Sunday, October 4, 2009

Quick & Easy Alfredo Sauce

Lord willing, every week I will post a recipe. Whether you are in a rut and feel like you make the same thing every week or if your recipe box is half empty, we can probably all benefit from 'new' recipes. I am all about quick & easy, so I love this recipe. This is a big hit with my family, and it's requested almost every two weeks when I make out a menu before grocery shopping (except the kids call it "the noodles with the white sauce" despite my many attempts to help them remember the correct name).

Quick & Easy Alfredo Sauce

1/2 cup butter
1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 cups milk
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add cream cheese and garlic powder, stirring with wire whisk until smooth.
(Note: A low-fat cream cheese works well. Use the recommended 2 tsp. of garlic powder. It seems like a lot, but it makes a big difference in the favor if you use less. I've tried using a spoon to stir before, and the whisk makes a big difference. It helps obtain the desired smoothness. See pics below as a reference -- the butter will blend in.)
3. Add milk a little at a time to thin out sauce to desired thickness. (It will thicken slightly when Parmesan Cheese is added.)
4. Stir in Parmesan Cheese and pepper.
5. Remove from heat when sauce reaches desired consistency adding more milk if needed.
6. Toss with hot pasta to serve.

Yield: 4 servings

I add fettucini pasta and grilled chicken to make Chicken Fettucini Alfredo. Sometimes I will use penne pasta instead of fettucini because it adds variety.
I'm still experimenting on this, but I've added salsa and chili powder to make a salsa-alfredo sauce. If you've even eaten the Southwest Chicken Pasta dish at Red Robin, you'd understand why. It has penne pasta, salsa-alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, tomatoes, cilantro, black olives, sour cream and fresh shredded Parmesan cheese, and I'm sure I've forgotten a few ingredients.

TIP of the day!
As a time saver, I will prepare chicken ahead of time for recipes. Quite a few of the recipes I make include diced, cooked chicken. I've always found it a pain to thaw two chicken breast, cook and dice them while trying to assemble the rest of the casserole or whatever the recipe. It has also bothered me that the chicken seems to lack flavor even if I sprinkle it with a spice blend or garlic powder. So I came up with the idea to marinate a 3 lb. bag of chicken breast or tenderloins with Italian dressing (any kind will do although Aldi's Light Italian Dressing is great), and then grill the chicken on the outdoor grill. I will dice up all the chicken and divide it into 1 1/2 - 2 cup portions (since most of my recipes call for that amount). Then I put it in the freezer and can pull out a bag of already prepared chicken when I need it.

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