As an athlete and mother of two young children, Lani is always looking for new ways to present her family with tasty and nutritious meals.
A Busy Weeknight With Nothing in the Fridge
So, I came home one night after work, starving and unprepared. As I stood in my kitchen and glanced around, I began to flip through the Rolodex in my mind for recipes I could pull off quickly with what I had on hand. Usually, I prepare two large meals over the weekend to sustain the family through the majority of the following week. Not only did I fail to accomplish this task on the previous weekend, but I also failed in my grocery shopping attempts as well; my staple foods were not adequately replenished, and I'd bought no specialty items for any new recipes. Well, shucks! Now what?
I turned to my freezer to search for answers; I found a just-about-empty bag of frozen chicken breast and asked myself, "what can I do with this?" I looked on the counter and spotted a full container of dry noodles. "Ok," I thought, "I can get somewhere with this. I just need a sauce." After rummaging through the cupboard, refrigerator, and pantry, I realized I had enough to make a chicken and broccoli Alfredo sauce. I knew the chicken and broccoli might get a bit skimpy when splitting between four people, but it would get us through dinner.
- 1 large stovetop pot
- 1 medium stovetop pot and lid
- 1 vegetable steamer tray
- 1 pound chicken (frozen or thawed)
- 2 cups steamed broccoli
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning and coarse ground pepper
- 6 cups water
- 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
- Approximately 1 to 2 cups milk (1%, 2%, or whole)
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Add all six cups of water to a large stovetop pot, and set the heat to medium-high. Add chicken and bouillon cube and bring to a boil. Let chicken boil in water until easy to pull apart.
- Once the chicken is tender, remove it from the water and place it in a separate bowl.
- Keep the water boiling and add onions, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, and coarse ground pepper. Let water continue to boil until the onions are transparent.
- Add butter and oil. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add flour and whisk immediately and continuously. The mixture will immediately begin to thicken into a roux.
- Once all liquid has been absorbed, and you have a clump of mushy flour, begin to add milk. Begin by adding 1 full cup, whisking immediately and continuously. Continue to add milk slowly until the sauce is at the desired thickness. Less milk will result in thicker sauce and vice versa.
- Bring sauce to a simmer and add cheese. If the sauce becomes thicker than you'd like, add more milk or small amounts of water. Remember! Do not stop whisking until the sauce is where you want it.
- Steam your broccoli in a vegetable steamer.
- Prepare your noodles of choice (tortellini and ravioli are great for this sauce as well).
- Your chicken should be cool to the touch now, so hand-pull each breast piece and add it to the sauce.
- When broccoli is ready, add to sauce and stir until it is well mixed.
- Once the noodles have cooked, you can serve and prepare them with your fantastic sauce. Oh yes, and enjoy!
This meal was a hit! Both my six- and four-year-old children sat and ate with no resistance. In fact, they volunteered to interrupt outside playtime for this meal. There was silence around the dinner table except for the usual sounds of very young children eating.
What I like most about this sauce is it is easy, hearty, and goes a long way. I rarely am without the basic ingredients for this sauce, and it can be manipulated to take on various flavors. Cheese is just one option. Get creative, think outside the box, and enjoy each culinary challenge your life presents.
© 2019 Lani Morris