By Gini Rainey
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you out there! You know who you are! You don’t necessarily need to have given birth to progeny to have been a mothering influence to people, furry babies, or causes, in your life. I would bet you a dollar to a dozen that everyone reading this blog today has been some sort of positive influence on someone or something in your life, and my goodness, that counts for so much! I hope and pray that they have taken the time, if not today, at least recently, to thank you for your love and support in their lives. It doesn’t take long to say thank you, and it means so much.
Although my mom gained her angel wings nearly 40 years ago, I still appreciate the many good things that she passed on to me and wish every day that I could tell her. One of the enduring things that she shared with me was her love for her church. During my early years, we were members of First Congregational Church in Moorhead, Minnesota. For a short period of time Mom was the organist there, but she was also the organist at Temple Beth El in Fargo, ND for many, many years. My church upbringing was a bit convoluted as I was always in her side-pocket at Temple on Fridays and at our church on Sundays. I was a bit miffed when I turned 13 and didn’t get to have a Bat Mitzvah like all of my Friday friends had. But that’s another story!
Where I’m mostly heading with all of this is that there is nothing better than a church family and the covered dish suppers that come with that family. If you are fortunate enough to be a member of church that honors that tradition, a must-have cookbook for you is “The Church Supper Cookbook.” This is an amazing cookbook edited by David Joachim and published by Rodale Inc. in 2001. It’s filled with a collection of over 375 potluck recipes from families and churches across the country.
So, while I was flipping through this book looking for some motherly inspiration, I came across a recipe for chicken spaghetti, and I knew where this blog entry had to go! When we first moved to Texas, waaaaaay back in 1963, Mom wanted so very much to fit in with all of her new friends here in Tyler. So, consequently, being the social butterfly that she was, she hosted quite a few dinner parties for her new friends.
Well, somewhere along the way she picked up on the fact that chicken spaghetti was a pretty darn good thing to serve when you have folks over. So Mom, being the adventuresome type that she was, invited a couple of couples (is that redundant?) over for dinner for chicken spaghetti. Winging it (I use the term loosely), she cut up a whole chicken (we did that back in the day) into parts. Then she made a big pot of marinara sauce and dropped the wings, thighs, legs, breasts – bones intact – into the pot. I will never, never, ever forget the looks on the faces of her guests that night, as they were served a helping of pasta and sauce, with their chicken part of choice (she polled the guests) sitting grandly on top!
Now, on the flip side, I must say, my mother-in-law shared with me several years later a pretty darn good recipe for chicken spaghetti – and just because it’s Mother’s Day, let me share it with you, my dear, supportive readers! Boil four chicken breasts, ½ minced medium onion and 3 minced stalks celery, until tender. Let cool, remove meat from bones and cut into small pieces. (Reserve water) Combine the onion, celery, and chicken with 1 can cream of mushroom soup and 1 can cream of chicken soup in a large sauce pan. Add 8 ounces cubed Velveeta Cheese© and over a low heat, stir until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, in the reserved water, cook 12 ounces of spaghetti until just about al dente. Drain spaghetti and combine with chicken mixture. Pour into a 2½ quart casserole, top with slices of chees, and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Serve with garlic bread and green salad and enjoy!