Happy New Year….. a month late.

I started off 2012 with a technology hiatus and although the break was borderline euphoric in an overwhelmingly hectic world, I must admit it feels good to be virtually relevant again.

So without a computer and cell phone, what exactly have I been, uh, doing?!  Hmm, let’s see…. how about, um, not cooking?

Oh, wait, there was that random Monday where I poured a can of diet coke over some pork and called it a “recipe”.  Does that count…?

No and no.

#embarassing

Ok, enough of this nonsense. Let’s right this wrong and make some ‘psghetti!

College Chicken Spaghetti [noun] [spuh-get-ee]:
1. Crowd-pleasing.  Voluminous.  Simple.  Delish.
2. Speedy version of a favorite classic, created by sister and me in, uh, college.
3. Freezes like a dream.

freezes like a dream??

What?? How old am I? 90?… instead of a month I think my little hiatus threw me back 60 years.

But seriously.  This stuff freezes.  Like a dream.

Nothing fancy schmancy required: just a 5-minute grocery list scrawled on the back of a page torn from your organic chemistry lab book… because cooking dinner for your cute lab partner is much more important than dehydrating methylcyclohexanols…

Start by melting a stick of butter over medium heat.

Add your chopped deliciousness, stirring well to make sure all your veggies are sufficiently doused in butter.

Increase the heat to medium-high and saute until the peppers are tender and onion is translucent, about 20-ish minutes.

Cube some Velveeta.  Open a can of Rotel tomatoes.

Please do not be alarmed by these extremely advanced cooking techniques.

Prepare your nooooodles by boiling the pasta in a mixture of chicken broth and water.  The ratio isn’t super important, although the more chicken broth the better.  {If I cook my chicken the same day I assemble the dish, I just save the broth from that to cook the spaghetti}… also: when draining your pasta, don’t forget to save a cup or so of the cooking broth for adjusting the consistency of the finished product!

Assembly: Return the hot pasta to the pot and add the Velveeta and Rotel tomatoes.  Stir to combine, then add the veggie mixture and shredded chicken.  Stir more.

Again, please forgive me for providing a recipe with this level of  immense difficulty.  I know the concepts of pour, add, stir are hard to master.  Please be patient with yourself when attempting such dubious culinary tasks.

If serving pronto, pour everything into a 9×13″ dish, top with cheese, and bake away.

If you want to freeze this in that oh-so dreamy way I told you about, divide into 3 loaf pans, top with cheese, wrap in plastic wrap, then finish with a wrapping in foil.

Serve with crusty french bread, English peas, and if you mastered the whole cube/pour/stir thing, a big ole’ side of satisfaction.

Chicken Spaghetti

- 3 cups shredded chicken breast
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 1 large bell pepper, chopped
– 1 stick butter
– 1 pound thin spaghetti
– 1 (10-ounce) can Rotel tomatoes
– 1 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
– 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
– additional chicken broth (optional)

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add chopped bell pepper and onion, stirring well with a wooden spoon to coat with the butter. Turn heat up to medium-high and saute until pepper is tender and onion is translucent, about 20 minutes.

While your veg is cooking, prepare the pasta. In a large pot, bring a mixture of half chicken broth/half water to a boil. Add 1 pound thin spaghetti and continue to boil for 6 minutes until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and return to the warm pot, reserving about a cup of the cooking broth.

Stir the Velveeta and Rotel tomatoes into the hot pasta. Add the vegetable mixture, stir, and finally add the shredded chicken. If you’re having trouble combining everything, try making a few snips to the mixture using kitchen shears; this seems to help “untangle” the spaghetti.

Evaluate the mixture at this point: if it seems a bit dry, add up to a cup of the reserved broth a splash at a time. The pasta should be moist, but not soupy. (It usually takes me about 1/2 cup of broth to reach this point!) Pour the pasta into a greased 9×13″ casserole dish. If serving right away, continue to cooking instructions; if not, place in the fridge, covered in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days before baking.

Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle pasta with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with English peas and crusty French bread.

{serves 8 to 12}