Day: September 1, 2014

Old Dish – New Size

Sometimes there’s just nothing quite like comfort food.  We all have our favorite comfort foods, those dishes that we enjoy when we want a relaxing night, be it by the fireplace on a winter night or enjoying a blast of a/c on a hot summer day.    For me my idea of comfort food has changed some over time.  As a teenager, pizza was the go-to for any day, any time.   Then once my body got past the age of 21 and realized that eating pizza at midnight, every night, might not be so good for that body, it started to change.   Now I have a pretty eclectic set of choices for comfort food, and while a few things on the list I most often get at a restaurant, the majority are things I make at home.

Chicken Spaghetti is one dish on that list.   There’s probably at least fifty variations on it, but in the southern fare style of the dish, the basic elements tend to be essentially the same.   Cook spaghetti, add some canned cream of whatever soup, add a can of Rotel, add some Velveeta, stir, and bake.     Since I’ve been aiming to remove more of the processed foods and ingredients from my kitchen and my life,  I went looking for a better mostly can-free version.   I found a variation that fit my requirements but as usual, it was described as 8-10 servings.    Time to break out the math skills and trim this dish down both in processed stuff and serving size!

Trimmed Down Chicken Spaghetti 

8 oz spaghetti noodles (uncooked)
2 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 can Rotel (approx 5 oz)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup skim milk
(or 1/2 cup half & half in place of the milk & cream)
1 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder
1 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 cup cooked chicken (diced, shredded, whatever you prefer)
1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the spaghetti according to package directions and drain.
While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onions until tender.    Add the garlic powder, rotel, chicken broth, and salt to the skillet and bring to a simmer.
In a bowl, mix the cream, milk, and arrowroot powder.   Stir into the mixture in the skillet.
Add the cream cheese and stir over medium-low heat until the cheese is melted and the the mixture is thickened.   Next add half the shredded cheese and chicken and stir.  Add salt & pepper to taste and the noodles, stir to combine it all.

Pour the mixture into an 8×8 baking dish or pan and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and the sauce is bubbling around the edges of the dish.


Serves 4-6.  (In this case, four BIG servings or six moderate sized ones. Goes great with a salad!)

It sounds like a bit of a complex dish, but it really took minimal time to prepare,especially since it makes enough for a round or two of tasty leftovers.   While I did trim back the number of servings and remove the highly processed stuff, I can’t say it is a low-calorie dish.  Especially with the cream.  However, the cream and cream cheese are small amounts overall and are needed to give it that creamy texture that you just can’t get from skim milk.   The indulgence in a few calories seems inconsequential when I consider all the benefits of skipping all the canned soups and “cheese product.”

Recipe adapted from Chicken Spaghetti without Velveeta and Cream Soup on From this Kitchen Table.