This Mexican Chicken Spaghetti Casserole is comfort food at its finest.
As many of you are aware, for the past two years, I've worked really hard at renewed health, weight loss, and just overall wellness. I'm still on that journey and will be for the rest of my life. But honestly...I need to be totally real and truthful and up front with you guys. Sometimes, I set aside the uber healthy, sprouted, grain-fed, organic, blah blah blah stuff and just want to make a good, old-fashioned mama casserole ('nawwhatImean?).
And while I'm truly not all of those afore mentioned things (I mean uber health..really? me?), I try very hard to lead a *somewhat* "clean" (ish) lifestyle.
But again, this post is anything but clean. It's a cheesy, cream-soupy, canned chicken (yes...canned chicken) southern mess of deliciousness at its finest.
I make this casserole once a year...the night before my husband's birthday. He loves it more than I do. Check out the recipe below.
I first tasted this dish in college...when we were all teaching ourselves to cook or showing off the cooking skills that our moms did equip us with. My best friend, Lori, (and roomie at the time) made this one of many nights where we had a roomie dinner. This was originally from her Aunt Gwynn (who I adore, too). I'm pretty sure Aunt Gwynn taught us both a great deal of cooking skills. Every time we returned from a visit to her home, we'd make her recipes. Don't get me started on Poppyseed Chicken.
One weekend, my mom was headed to visit me for a couple of nights (which was unusual for her to travel solo...but we were making a girls' weekend of it). I decided to show off my fancy skills and make this for her during her stay. She loved it. I sent the recipe home with her and got a call the next day..."Kristi Lynn, this has an entire stick of margarine. I can not, in my right mind, prepare it with that much margarine. I think I'd die right then." I told her she wouldn't die and she ignored me and made it with 1/2 a stick (still trembling at the thought of even that). It turned out fine. So, if you have a minor freak out at the sheer amount of margarine...you can cut back a bit. But please don't judge me for throwing the whole stick in there, k?
A few other notes to mention:
- Yes, margarine...not butter. I tried that. It was not the same. I'm not a margarine person, so I literally only purchase it when I make this.
- Yes, canned chicken. I winced at this one, too. But, it is truly fine in this. You can't even tell. My mom called about that one, too. She had already picked over half a chicken before reading she needed canned.
So, again...please note this is not one for the healthy category. It's a splurge at its finest. This also happened to be the dish I first made for my husband when we were dating. It tickles me that he requests it for his birthday every year...it brings back such a sweet memory. He tells the story of that first time I cooked for him, too...and our kids just roll their eyes at the sappiness of it all.
Mexican Chicken Spaghetti
- 1/2 cup margarine (use less if you prefer, this is just how the original recipe was made)
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1/2 celery, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 can original Rotel, drained
- (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 small can sliced black olives
- 1 small jar sliced mushrooms
- 1 (10 ounce) can white chicken, drained
- 1 (12 ounce) package thin spaghetti, cooked
- 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated (divided)
Sauté margarine, onion, celery, and garlic powder in a large pan until onion and celery are soft. Turn heat to low and add Rotel, tomato sauce, soup, olives, mushrooms, and chicken. Add spaghetti and 1/2 cup of cheese and thoroughly stir. Transfer to a 9"x13" casserole dish that's been sprayed with cooking spray and cover with the remaining one cup of cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees, just until cheese melts...about 10 minutes.
This dish has now been a part of my life for nearly 20 years...and it is just as yummy and comforting every time I fix it. Incidentally, I'm the one who gave it the name Mexican Chicken Spaghetti. Lori had always just referred to it as just Chicken Spaghetti. But, to me, regular chicken spaghetti had a white sauce with peas and bread crumbs and all that. Since this had a Tex-Mex twist (as in, Rotel), I went with the new name and it stuck.
And I'm pretty sure Chicken Spaghetti, in general, must be a southern thing, y'all (I mean whose southern mama doesn't have her own version of this stuff...amIright?). I posted a photo last month of my husband's birthday eve dinner with his Chicken Spaghetti to my personal Facebook page. I had a few comments and messages from my northern friends wondering what in the heehaw this was (actually, I pretty sure they weren't throwing around the heehaw term, though...that's all me). In the south, if there's a can of cream of something in the pantry...you can create a casserole of some kind. And this is definitely a product of that theory. Chicken. Spaghetti. Some kind of sauce. Chopped veggies. Bada bing bada boom. Chicken Spaghetti.
What is your favorite comfort food?