I love Pioneer Woman! I just got her first book, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl" and I am reading it from cover to cover. I actually took the slip cover off because it is so beautiful and I don't want to wrinkle it up. She is fun and funny and makes fun of herself and her family, too. I like that...kind of feels like our home.
I needed to make something for dinner that the boys could heat up and that I could pack for my dinner at work. My supply of SLO Veg vegetables was slimming down to just some beets, some lettuce, a green bell pepper and those pretty, tri-colored green beans. Originally I had been thinking of making a Thai dish with the chicken and green beans, but as I didn't have any coconut milk on hand and I really hate to make extra trips to the grocery store during my work week, I resisted. Anyway, back to the stuff on hand: the beets will keep and maybe I will use the lettuce tomorrow, but for today its going to have to be green beans and bell peppers.
The other night I had seen a recipe in my new cookbook that looked promising: Chicken Spaghetti. It had Cream of Mushroom soup and lots and lots of cheddar cheese...a casserole staple and a sure winner! I checked my pantry. Score! I had mushroom soup, golden mushroom soup and cream of chicken soup...any of which would work here, AND I had spaghetti. I started a pot of water boiling. Ree used the broth from her chicken to cook her spaghetti in, but I had leftover chicken legs that I plucked the meat from and no broth, so I just used regular old tap water for the spaghetti. I saved out two cups of that when it came time to drain the spaghetti and added it back into my soup mixture.
I had all these green beans that I had not gotten to yet from last week's delivery, so I decided they would make a great addition to this casserole. Kind of a shame to hide them in a soupy casserole, because tri-colored beans are so pretty. Sigh! First I needed to cook them, because they were raw. If I didn't have fresh green beans on hand and had to use canned ones, I would just simply open the can and drain them. I have two Campbell's Soup recipe books that I used extensively while my three children were growing up and about half the recipes call for canned green beans. I trimmed up the beans and put them in a shallow pot to boil for five minutes or so. Meanwhile, I diced a half an onion and a half a bell pepper into small pieces, then I sauteed them in butter for a few minutes, throwing in some minced garlic right at the end. Ree didn't do this sauteing step in her casserole, but I thought it would add a nice touch. Also, I didn't have any pimentos in my pantry, so I left them out. Its a trade-off. I added the diced leftover chicken, about two cups worth, a can of Golden Mushroom soup and a can of Cream of Chicken soup, and gave it a stir. What next? Oh yes, seasonings! I add some seasoned salt that I had mixed up from a Lawry's Season Salt knock-off recipe. I make that by the pints around here. I put in a teaspoon of the seasoned salt, gave it a twirl of black pepper and measured out 1/4 tsp of cayenne. The last thing I added was the shredded cheese blend. I happened to have a Mexican cheese blend on hand, so that's what I used.
Since I was leaving for work in a few hours, I decided to use ramekins as the baking vessels for this Chicken Spaghetti. That way I could cook my portion now and the boys could heat their's up when they got home later tonight. Everyone would enjoy that hot, bubbly cheesy deliciousness without having to heat and reheat the same old casserole or warm it in the microwave, which is never quite the same. I received a text from the Hub later that evening while I was at work that read: "Dinner was horrible, by the way. NEVER MAKE IT AGAIN!", which in our household is code for "We loved it!" I guess I can put this one on the favorites list.
Now it's the next day, and I have taken one of the two leftover casserole portions that I had put into plastic storage bowls and put it in a ramekin and baked it for my late afternoon lunch. I ate it while I blogged and watched my DVR'd cooking shows. Right now I am watching Trisha's Southern Kitchen espisode, "It's All About Me" and she is cooking her favorite things with her sister. They are laughing and mocking each other and making some delicious strawberry shortcake. I hope I get more strawberries in the box this week. I have been using them in smoothies mostly, but I am really hankering for some strawberry shortcake on a doughy biscuit cake. Just like Trisha made. Yum!
*I am listing Ree's recipe, but I put an asterisk on my alterations and the directions will have my variations, using leftover chicken, adding garlic and green beans and omitting pimentos. If you wanat her exact recipe, click on the link below:
(AKA Mexican Chicken per Mr. Drummond)
2 C diced leftover chicken*
1 pound spaghetti, broken into 2" pieces
1 4-oz jar diced pimentos, drained
1 small onion, diced
1/4 C green bell pepper, finely diced
2 cloves minced garlic*
2 Tbs butter
2 C cooked green beans*
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 C grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp seasoned salt, such as Lawry's
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the spaghetti pieces for 6-8 minutes, until al dente. Reserve 2 cups spaghetti water and drain off the rest. While the spaghetti is cooking, dice your bell pepper and onion and saute them in butter for two or three minutes. Add in the minced garlic for the last minute. In a large bowl or your now-empty spaghetti pot, mix the sauteed vegetables, the green beans, the chicken, the soup, the seasonings and the water. Then stir in the cooked spaghetti and the shredded cheese. Pour into a casserole or individual ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes until bubbly. **Ree adds more cheese to the top prior to baking, but I thought it was cheesy enough and didn't top mine with more cheese.