Monday, June 2, 2014

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

 I know I've been MIA for the last couple months, but a lot has been going on here and I just didn't find the time or energy to sit at the computer for hours and get some posts on the blog. That is not to say that I have not been taking pictures of new recipes to post, it's just that I haven't got them up yet. I will share the "why" and the specifics of all our craziness around here soon, but now is not the time.
   I am mainly posting this today because I made this casserole for a friend who is going through a rough time right now, and I thought she might like the recipe. If her kids like it, then she can make it for them when she's feeling up to it. One of her 4 kids, who is in a wheel chair and has numerous medical conditions has been in and out of the hospital over the last month or so, following major surgery. She's been back and forth to the hospital (hours in the car) trying to help him get better and deal with the complications that have come up. While dealing with all of this, and her other 3 children (did I mentions she's a single mom?) she had the "fortune" of breaking her ankle a couple days ago. Needless to say, she's a super mom and she could use a little help right now. I am always on board for helping others, especially with food. So, the other night I made this chicken spaghetti casserole. One for my family and one for hers. Hopefully alleviating the need for a meal will lighten her load a bit.
   This casserole is really easy and pretty basic. If I were making it for just my family, I would have added some spice in the form of a jalapeno or crushed red pepper flakes, but my friend's kids think that catchup is spicy (what? Yeah, I know). So, feel free to spice it up however you'd like. Also, I do use canned soups to make this meal quicker and easier, but if you want to make your own from scratch by all means, no one is stopping you. Adjust the meal to fit your family and your needs. I hope my friend and her kids enjoy this meal as much as my family did. They ate it all before I could get an "after" photo, when it's all baked! Oh, well.

This is how it starts.

(I made a double batch, so your ingredients won't have as much volume.)
I put roughly chopped onion, red and green bell peppers into my food processor. (This is where I would add the jalapeno if using.)

When the veggies were nothing but tiny confetti, I added them to a large skillet with a couple Tbsp of butter.

I sauteed the veggies over medium heat, and added about 1 tsp minced garlic.

When the veggies were soft, and turned off the heat. And turned my attention to the noodles. You will need about 3/4 of a package of thin spaghetti (roughly 3 cups broken). I used a mixture of regular pasta and whole grain pasta.

Just break the pasta into about 2 inch pieces (I just took a bunch and broke it about 4 times, and repeated until I had enough noodles.)

Then I boiled the noodles in hot chicken stock. (I just added some bullion to the hot water. You can boil in plain salted water, but the chicken bullion adds more flavor to the noodles. Plus, you need 2 cups of the broth later, so might as well start it now.)

I pulled some chicken from a roasted chicken I had left over in the fridge.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, and veggies.

Reserve your chicken broth from the boiling noodles,

and then drain the noodles. You want them to still be a little crunchy, because they will continue to cook in the oven. About 2 minutes shy of the package instructions should work well.

In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the canned soups, dry thyme, seasoned salt and the reserved chicken broth.

Whisk together until smooth.

Add the noodles to the veggies and chicken, and then add the soup mixture over everything.

Next comes the cheese. A whole mountain of it (About 2 cups)

Add the cheese to the noodle mixture and stir until combined.

Doesn't it look fun with all the pretty colors?

Then just pour it into a 9x13 baking dish (I prefer foil when I am freezing or taking meals to friends. Then you don't have to worry about tying up your dishes and there is no clean up!) Then top the casserole with about 1 cup more cheese and it's done! It can be wrapped and frozen for later use, or put the in fridge for a couple days until you need it. Or, if you have a hungry family that wants dinner NOW, just put it in the oven @ 350F until bubbly. (This will only take about 20 minutes if cooking it immediately, when everything is still warm. If you are making it cold from the fridge or freezer it will take at least 45 minutes.)

This is the one I wrapped up for my friend. I'm putting it in the freezer at church and then it will be delivered to her home, so she can have a fuss-free meal whenever she needs one. I hope things start looking up for her soon, and that this meal helps in some way. 
Here's the recipe:

Modified from The Pioneer Woman

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
  • 2 cups Cooked Chicken, Shredded
  • 3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into 2 Inch Pieces
  • 1 can Cream Of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 can Cream Of Chicken Soup
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 2 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup Finely Diced Green Pepper (about 1 pepper)
  • 1/2 cup Finely Diced Red Pepper (about 1 pepper)
  • 1/2 cup Finely Diced Onion (about 1/2 large onion)
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
  • 1 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Additional Grated Cheddar Cheese
Saute veggies and garlic in butter until soft.  Put the veggies into a large mixing bowl and add the chicken. Cook spaghetti in large pot of chicken broth until just short of al-dente. (I use chicken bullion and hot water to reduce cost.) Cook 2 minutes less than the package instructions. When spaghetti is cooked, reserve 2 cups of the chicken broth, and then drain the noodles. Combine the noodles with the veggies and chicken.  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the soups, seasoned salt, reserved chicken broth and thyme.
Place mixture in 9x13 casserole dish and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to six months, or refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees until bubbly. (If cooking immediately it will only take about 20 minutes. If cooking from cold, it will take at least 45 minutes.) If the cheese on top starts to get too dry and brown, cover with foil. Serve warm.

No comments:

Post a Comment