Matthew’s Spicy Pasghetti

Yes, I know that I spelled spaghetti wrong, but that’s how my kids pronounce it. They actually say, “Paskhetti”, but I was trying to make it a little easier on the poor reader who isn’t familiar with three-year-old vernacular. From the first time I made this in Cottonwood Heights, UT, this has been my family’s all-time favorite recipe. Mike absolutely loves it and so does Matthew. In fact, Matthew has been asking me to make him this at least once a week since we’ve been in Ann Arbor. Why was I not able to acquiesce to his request sooner? Well, I’ll blame it on my husband and the fact that he didn’t want to bring our grill with us because he thought it would be too heavy. Why does a grill matter, you ask? The key ingredient to spicy pasghetti is the blackened chicken that goes into it. And when you blacken chicken in the house…there’s smoke, there’s coughing, there’s watering eyes…and yes we totally did it this week in our small apartment anyway because we love this dish so much. Mike had to use a large foam board to fan the smoke detector and Matthew stood beside him using a fly swatter to help too! Lindsay ran into her bedroom and slammed the door. I could have titled this with Michael’s or Lindsay’s name, but last year for his fourth birthday we told Matthew we could go out to eat or do something special for his birthday and he said he wanted Mom’s spicy pasghetti. And yes, my heart melted and I tripled this recipe to feed all our birthday guests and so his name’s attached to this.

The first time I made this I didn’t even own a cast iron skillet. Well, not a real one. What I had was a tiny little cast iron that was given to me for making pizzookies. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you MUST visit an Oreganos when you’re in Arizona. Since I can’t leave you hanging though, you take cookie dough, put it in the skillet, bake it until the cookie dough is crunchy on the outside but only half-baked on the inside and then you top it with vanilla ice-cream. Oh my. Yup I’ll blog about that later. Back to spaghetti. Anyway, I blackened all the chicken on this itty-bitty skillet, because it was all I had. Which means it took like three times as long as it should have because I didn’t have enough space. The kids were coughing and trying to run outside and Mike was turning on the swamp cooler and strategically opening doors  throughout the house trying to blow out the smoke. So my first mistake was not having a cast iron skillet. A daddy one. My second mistake was trying a bite of the blackened chicken on its own before it was part of the Alfredo sauce. We eat spicy food, we love salsa, I took a small bite and immediately my already watery eyes from the smoke began to tear, I ran for a drink, I almost peed my pants and all the while I was thinking, “Holy crap I can’t feed that to my family!” LOL The good news is that I kept making it and after it was finished, the holy-crap-spicy factor gets toned down in the sauce to a “Mmmm dat’s spicy but I still wike it, Mom,” to quote Matthew.

This dish is Guy Fieri’s Cajun Chicken Alfredo with a healthier twist. I don’t put wine in mine because I don’t have any just lyin’ around the house, I use milk instead of cream, and we use whole wheat linguine noodles instead of fettuccine. In order to get it to thicken up a bit I add flour and cook that out before making the cream sauce. This is one of my go-to meals when I’m having guests or I go home to Arizona and cook for a crowd. I’ve learned though, especially if I’m blackening the chicken in the house, it’s best to make the sauce the day before so that you don’t smoke-out your guests. 

Cajun Chicken Alfredo2


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup blackening spice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large cloves minced garlic
  • 1  8.5 oz jar of julienne sliced sun-dried tomatoes (Trader Joe’s has ’em or check in the condiment aisle)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk, divided (any percent)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan plus more for garnish
  • 1 12-13 oz box whole wheat linguine
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Turn cast iron skillet on very high heat.
  3. Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise to thin them out. This allows the chicken to nearly be cooked through after blackening it and the blackening spice will have more surface area on each chicken.
  4. Coat both sides of chicken breast in blackening spice and put on skillet.
  5. Blacken both sides of the chicken (cooking about two minutes on each side) and then set aside to cool for a bit. It doesn’t matter if the chicken isn’t cooked through because you’ll be cooking it again with the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes.
  6. Once chicken is cook enough to handle, but still warm, slice each breast in strips and set aside. Again, my chicken is still raw in the middle at this point. It’s okay!
  7. For timing purposes you’ll want to start boiling water for your pasta to make sure it’s done when the sauce is (which can sometimes be tricky.)
  8. In saute pan over medium head, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook about two minutes. Add the jar of sun-dried tomatoes and the chicken slices. Cook for another three minutes until everything is warmed through.
  9. Add 2 cups of milk to chicken mixture and increase the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  10. Add 1/3 cup of flour to 1 cup of milk whisk to combine. This will prevent your sauce from being clumpy.
  11. Pour milk/flour mixture into your saucepan while stirring consistently. Bring to a simmer once more to ensure the flour loses its taste and the sauce thickens.
  12. Once the sauce begins to thicken a bit (10 minutes) you can add the cup of Parmesan and continue to cook until the cheese is melted.
  13. To serve, add pasta to each plate, pour sauce on top, and garnish with more Parmesan cheese and green onions

Notes- This makes 6-8 servings.

When making this for other kids (mine like it as is) I don’t blacken all the chicken, but cook a couple pieces without seasoning on the skillet and then use a separate pan to make another sauce so it’s not overly spicy. That’s not to say that I double the recipe, but in step 7 before I add the blackened chicken to the skillet I scoop up some of the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, add it to another pan with the un-blackened chicken and then continue using 2 cups of milk in one pan and only one cup of milk in the kids.

There’s always extra sauce, so most of the time we’re heating new pasta for leftovers. If the sauce seems too thin for your liking you can always add more flour to a little milk and drizzle it in while it’s simmering. This dish is rich though, even with the 1% milk and flour as a cream sauce so you don’t need as much sauce as you might think for each serving. The Alfredo freezes well so I like to make a large batch and then freeze the sauce so on a crazy weeknight I can just boil noodles, thaw the sauce and we’re good to go! Without the smoke. 🙂


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