Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

Sometimes you just need an old classic for some comfort food.  This Alfredo sauce is light and fluffy (and all natural) so you don’t have to sacrifice taste for moderately healthy eating.  You can also make this one vegetarian if you leave out the chicken, no problem.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

(Inspiration found here)

Ingredients

  • 1 package pre-cooked chicken strips
  • 1 cup fresh chopped broccoli (or frozen broccoli, if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pasta of your choice

photo 1 (2)

Preparation

Make the sauce first because it takes the longest.

1.  Melt the butter in a saucepan.
photo 3 (2)

2.  Add the minced garlic, heavy cream, garlic powder, and pepper.
photo 4 (2)

3.  Bring the sauce to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, until it thickens and reduces.  This takes about 10-15 minutes.  Keep stirring regularly to keep the liquid from bubbling over.  Once thick, mix in the Parmesan cheese and melt into the sauce.

photo 2

4.  Boil a pot of water and cook pasta.  Drain and set aside.

5.  Chop broccoli florets into bite size pieces.

photo 2 (2)

6.  In a pan, heat the chicken strips with a dash of olive oil or cooking spray
.photo 5

7.  Add the broccoli and saute until browned.
photo 1

8.  Mix the chicken and broccoli and the sauce into the pasta pot.  Mix thoroughly.  Garnish on a plate with some extra Parmesan on top.  Serve with some garlic bread and enjoy!
photo 4

Results:

A family favorite.  I used gluten free brown rice penne for this dish and it worked great.  You can use any sort of pasta that you see fit.  The sauce is creamy without being too heavy, and this recipe made plenty for leftovers.

Baked Ziti

What’s better than some warm comfort food on a frigid day?  Also, this one provides for plenty of leftovers so you’ll get a few meals out of it.  A classic favorite.

Baked Ziti

Ingredients:
– 12 oz penne or ziti pasta [I used gluten free pasta for this, but regular wheat pasta would work]
– 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
– 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
– 2 tsp olive oil
– 4 medium garlic cloves, minced [I used the magical pre minced garlic]
– 1/4 cup yellow onions, finely chopped
– 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
– salt and pepper to taste

photo 1

This stuff is the BEST!  Definitely snag some for any Italian inspired meals you’re making.

photo 3

Instructions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.  Chop your onion.

photo 2

2.  Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add onions, garlic, and 1 tsp Italian Seasoning and sauté 2 minutes.

photo 4

3.  Add tomatoes and bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

photo 5

4.  Stir sauce into pasta and mix well.

photo 2 (2)

5.  In a casserole dish, create a think layer of pasta on the bottom of the dish.  Next, sprinkle a layer of cheese.  Then the rest of the pasta.  Then the rest of the cheese.  Top off with a little Italian Seasoning for good measure.

photo 3 (2) photo 4 (2) photo 5 (2) photo 1 (3)

6.  Bake until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

photo 2 (3)

7.  Scoop and enjoy!

photo 3 (3)

Thoughts:

Perfect for some ol’ fashioned warm up food.  This one is quick during the week if you get out of work on time!  Also, Jacob suggests that if you add salt and pepper while you’re simmering the sauce, it will bring out the flavor.  Add some Parmesan at the end for a little extra flavor!

Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese

I’m a lover of goat cheese.  It’s tangy delicious and it makes me feel grown up and sophisticated when I eat it.  This recipe goes really well with the Fall chill in the air and sometimes you just want some cheesy pasta and to curl up with a good book.

 

Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese
(Inspiration thanks to Food and Wine Magazine)

2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 pound ziti [I used gluten free rigatoni for this recipe – more on that below]
4 ounces soft goat cheese
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Ziti ingredients 2

(Please forgive me that the onion is pre-chopped – I always force J into chopping onions!)

1.  In a large frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the pan.

Ziti onions raw

Beginning

Ziti onions brown

Browned

Ziti onions caramel done
Caramelized!

2. In the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, about 8 minutes.

Ziti mushrooms

3.  Add the reserved onions,  the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper to the mushrooms and remove from heat.

Ziti onion mushroom

4.  In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the ziti until just done. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water and drain. Toss the ziti and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water with the mushroom mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the goat cheese, and the Parmesan in the pasta pot.  After mixing, pour in the reserve water and stir until all goat cheese has melted.

Ziti mixed

5.  Serve with additional Parmesan and enjoy!

Ziti final

Results:

This worked out really nicely as a fall-tasting tangy recipe.  I think next time I would add asparagus or another vegetable to liven up the color palate.  Think of this as grown up mac-and-cheese.

Something to keep in mind – caramelizing onions takes a deceivingly long amount of time.  On the clock, it takes about 20 minutes, but it seems like it should take less.  Wait for the onions to brown and then keep browning them.  They will get darker but not burn.  This, with the combination of sugar and oil, will make them sweet.  Don’t worry if it feels like it’s taking forever.

Also, on the gluten free note – gluten free pasta is an interesting animal.  Because of its materials (the one featured above is potato based), you have to be mindful of the cooking time.  If you overcook it, it will get sticky and kind of slimy.  For regular pasta, I do a time estimate and hope for the best while checking done-ness of the noodles.  With GF pasta, I always set a timer for 10 minutes and drain it at the buzzer.  Otherwise, it can be a mess.  I will say that taste wise, with a good sauce, you can’t even tell the difference!