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Chicken Spaghetti + The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond {book tour}

Author: Ree Drummond
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
soft cover: 352 pages
"foodie" elements: yes

random excerpt:  "Happy wedding," he said sweetly, leaning against the wall of the barn and motioning towards the center with his eyes.  My eyes adjusted to the light...and slowly focused on what was before me.

     It wasn't a pug.  It wasn't a diamond or a horse or a shiny gold bangle...or even a blender.  It wasn't a love seat.  It wasn't a lamp.  Sitting before me, surrounded by scattered bunches of hay, was a bright green John Deere riding lawn mower --a very large, very green, very mechanical, and very diesel-fueled John Deere riding lawn mower.  Literally and figuratively, crickets chirped in the background of the night.  And for the hundredth time since our engagement, the reality of the future for which I'd signed up flashed in front of me.  p. 183-4

description (via TLC book tours): “That’s when I saw him—the cowboy—across the smoky room.”

I’ll never forget that night. It was like a romance novel, an old Broadway musical, and a John Wayne western rolled into one. Out for a quick drink with friends, I wasn’t looking to meet anyone, let alone a tall, rugged cowboy who lived on a cattle ranch miles away from my cultured, corporate hometown. But before I knew it, I’d been struck with a lightning bolt . . . and I was completely powerless to stop it.

Read along as I recount the rip-roaring details of my unlikely romance with a chaps-wearing cowboy, from the early days of our courtship (complete with cows, horses, prairie fire, and passion) all the way through the first year of our marriage, which would be filled with more challenge and strife—and manure—than I ever could have expected.

This isn’t just my love story; it’s a universal tale of passion, romance, and all-encompassing love that sweeps us off our feet.

It’s the story of a cowboy. And Wranglers. And chaps. And the girl who fell in love with them.

my thoughts/review: I love hearing little bits of stories and lore of what makes people ticks.  I also believe in true love and soul mates and such...and therefore enjoy a good, real-life love story.  This book had both of those things, but from time to time I found it a bit repetetive or drawn-out.  Although I did laugh and say "aaaaaawwwwwww" quite a few times, there were also a few times when I needed a few days between picking it up and reading it again. . Because I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere.  Around page 150 I was ready to throw my hands up.  Was the whole book really going to say the same thing over and over and over and over again?

Fortunately about fifteen to twenty pages later, things changed page and more details were thrown into the mix.  I understand that this woman loved this man more than anything.  It hit her and it hit her hard.  But I enjoyed hearing about the funny situations this city girl found herself in on the ranch the most.  I mean, how many times can we hear about the big, muscular arms of a cowboy.  Or the way he grabbed her around the waist.  Or nuzzled in her neck.  Or chuckled.  Don't get me wrong - he's dreamy, alright.  And I'm happy that they found each other.  But, geez Louise...take the story somewhere else.

I loved it when Ree would talk about food.  The good experiences and the bad.  The history behind a family recipe.  The satisfaction it would bring to those who ate it.   And overall, I enjoyed this book.  I give it a solid LIKE.  It was a great love story written in an easy-going style (just how she writes on her blog), I just found it a bit drawn out and repetetive at times.  But if you are a fan of love stories and romance...or just the Pioneer Woman in's worth picking up and reading.

The foodie bits woven into the memoir were some of the highlights of the story...and fortunately, Ree included some recipes to coincide with these memories at the end of the book.  I was almost sure that I was going to make her famous cinnamon rolls since I've been meaning to try them for years now.  I still mean to one day.  But when Ree told about coming home from their honeymoon (which had been cut short) and getting acclimated in her new home and her new role as wife...and making a dish of comfort food that conjured up childhood memories, my mind changed.  I knew I needed to make Chicken Spaghetti (adapted slightly to what I had on hand).  It was a family-pleaser.

Chicken Spaghetti

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35-45 minutes
Keywords: bake entree chicken pasta American
Ingredients (serves 8)
  • ~2 lb. chicken breasts
  • 1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti, broken into 2" pcs.
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can condensed cream of celery soup
  • 2½ c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, separated
  • 1 small onion, diced small
  • ~¼ c. green bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 (4 oz.) jar diced pimientos, drained
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • freshly ground black pepper
Place chicken in a pot and cover with water by an inch or two. Throw in some herbs, onions, garlic or other seasonings for the chicken, if you wish. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer until cooked through, ~15 minutes. Turn off and let chicken breasts cool for 30 minutes in the broth.

Remove chicken breasts from the broth and shred them. Put the meat in a large bowl.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bring broth back to a boil, adding a bit more water as needed (to cook the pasta). Add pasta and cook until al dente (according to package directions). Set a strainer over another pot or a bowl and drain pasta. Add pasta to the large bowl with the chicken. Measure out two cups of the stock you just strained the pasta from and add it to the bowl. Discard (or whatever you'd like to do) with the rest.

Add both cans of condensed soup to the bowl along with 2 cups of the cheese, the onion, bell pepper, pimiento, seasoned salt, and cayenne. Grind in as much black pepper as you'd like. Stir/toss everything together until well mixed.

Spray a large baking dish/casserole pan (I use a lasagna pan) with cooking spray and then pour in the chicken spaghetti mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until bubbly.

adapted from The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond
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"As it baked, the blessed casserole smelled just like it did when I was a child, which was likely the last time I'd eaten it.  I marveled that the scent of a specific dish could remain in one's consciousness for over two decades." p.251

about the author:  Ree Drummond, an award-winning blogger since 2006, is the star of the hit Food Network show The Pioneer Woman. In addition to her #1 New York Times bestselling cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree is the author of Charlie the Ranch Dog and The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier. She lives on a working cattle ranch near Pawhuska, Oklahoma, with her husband and their four children.

further info: blog | facebook | twitter

*I received a free copy of this book to review from the publisher.  All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.
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Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Simona of Briciole this week
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