I guess it's the joy I get from experimenting in the kitchen that causes me to try and change a favorite food. Recently, I decided to try adding a Tex-Mex touch to my spaghetti.
In my pantry I found some pasta, cream of chicken soup, chicken broth and a can of tomatoes and chilies with lime juice and cilantro. A quick inventory of the refrigerator yielded some cooked chicken and two kinds of cheese, pepper jack and cheddar.
I decided to cook the spaghetti in the chicken broth to give it more flavor — it is surprising how much difference the broth makes. The second time I made this recipe, I didn't have enough broth so I cooked the spaghetti in water. Not a good choice. It lacked that depth of flavor the broth adds.
For those who don't like "spicy hot" foods, you can use the mild tomatoes and chilies. This won't have the lime juice and cilantro, but it will work. Or you could always add a little lime juice and some minced fresh cilantro yourself. Another way to reduce the heat is to use Monterey Jack instead of the pepper jack cheese.
For many years, I would not eat spicy foods like my Tex-Mex Spaghetti. In fact, when I tried to eat hot wings, I would wipe off the hot sauce and coat them in a lot of Ranch dressing. I don't do that anymore — I now eat my hot wings with the sauce.
Of course, Southerners know that a meal is not complete without dessert. Eva Simmons' special Coconut Custard is a big hit every time she brings it to a church dinner and would add the perfect sweet touch to this meal.
TEX-MEX CHICKEN SPAGHETTI
1 quart chicken broth
8 ounces dry spaghetti
1 can (10 ounces) tomatoes and chilies with lime juice and cilantro
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups cooked and shredded (or chopped) chicken breasts
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish. Heat the broth to a boil and add spaghetti. Bring back to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, soup, pepper jack cheese, 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese and chicken. Mix well.
When the spaghetti is done, drain reserving the broth (there should be about a cup). Add spaghetti and the reserved broth to the chicken mixture. Mix well and spoon into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese over the top. Bake about 30 minutes.
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
9-inch unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat eggs and then add buttermilk, butter and sugar. Mix well. Stir in the coconut. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Cook until golden brown — about 35 to 40 minutes.
Email Prudence Hilburn at email@example.com