I love recipes. I subscribe to Kraft’s food and family, I read The Pioneer Woman every day (or every day she posts), and I watch 30 Minute Meals on the days I get home early enough and Annalyn isn’t cranky. I even take notes at my Weight Watchers meetings and write down their healthy recipes.
And I put all the recipes I find – online, in magazines, on TV or wherever – in an binder formerly known as a photo album.
A binder that sits in my pantry, next to my handful of cookbooks and unopened except for the occasions I pull it out to double check the ingredients or quantities in the recipes I’ve used a hundred times.
See, I have a few dishes that I can cook well. Lasagna, cheesy potatoes, broccoli and rice casserole, chocolate éclair dessert, baked mostaciolli, tortilla rolls. I can also make a mean pan of brownies from the store-brand box mix, but that’s another story. The problem – aside from the calorie and point count of those dishes – is that I don’t venture out. I save new recipes, but I don’t try them. I want to. But I don’t.
And that is why I’m so excited to tell you that not only did I try a new recipe, but I even altered it to make it better/to avoid making another trip to the store.
Last fall, after Annalyn came home from the hospital, several friends brought us meals. My friend Katie, who now lives in Virginia, actually had her mother-in-law bring us dinner one night! Because she knows how much our family loves cheese (I blame my dairy addiction on a childhood allergy that required a sad diet without pizza or tacos or anything dairy.), she asked her mom-in-law to make one of their family favorites, chicken spaghetti.
I don’t actually know the name of the dish, but “chicken spaghetti” is what Pioneer Woman called it on her site, although her recipe didn’t seem exactly the same as the one we had last fall. But it looked close enough, so I thought I’d try it. After all, even Mark liked the dish – and he’s a picky eater (and to be honest, one of the reasons I don’t often try new things)!
Since I think I’m making a short story long here, I’ll cut to the chase. I changed the ingredients to fit what I already had on hand, and ended up with a dish that if not exactly like what Katie’s mother-in-law makes, is pretty darn close. And we loved it! Loved it a little too much, actually, since we both had second helpings! (Surely this doesn’t have anything to do with my 1-pound weight gain two days later at my WW weigh-in??)
So without further ado (oh, how I love my ado), here’s MY new recipe:
Spicy Chicken Spaghetti
4 chicken breasts, chopped
3 cups dry spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
1 can chicken broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
¼ cup diced onion
1 can Rotel
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook the chicken in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Season with chili powder and garlic powder. Boil the spaghetti in the broth and some water, then drain. Combine chicken, spaghetti, soup, 2 cups of cheese, onion and Rotel. Pour into casserole dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake for 30 minutes.
Next time, I’ll probably add a little more chicken, chopped more finely, a bit more spaghetti and another can of soup. Plus, I’ll cook the onion with the chicken – I prefer my casserole onions not to crunch, thank you very much. And I’ll have to use a bigger pan and feed more people…or, more probable, I’ll divide into two dishes and freeze one for later.
And that, my friends, is the story of that one time when I actually cooked something new. Have you tried anything new lately?
Edited to add: Linking this up to carnivals about two and a half years after first writing it, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come in my sense of cooking adventure. I’ve gone from rarely trying anything new to trying new recipes a few times each month! Okay, so that’s not exactly daring, but for me, it’s a vast improvement!