1/2 can of water, poured over 4 chicken breasts in a baking dish and baked uncovered at 375 for 1 hour, served with 2 cups of rice).  It wasn't until I was preheating the oven that I realized I probably shouldn't leave the house to go pick Abby up from the bus stop while the oven was on and unattended in the house...grrrr.  I wanted to have dinner on the table around 5:15pm because I was going to let the kids have a special treat and watch the new "Sophia the First" movie that was on the Disney channel this weekend before bedtime, so we needed to have time for them to do that and still get to bed at a decent hour.  Thankfully, Dan bailed me out and picked Abby up at the bus stop, but now I know to consider the cooking time along with bus stop pick-up and plan accordingly!  I am correct that it's not a good idea to leave an oven on when I'm not in the house, right?
Chicken and Rice with corn and veggie stir fry

The finished product (both the food and the scene at the table) was a lot more in line with what I had been aiming for with my cooking efforts last week--everyone sitting down together at the same time enjoying dinner conversation and a good meal, and everyone eating their food!  Jake had three helpings of the chicken, and Alex even ate a few pieces of chicken, too--I consider that a massive success!!  Abby always eats what we put in front of her (such a good girl), so I knew I wouldn't have to worry about her.  All in all, it was a very pleasant evening at the dinner table with no screaming meltdowns, and I feel pretty proud of myself for the effort.  Dan even said that it was really good and Chicken and Rice has always been one of his favorite meals--clearly, he doesn't remember the commissary fight, or the fact that it has mushrooms in it.  And we have enough for leftovers tonight before the insanity of Thanksgiving food takes over tomorrow!


  1. Yummy - I might have to steal this recipe! Though I must side w/Dan... I hate mushrooms and don't prefer cream of mushroom soup (though I know I do eat it in things from time to time without knowing/caring). I also will substitute cream of celery or cream of chicken when making various recipes.

    As far as the oven being left on... I go back and forth. I'm neurotic about leaving anything on when I leave the house, but I do make exceptions sometimes for the crock pot... so maybe you could do the same for the oven since you are just running to the bus stop?

  2. The thought of Dan gagging in the soup aisle - hilarious. Cooking seems like such a waste if your kids are picky. My boy eats nothing. He told me tonight (thanksgiving) that he doesn't want any of this food, he wants "GOOD food." Ugh. Three days of cooking and the food is crap. Thanks, B.