Clean eating | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free option
When we visited Rome last year, my friend told us about the original Alfredo’s, where lore has it that the owner created the original Fettucine Alfredo–to satisfy his wife’s pregnancy cravings.
So of course we had to visit. They brought out a huge platter of steaming fettucine piled high with three mounds of cheeses, and proceeded to mix it all together at astonishing speed. Then we ate at astonishing speed–until we felt sick. It sat like a rock in our stomachs. We were very glad that our apartment was only a 10-minute walk away.
This Alfredo-inspired sauce brings back those memories without weighing us down. Instead of 3 piles of cheeses, you get the creaminess with a bit of bite from the Greek yogurt and fresh-grated (or not fresh-grated) Parmesan. Today, for St. Patrick’s Day, I turned the sauce green, and the girls said they liked it even better than usual!
Skinny Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
Original recipe here
- 2 chicken breasts, seasoned, cooked, and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 8-10 oz. whole-wheat (or gluten-free) pasta, such as rotini
- 2 cups frozen broccoli
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2-3 (I use 3) garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 2 Tbsp. whole-wheat pastry flour (or gluten-free flour of choice)
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- optional: handful spinach
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use 2%)
- salt and pepper
- 3/4 cup fresh-grated Parmesan
- Cook pasta as directed, adding frozen broccoli for last 2 minutes of cooking time. Reserve up to 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.
- If you’re turning your sauce green: add chicken broth and spinach to your blender and blend until smooth.
- Make the roux: Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic and stir constantly 1 minute, until fragrant. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to cook for 1 more minute. Slowly whisk in chicken broth, then milk, until bubbling.
- Whisk in Greek yogurt, then season generously with salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer 2-3 minutes, until thickened. (If there is spinach in the sauce, it will take longer and will not thicken as much.)
- Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan until well incorporated, then stir in chicken.
- Combine sauce with pasta mixture; add small amounts of pasta water until sauce is your desired consistency.
I do my grocery shopping on Wednesdays. It’s the day before the new circular comes out, so the store is always empty. (Honestly though, I didn’t learn that until we’d been going for several weeks out of necessity because it was the only day we didn’t have something else scheduled; it’s a nice perk.) So this means that Tuesday night after The Munchkin goes to sleep I’m up racking my brain about what to make for dinner that week. I’d been in a rut for weeks — maybe months.
Then I read about one food blogger’s method for organizing recipes. Now, honestly, I’ve been looking everywhere & can’t find the post anymore, so I think it may have just been a Facebook post or something, otherwise I’d send you there in a millisecond. But the gist of it was that she has a Word document (or you could use an Excel spreadsheet) of all the dinner recipes she likes to use, with either the link (if it’s from a blog) or the title of the cookbook, so she can find it quickly. Keeping it on the computer makes it easy to add to & modify the list, & you could organize it by cuisine (Asian, Mexican, Italian, etc.) or food type (beef, chicken, vegetarian, etc.), & it’s so much quicker than my old method of printing off the recipe & sticking it in my overstuffed binder of recipes. So that’s my goal.
Another way to streamline weekly meal planning is to assign “theme nights.” I actually read in this month’s Parents magazine that theme nights can get kids excited about sitting down with the family for dinner & can help them assume a larger role in meal prep. But on the practical side, if I know that Thursday night is going to be Mexican night, I can go to my handy-dandy “Mexican” category & have fewer meals to have to choose from.
So why am I saying all this? Because I’m trying to expand my repertoire to include more international foods for said “theme nights.” For Asian night, meet Beef with Broccoli (original recipe here).
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. water
- 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 lb.+ stir-fry beef
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 2 large carrots, peeled & sliced on a diagonal
- 1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
- Sauce, below
- hot cooked rice
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl; stir until smooth. Set aside.
- In a shallow bowl, combine cornstarch, water, soy sauce, & garlic powder; stir until smooth. Toss beef in mixture until well coated.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in wok on medium-high heat. Stir-fry beef until done. Remove & keep warm.
- Stir-fry vegetables in remaining oil 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. (I like to cover the wok to allow the veggies to steam.)
- Return beef to wok & add sauce. Cook 2 minutes.
- Serve over rice.
My family just came to visit, & after a week of dining out, I was having serious grocery list writer’s block. What to make this week? Especially with Christmas falling in there too? Fortunately, I recalled one of our old favorites that I haven’t made in forever. We call it “Pink Sauce Chicken.”
(Admittedly, this is one of the least flattering photos imaginable. I’m beyond excited about the light scoop My Husband The Generous is “surprising” me with on Christmas!)
So you’re asking, “If it’s one of your favorites, why haven’t you made it in a long time?” The answer is that I got it from the Kraft Food&Family magazine, & they had the nerve to stop making one of the key ingredients. That’s the trouble with semi-homemade: you’re limited by the available ingredients.
But after like 15 minutes of standing in the salad dressing aisle with The Munchkin contentedly munching on a cookie in her green racecar cart (thank you Publix!), I found the substitute. & Pink Sauce Chicken never tasted better!
- 6 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- Lawry’s 30-minute Marinade in Tuscan Sundried Tomato*
- 8+ oz. uncooked short pasta (the recipe calls for bowtie)
- up to 4 cups broccoli florets (we do more pasta & less broccoli)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups jarred marinara sauce
- 4 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
- parmesan, to taste
* The recipe originally called for Kraft’s Roasted Red Pepper Italian dressing. The 30-minute Marinade does a great job, but has a little less liquid in it, so you need to watch that your chicken doesn’t scorch. If you can’t find the 30-minute Marinade, look for an Italian dressing with roasted red peppers relatively high on the ingredient list.
- Marinate chicken in some of the 30-minute marinade for — you guessed it — 30 minutes.
- Cook pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli for last 3 minutes (for frozen, last 4 or 5 minutes) of cooking time.
- Meanhile, heat 3 Tbsp. of the marinade in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic & heat until fragrant.
- Add chicken; cook, covered, 5 min. to a side or until done in the middle. You may need to add more marinade/dressing to keep it from burning.
- Drain pasta mixture; return to pot & set aside. Cover to keep warm.
- Add pasta sauce & Neufchatel to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted & mixture is well blended.
- Coat chicken in sauce, remove from skillet, & keep warm.
- Add sauce mixture to pasta mixture in pot; mix well. Transfer to 6 pasta bowls.
- Cut chicken across the grain into thick slices. Fan one breast half over the pasta in each of the bowls.
- Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese.