Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dinner that Beats the Heat

I don't know about you, but cooking/baking in the summer is tedious work. We have had an exceptionally hot summer here in North Idaho, with little relief from temperatures in the 80s, 90s, and even up into the 100s.  Usually I like to grill out during the summertime, but we have no covered porch, and so our grill sits in the direct sunlight, so... this means that you bake too if you have anything on the grill.  Every time you open the cover of the grill, you feel like you are being roasted on all sides.  So, I've been looking for easy things to cook on the stovetop that don't take a lot of time, space, money, or heat, and yet taste good.  Here is one dish that remains hands-down one of our summertime favorites. 

Tex-Mex Chicken Spaghetti

First, the ingredient list you need is very simple.  I keep all of these things on hand, just in case I need to whip up a Tex-Mex dish like this one... life is good if you've got Rotel and Velveeta cheese!

Here is the ingredients you'll need:
3-4 chicken breasts
1 onion, diced (optional)
1 green pepper, diced (optional)
Fresh chopped basil (optional, but adds amazing flavor!)
2-3 tomatillos, skins peeled off, washed and quartered
2-3 Tbsp (or so) butter
2-3 cloves squeezed or sliced garlic
1-2 tsp chicken bouillon, or to taste
1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar/Monterrey Jack cheese

First step is easy.  Just melt the butter in a large skillet, throw in the chicken breasts, onions, tomatillos and garlic, and then sprinkle with the chopped basil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Add just enough water to allow the chicken and veggies to simmer.  Cover, and cook slowly on low to medium heat, turning chicken once or twice. 

When your chicken breasts are nice and tender, it's time to add the spaghetti or angel hair noodles.  My kids prefer spaghetti, but I happened to have whole wheat angel hair on hand, so that is what I used.  I've been using the whole wheat spaghetti, and it is awesome!  But, you can use whatever choice of pasta you have in your pantry...

So add the pasta and make sure there is just barely enough water to cover the noodles.  You don't want too much water, as it will be runny.  The noodles will absorb most of the water while cooking.

Stir the pasta once or twice while it cooks... for the amount of cooking time on the pasta box... and then get ready to add the good stuff...

I have found that if you use both Cream of Chicken, and Cream of Mushroom soup together when making Chicken Spaghetti... and of course Rotel Tomatoes... it is simply a divine combination!
Then, we can't forget the Velveeta cheese!  I  added about 1/8 to a 1/4 pound diced cubes of the Velveeta.. 

Stir gently, and let simmer for a few minutes to allow the cheese to melt.  Then add in some chicken bouillon to taste. 

Now its time to sprinkle with some shredded cheese (I like to use Cheddar and Pepper Jack).
Cover and let simmer a few minutes more, and then ta.. da.... dive in to its cheesy goodness!

The best part of this chicken spaghetti is that the cooking all takes place in one large skillet, so cleanup is quick and easy too... now this is a meal that makes cooking during some of these hot summer days a breeze! Serve it up with a crunchy green salad, and a slice of garlic bread ... and your family will thank you!  (well... at least mine did!)

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