Back in elementary school did you buy or bring your lunch? I did both, but I mostly remember eating cafeteria food. I know I brought lunch sometimes, because I remember some of those cool metal lunch boxes that you picked out at the beginning of the year. Would it be Scooby Doo, H.R. Pufnstuf, or the Osmonds? Oh, those were the days. Not only were the lunch boxes amazing, but so was much of the cafeteria food.
Back in the day, hardworking cafeteria ladies actually cooked food! What do I mean by that? Have you seen a lot of the cafeteria food these days? This past year, I taught in an elementary school here in Knoxville. Almost every food comes in a plastic package, heated up, and served. They are incorporating more fresh fruit and vegetable choices which is good, but that’s about as far as I can see that is better. I mean really! Can you imagine a generation or two ago that a mom or cafeteria worker would have served grilled cheese or PBJ in a package? Breakfast waffles & pancakes served in plastic? Gross!
When I went to school and even the small, rural school where I taught a few years ago, there were ladies who actually cooked. I remember in my elementary school, they even made homemade rolls on Thursdays! Where I used to teach, a favorite day of all the staff and students was when they served homemade chicken noodle soup and no-bake chocolate/oatmeal cookies. Those were the days when you knew your cafeteria ladies loved you! 🙂
Of all the yummy lunches, my favorite was Chicken Tetrazinni. It was chicken and spaghetti noodles wrapped in a creamy sauce, and topped with cheddar cheese. This recipe that I adapted from Pioneer Woman is a very close copy of my childhood memory.
- 2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
- 3 cups dry spaghetti, broken into two inch pieces
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup green pepper, finely diced
- 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
- 1 jar (4 ounce) diced pimentos, drained
- 1 1/2-2 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup additional grated sharp cheddar cheese
Cook, cool, and then shred chicken (white mean or combination).
Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente and drain.
Combine cooked spaghetti with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup sharp cheddar.
Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar.
Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately at 350 °F degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly.
(If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).