August 21, 2012

Jerry's Chicken Casserole Surprise

I am so ready to snap out of this funk I've been in lately.

I know it's common for people to have seasonal depression in the winter months, but it usually happens to me in the summer. I've written before about the fact that I've had depression for the majority of my life, but for some reason it gets worse during the summer.

I keep reminding myself that fall is right around the corner, and that is my very favorite time of year, so I'm hoping that I'll start feeling better. Today was just a really rough day, for no reason at all. The kids were acting how they usually do (fighting constantly with each other, tattling, and asking for snacks all day); I didn't have a lot on my "to do" list today (all I really had to do was laundry); and I even have a book to read, that I've been looking forward to (Divergent).

But for some reason, I was just feeling really down. When it came time to make dinner, I immediately thought of Jerry's Chicken Casserole Surprise.

When I was pregnant with Noah--not far along, just a couple of months--I went to the bathroom and noticed that I was spotting a little. My mom had a miscarriage with her first pregnancy, and I was so upset that the same was happening to me. The doctor's office was closed, and there wasn't anything they would have been able to do anyway, since I was just a couple of months along.

I was really worried and upset, and just didn't want to do anything. Jerry had no idea what to do either, and to make me feel better, he decided to make dinner. Jerry is FAR from being a chef--he is the type that can somehow manage to burn water. He didn't even ask me any questions; he just picked a recipe from one of the three cookbooks we had at the time, and tried to follow it.

It was a casserole of chicken, egg noodles, and a creamy, cheesy sauce. He dished each of us up a bowl of it, and told me it was "Jerry's Chicken Casserole Surprise". I asked him what the surprise part was, and he responded, "I don't know, I thought that all casseroles are called 'something-something-surprise.'"

At the time, I couldn't really eat it. I was just too worried about the baby, and I picked at the casserole. I can remember it so well, sitting at the table with Jerry after having cried for a couple of hours, and feeling the love from him. He had no idea how to help me, but he tried by making a casserole.

Thankfully, nothing was wrong with my pregnancy, and Noah was born the following July, very healthy. I've only made the casserole a couple of times since Jerry made it that day, and it's always when I'm feeling very down. It is the ultimate "comfort food" for me. Today was one of those days, and I made the casserole for dinner.

And since Jerry is so sure that you want his "top secret" recipe, he told me I could share it on my blog ;)

Jerry's Chicken Casserole Surprise

1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
12 oz. egg noodles
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. shredded cheese (whatever you have on hand--in his original dish, he used jack cheese)
About 20 Ritz crackers, crushed

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta and (raw) chicken. Cook until the pasta is done, and drain. In a 9x13 casserole dish, combine the soups, sour cream, and cheese. Add the cooked pasta and chicken to the casserole dish. Top with the crushed Ritz crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I know it isn't a very healthy recipe, but it's healthy for my mind--and it really does taste good!

So remember when I wrote about doing some short term goals, rather than my 30-in-30 list? I planned on doing that on the 19th (my 3-year weight loss anniversary), but I totally forgot to list some goals. I've been thinking about how I want to approach it, and I've come up with a solution that I hope will help keep me focused on just a couple of tasks, rather than a huge list.

I'm going to do three weekly goals--one food related goal, one fitness related goal, and one miscellaneous goal.

Since I have a habit of starting things on Wednesdays, tomorrow will start Day 1 of the first week. Here are my goals for Week 1:

Food--Log my food into SparkPeople every single day, whether I eat well or not.
Fitness--Do the Wii Active twice, in addition to my scheduled runs.
Misc--Finish the sewing project my sister asked me to do.

Being the nerd that I am, I even made a little checklist on my dry-erase board so that I can see my goals on a daily basis. I love being able to check things off a list!

I think making weekly goals like this will be much easier to keep track of! I did something like this throughout my weight loss, and once I hit maintenance, I stopped doing it. My plan is to post new goals every Tuesday, and on Wednesday, write about how I did on the previous week's goals. (Notice I said that's my plan--who knows how long it will last!)

10 more days until I go to Minnesota for the Women Rock Minnesota Half-Marathon!! I'm very excited to get away for a couple of days, and even more excited that Renee is coming with me.


  1. Firstly (not sure if that is a word) the casserole looks delicious.
    As for the tracking, that is a great plan. I have been trying to get back into that myself. I know I do much better with the weight loss when I write both the good and bad down.

  2. I've been feeling the.same way. How often does your husband watch your races? Especially when you.first started.

  3. I love fall as well. I've had a great summer, but I'm really looking forward to fall :)
    I've just received Divergent from a friend, I should start it soon too.

  4. I have been reading your blog for a few months now- needless to say I love you and what you have done- you are an inspiration! I have about 40lbs to lose and I loved what your goal is for the next chapter of your life- I am going to do the same---wish me luck!!!

  5. I get this way during summer a lot too. I think part of it is that I don't want to go out into the heat and do things, so I get depressed. I'm sorry that summer effects you this way too.
    I think you have some great goals, can't wait to hear how yu do and what's next. And Jerry's Chicken Casserole Surprise looks great, when I get the point where I can splurge I will try it.

  6. First of all, your story about Jerry and the chicken casserole made me cry, so thanks for that. ;) You two have such a great relationship.
    I love your goals and your way of tracking them-something I need very badly to do.
    I struggle with depression and anxiety, too, especially now that I'm so heavy. I think making and completing goals will help you. As will your supportive family.
    And always remember what an inspiration you are to all of your readers out here!

  7. I feel this way in the summer too. We have S.A.D. Summer Affective Disorder!!! I am unhappy in heat/humidity. Particularly the humidity. This summer has been the worst in the last five years. Over 100 every day from the beginning of July to last week. We had three days of delicious 85 and now we are back up again. I just stay in and watch too much television and turn into a summer hermit which depresses me.

    Love the casserole -- everything wonderful and comforting stars with a can of cream of mushroom soup, I'm sure of it! I love how guys are "doers". Once, my sister was in intensive care and my boyfriend at the time had no idea what to do. He hugged me, held me, didn't say much. Then I cried myself to sleep and I woke up covered in a blanket and couldn't find him. He was outside DETAILING MY CAR. Inside, out, rims, the works. He'd never so much as driven it through a car wash before!!

  8. Hi, my name is Betsy, and I'm a new reader to your site. I want to thank you so much for what you have done for yourself by losing the weight, and what you have done for all of us by writing about it.

    I also want to wish you well as you fight your depression. I have fought it my whole life, and I know what a struggle it can be. Hugs.

  9. I've been a reader of your blog for a while now. I read a few weight loss/fitness blogs on a regular basis but I look forward to yours the most. Maybe because I can relate so well and you have a very sensible, common sense approach that has worked for you and inspires me. I also have struggled with anxiety and depression for a lot of years and today was a very hard day for me as well. What gives? Usually I find spring most difficult but this summer I have had a harder time than usual. The heat and humidity perhaps? Anyway, I wanted to let you know what an inspiration you are every day and thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. It really makes a difference.

  10. I thought I was the only one who got depressed during summer and happy during fall. I call it "reverse S.A.D.". I get so annoyed and bothered by the constant, hot, glaring, super-bright sun that just won't GO AWAY. When it's grey and rainy with a cool breeze, I get super happy and giddy while everyone else is grumbling. It's pretty funny.

    That casserole looks really yummy! I'll have to try that someday.

  11. I have been depressed lately but for different (personal) reasons. One thing I find though is when it is nice out, I put too much pressure on myself to do more (enjoy the weather, finish chores, leave the house) and when I don't do them, I feel like I wasted time/failed. Maybe this is part of our problem?

    Also, I love your idea of weekly goals. I think I want to try this as well because that makes it much easier to manage. I always start off strong and taper off so small, frequent goals should work wonderfully! Thanks for the advice!

  12. I love the story about the casserole!
    Have you ever listened to Lana Del Rey? She has a song called Summertime Sadness. (I love listening to her stuff even though it's kinda depressing, sometimes it cheers me up for some reason).
    Thanks for the reminders about goal setting, something I need to do more of.

  13. I am SO ready for Fall...and that casserole!

  14. I love spiring and fall, but I'm really not looking forward to school starting this year. 1). Both kids will be in high school, and I worry more during those transition years and 2). I have to get a job!

  15. Thanks for sharing not only your successes, but also your struggles.

  16. Thanks for the recipe... I'm having a day like that today and I was craving something like that. It probably will be dinner. It'll be funny explaining the story to DH! I can just see it now "Who's Jerry?" Lol. Thanks for cheering me up a little.

  17. I am really liking this idea oh short term goals. I have problems completing projects!

  18. I forgot! I wanted to tell you I have my own blog now!

    Feel free to give me some feedback!!

  19. Your husband is adorable!

  20. I think you should get a sitter for your boys and come to my house for the day and I will take you horseback riding! Whenever I am sad for most any reason my boys (horses) make me feel alive again. I tell my husband hes lucky because they have saved him thousands in therapy bills! Im serious about the horseback riding......Im an E-mail away....Draftlover (sparkpeople)
    And then maybe YOU could show ME how to not be "anonymous" when I comment on your blogs! lol

  21. love the idea of the 3 small goals per week!

  22. Aw girl hope you feel better soon - i can relate to the "funk" and it's not fun. I'm looking forward to fall )my fav. season too.

    That casserole looks soooo yummy.

  23. I love the idea of that to do list on a dry erase board! Sorry you got the blues :( The most annoying part is the thought of "I know I won't feel this way forever, I just wanna snap out of it!!" I love fall too!

  24. I felt all depressive yesterday too. I've been having a spell of it and yesterday was yuck. But I made myself be social and that helped a little. Now I need a rainy day to hide inside to feel better

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