Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.
I absolutely love Alfredo sauce. That's usually the very first place my mind goes when I start thinking about dinner. Alfredo and spinach... but I didn't want to burn my family out, so I went with broccoli tonight! This meal is super easy to cook because all I really need is about 20 minutes for the pasta and broccoli. Everything else comes together in a few minutes.
As you'll see in the pictures, I like to cook a lot of chicken ahead of time in the crockpot and shred it. I then divide it up into individual portions in sandwich bags to put in the freezer. To make it even easier on myself, I label a large storage bag "chicken breasts" and roll up all of my sandwich bags to store in one big bag in the freezer. The bags can't get loose and float around the freezer, and I always know where to find them and how many I have left.
This allows me to just grab one bag, thaw it in the microwave for a couple minutes, and toss it into my chosen dish without having to worry about the time it would have taken to cook it. This made tonight's dinner super fast, and leftovers tomorrow night will be even better! Serve it up with some homemade garlic bread, and you've got a meal fit for a king.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
Serves six people 1 1/2 cups
- 16oz your choice pasta
- 1 broccoli crown
- 8oz cream cheese
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup half and half or heavy cream
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Start by filling two medium pots with water; one to the middle for pasta, and one with a steamer basket up to the steamer basket.
- Start them both heating on the stove on high heat.
- Chop up your broccoli into large pieces and toss broccoli in with the steamer basket and your pasta into the pot full of nothing but water.
- Cook both, stirring the pasta every so often, for about 20 minutes.
- When the broccoli is bright green and cuts easily, and the pasta is soft, pull them both off of the stove and start your Alfredo sauce in a small pot.
- Begin your Alfredo sauce by melting your cream cheese and butter over medium heat.
- When soft, add all of your other ingredients one at a time.
- Whisk all of your sauce ingredients together, smashing any lumps, until smooth.
- I cook my chicken in bulk in the crockpot ahead of time, so I can bag up individual portions of shredded chicken and put them in the freezer for when I need them. I just pulled one out and heated it in the microwave.
- When everything is ready, combine your pasta, broccoli, sauce, and shredded chicken in a large bowl, and enjoy!
For so long now, I've just been using half and half or heavy cream and Parmesan to make my Alfredo sauce. As delicious as that has always been, and I've loved having the pools of grated Parmesan with every spoonful, making it now with tons of butter and cream cheese at the beginning has made a world of difference.
It's creamy and full of flavor that it didn't have before. The cream cheese makes it a little sweeter as well that adds a whole new component to the sauce. I used to have to wait a while for my sauce to thicken up in the pan, or just be okay with it being a little thinner, and it made my stomach hurt because I used an entire container of Parmesan in my sauce.
I haven't had that problem anymore since using this version. It takes no time at all to thicken, basically just the time it takes to whisk it all together, and the variety of ingredients is filling rather than painful. It covers my other ingredients with a thick yummy layer of sauce, evenly coating your dish and making your dish look more like those you would find at a fancy restaurant. However, instead of tasting like cream gravy, which has been my experience at most restaurants, this sauce is full of beautiful Parmesan and cream flavor. There's no mistaking that this is definitely Alfredo sauce.
I know you're going to enjoy this sauce!
One thing I really love about this dish is that it contains all of my children's favorite items; broccoli, chicken, pasta, and cheese. What more can you ask for? In fact, my toddler was grabbing big hunks of raw broccoli off of the remaining head of broccoli I had in the refrigerator because he said that I didn't put enough in the pasta.
What it was really was that I chopped the pieces in the pasta too small after they cooked. He wanted big bites of broccoli to eat. My other one was carrying around raw broccoli as well. Why did I even bother to cook it?!
I also use whole wheat, alternative grain, or veggie pastas which just adds that much more flavor and nutrition to our meal. I love being able to toss together such easy, healthy meals for my family and get such awesome responses to them from my kids. Isn't that the trick? Making food for your family that they love and you can feel good about?
© 2018 Victoria Van Ness