Sunday, January 19, 2014

Before you scoff

I scoffed at this recipe, but I needed to make a dish for the church as part of my stewardship. I was going to tweak it, but Mama said to make it the way the directions said. I did... but of course, I tweaked it a little bit, just not as much as I was going to when I absolutely scoffed at the recipe.

Try this. I'm going to give you the recipe in it's original words and then I will tell you what I did to make changes.

Cheesy Chicken Rotini

1 1/2 pound skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups water
3 cups rotini pasta, uncooked
1 pkg. (16 oz) broccoli, cauliflower and carrot blend
1 can (10 oz) Ro-Tel diced tomatoes andgreen chiles, undrained
1/2 lb (8 oz) Velveeta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Cook and stir chicken in large skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat five minutes or until no longer pink.
Stir in water. bring to boil. Add pasta; stir. Cover; simmer on medium-low heat 10 minute or until pasta is tender.
Add remaining ingredients; stir. Cook, covered, 5-7 minutes or until Velveeta is completely melted and veggies are crust-tender; stirring frequently.

(I typed this verbatim, with the exception of saying "veggies"-- that seems like a lot of semi-colons to me.)

Changes I made:

2 cans of chicken, drained and rinsed. Now, before you raise your eyebrows and scoff at me like I would do when any recipe calls for canned chicken- try it. Seriously. I have never used canned chicken before and did not have any fresh chicken in my kitchen this afternoon. The canned chicken was excellent in this recipe and I would do it again.
2 cups water and 2 cups chicken broth
3 cups penne, because I lacked the rotini
16 oz. broccoli/cauliflower/carrot blend-- maybe a little more, because I was actually blending instead of buying a blend
1 can Ro-Tel, undrained
about 3 or so ounces of cream cheese
8 oz Velveeta, cut into cubes
lots and lots of black pepper and season salt

I was hesitant about the water and I was right to be so- 2 cups of water to cook 3 cups of pasta? Yeah, right. Instead, I added the extra liquid (using chicken broth to compensate for the lack of non-canned chicken) and then drained it off by placing a measuring cup in the water and pressing the pasta down to gather up about 2 cups of liquid. In case I needed it, I poured it into a clean bowl. In the end, I didn't need it- but wanted to be cautious.
I sautéed the veggies in a separate dish and this was really not necessary. Next time, I won't do this- but I will thaw the veggies in the microwave to keep the dish warm.
The thing I was the most squeamish about was adding the Ro-Tel. Ro-Tel and carrots?! Seriously? I don't think so. Throw in the broccoli and that just sounds gross. A phone call to Mama and I committed to her advice- in went the Ro-Tel. She did recommend to drain the Ro-Tel and add some extra water. I decided to go big or go home and dumped it all in, without draining.

So freaking easy. So obnoxiously easy. I have such faith in this recipe that I am keeping one for myself and giving one to a friend who is having a baby this week. The church will get creamy shrimp and tomato pasta this month.

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