Thursday, February 21, 2013

Comforting Casserole: Chicken Spaghetti


Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti

My recipe is probably the similar to Pioneer Woman's in the end, but I got there by a different road.
Some ingredients


Ingredient Modifications

In the morning I started a package of chicken breasts in my medium-size slow cooker so they could be ready to shred when I got home at the end of the day. 

I decided that this recipe needed more veggies if we were aiming for a one-dish dinner, so I added the half-can of leftover artichoke hearts from our Valentine's Day Italian sandwiches and a handful of thinly sliced zucchini I had in the freezer.  I'm always buying a random zucchini for no special reason and then I slice it up using my mandoline, throw it in the freezer, and then pull it out for dishes like this that need a little boost.  I also added a can of petite diced tomatoes since it seemed like a good idea.  I also skipped the pimentos, not because I didn't have them, I actually had a jar of them in the refrigerator, but I couldn't find an expiration date and I didn't remember buying them any time recently, so I figured this was a good time to ditch it.  Hmmm... maybe I need to clean out my fridge!

A bright mixture
Makes two casseroles.
For my 'cream of' soups, I used what I had in the pantry, which was cream of mushroom and cream of celery.  I used the remnants of a package of regular spaghetti noodles and the other half was whole-wheat spaghetti because that's what I had.  I measured the dry pasta on my food scale because her "3 cups dry spaghetti" is so inaccurate, I came up with 8 ounces.  I also trimmed the cheese from 3 cups total down to 2 cups to make it a little healthier since I used regular 'cream of' soups.  I also skipped the seasoned salt since I was guessing it was going to be salty enough with the rest of the ingredients.

This is an easy casserole to make, you put all the ingredients into a bowl, mix it up, and pour it into a casserole dish.  This made two medium-size casseroles, so I planned ahead and the second casserole dish is one with a rubber lid so I could freeze it.  It baked at 350 degrees for 35 minutes and was piping hot when it came out.  Since there are no ingredients that would be unsafe if eaten raw, you're mainly just heating it up.



This was so good, a real throw-back recipe.  It completely reminds me of tuna noodle casserole from the cafeteria in grade school.  So, it wasn't classy, but definitely super tasty.  Husband Jeff liked it, and Sonny D loved it.  I would say it's definitely a kid-pleaser, he had a hard time shoveling it in fast enough.  In the future I would make this with a different pasta because spaghetti noodles are close to impossible for a toddler to deal with.  He eventually resorted to picking the noodles out with his fingers. 

I'm glad I made the changes I did, the extra veggies were nice and it was certainly salty enough without the seasoned salt. 


Other Variations

You could easily use this concept to make other variations.

Bacon Cheeseburger
Cooked ground beef, diced tomato, cooked bacon crumbles, rotini pasta or elbow mac, maybe a touch of mustard in the sauce

Chicken, zucchini, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, mushrooms, maybe only one can of 'cream of' soup, spinach

Tuna, peas, sauteed celery

Ground beef, corn, black beans, cumin, green chiles or jalapenos, diced tomato, onion

Other things you could add to customize it to your tastes
Corn, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, carrots, peas.  
Or you could even skip the veggies in the casserole and have them on the side.

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