One Rotisserie Chicken, 50 Meals – #7 Sandi’s Memaw’s Chicken Spaghetti

Sandi’s Memaw’s Chicken Spaghetti

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

2 C chicken stock

1 T chopped parsley

1 whole onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch each, basil and thyme

1 T Worcestershire sauce

1 rotisserie chicken, de-boned and diced

1 lb mushrooms rinsed and sliced

2 T flour

1 C cream

1/4 lb grated cheese, Monterrey Jack and Parmesan

1 lb Spaghetti

2 T Butter

  1. In a medium stock pot simmer tomatoes and chicken stock until reduced by half.
  2. Add parsley, onion, garlic, basil, thyme, Worcestershire, and chicken.
  3. In a separate pan saute the mushrooms in butter.  Stir in flour, cream, and cheese.  Add to chicken/tomato mixture.
  4. Cook spaghetti until al dente.  Drain and combine with the sauce.
  5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

 

When you want a tasty baked pasta dish that’s not exactly Italian try this recipe.  The origin of this recipe is as interesting as the dish itself.   Sandi is one of my wife’s childhood friends.  Sandi called her grandmother “Memaw”.  Hence, this is Sandi’s grandmother’s recipe.  Over the years this pasta supper was made with minor variations.  I’ve always substituted half and half for the cream.  But if your intention is for a creamier dish, go for the cream.  Different pasta shapes work well too.  Don’t just limit yourself to spaghetti.  Be generous with the cheese quantity also.

 

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Scalloped Potatoes

4 cups thinly sliced potatoes
Half cup diced sweet onion
Half stick butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
Dash salt and pepper
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
4 slices American cheese

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Saute onions until translucent.
  2. Add flour to create a roux.  Add milk slowly, stirring continuously.  Add salt, pepper, one cup of the cheddar cheese and all of the American cheese.  Simmer briefly until all of the cheeses have melted and you have a smooth sauce.  Remove from heat.
  3. Preheat oven to 350.
  4. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the potatoes.  Alternate layers of potatoes and sauce, ending with a layer of sauce on top.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. After 45 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and bake uncovered for another 45 minutes.
  7. During the last five minutes, sprinkle the remaining cup of cheddar cheese on top of the casserole.
  8. Remove from oven and let set for at least 15 minutes prior to serving.

 

Simple is good and super simple is better.  Recipes for Scalloped Potatoes are all pretty much the same.  Potatoes, butter, cheese, milk, bake.  But when you get compliments on the potatoes, you put the recipe on the blog to hopefully answer the question:

“So what do you do differently?”

After thinking about the question and  looking a few other recipes, the answer is not much.  (but I think it’s the half stick of butter).

TIPS – slice the potatoes as thin as possible, 1/4 inch is good.  Sauce up every layer of potatoes.  Use a high quality extra sharp cheddar cheese.  Butter, not margarine.

One Rotisserie Chicken, 50 Meals – #6 Pasta with Chicken, Vegetables, Oiive Oil and Garlic

Pasta with Chicken, Vegetables, Olive Oil and Garlic

Parmesan cheese (lots)
3 medium carrots
2 small zucchini

2 small yellow squash
1/2 red bell pepper, diced

4 oz mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil for sauteing, 3-4 tablespoons for dressing the pasta
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 lb cooked, drained bow tie pasta

One Rotisserie Chicken, carved off the bone, cut into pieces that match your pasta shape.

  1. Cook pasta according to directions on the package for al dente.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Cut carrots and zucchini on the diagonal into thin slices about 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Heat 1 T olive oil (preferably extra virgin) in a frying pan.  Saute the carrots and squashes for several minutes on each side until golden brown and caramelized.
  4. Add the onion, red pepper, mushrooms and garlic.  Saute for several minutes until the onions are translucent.  Add more olive oil if necessary to prevent sticking.
  5. Toss chicken into the pan and stir until the chicken is warmed through.
  6. Add pasta to the vegetable chicken mixture and stir to mix well.  Add remaining olive oil.
  7. Sprinkle with fresh basil and grated Parmesan.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Top each serving with more shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

 

It was hard figuring out how this dish started.  When the kids were little time was always limited, especially around dinner time when they needed to eat RIGHT NOW.  One night there was leftover spaghetti in the fridge.  It got tossed with some sautéed onion and garlic, topped with cheese and served.  Not only did the pasta get eaten, but the kids requested the dish again.  We had discovered a fast meal without resorting to fast food.

Over the years this simple meal evolved.  More vegetables got added.  The browning of the squashes came later, spurred by a memory of a dish eaten in some Italian restaurant a long time ago.  Chicken was added to make the dish more substantial and to take advantage of the cooked birds that every market started to prepare and sell.

TIPS – use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.  Add crushed red pepper in Step 4 if you want some zing.  You’ll need a nice loaf of bread and a salad to complete the meal.  Either red or white wine will work but if you choose red, get a lighter bodied Italian red like Bardolino.

Eddie’s Carrot Sheet Cake

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrot (3 large carrots, peeled)
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained well
1 C sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Preparation

  1. Grease and flour a 10 x 15 inch baking pan.  Preheat oven to 350°.
  2.  Stir together first 4 ingredients.  Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, beat eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.   Add sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Beat some more until smooth.
  4. Add flour mixture and continue beating at low speed until blended.
  5. Fold in carrot, pineapple, coconut, and pecans.  Pour batter into prepared pan.
  6. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan before icing.
  8. Spread cream cheese frosting on top of the cake.

 

I wish I knew who Eddie was.  My lovely wife of too many years lovingly informs me this is the only dessert I know how to make well.  It’s true.  Put me in charge of making dessert and you’re getting carrot cake.  One day while leaving the Y I noticed a stack of bright purple colored papers.  Upon closer inspection, the pieces of paper were copies of Eddie’s Carrot Sheet Cake recipe.

“I love carrot cake.  Is this recipe any good?”

“Why do you think we have a stack of ’em on the counter?”

So here’s to Eddie, whoever you are.  Thanks for the recipe.  Without you I wouldn’t be making any desserts at all.

TIP – save the pineapple juice for marinade.

Mike’s Pot Roast

Mike’s Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • 3 to 3 1/2 lb boneless chuck roast,  well marbled
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 large Sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 lb Porcini mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
  • 1/2 C Sweet Marsala wine
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • 2-3 T organic tomato paste
  • 1 C low sodium beef broth
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Use a cast iron enamel covered pot  large enough to hold roast and vegetables. Heat 2 T of oil and 1 T butter on medium high heat.  Sprinkle and rub roast with salt and  pepper. Brown roast in pot, several minutes on each side.
  2. When roast is browned, remove from the pot and set on a plate.  Drain all but 1 T of the fat from the pot.  Add the onions, diced carrots, and celery to the pot and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown.  Add the garlic, Porcini mushrooms and a pinch of thyme, and saute for another minute.  Add the Marsala wine and continue to saute until the alcohol evaporates.   Add tomato paste, beef broth and mix thoroughly.   Create a “well” in the center by pushing all of the vegetables to the sides of the pot.
  3. Place  the roast in the well you’ve created. (It’s OK if a few veggies are underneath the roast)  Sprinkle another pinch of thyme over the roast. Add extra broth if required to bring the liquid level up to the top of the roast.  Cover and adjust the heat down to a low simmer.
  4. Cook for 2 hours, or longer.
  5. Approximately 45 minutes before serving, remove the roast from the pot and set on a plate.  Allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
  6. Increase heat to medium high and  reduce the gravy to one half its volume.  Add 1 T butter and the carrot chunks.  Reduce heat back to low.
  7. Trim all visible fat and gristle from the roast.  Slice the roast against the grain and return to the pot.  Stir to coat the roast slices thoroughly.
  8. Simmer on low heat for another 30 minutes.

Yield: Serves 4-5.

I have no memories of pot roast from my childhood.  I’m pretty certain we never had pot roast growing up.  Dad did all of the cooking for the family and if you ever tasted my Mom’s cooking you would understand why.  So for me pot roast was  and still is a special dish to be savored.  And this past week, I’ve been thinking about pot roast a lot.  It’s not a hard dish to make and everyone makes it differently.  I kind of made this recipe up and thankfully it worked.

I say thankfully because we were serving this pot roast to friends.  As things turned out, the pot roast turned out.  Mike had seconds.  Mike also won at cards.  So I’ve named this pot roast after Mike.

Tips – Find a nice chuck roast that has a lot of marbling.  This adds tremendous flavor and remember, you’ll be trimming the fat off before serving.  Remember the gravy makes this dish.  I found the addition of Porcini mushrooms to be quite a difference maker. MASHED POTATOES.  You need mashed potatoes, period.  Since we’ve added extra carrots, try a green salad on the side.  And bread.  Some good bread to sop up the gravy is also essential.  One of these times when I have leftover pot roast, I’ll post my Next Day Pot Roast Sandwich.  Sorry, no picture…we ate it all.

More Tips – I have also used a cut of beef called Cross Rib Roast and the results were superb.  Don’t confuse this cut with prime rib or rib roast.  The two are different.  The Cross Rib Roast is basically a different chuck cut.  It is leaner than a chuck roast and possesses a rich, deep beefy flavor.  I also started the dish on the stove top then put the enamel pot covered into a 250 degree oven for three hours.  The roast was fork tender, no knifes needed.

 

Even More Tips – One day I could not find a decent looking piece of chuck for pot roast.  Every roast I saw didn’t have enough marbling.  I did find some well marbled top blade steaks.top blade steaks.  If you’ve ever been out and had a flat iron steak, you have eaten this cut.  But since I bought top blade and not the flat iron cut, it was perfect for this recipe.