Asparagus Spaghetti

 My brother’s adaption of this recipe from that of Giada De Laurentiis from the Food Network

* This recipe calls for Proscuitto, an italian “ham”  that has been seasoned, salt-cured (but not smoked) and air-dried.
It is generally added as last ingredient to certain dishes such as pasta due to that fact that overcooking it can toughen the meat.
My brother substitutes the prosciutto with bacon.

Made by my own hands, this was a very delicious dish, although I’m sure to my brother’s is even better. 

2 pounds asparagus, trimmed  FYI: I have included a link here that tells all about the care and cooking methods for asparagus I thought might come in handy
3/4 pound spaghetti  (*I actually used linguini, because I didn’t have quite enough spaghetti, and it worked just fine)
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb of bacon cut into 1″ pieces (If you wish to use thinly sliced prosciutto, you will need 6 ounces, cut crosswise into strips)
6 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, diced (about 1 cup)
6 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

Before cooking the asparagus, you will want to get a big bowl or 9″ x 13″ pan ready with ice water, when you take the asparagus out of the boiling water, you will want to immediately place it into the bowl or pan of ice water to stop the cooking process, so it will need to be ready before hand.

Cook the asparagus in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. With a spider or slotted spoon, remove asparagus from boiling water (keep the water bowling, you will use it for the pasta) to the bowl of ice water. You can add more ice if you feel want to make sure water is cold enough.

While the asparagus is cooling, add the pasta to the pot of boiling asparagus water and cook until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.

When the asparagus is cool, strain, cut into 1-inch pieces, and set aside.

While the pasta is still boiling, you can start cooking bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp but not too crispy. You will want to drain the bacon grease, but may want to leave a tablespoon or two for flavor, or drain it all and use the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add asparagus to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

When the pasta is done, use the spider or slotted spoon and scoop the pasta from the pot straight to the skillet with the bacon and asparagus. * My skillet was not quite big enough so I ended up emptying my ice water bowl and scooped the pasta into it and then poured the remaining water out of my pot and putting the pasta back in it and added the skillet of bacon and asparagus. Obviously a strainer would work fine too, I just wanted to keep some  of the cooking liquid (about 1 cup.)

Add some of the reserved cooking liquid if needed. Toss to coat. Add the mozzarella, and basil, and toss to combine. Turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Semi Homemade Mac’n Cheese

1 box of mac’n cheese
1/4 C (4 Tbs) butter
3 – 4 Tbs flour
1/2 C milk
dash of garlic, salt and pepper

Boil macaroni per instructions on the box. When they are done drain them and leave in the strainer.

Melt butter in pan and add the flour. I am a “throw things in and not so much measuring” kind of cook, but I tried to get this pretty precise for you.
Start off with 3 Tbs of flour, dash in some garlic (be careful not to get too much,) salt and pepper.

You want to mix the flour and butter together over low heat until blended well. it should be fairly thick, but not so thick that when you stir it, it leaves the bottom of the pan clean.
If you think you need a little more flour, add another Tablespoon.
This is actually a bit on the thick side, see how the bottom of the pan is clean, if this is what you end up with just add another Tablespoon or two of milk

Add the cheese packet and the milk, stir until all lumps are gone.

Add the noodles. If it is a bit thick for you add about another 1/4 C milk at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Now you can leave it as is, or throw in a handful or two of shredded cheddar/jack cheese.

My mac’n cheese snobs have given me the “OK” so far with no complaints as of yet.

Chicken Spaghetti

This is considered a southern comfort food by most peoples standards, which many will relate to as fattening! But you can cut calories and fat by the ingredients you use. But to be honest, it tastes best when using the regular velveeta cheese. I used the 2% velveeta (because I think that fat free dressings and cheeses just have a funky taste!) and it tasted good, but I think that regular velveeta gives it that “melt in your mouth while your eyes roll back in your head” kind of satisfaction 🙂

Chicken Spaghetti

5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breast
12 oz package spaghetti noodles
16 oz (1 lb) package Velveeta cheese, cubed (You don’t have to use the whole block of cheese, I used about 2/3 of the block and it was plenty cheesy.)
10.5 oz can cream of chicken soup
14 oz can chicken broth, reserving 2 cups broth
*optional – about 32 oz chicken broth for cooking chicken breasts, in place of water (or use at least half the amount of water with broth), or you can add 2 chicken boullian cubes to the water.
1 stick margarine (1/2 Cup)
1/4 cup flour
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 celery ribs, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 – 4oz jar chopped pamento
8 oz package shredded mild or sharp cheddar cheese

Put chicken breasts in crockpot and cover with about 4 cups of water (I like to use chicken broth when using only chicken breasts to give a more brothy flavor). Set on low setting for 8 hrs (or High setting for 4 hours), when chicken is cooked, save the broth, and cut the chicken into small cubes.

** You can also boil/simmer your chicken in a pot on the stove for about 2-3 hours.

Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions, using reserved chicken broth instead of water.

In a large bowl combine Velveeta cheese, can of chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Place in microwave and cook on low for 5-7 minutes or until mixture is smooth and cheese is melted.

Chop vegetables and saute in pan with butter until they are tender and translucent in color. Add flour to the butter and vegetables and mix in until smooth. Add any left over broth (up to 2 cups, if not enough broth use milk for the remainder) stir until thicken. Add melted cheese, broth and cream of chicken soup mixture. stir together. Add chicken and noodles to mixture.

Spray a 9x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and add combined mixture. Top finished casserole with 8oz of shredded cheddar cheese. Place casserole in a preheated 350° oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and casserole is bubbly. Remove from oven let cool and serve.

** You can freeze this by wrapping 2 layers of aluminum foil, or cover and place in refrigerator up to 2-3 days and cook later.

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