In the summer of 2004, I stayed with my aunt Alma. She’s actually my great aunt, because she is my grandfather’s sister, but she is more like a mom to me. (Confusing enough?) I also look a lot like her and I don’t look at all like my mom and dad.

(This picture is several years old, but that’s my aunt, me, and my cousin Alicia. We’re gorgeous. I know. ūüôā )

That summer I lived with her was one of the best of my life. ¬†I can’t quite put it into words. ¬†Was it the fact that we sat around for hours talking? ¬†That she taught me how to make so many recipes? ¬†That she had more dates than I did? (Still a little jealous about that one! ;)) That she taught me how to work hard and love generously? That a southern woman can have gentleness and charm but still know how to have a sense of humor and a sharp mind?

Maybe it’s because I felt like I had the mother/daughter relationship I’d always wanted.
And all of the above.

This is her chicken and rice recipe.

Aunt Alma almost always (nice alliteration!) has a girls’ night. ¬†Her best friends get together every week and they are HILARIOUS. ¬†That summer, they would all get together and watch American Idol on Wednesday. ¬†We’d record Tuesday night’s show and then we’d sit together on Wednesday and watch the performances and then the results show.

That night, I remember standing in the little kitchen on Nebraska Street and watching her make this chicken. ¬†The smell of the onions and celery sauteing filled the whole house. ¬†As we sat down with our plates, exclaiming over how delicious¬†this meal was and laughing with each other, it quickly became a favorite night of mine. ¬†It didn’t matter that I was a relative kid. ¬†I was a woman. I was family. I belonged.

I still miss that little old house and her soft blue couch. (She’s since moved and married.)

Okay, ready to try that chicken now?

Let’s go!¬†

Chicken and Rice

1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 stick butter
1 chicken, cut up or 3-4 chicken breasts
1 can of cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1 package onion soup mix

First, chop your onion and celery. Saute with butter in a skillet or in the oven.  I added a clove of garlic because I had it lying around.

While your veggies are sauteing, add water and rice and begin to precook in the microwave. ¬†Approximately 8-10 minutes. ¬†If it’s brown rice, it will take closer to 10. ¬†I would recommend a larger container than the Pyrex cup… I may or may not have boiled over in my own microwave. ūüôā Also, season one side of the chicken with salt.

Then, I like to spread a little butter in the bottom of a 9 x 13 dish.

Then, mix your onion soup mix, onions and celery, and your cream of chicken/mushroom soup in your dish.

Add your semi-cooked rice and a little more water, approximately a cup. ¬†Place chicken breasts salt side down in the dish. Then, sprinkle pepper or paprika over the top of the chicken breasts. ¬†I didn’t have any paprika, so I added pepper.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 min – 1 hour until done.

¬†That’s it!

The trickiest part is getting the rice done before the chicken gets dry. ¬†That’s why I recommend pre-cooking the rice. ¬†This particular time the dish would have been PERFECT but I answered the phone and overcooked the chicken just a wee bit. ¬†Note: If you cut the chicken up too small, you run a great risk of overcooking the chicken. I’ve learned this lesson by experience.¬†

Hey, we all make mistakes, right? ūüôā

I’m hungry now.

Happy Thursday!