back to school chicken tetrazzini and italian salad

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It is always fun to plan a special celebration supper for the first day of the new school year. This menu is one of our favorites and is always requested by my grown men when they return home at Christmas. My friend, Kyle, who shared the original tetrazzini recipe with me, called this her “company recipe” and it is a good name because it is simple to assemble ahead of time (it is one pasta dish that freezes really well), can feed lots of people, and everyone loves it. I like to serve it with bread sticks and Italian Salad.

Chicken Tetrazzini

One whole chicken or combination of thighs, legs, and breasts, or boneless breasts only
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cans cream of mushroom, celery, or chicken soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 small cans mushrooms
1 small jar pimentos (optional)
2 lbs. spaghetti
8 bouillon cubes
1 package saltine crackers, finely crushed
4 TBS. butter, melted
Parmesan cheese

In large stock pot, boil chicken until tender. Remove from bones if not using boneless breasts. (I like to use the leaves of celery and an extra onion for extra flavor.) Drain, reserving liquid. Add to broth the chopped vegetables and the bouillon cubes. Bring to boil, making sure the cubes are dissolved. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, again saving liquid. Add chopped chicken, pimentos, soup, and cheese. (You can make your own white sauce instead of using the soups if you wish.) Mix well, adding 1-2 cups of the reserved liquid. But in baking dish or dishes. Toss cracker crumbs with butter and sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until nicely browned. Pass the Parmesan cheese if desired.

I also like to use this recipe in the crock pot. Just place assembled ingredients in the crock pot and heat through on low temperature for 3 hours. Top with buttered crumbs and put in oven for 10 minutes to lightly brown. It is a great choice for church potlucks or family reunions.

Italian Salad

The inspiration for this salad came from the Olive Garden restaurant and it is the perfect compliment for Italian dishes and casseroles.

8 cups torn leaf lettuce mix (endive puts this salad over the top so add it liberally!)
2 cups grape tomatoes
1 cup green onion, finely chopped with green stems
1 large green pepper, finely chopped
1 can ripe black olives, whole or chopped, and drained
Garlic croutons
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Assorted dressings

Toss into bowl, top with cheese. Serve immediately with croutons and choice of dressings.

Garlic Croutons

As everyone who has sat down at my table knows, there is no such thing as too much garlic! These croutons are no exception!

8 cups dry bread cut into cubes (from homemade bread is best)
½ c. olive oil
½ stick of butter
1 tsp. coarse salt
2-3 TBS. minced garlic in oil
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes for zing
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

Melt oil and butter together. Stir in salt, garlic, pepper flakes, and parsley. Mix well and add bread cubes, tossing to cover them.  Spread them on cookie sheet and bake in 200 degree oven for 20 minutes, making sure they do not brown too much. Cool and store in Ziploc bag.

from The Campbell Women Cookbook ~ Volume One

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