Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bullet Proof Dinner

It seems like most days "off" there's always a few things that need doing.  Some are errands, some are just tasks you have to do, and if you are lucky, enjoy doing.  But before you know it, it's dinner time and there's not a lot of time to make a fancy meal.

One of the errands  yesterday was Trader Joes - I get my meats from a local butcher, but I do like their selections of pastas, sauces, grains and yogurt.

I always throw a couple extra bottles or cans or bags of various things just to have on hand for a quick supper. For you never know what you will end up working on during your day.

Look, I like creating a gourmet meal from scratch, but one doesn't always have time for that.  There are the bagged frozen pasta and stir fry meals, most of them LOADED with salt and chemicals and often costing $3 or $4 a serving.  I can do the same thing for half that price, with prudent shopping and buying spices and veggies in bulk.

Chicken Alfredo With a Kick.

Start with a jar of Alfredo Sauce (I used Trader Joe's  -half the price of the fancy name brand) and a can of their diced tomatoes with green chilies ("Rotel style").

Mix in a saucepan and add  a half teaspoon of Penzey's Adobo Seasoning (or use a pinch of black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin, onion powder and cayenne pepper) plus a heaping half teaspoon of chopped diced garlic (the jarred kind).  To that, add about 2 1/2 cups of fresh cooked diced chicken (or dismantle a rotisserie chicken) and  let simmer on low for 10 or 15 minutes to blend the flavors while you get water heated for pasta. (use about 3/4 of a regular package of pasta)

Before you throw the pasta in the boiling water, add 1/4 to 1/2  teaspoon Scoville Brothers Heavy Metal Heat  to your sauce (yes you can use Tabasco, but that stuff, to me, has NO taste or depth).  1/2 teaspoon will give it a nice hot undertone but isn't scorching.  Start with 1/4 and then taste to see what you like.

As the pasta cooks, steam a few handfuls of frozen broccoli in the microwave for 4-5 minutes.

Drain the pasta and toss with the veggies and the sauce.  Serve, making sure you use a spoon to get some of the sauce up from the bottom of the pan.  Top with some coarsely shredded real Parmesan (not that stuff in the green can which I believe is made out of ground up yard gnomes).

I served with a few small slices of baguette with olive oil  and cracked pepper for dipping and an ice cold beer.  (Click to enlarge, I know you want to).

Using chicken I'd cooked earlier, diced and bagged, it was on the table in under 30 minutes.  It also made enough to feed 5-6 hungry people so there was plenty for leftovers for after a long day of work.  For as much fun as cooking a big fancy meal from scratch is. . . sometimes you just have other things you'd rather be doing with your time.