2 packages fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix (I use Uncle Ben's)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 (8-oz.) cans sliced water chestnuts, drained
5 cups chopped cooked chicken
4 cups shredded Cheddar, divided
2 cans cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (16-oz.) container sour cream
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups soft breadcrumbs (homemade)
1 (2.25-oz.) pkg. sliced almonds, toasted
Prep rice mixes according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat;add celery and onion. Saute 10 minutes or until tender.
Combine water chestnuts, cooked rice, celery and onion, chicken, 3 cups cheese, and next 5 ingredients in a very large bowl.
Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 10x15 baking dish or a 4-quart baking dish. Top casserole with breadcrumbs. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese and almonds; bake 5 minutes more.
(You can also divide this casserole evenly between two baking dishes, which is what I always do. It makes a ton of food! Or if I'm just making it for our family and not planning to take it anwhere else, I'll usually make just half of the recipe.)