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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

My last recipe was husband approved, but this one comes step-daughter approved!  I think her words went something like, "I don't like it.  I don't love it.  I REALLY love it!"  Any meal that gets that kind of approval has to be shared!

Honestly, I'm not a huge fettuccine alfredo fan.  I usually prefer a red sauce full of a ton of garlic and herbs, but the rest of my family are huge fans.  So...that means this wife and step-mom had to figure out how to make one of their favorites.  The goal was to come up with something yummy and creamy that would get their approval but to also try to lighten it up and make it as nutritious as possible.  I think the results did both!
The nice thing about this recipe is that you can customize it as much or as little as you want!  For instance, I chose to put chicken in mine because a no meat meal would not have gone over well with the hubby, but you could just as easily make it without.  I threw broccoli in because my step-daughter loves broccoli, and I thought this would be a great way to incorporate a veggie.  The broccoli was such a hit that she asked me to please cook twice as much broccoli next time we have this meal!  I call that SUCCESS!  I could just have easily thrown in peas, ham, mushrooms...really whatever sounds good to you and your family will work.

Another great thing about this meal was it got everyone in the kitchen together.  I was running around like crazy because I was making things up as I went, and who wouldn't be in a bit of tizzy trying to pull that off!?! Nevermind that fact that it's after dark and it feels like a deep freeze outside, so going out to get something if I mess this up isn't really an option...NO PRESSURE.  Thankfully, my step-daughter is quickly becoming a good help in the kitchen, so while I was trying to figure out my next step, she was stirring whatever I had already thrown in the pan.  Like I told you before, we make a pretty good team!  So with that said, I give you kid-approved fettuccine alfredo...

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

3-4 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2-5 garlic cloves, minced*
8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, cubed
2 1/2-3 cups 2% milk
2/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 pounds broccoli, frozen or fresh
1 box fettuccine, linguine, or wide noodle pasta

Cook broccoli in microwave, and set aside.  I was using about 1 pound of broccoli and heated, covered for 3 minutes because I didn't want to cook it all the way since it would continue cooking in the sauce.  If using 2 pounds, you probably need to cook slightly longer...maybe 5 minutes.  If using fresh broccoli, add a little water to your microwave bowl and heat until starting to soften.

If using frozen chicken breasts, thaw before using.  Cut chicken in bite size chunks.  Preheat non-stick skillet on med-high heat.  While preheating, sprinkle chicken chunks with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Put chicken chunks in skillet and stir frequently until cooked through.  (I was using previously frozen chicken breasts that had been thawed.  They seemed to have quite a bit of water in them from being frozen, so I didn't feel the need to use any oil.  But you could definitely cook the chicken in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to help prevent sticking and for added flavor.)  Once the chicken is cooked through, remove from skillet and set aside.

Place large pot of water on to boil for cooking pasta.

Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium heat, and add minced garlic. *(I only used 2 cloves of garlic when I started out, and this definitely was not enough for the garlic lover in me.  I ended up adding some garlic salt to the sauce later for added garlic flavor.  You can do this too, but I recommend starting out with more minced garlic.)

Once the garlic is slightly browned.  Add cubed cream cheese to skillet.  Slowly add milk to skillet, whisking constantly.  Add parmesan cheese.  Continue whisking until cheeses melt.  Add ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste, and continue whisking.  The sauce seemed to be a little too runny to me, so I turned the heat up to med-high heat and brought to a slight boil for 2-3 minutes.

In the meantime, place pasta in boiling water and cook until al dente.

While your pasta is cooking, turn the heat on your skillet back down to medium, and add the chicken and broccoli to your sauce mixture.  Stir to combine.  Once pasta has cooked, drain the water and add pasta to sauce mixture.  Gently stir to combine.  Remove from heat and let stand for 3-5 minutes.  Initially I was afraid my sauce was going to be too runny, but once I let it stand, it thickened up quite nicely.


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