All posts by Catherine Daugherty

I love to cook and after a half century under the sun, I am blessed with the freedom to decide each day what I want to read, think, cook and eat! This blog — a few of my favorite things — family and friends recipes and the words of scripture that guide my thoughts and actions. My hope is that through Pray Cook Blog, you will find inspiration today for your daily bread, body and soul.

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

Am I the only cook on the planet who hasn’t heard of Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole?  Apparently, when it comes to church food Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole has been a hit for a long, long time!  My friend, Lila, made this casserole for a Community Bible Study fellowship lunch this spring.  At first, I thought I must have just been really, really, hungry because I couldn’t get enough of this creamy, crunchy, tasty casserole.  Other members of our class seemed equally hungry, because I noticed most of us had second helpings!

I couldn’t figure out all the ingredients my first time around, but by the second helping, I discovered a layer of Rice A Roni that seemed a lot more flavorful than I ever remembered for Rice A Roni.

If you are not familiar with Rice A Roni it is a pilaf-like boxed food mix that consists of rice, vermicelli pasta, and seasonings. To prepare, the rice and pasta are browned in butter, then water and seasonings are added and simmered until the water is absorbed.

“I’ve had this recipe for years,” Lila told our group as we ooh’d and aah’d quite appropriately!

Although lately, she has had trouble finding the exact rice called for in the recipe which is Rice-A-Roni Fried Rice with Almonds.  I couldn’t find that exact flavor and so I used a mixture of one box chicken and garlic and one box chicken and broccoli. Whew!  I highly recommend the chicken and garlic. The garlic creates a flavor layer that really adds to the overall taste of the casserole. The broccoli gave me that false sense that I was eating healthy! 😜

The Rice A Roni is made according to box directions and then becomes the bottom layer in a 9″x13″ baking dish.

I always start any chicken casserole with gently boiled chicken breast, trimmed to remove any fat or stringy pieces.  Then I shred it and the resulting chicken is so white, fresh, and ready for my casserole. (For speed and ease, canned chicken breast will work well in this recipe also.)

Mix the cooked chicken with soup and sour cream for the next layer.  Crushed Ritz crackers and poppy seeds top the chicken layer.  Lila’s recipe calls for a cup of melted butter mixed with the crushed crackers.  I omitted the butter and sprinkled the top with slivered almonds.  Oh my goodness!  Can you just taste it now?  

I know our vegetable should be about twice the amount of the main dish, but I promise, you can start with a smaller amount of casserole but you will be back for more before the broccoli cools off!

Thank you, Lila, for the outstanding recipe!  Keep ’em coming!

Blessings and Happy Cooking!
~Catherine

P.S.  Can you taste poppy seeds? My Chief Casserole Eater husband says he couldn’t taste the poppy seeds.  I don’t think they are meant to be tasted as much as they add texture and color.  What do you think?

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
 
Prep time
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Love it! Packed with flavor, very versatile and especially easy to make.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish, Casserole
Serves: 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 to 2 lb. chicken breast, cooked, chopped or shredded
  • 16 oz. light sour cream
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 3 cups Ritz crackers, crumbled
  • 1 cup butter, melted *Optional
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 boxes Rice-A-Roni (Fried Rice with Almonds or any favorite flavor)
  • Slivered Almonds *Optional
Instructions
  1. Cook rice according to the package directions.
  2. Heat oven to 350⁰. Spray bottom of 9 x 13 pan.
  3. Spread rice in bottom of 9"x13" baking dish.
  4. Combine chicken, sour cream, and soup. Spread on top of rice mixture.
  5. Mix melted butter and crushed Ritz crackers. Layer over chicken.
  6. Top with poppy seeds and slivered almonds.
  7. Bake for 45 - 60 minutes, uncovered.
Notes
1 lb. of chicken works fine, originally recipe calls for 2 lbs.
Any flavor of Rice A Roni will work well.
May use canned or fresh chicken breast.
Poppy seeds and almonds optional.
Melted butter mixed with the crushed crackers optional.

 

 

 

Guest Post For Christian Camp Pro!


Hi!  I am just stopping by for a quick second to share this guest post I did for
Christian Camp Pro!

 

 

Link: What’s For Dinner??

This is a blog post about food planning for a reunion, retreat, or even a party in your home.  Just some practical tips and some of my favorite recipes we have served at our family reunion!

What a blessing it was to join Old Hickory Lake Community Bible Study Leadership in January to stay at Oasis Christian Center and Retreat in Franklin, Kentucky.  I wrote about it here.

Andy McClung is one of the family members who own and run this Christian retreat center.  He is also the author of the website Christian Camp Pro. He created Christian Camp Pro in January 2013 after noticing that there wasn’t a centralized place for event coordinators to find Christian based themes, games, and ideas for their specific types of events.

While I was there Andy and I talked about our websites, food and the wonderful world of blogging! He invited me to write a guest post and with over a million visitors a year on Christian Camp Pro I couldn’t resist sharing a bit of My Daily Bread Body and Soul.

I hope you will check out my blog post and leave a comment when you do!

What’s For Dinner? 3 Steps When Planning Food For A Large Group

Blessings and Happy Cooking!
~Catherine

Fun Colors of Spring and Oven-Roasted Carrots


It’s been a fun few days since I blogged about my blue nails.  If you missed it, check it out here! 

Thursday morning, after the blog post, my friend Bonnie arrived at Community Bible Study sporting fabulous blue nails in honor of my blog post and our friendship!  So fun!  Thank you, sweet Bonnie!

It wasn’t long after we finished Bible study on Thursday that I received a “challenge” from my cousin Jill.  She posted, “The blue is gorgeous!!! I wear blue on my toes often. I dare you to try purple sometime!”  Then Jill sent me this photo.

Jill adores spending time at the beach and so, of course, she has to keep those tippy-toes looking pretty!

The next picture came from my friend Darcia.  We were talking on the phone when she said, “I LOVE your blue nails!”  We laughed and she said, “I have my toes painted WHITE and I absolutely love them.”

In this age of instant photo-sharing, Darcia zipped off this photo to me. I hope she heard me say, “It might show up on my blog!” 😜

Saturday I spent lunchtime with dear girlfriends and my sous-chef dish-washing mom.  Before we said goodbye that afternoon, the conversation turned to my “blue nails”.  Our friend Joan said, “Here, everyone put your hands together.”

Red, blue, peach, and natural, a rainbow of color!  This is a fantastic picture of our friendship.  Diversity reigns and each one of us brings something special to our friendship. The love of Jesus is what truly binds us together. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Speaking of color, our lunch hostess Joyce, served the most incredible roasted carrots with our Hot Chicken Salad.  Did you know that before Dutch farmers bred orange carrots to honor the House of Orange in the 17th century, these root vegetables were white, yellow, green, red, and even black?  Recently, carrots of many colors have come back into flavor.  While traveling in England a few years ago we saw white, yellow and black carrots at the Borough Market in London.

After feasting on these incredibly tasty roasted carrots at Joyce’s, I couldn’t wait to check out my fridge to see if I had any carrots at home. Yep, five. Only five carrots in the crisper drawer, but that was enough to roast for our dinner!

True to Joyce’s description, these take just minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to roast.  Peel carrot, slice into chunks of similar size, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast!

I used a blood orange infused olive oil, cracked pepper, sea salt and a sprinkle of parsley.  Seriously, I can’t wait to make these again.  They are so good that we had to count them out into thirds so that my carrot-loving husband, sous-chef dish-washing mom and me could each have exactly the same number — they are just that good.  And sometimes we are just that silly at dinner!

You can use your imagination and drizzle with just about any flavored or plain olive oil you may have on hand.  I’ve cooked carrots in an orange juice and butter mixture so I thought the blood orange infused oil would be a perfect combination.  It is!  Try it, you’ll like it!

May your spring be bursting with color!

Happy Roasting!
~Catherine

Roasting Carrots and Other Fun Colors!
 
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After roasting carrots, you won't want to serve them any other way.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetable, Side Dish, Vegetarian
Ingredients
  • Fresh carrots
  • Olive oil*
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Pepper
  • Chopped parsley* Optional
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel and slice fresh carrots into equal sized pieces.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper.
  5. Spread on baking sheet.
  6. Roast for 20 minutes or until carrots are slightly browned and tender. Do not over-cook.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Notes
*Flavored olive oil works well.
I've used blood orange infused olive oil that is fantastic.

 

Peer Pressure Is No Respecter of Age

It all started out innocently enough.  I was sitting in my usual chair at the nail salon.  I say “usual” because every 3 weeks for the past 3 years Viet has manicured and polished my fingernails.  I flipped through the basket of nail colors not really expecting to make a change from the palette of pinks or reds that are my norm.

A murmur of voices filled the air as three other customers quietly chatted with their nail techs.  I said, to no one in particular, “Who in the world would ever paint their nails this turquoise blue color?”

Much to my surprise, several women in various stages of manicures turned towards me to see the blue nail tip I held in my hand. “Oh that is a gorgeous color of blue,” one of them remarked.

“What a fun color for spring that is,” said another.

“But it is BLUE!” I said as I placed the colored tip over one of my fingernails, to show just how ridiculous the blue nail looked.

At that moment the three customers and the three nail techs all chattered at the same time.

“Colors like blue are fun for a change,” they said.

“You should do it, go for it, have some fun!” they said.

“Everybody is wearing all sorts of nail colors these days,” they said.

Just then, Viet arrived at his station.  “Oh, fun!” he said, “that is a beautiful color on nails, especially with a layer of glitter!  You will love it and besides … it matches what you are wearing today!”

“Oh, no, no, no” I exclaimed.  “Do you even know me?  I am pretty conservative, fairly modest and do you remember I just turned 62?”

“That is exactly why you should choose the blue today!  Step out of your comfort zone, live a little!” he said, laughing loudly encouraging the others to join in. Besides, it will only last a couple of weeks and then you will change it back to your old standby, pink or red or something boring.”

Boring?  Is he calling me boring?  Ah, peer pressure.  Just then all my little gray brain cells went on vacation and I said, “Yeah, you are right.  I wear this color a lot and what is the worst that can happen?”  Next time I am going to have my nails painted blue!  Next time.  Not today.  Next time.  In a couple of weeks.

I had exactly three weeks for my brain function to return.  Sadly, it did not. I made the decision and without any further thought, I planned to pick out the turquoise blue nail color upon my return to the salon.

Three weeks later, Viet’s sister, Tu, squealed with delight as I handed her the blue nail tip. “This is the one,” I said, “with a coat of glitter, please.”

“Oh, you are going to love this, it is so pretty,” she said as she readied my nails for the polish.

The minute the first stroke of polish hit my nail I knew I had made a terrible mistake. It was as if all my little gray brain cells, that had previously been on vacation, came rushing home just in time to scream out, “What in the world have you done?!” I sat speechless and immovable. One finger, then two turned blue. Three and four followed closely behind. Wow, the thumb looks really BIG when it’s blue. Ten blue fingers later I said a quick prayer of thanks that I hadn’t also committed my toes!

Tu, the owner of the salon and my nail tech for the blue fiasco, was so intent on the beauty of the blue nails she never saw the horror on my face. She encouraged me to wear “lots of turquoise blue” this week and to stay away from wearing anything green!

“Oh brother,” I thought, I am in deep trouble. I usually don’t put that much thought into what I am wearing.

My sous-chef dish-washing mom was with me at the nail salon. She is too kind to say anything other than, “Oh, that’s a pretty color, Dear.” However, I’ve had some fun with my trendy, sparkly, blue manicure mostly because of the shock factor.

During dinner, my darling husband exclaimed, “What happened to your hands?”

I had a manicure today,” I said with no particular excitement, as I held up my newly painted nails. With a twinkle in his eye, he set down his fork, took my hand and said, “Are you cyanotic or psychotic?”

“No,” I replied, twinkling right back at him. “Just a little blue today.”

As I read scripture after scripture this week it seems I kept running into characters with peer pressure problems. Peter certainly had a peer pressure problem when he told Jesus he was the one who would be loyal and faithful to Jesus when he said,  “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” (Mark 14:29 ESV)  And yet, before the rooster had crowed in the morning, Peter denied having anything to do with his friend and leader.   Peer pressure got to Peter, as it seems it was more important to fit in with strangers than to publicly identify with God’s only Son.

Having just celebrated Easter, I can’t help but think about Pilate who succumbed to peer pressure when the rantings of a mob convinced him to have the Son of God put to death.  Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him! (Mark 15:13-15)

I haven’t done anything wrong painting my nails blue. But I am disappointed in myself that I painted them blue because of what others thought and said.

Dennis Wolfberg once quipped, “There’s one advantage to being 102. There’s no peer pressure.”

I’ve only got two more weeks until I return to the salon. Next time I think I will choose something quite boring like pink, red, or even peach!

Happy Spring!
~Catherine