I love birthdays. Mine. Yours. Theirs. Everyone's. This past weekend, I celebrated my 33rd year with many of my precious loved ones. In my family, your birthday is the day you get to be completely doted on and most importantly, get to eat whatever you want.
For me, nearly all of those years, that has meant a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and Brach's "little pumpkins." And this year was no exception.
Mom has long since ceased making the cake herself, but turns to our dear friend and owner of local Bill Rhodes Bakery, Becky Evans, to make this special (and gorgeous!) treat each year. This year was no exception.
The best part is the leftovers.
Ok, who doesn't like to start a meal with dessert? This moist, melt-in-your-mouth magnificence was preceded by one of my favorite dinners that embodies love for my family: Miss Elizabeth's chicken.
Miss Elizabeth was a dear lady in my dad's hometown of Boonville, Missouri that brought a steaming casserole dish of this comfort food to the farmhouse after my sweet grandmother's funeral and the rest is history. We've been making it for the past 17 years. This recipe is as homespun as they come and straight out of the church potluck cookbook. Most people call it Chicken and Rice Casserole. It's warm and creamy and utterly rich and filled with love.
Just to make sure that our veins don't completely explode from all the "love" filled food, this year's celebration was rounded out with a little greenery: a wedge salad with homemade blue cheese dressing, steamed green beans and roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta and Parmesan. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.
Thirty-three years of love right here on the plate.
Miss Elizabeth's Chicken
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of cream of celery soup
1/2 soup can of water
1 1/2 Cups of white rice, uncooked
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 stick of margarine
Salt and pepper
Heat oven to 275 degrees.
Melt margarine in a large saucepan.
Add the soups and water; heat and stir well.
Add rice and stir.
Pour half of the mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
Place chicken on top; salt and pepper.
Pour the rest of the mixture on top of chicken.
Cover with foil and bake for 2 hours; uncover and bake for one additional hour until golden and bubbly.