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Vicki’s Chicken Spaghetti

March 5, 2012

This is probably the first of many posts you will see from me providing the recipe for my latest pregnancy craving.  Hopefully none of them will be so weird as to be unappetizing to you.  I’ll try to publish only the helpful recipes.  (What… you don’t need instructions for how to make the perfect Kraft Mac n’ Cheese with hot dog slices?  Suit yourself.)

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Again, I stand by my statement that so far (at least for me) I have not had any weird cravings for things I used to dislike… everything I’ve wanted has been something I’ve always loved and just needed to re-discover.  🙂  Chili and fritos… pickles… etc.  Well, this week it was Chicken Spaghetti.  The kind my mom (and after her passing, my dad) used to make.  It’s a great dish!  Great for feeding a crowd (both because its relatively inexpensive and universally likable.)  And great warmed up for leftovers, which is also a nice plus.  It’s a total “comfort” dish.

And I just plum had to have it!  I gave the craving a few days to go away, and it didn’t… so I demanded that my dad send me the recipe (which he vehemently denied having any ownership in whatsoever.  I’m to give any and all credit to my mom. 🙂 )  No problem!  So this recipe was my mom’s (there she is in the photo below.)  And following a recipe of hers is always a funny adventure because parts are usually left out and/or confusing to interpret.

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Take this recipe for instance… it calls for one large chicken.  Now, I highly doubt my mom routinely bought a whole chicken and then de-boned it before adding it to this recipe… but she doesn’t really explain that in the written record.  Nor does she say what you’re supposed to DO with the chicken in the recipe.  (How to cook it, when to add it, etc… it’s left completely up to the cook.  So I’ll show you how I did it.)

Here we are cooking together when I was about 10 years old.  I don’t know what we’re making… maybe its chicken spaghetti!

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Here’s what you need!

1 lb spaghetti, 1 bell pepper, some chicken (whatever you have on hand), 5 stalks celery, a few cloves of garlic, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth, 1 can water chestnuts, 1 lb Velveeta (Oh yeah baby!  I think everything in this picture is Kroger brand except the noodles.  And I am SO fine with that.), 1 large onion, 1 can Ro-tel, 1 small can of olives, salt and pepper.

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Oh, forgive me… I also forgot to mention that this recipe makes a TON!  And I didn’t bother to trim it down for our small family of two because I don’t like using half-cans of things.  So, like I said, plan to have leftovers.

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The first thing you’ll need to do is some chopping!

Onions…

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Slide these into a big stock pot as you chop so you’ll have plenty of room.  We’re going to boil them in the broth later.

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Bell pepper…

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Celery…

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And last… garlic.

I learned from Jeff Marrow (aka: The Sandwich King) that sprinkling salt onto your garlc as you chop it helps it not be so sticky.  Man!  Best tip I’ve gotten in a long time.

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Once that’s all in the stock pot, cover it by a few inches with chicken broth.

I had a little less that 1 qt and a half… so I topped it off with a little water, and that is totally fine.  (You want to make sure the liquid level is enough for the noodles later.)

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Now before you start boiling this, the question at hand is:  What the heck are you supposed to do with the chicken?

Well, the answer is:  Get it cooked one way or another.  Here’s how I did it.

Season it reeeeeal good with some salt and pepper (and a little garlic powder or cayenne if you like to get crazy)…

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Then heat a little oil in a frying pan, and throw it in there!  Don’t move it around much.  Let it develop some color and be all pretty-like.

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Flip it after you’ve left it alone for 6 or 7 minutes.

And let it finish!  No need to push it around in the pan.  Just let the magic happen and you stay away.  Got it?

Ok, good.

Now that that’s taken care of… back to those veggies.  Turn the heat to high under the stock pot and bring the broth to a nice boil.  The veggies are going to cook and soften like this for about 10 minutes (and the liquid will reduce a little… which is another reason to start off with plenty.)

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While that’s happening, get to chopping up your olives, water chestnuts, and chicken.  Leave them as chunky as you like them.

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Interestingly enough, I’m not a huge olive fan as a general rule.  But I LOVE them in this dish!  Must be the memories 🙂

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Excellent… now grab the pasta, break the noodles in half, and drop them into the broth.  (I turn the heat down to 8 at this point so things don’t boil over.)

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Stir it after about a minute to make sure nothing is sticking… then head over and chop up the Velveeta.  The smaller you get it, the easier it’ll melt.

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After about 6 or 7 minutes, you can tell the pasta is really soaking up that liquid!  This is looking good!

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Give one of the noodles a taste.  (You want to stop boiling them just shy of al dente because they’ll soften more in the oven.)  I also noticed upon tasting that it needed a little salt and pepper.  I don’t recommend adding this early on because some brands of broth are saltier than others and you won’t know until it is reduced if it needs more.

But mine did.

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Now time to add the final yummy touches.  Throw in the chicken, cheese, olives, and water chestnuts…

Yeah… Sorry about my gnarly pumpkins in the background.  The good news is I cooked those today so you won’t have to stare at them in EVERY single picture anymore.

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Mix it around to help melt the cheese.  Then add in your Cream of Mushroom…

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…and the Ro-tel, drained if your liquid level looks good… undrained if you need a bit more.  (I like Original for a little added spice!)

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Pour that glorious goodness into a large baking dish, and pre-heat your oven to 375.

YUUUUUUUM!

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Then just bake for about half an hour.  I recommend covering this with foil for most of the cooking time so your top noodles don’t get crusty.

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Oh and… prepare yourself, because the light in my kitchen around suppertime is reeeeeally appetizing.

Boom baby!

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Come to mama!

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Make this sometime… you won’t be sorry.  In fact, you’ll be mucho satisfied!  And so will your baby (if you’ve got one inside you rumbling around and begging for chicken spaghetti, like I do.)

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You many also enjoy…

Lasagna (Daddy-Style!)                                                   7 Holiday Must-Makes!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Whitney permalink
    March 5, 2012 2:17 pm

    This recipe looks really good and easy (especially leaving out the whole chicken part- LOL.) Loved reading it & especially seeing pictures of your mom 🙂 Loved that sweet woman so much!!

  2. denise permalink
    March 11, 2012 10:17 pm

    This looks wonderful. I’m a big fan of chicken spaghetti but yours has a lot more going on in there than any I have seen. I will be trying this one, without the black olives i’m affraid, I have never been able to develop a taste for them. But I do love all the other goodies included in this. Lovely.

    • March 12, 2012 3:01 am

      I am the same way… have NEVER liked black olives! I’m sure the recipe will still be delicious without them, but truthfully, even with them in there the taste is not noticeable! (Still… save yourself $1.10. A tiny can of olives isn’t cheap.)

  3. kimgroomes permalink
    March 12, 2012 1:25 am

    Critz I just love seeing pictures of your momma. You guys looks so cute in the one of you two cooking 🙂 Miss her.

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