250 Cookbooks: Whittier Wildcat Cookbook

Cookbook #121: Whittier Wildcat Cookbook, Whittier School Community, 19??.

Whittier Wildcat Cookbook“I have no idea where this book came from” reads my cookbook database. Nowhere in this book is a publication date. It is a “community cookbook” –  compiled by the teachers, parents and students at an elementary school. (Here is the first community cookbook covered in this blog.) The introductory page thanks “Mary West-Smith” for typing all of the recipes on her word processor, so my guess is that it was produced in the mid-1970s.

“Whittier” at first calls to mind the city in Southern California. But no . . . “Whittier” is also an elementary school in Boulder, Colorado. A school on Pine and 20th.

Well, this all is starting to make sense. We lived in a dumpy old house on Walnut, full of character (and characters), for a couple years in the mid-1970s. We called the house “Walnetto”. What times. The Whittier school was just a couple blocks from Walnetto. Perhaps a child or parent was going door-to-door with this cookbook and I bought it from them? Quite likely.

And yes I googled this book. I found a couple references that confirm it was published in Boulder, Colorado – and the publication date is unknown. I could purchase it through AbeBooks.com for $22.90 (!).

Time to settle in and read. The recipes? Pretty good. Good homey main dishes for families (Pot Roast Breckenridge and Stayabed Stew). Salads for potlucks (7-Up Salad and Coco-Cola Salad). Breads and cakes and cookies and pies (Dump Cake and Turtle Cake and Monkey-Face Cookies). Many look so familiar they could have been in my own mother’s recipe box. Some are treasured family recipes:

WWfamfav1WWfamfav2Some are international recipes:

WWintl1And special treats! Little kids contributed some of the drawings and recipes.

WWkids1WWkids2WWkids3WWkids4WWkids5WWkids6I am going to make a Mexican chicken casserole for this blog. The cookbook has two similar recipes:

WWMexCassRec1WWMexCassRec2(I also have a recipe for this casserole in my own collection – but I decide not to look at it until I am done cooking a Wildcat one.)

Below is a combined version of the Whittier Wildcats recipes, with a couple small modifications of my own.

Note: This casserole is a good way to use up leftover cooked chicken, but if you don’t have any around, cook one large boneless chicken breast for this recipe.

Mexican Chicken Casserole 1
serves about 4

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can green chiles (4 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup green chile salsa (optional)
  • 6 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • chopped fresh cilantro to taste

Mix the chicken with the garlic and some chopped cilantro and a little kosher salt and rub it all together. (This step is optional, but adds a good zip of flavor.)

Mix the cream of chicken soup with the chicken broth.

Put a little of the chicken in the bottom of an 8×8-inch baking pan. Layer with half of the tortillas. I cut the tortillas in half and layered them like this:

Mexican Chicken preparation(I put another piece of tortilla to fill in the hole in the middle but I wanted to illustrate my method.)

On top of the tortillas, add half of the remaining chicken, half of the onion, half of the soup-broth mixture, half of the green chiles, half of the green chile salsa, half of the cheese, and a sprinkling of cumin.

Add another layer of tortillas, then top with the remaining ingredients. Put a little cilantro on top for flavor and color (if you like cilantro).

Bake at 375˚ for 35-45 minutes, until the whole top is bubbly (check the center).

Mexican Chicken CasseroleThis was a huge success. The garlic, cumin and cilantro perked up the original recipe(s) but did not overwhelm the dish. I baked for 30 minutes, but it wasn’t hot in the center yet, so I modified cooking time to 45 minutes.

Now it’s time to look at my own version of this recipe. Turns out I have two: one pretty much like the Whittier versions, except it adds chopped green pepper and a can of “Rotel” tomatoes with chiles; one calls for the addition of garlic, cumin, chile powder, and canned red enchilada sauce.

Which recipe do we like best? I think this new version without any red sauce at all!

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