Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken Divan and a Memory

When Mary, over at One Perfect Bite, posted a recipe for Pink Grapefruit Salad Dressing a few weeks back she couldn't have known what a strong memory it would invoke in me.  Back in the day,  not long out of college and working at The Pentagon, I was the "career woman".  Certainly (and sadly) not the "woman in the kitchen"!  Fortunately, I was the recipient of numerous dinner invitations from many of the Air Force officers (I was a civilian) with whom I worked.  Even though most of the wives kept the home fires burning with delicious food on the table for their fighting men, they were also quite interesting and fun to be around.  I began to think that I might enjoy spending a little time in the kitchen myself.

Two meals still stand out because they were so different from what was served at my mother's table and they were simple enough for me to prepare.  One was a homemade chicken pot pie (and that's for another day).  The other was Chicken Divan.  



The chicken divan, served by the wife of the colonial who was the head honcho in the office, was accompanied by a fresh citrus salad with a dressing very similar to Mary's.  Please visit Mary for this refreshingly delicious dressing.

The Chicken Divan, which seemed very complicated to me at the time, is really quite simple.  

Here's the recipe as I remember it:


Dee Dee's Chicken Divan

4 cups steamed broccoli flowerets
2 cups cook chicken breasts, cubed
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup 
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Lightly butter a 12" au gratin dish (or similar oven-proof dish) and scatter the chicken and broccoli about.
2.  In a small bowl, whisk the soup and milk together until well blended.  Pour the mixture over the broccoli and chicken.  Evenly sprinkle with the cheese.  Stir the bread crumbs into the melted butter and distribute evenly over the dish.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
3.  Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven until hot and bubbling.

This was served with rice when I first had it.  I think it is quite nice with just the salad.

ENJOY!

33 comments:

  1. Sounds simple and delicious! Just my kind of recipe. Thank you for sharing it and your memories, Bonnie. It must have been so exciting to be inside the Pentagon. I love to see it! Of all the wonderful sites I saw running the Marine Corps marathon several years ago, it was one of my favorite.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How nice, what a simple comforting dish. It is nice to have such memories associated with food. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  3. Now, that sounds yummy and easy enough. Don't you just love it when food evokes a wonderful memory? Carla

    ReplyDelete
  4. I might just have to make this tonight! Sounds so good - and perfect with the pink grapefruit salad. I had seen that recipe posted not long ago and thought it sounded nice and different. =) Thanks for the story and the recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh Bonnie, that does sound like comfort food and I am anxious to make it. I have not done it before with chicken that has been cut up. My husband is an air force child, his Dad was a Lt. Cl. That abbreviation does not look right? Hmmm. Well then, now I shall scoot on over and check out the citrus salad. We have about 100 trees on our property here. Mostly naval orange, but we have grapefruit too, and a smattering of others. Enough to keep us in fruit, that is for sure! I love to make a salad with fresh sections of oranges, and sprinkle toasted coconut on it just before serving. Lovely!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. That's good...really good!!!Thank you...and hugs, Flavia

    ReplyDelete
  7. I remember Mary's dressing and was quite taken with it. I do have some fresh grapefruit that is begging to be used and I think I know how I am going to use it.

    Secondly, I have the ingredients to make the chicken divan recipe too. My kids would love it. It's what for dinner tonight.

    Thanks for sharing this story, and for inspiring my meal for this evening.

    Velva

    ReplyDelete
  8. mouth watering photos, both of them, i would love the divan and the salad. we have a pink grapefruit tree that produces thousands of grapefruit from Nov to end of feb. my husband grew the tree from a seed, the tree is 23 years old

    ReplyDelete
  9. The Chicken Divan looks delicious. We're having overnight guests in a couple of weeks and I was thinking about what to serve; I think this would be a great choice. These old recipes are one reason I love my "community cookbooks" from churches, ladies' clubs, etc.; they have the best recipes! Thanks! Annie

    ReplyDelete
  10. You have reminded me of one of my favorite recipes, Bonnie. I used to make chicken divan often but somehow the recipe slipped to the back of my file. I know my family will love to see this again.

    I bookmarked Mary's recipe as one I must try.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have the Campbell's Soup Cookbook for the early 70's and I remember making this recipe when I was first married. It's nice to re-visit nostalgic recipes like this from time to time.

    It must have been exciting to work in the Pentagon! My son went to undergrad college in Washington, DC, and had many wonderful experiences there. We really enjoyed seeing all the sights in DC when we visited him.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a perfect recipe, Bonnie! The minute I see a can of soup in a recipe, I pretty much know the era it came from. MY era! And the years spent in the Air Force.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Mmmmm, this just sounds so delicious and looks mouthwatering!
    Cheers~

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yummy! Have the ingredients to make this tonight. I really like this recipe version and will ck. out that salad dressing. Thanks for sharing your warm memories. Very nice!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sounds wonderful and easy, too. Isn't it funny what triggers memories?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Very nice, Bonnie. I love Chicken Divan ... Actually I love most anything which has CHEESE in it... ha

    Thanks for sharing..
    Hugs,
    Betsy

    ReplyDelete
  17. What an appetizing chicken veggie gratin you've shared with us Bonnie. Simple enough to get this going any time of the week...perfect solution especially with a refreshing salad on the side.
    It was nice to get to know a little more about you too ;o)

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wonderful memories! Chicken Divan is the very first thing I cooked for my husband-to-be when we were dating. I didn't know that he hated broccoli at the time but I've turned him into a broccoli convert.

    How exciting to have worked in the Pentagon!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ohhh, that chicken dish looks scrumptious! I think I'd like that! thanks for a great idea for dinner this weekend :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yes, something really easy and yummy for me, I have printed it out! It looks fabulous, matter of fact, when I make chicken soup, I'll just put in some extra tenders for this. I'll make it next week if the fresh broccoli looks good. What is that in the salad beside romaine and citrus? Is it green onions?

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love your recipes! They sound yummy, and the look scrumptious! Somehow cooking is at the bottom of my priority list, but many of your recipes are so down to earth, (even for non cooks), as well as delicious. (Although I did make homemade banana cream pie and homemade rolls for Sunday dinner this past week.) I love your memories and stories and I wish you could cook for me!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. i wonder if Chicken Divan is what you'd call an old recipe, popular back in the 70s. We made it and were served it a lot in the early years of married life, and I continue to make variations of it. You can't beat it for simplicity and deliciousness!!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Oh yeah.........pure comfort cuisine! Anytime a can of cream of mushroom soup is called for, I know it's gonna be a winner!

    ReplyDelete
  24. That sounds delicious- both the chicken and the citrus salad. (I saw that dressing too, and bookmarked it.)

    ReplyDelete
  25. When studying at the States I had a fellow student of mine who was a carier woman too. I was in my mid twenties and she was around 40. She said to us that she abandoned a very well established career because when her 5 year old daughter was asked to draw her mother she draw an aeroplane. So she realized that her children were missing her a lot and she was losing some of their best moments. You reminded me of her. Chicken divan is a very loving, hearty dish.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I saw Mary's grapefruit dressing and it indeed did sound delicious. I enjoyed your story of the Pentagon. Chicken Divan was a big dish when I was a young bride and it's nice to see it on blogs.
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  27. In the middle of winter I am always craving fresh vegetables so either of these dishes would be so welcome for that vitamin boost I need!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Amazing how something like that can trigger memories and boy did that trigger a nice one for you.

    I think this is one I can do! looks easy enough.

    Yep...

    ReplyDelete
  29. I must try this sometime...it looks and sounds delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Chicken divan was one of the first recipes I made to serve company as a young woman! I just made it recently for my husband's cousin who is a very spry 78 - she loved it! It brings back good memories for me also. I'll have to try the salad next! Thanks for the stroll down memory lane!

    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  31. I haven't made this for awhile, but the spirit is moving me :-). Thanks for you too kind words. They are appreciated. Blessings...Mary

    ReplyDelete
  32. Like you food evokes memories; thank you for sharing yours.

    That chicken divan is one of my husband's favourite comfort food that I have been making for years. Now I make it with my own mixture instead of the soup.

    ReplyDelete

I always enjoy hearing from you, my blogging friends.