Heels, Pearls and A Casserole

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Heels, Pearls and A Casserole

By Martha Tinkler

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
Level Easy
Serves 6

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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Reader Comments:

I’ve been making the same recipe for years as a soup with Ham instead of chicken.
My Mom’s recipe. Great on a cold winters night.

By Debbie on October 12, 2010

OMG my husband and i loved this recipe your the best.  We cooked steam broc with it and homemade biscuits from paula’s cookbook with lot’s of butter it was a great meal.  Thank U for sharing this recipe we look forward to the next!!!

By christine lovell on September 30, 2010

The perfect dish for our monthly “Church-Potluck”.
Try it for Oct. church potluck.
Bet it will be a winner too . . . just like the summer squash casserole dish was . . . and Sept’s
“Butternut Squash Casserole” last Sunday. . .
Thanks Paula, for keeping me in “Southern Recipes” for my northern church family.
Jean Wadsworth

By Isabel Jean Wadsworth on September 29, 2010


By JANIE FINNEY on September 28, 2010

Ohhhhh Paula!!!  This was fabulous smile  My family gobbled it up and I had no leftovers.  I made some yeast rolls with it, served them up hot, slapped some butter in those babies, oh my gosh.  Thank you so much!!  Captain Michael’s Coffee afterwards, life is good.  Malinda Dunn—-Alabama

By Malinda Dunn on September 28, 2010

Cannot wait to make this!  I think I’ll take it to a family who just had baby #2.
Martha, love the fabric on the apron!
And, I just had to laugh out loud at the “disclaimer” at the end of the article that you are “shockingly single”.  There are lots of us out there who love to cook from scratch and are “shockingly single”.  Now, all you readers who aren’t, please get busy and find husbands for us!

By Kristin S on September 28, 2010

I make this cozy comfort casserole on a regular basis now as requested by the family - I use rotisserie chicken from the market to speed things up in a busy evening - it is yummy!

By sweetmormor on July 09, 2010

I am so glad to have found this recipe. Most familie’s just don’t cook meals that are this large and invite the families over for what we call dinner. My church has Homecoming every other year and it’s hard to come up with a large dish, This one is right on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is absoluetly GREAT.

By Bertha Davenport on May 19, 2010

Looking forward to trying this tonight with my family.  Sounds so yummy.

By Lisa on February 25, 2010

Made this on Monday night and my boyfriend FLIPPED! I will definitely be making this again - keep up the good work, Martha!

By Abby on February 24, 2010

Thanks for adding the sour cream to the list of recipe ingredients.  So, if anyone copied this recipe prior to 2/23/10, you might want to take note and add the sour cream to your copy of this recipe.  From my experience, sour cream in a recipe does make a difference as to the taste!  Usually much better flavor!

By Peggy Hickox on February 24, 2010

oooh so Midwest for a Southern gal…Mom made something like this whenever Dad went on the road. Great update on an old classic. Thank you Martha!

By annie on February 23, 2010

Where’s the sour cream in the recipe?

By Peggy Hicko on February 22, 2010

Love the apron! I’m printing the recipe to try this weekend!

By Lt. Sanders on February 22, 2010

Wow! This is sooooo fun! This Martha girl needs to be a regular poster.

By Betty on February 22, 2010

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