Happy Birthday to You

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We’re having a little soiree for my mother’s 85th birthday. She’s invited some moms of our childhood friends and a couple of those friends who still live in town. Of course, being my mother, she’s picked exactly the menu she wants. Her choice for the main dish is Hot Chicken Salad. Now there is a truly Southern dish. The problem with that is, when I looked at recipes in several cookbooks there were extreme variations. Some had a lot of different kinds of Campbell’s Soup, some had rice, some had water chestnuts, or a jar of mushrooms,  or even a jar of pimentos. There were versions with almonds, hard-boiled eggs, olives, green peppers, and pecans. I imagined how hideous it would be to put them all in thecasserole and see what happened. It would probably have a fight in my oven.

All the recipes had a few things in common, chicken, chopped celery and onion, mayonnaise and lemon juice. After that I just culled what I liked best and put it all together. One article I found said it was supposed to have everything in it that chicken salad has. I guess the presumption is that you’ll eat chicken salad with potato chips, because that is the universal topping. Apparently I’ve never made this for Sammy because he got all excited when I mentioned a casserole with potato chips on top. Well that’s about to change. I’ve made him his own special version, minus the delicious mushrooms sautéed in butter and Sherry that I put in the one for Mom’s guests. We’ll see what he thinks.

The table is set, cheese straws are ready for the oven, the wine is in the fridge and I’m ready to celebrate how fortunate I am to have such a fabulous mother. I wish everyone could be so lucky!

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Sallie’s Hot Chicken Salad


3 c cooked chicken, chopped

2 ribs of celery, diced

1 small onion diced

8 oz box of fresh mushrooms, sliced  

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp Sherry

3/4 c mayonnaise

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2 tsp salt

3 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1/2 c grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 ½ c crushed potato chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small skillet melt butter and sauté mushrooms until they are soft.

 Add Sherry and cook until evaporated. 

Mix all ingredients except cheese and potato chips in a large bowl and put in a 9 x 13 casserole sprayed with cooking spray. 

Top with cheese and potato chips and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

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