Truly Home Made Pasta Alfredo

Okay, so I know that food manufacturers make it like SUPER easy to skip a bunch of steps when you’re cooking and buy everything pre-made and then just throw it together in various pans.

While the convenience is nice… you lose a lot of flavor potential and, quite frankly, the dish tastes flat and, well… canned. Hmm, maybe that’s why the “pasta alfredo” you make at home with lackluster jarred sauce and frozen meat doesn’t taste quite like the “Pasta Alfredo” you get from the authentic Italian restaurant down the road that promotes their “made from scratch” Alfredo sauce and “fresh, never frozen” meat.

I have tried to really make it clear through this blog that cooking from scratch and making restaurant quality dishes doesn’t have to be hard or expensive! If you shop smart and cook without waste it really becomes so worth it to make everything yourself.

Now, I’m not about to tell you to start making your own pasta – while that can be very rewarding, it’s a tricky process and sort of defeats the “it’s really easy and quick” mantra I continually put out. So, keep on buying boxed pasta on sale for $1 a box – it’s really cheap and still tastes fine!

That being said, after reading this post, you should never buy jarred or canned Alfredo sauce – EVER again!

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The kind of pasta and meat you use for this is really entirely up to you – I used smoked sausage for my meat and Cellentani for my pasta. The important part is getting the sauce down. A note though: if you’re used smoked sausage, it’s really seasoned enough on its own, so just brown it in oil and set it aside. If you’re using something like chicken or shrimp, however (which has a blander flavor profile) you’ll want to kick up the spice a bit while you’re cooking it – even if it’s just salt, pepper, and something like basil or cayenne.

So, once you’ve browned/cooked your meat in some olive oil and removed it from the pan, keep the pan over a medium-low heat and add 1/2 a diced onion to the remaining oil. Let the onions sweat for about 2 minutes, then add 2 cloves of minced garlic.

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Let this sweat for another minute more, then add 1 cup of cream (or milk, if you’re trying to keep things low-fat).

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It will bubble and steam as it de-glazes the pan and reduces down. After about 1-2 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, along with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp basil, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted and spices are combined.

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Stir in your reserved meat and then whatever pasta you cooked, and serve! That’s it. It’s that simple – and it will taste so much better than that lame jarred stuff!

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Full Recipe:

Home Made Pasta Alfredo

Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cream (or milk)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Process:

1) Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and allow to sweat for about two minutes, then add garlic and let sweat for an additional minute.

2) Pour in cream to de-glaze the pan and allow to reduce for 2 minutes or so, then stir in spices, Parmesan, and mascarpone until cheese is melted and everything is combined.

3) Stir in cooked pasta and browned meat of your choice and serve immediately.

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Parmesan & Panko Breaded Chicken

So I know I’m normally all about being creative and different here, but there are some classic recipes that absolutely everyone deserves to know how to do perfectly. Breaded chicken is a classic but, let’s face it… it’s normally pretty boring. I’m about to revolutionize the way you view breaded chicken, however, so this is one worth reading!

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Begin by prepping your breading assembly line. In the first dish, put a few tablespoons of flour and then season the flour with 1 teaspoon each of salt and basil 1/2 teaspoon each of pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. Stir this together so the seasonings are all incorporated into the flour.

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: The seasoning in the flour is important because it locks the flavors onto the chicken underneath the breading so they don’t fall off when you put the chicken in the pan!

In the middle dish, crack and beat one egg.

In the final dish, combine 1 cup Panko bread crumbs and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese.

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: The Panko bread crumbs are what really make the difference between “meh” breaded chicken and “holy wow!” breaded chicken! They are originally from Japan and are lighter and airier than normal bread crumbs than what we are used to in Western culture, so they make everything extra crunchy! Most grocery stores sell them, most likely in their “foreign foods” aisle.

Once your breading assembly line is ready, add about a half cup of vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium low heat. Allow the oil to heat up for a minute or two, and then bread your chicken breast by lightly coating it in the flour (tap off any excess), coating it in the egg, and then finally in the panko-parmesan mixture. Use your fingers to sprinkle additional breading onto each side and press it in, and then lay the chicken carefully into the oil. Repeat with three more chicken breasts, and then add some additional seasoning and cheese on top once they are in the pan. (Sprinkle on additional salt/pepper/basil/garlic and about 1/4 cup total additional parmesan.)

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Allow them to cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the breading on the underside is turning a golden brown color, and then flip them.

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Allow to cook for an additional 5-8 minutes or until they are cooked through, and then serve with a side of your choice!

Full Recipe:

Panko-Parmesan Breaded Chicken

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 small (or 2 large, cut in half) chicken breasts
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 tbsp flour
Salt, pepper, basil, garlic powder, cayenne

Process:

1) In a shallow dish, combine flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.

2) In a small bowl, beat 1 egg.

3) In another shallow dish, combine Panko breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.

4) Coat a skillet in 1/2 cup vegetable oil over medium low heat. After allowing pan to heat for a few minutes, coat each piece of chicken first in the flour (tapping off excess), then the egg, and finally the Panko-parmesan mixture (using your fingers to add and press on additional breading) before laying each piece of chicken in the skillet, making sure there is about an inch between each piece.

5) Season each piece of chicken with additional salt/pepper/basil/garlic and parmesan.

6) Allow to cook for 5-8 minutes or until breading is golden brown on the underside, then flip. Cook for an additional 5-8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately.