I was teaching pre-k, in Millville, NJ, about 11-12 years ago. After Christmas break, I am told I have a new student coming. Her mom and her dad bring her to visit. The first word out of her mouth, I can never remember because this little, black haired, picture perfect, little girl, spews out the THICKEST southern drawl I have ever heard out of a little body. I was instantly in love! She came to school the next day, and everything out her mouth was "yes ma'am, no ma'am" etc. My other students thought it was awesome so they quickly became the most manner group of children around! She also came bearing a note from her mom asking if we could not let her nap because she wasn't sleeping at night. So we did just that and I responded to her note. The next day, I asked if she gave her mom the note and she said yes. I said, "Hayle what did your mom say?". She said, "She said y'all are sweet and you and her should have lunch sometime". HAHA! I wrote her another note, (sounds like jr high, right?) and we exchanged numbers and less than a week later we were inseparable friends. The beginning of my dear friendship with Lauren. I always called her the "Texas cheerleader mom". Her kids became my nieces and her son is my godson. And she will always be "Aunt Lauren" to my son!
How does this relate to chicken spaghetti? This is her signature, famous, everyone asks for her to make it all the time, dish. Lauren got the recipe from her mom (Mama Darla, RIP) who also reluctantly admitted Lauren could cook it far better! Once I had it, I was HOOKED. Once I made for my son, HE was hooked. My husband never fully rode the chicken spaghetti train, but that is OK, just left more for us. Sadly, Mama Darla has passed away, I live 1500 miles from Lauren, Hayle, Jade, and Ty, but they are never far from my mind, and always in my heart. I love you all and thank you for sharing your family favorite so it could also become a family favorite of the Simmermans!
12 ounces spaghetti (don't attempt just through a whole 16 ounce box in, 12 oz only!)
2-3 lg chicken breasts, cooked and diced or shredded
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 cup (chicken boiling water or spaghetti water)
1 can ro-tel (diced tomatoes with green chili's)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
NOTE: You can choose to roast or boil your chicken. Make sure to salt, and pepper well either way. If you boil it, please keep aside 1 cup of the liquid you boiled them in. Otherwise just keep 1 cup of cooking water from your pasta.
Boil your pasta, and cook it for the lowest amount of suggested time. When you are done, make sure to keep a cup of starchy liquid out if you need to, and drain pasta. Leave the pasta to drain and in the same pot, place on medium heat, add in butter, both soups, garlic, ro-tel, and 1 cup of water. Whisk until combined and then add in chicken. Cook for 2 minutes and add in cooked spaghetti. Toss to combine. Place into a 9x13 pan, sprayed with non stick spray, and spread out evenly. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.
This has a cult following in my family. I called my son last night when I made it, I told him I wasn't trying to be rude, but I had just had a plate of chicken spaghetti. His response, "I don't care, I will make my OWN". He tried to be strong but I sensed his impending tears and changed the subject fast. OK so he wasn't going to cry but, in my head, he misses my cooking so much he almost did.
PS. Do NOT forget a big fat piece of TEXAS TOAST to eat with this in honor of one of my besties, her mom and children!
Your "chicken spaghetti memories are best" Chefwannabe