My favorite apron was an impulse buy. Not mine, of course–it was a simple gifting mistake, made by a new friend. An ultra-feminine, 1950s-style apron might seem like a perfect fit with my sunshiny personality, had you not seen all of the other plain, utilitarian aprons hanging in my kitchen. This frilly garment shamed all of my other aprons. They felt inferior, as did I. When I put it on, I felt compelled to curl my hair, wear heels and pearls while cooking, discard my usual light fare, and bake cakes and casseroles. I was in new and dangerous territory. Even my mother, a child of the ‘50s cooking-made-easy culture, had shunned her cake-mix upbringing long before I was born in lieu of a strict whole foods diet for her children. In order to live up to my new apron, I had to dig deep. From the dregs of my childhood memories, I found a simple solution: chicken spaghetti. When we had leftover boiled chicken, my mom made chicken spaghetti. It was one of the first things she taught me to make. I tweaked here and there; upped the milk and cheese, added butter and sour cream, swapped out spaghetti for a more buttery egg noodle, and put it in a casserole dish. Voilà! If only I had a Pepto pink stove and an avocado green fridge, I think my apron would be proud.
Chicken Noodle Casserole
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
4 cups egg noodles, cooked and drained (approximately 2 cups uncooked)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x13 inch baking dish.
In a large, tall-sided saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, sauté until near translucent. Stirring frequently, add garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for two minutes more. Stir in the flour and cook until the flour is absorbed. Slowly add the milk and 2 cups of cheese. Reserve 1 cup of cheese for casserole topping. Once the cheese is melted add salt and pepper to taste. Combine chicken, sour cream and noodles into cheese mixture. Stir until the noodles are coated with mixture.
Pour mixture into a prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.
Cook time 45 minutes
Martha Tinkler is a cook-turned-writer who lives in Memphis with her thoughts. When she is not baking bread from scratch or cooking whole hogs, Ms. Tinkler enjoys using puns, alliteration, and the serial (Oxford) comma in everyday writing and conversation. Shockingly, she is single. Indulge Martha at marthatinkler.com.
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