Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Week Eighteen: Hearty Veggies

This weekend was a success for my cooking and baking adventures. I had a couple interesting mishaps at my class (like adding about 3 tablespoons of pepper to a dish that was supposed to have a spice mix added), but my home attempts were well-received. I made gingerbread cookies, Dan’s favorite, and some rolled cookies with chocolate and plain sugar cookie dough. I’d actually meant to make those last weekend, but I forgot about the dough while it was chilling in the freezer.
Apparently I didn't take pictures of my cookie masterpieces?!
I also went to Harpoon Brewery's Octoberfest.
I also made my first successful Alfredo sauce. Just about every other time I’ve made it, I’ve ended up with a thin, weak, garlic-flavored milk sauce… but not this time! I’m not sure what I did better this time (maybe follow the recipe?), but it wasn’t too bad. I boiled up some pasta and chicken pieces, and then threw in some farm broccoli in the last minute or so of cooking, and boom. Broccoli chicken Alfredo.
Again, no pictures. I don't know what's wrong with me.

It’s a little weird to go to the farm when it’s nearly dark – and it was strangely empty last night. Maybe everyone would rather go during the daylight hours. We had a few yummy surprises this week to shake things up. We got the usual potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, and peppers. I was thrilled to find fennel – YUM – and we also got a cabbage for our friend. There were also some sweet potatoes available, so we grabbed some of those as well. Perfectly timed, too, since I just saw a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi the other day. Weekend project!
Sweet potatoes... I'm going to make pasta (ish) out of you!

Lovely peppers on top of the fennel fronds.

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo (sauce adapted from AllRecipes)
This fed four of us with leftovers, but I would have liked some more broccoli and chicken. And more sauce; this wasn't quite enough to give a nice thick coating.

2 chicken breasts, cut into ¾” or 1” pieces
1 lb pasta (I used mini wheels since that's what we had)
2-3 small heads broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces (stems optional, but peel them before cutting into pieces if you use them)

3 T butter
3 T flour
2 c milk
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or mashed
½ - ¾ c Parmesan cheese, grated (I used the Romano we have in the fridge)
Salt and pepper to taste
Grate or two of nutmeg (optional)

Put a big pot of water on the stove to boil. Once boiling, add the chicken and cook for a minute or two. Add the pasta and stir to keep everything from sticking. (Add a drizzle of olive oil if you want.) When the pasta is almost done, add the broccoli to the pot. Drain and return everything to the hot pan, off the heat.

For the sauce:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then slowly whisk in the flour. Whisk over medium heat to make a roux. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened. Mine took about 8 minutes, I think. Add the cheese and keep whisking until the sauce is the right consistency for you. Taste, and if the sauce is bland, add salt until it tastes like cheese. (And/or add more cheese!) Pour the sauce over everything in the pasta pot and stir to combine.

Serve with additional cheese on the side.

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