This is the kind of recipe you bake for any event that brings forth either rejoicing or grieving
Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole
Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner

If a friend spends time in the hospital, what does a Southern woman do? She makes a casserole for the family. If there is a new baby in the neighborhood, a death in the church family, or someone could just use a hug, what does a Southern woman do? Yes, she makes a casserole. It is an innate sense of just "needing to do something" that drives us to the kitchen the minute we hear of a need; we tie on our aprons and dutifully brown ground beef or roast a chicken, open a couple of cans of creamed soup, grate fresh cheese, crumble bread crumbs or Ritz crackers, stir it all together and voila! We have The Casserole. That tried-and-true recipe you bake and take every time there is an event that requires rejoicing or grieving, that casserole you can throw together without even looking at the recipe. If you don't have a special recipe for The Casserole, consider this Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole, perfect for new moms or anyone needing a delicious home cooked meal.

It Makes A Lot

I will be the first to admit that I rarely cook a recipe that I would not eat. And, other than the gratification you get from gifting someone with homemade food, there isn't much fun in baking a mouthwatering dish of comfort food when you can't have any for yourself. That being said, this recipe is ideal for a time like this, when you want to take a meal to a friend and you still need something to feed your own family. This recipe can be baked in one large 15- x 10-inch baking dish, which is great for large crowds, or 2 (11- x 7-inch) baking dishes, a good size for small families. Problem solved: cook two casseroles, take one to your friend and keep the other for yourself.

It Freezes Well

A highly organized friend of the new parents will have acquaintances use an online sign-up calendar to keep track of who is delivering what dish on which day. This is a very efficient method that hopefully prevents a kitchen becoming crowded with 5 pans of lasagna and 4 pound cakes – all on the same day. However, if you prefer the traditional way of just dropping in with a casserole (in other words, you don't want to wait for your turn on the calendar to go see the new baby!), this Chicken-And-Wild Rice Casserole is the perfect choice to take because it freezes so well. If the parents are in fact inundated with too much food from well-meaning friends and neighbors, they can just put this one in the freezer for a later date. Remember to wrap the casserole tightly in aluminum foil and send baking instructions; simplify things and write on the foil, with a permanent marker, the name of the casserole, how long to thaw it, how long it should be baked, and on what temperature. And don't forget to put your name on the bottom of the casserole dish if you ever want to see it again!

It Isn't Too Spicy

Many casseroles can be flavored with certain spices and ingredients that, while delicious, can be unsettling to a persons' stomach. This casserole does contain onions, so use your best judgment and leave them out if you think Mom and her family don't want them. Otherwise, this dish is full of tasty and hearty ingredients guaranteed to comfort the hungry stomach, not upset it.

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It Makes Fabulous Leftovers

Next-day casserole warms up well in the microwave, and, if it is possible for it to get any more delicious, this reader-favorite chicken dish makes for an especially cozy dish when Mom and Dad relax for a quiet lunch while the baby sleeps.