Friday Dinner – Chicken Alfredo
This last four weeks Maus and I have eaten out quite a bit, and honestly it’s taken a bit of a toll on our food budget. I was so caught up in feeling anxious, creatively blocked, and self-defacing, I forgot one of my jobs: housewife!
Housewives cook dinner (and they clean and do laundry, I’m working on those in the next several days). Maus suggested we try cooking a bit frugal given the circumstances. I have just about every cookbook you can imagine (three shelves worth, I’ll post a picture sometime) and it just happens that I have The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook. I haven’t given a final verdict on this one yet as I haven’t tried out too many recipes from it. Unlike the Grain Brain (Cookbook), whose recipes… well, just don’t work. If you click on the image to the left you can take a look at the book and purchase it on Amazon.
The book includes quite a bit on how to eat healthy, and strategically shop and plan for dinner meals for maximum effectiveness. There are LOTS of recipes, which I always appreciate. Tonight I made a chicken alfredo dish for the first time.
I’ve noted about this book in a previous post that it is for a particular audience. After cooking this second recipe, it is cementing it more in my mind what it’s like. It reminds me of a book I have floating around somewhere in my apartment that contains Great Depression recipes. The book goes really really light on the spices, as I think they’d make the cost more than $5 per meal. So if you’re going to use the book but want more flavor from the spices you already have, you’ll have to mix them up.
This was the first time I had ever made a white sauce, and the book has a basic white sauce you can use in many recipes. This recipe called for a white sauce that then was melted in with a generous 1/2 c of grated parmesan. The white sauce is basic melted butter with flower mixed into 2 to 3 c whole milk. I say 2 to 3 c because the recipe called for 3 c, but I thought that was a lot of milk (and we were a little short on milk), so I only used 2 c. I also added a tbsp of flour to the milk after I whisked it, as the recipe suggested in order to make the sauce thicker.
I don’t know what usually goes in a white sauce, but this was without any spices besides salt and pepper (which I didn’t even put in). The flavor really came from the parmesan I added later.
That’s the thing with this book, it’s a good thing and a bad thing. The recipes are simple because they are cheap, they just use very plain and abundant ingredients. Because they’re simple they’re easy to make and don’t take up a lot of time. At the same time, because they are simple, they lack a little on the flavor. So far, the two dishes I’ve made from the book come up to me as a little underwhelming. That’s fine if you’re looking to go frugal and not for too much excitement from your easy to make dinner. There’s totally a market for that, and I appreciate it.
I had a package of frozen chicken that I tried to thaw in the refrigerator since noon (’cause, that’s when I kinda got up >.> <.< >.>) Unfortunately, that’s not exactly enough time for chicken tenders/breasts to thaw out completely. So I had to microwave the whole thing on the frozen setting (for 10 oz). This worked well, but it also cooked the chicken around the edges of the block. This was fine, I cut them up into pieces (well 2 of them) and threw them into the white sauce.
The white sauce thickened really really well. I didn’t realize how thick it was until we started eating. The chicken cooked in the white sauce for several minutes while it was covered. The problem with really thick white sauce being all over your chicken pieces is that it’s hard to see when they’re done. So, I probably overcooked them a little bit.
I have this really giant pot for cooking pasta I should show you sometime, but for now, it’s big. It’s really handy because it doesn’t boil over easily and I can put a LOT of water into it (and it has great surface area). We used whole wheat fettuccine this go around. I hope Maus doesn’t tire of pasta as we’re having spaghetti and slow-cooker meatballs tomorrow, or Sunday probably, since we’re going to my nephew Cartoy’s birthday party at Ninja’s house, and there’s promise of food.
There were supposed to be peas in this dish, but as you probably saw from the last post, I steamed up these peas in a steerable bag… and proceeded to eat all of them. I honestly, and in the future, will divide them into half and then I can use them again. We ate a lot of peas.
So in the end, it was fettuccine noodles, chicken bits, and white sauce. Maus’ plate looked something like this:
I thought that was pretty good for not making a really thick sauce before. It was really thick, the thickest I’ve ever made. Honestly, I felt like I could “anchor a boat with it” as Sophia would say in the Golden Girls.
I give this recipe a thumbs up and recommend the book to all my frugal friends who want some quick and easy cheap dinners with some basic ingredients. I just don’t know if it’s the excitement I’d be looking for every night. I suppose enough of these underwhelming dishes make the super awesome ones even that more super awesome.
So… save yourself some money, and experiment with your own spices, buy this book! Heehee, sorry, shameless plug.