March 9, 2009

Make-shift dinner

Ok, I tried to pull a dinner together tonight with what I could find in the kitchen and I thought I'd share it with you because it turned out so well.

  • I thawed the last two chicken breasts we had in the freezer
  • I found a jar of Bertolli alfredo sauce
  • We have four boxes of multi-colored bowtie pasta that I got on sale a few months ago . . . they need to be eaten!
  • Whole Milk (we're out of skim)
  • A partial bag of the frozen broccoli and carrots with the frozen garlic butter sauce - probably about 4 servings left
  • A little bit of leftover mozzarella . . . Probably around 1/4 cup.
1. I thawed the chicken by putting it in a bag and immersing it in a sink full of water. This is my favorite way to thaw, though I'm sure there's a more efficient way. I'm not crazy about thawing in the microwave, because I lose track of time and always end up leaving it in there too long. And the little "automatic setting" on our microwave is a joke. I diced it up and lightly browned it with olive oil in a sautee pan. You could use that pre-cooked frozen chicken and save some time.

2. The next three steps all kind of happened simultaneously:

a. Then I cooked the pasta according to the directions, but drained it about 2 minutes early so that it was extra al dente. Since I put it in a casserole, I figured it would cook more in the oven and I don't like mushy pasta.

b. I mixed the jar of alfredo sauce with the milk. Maybe about 1/2 - 1/3 cup of milk? I know that jarred alfred sauce has a bad name, but I really like the Bertolli sauce. If you were feeling inspired, you could make it from scratch (half butter, half parmesean . . . melt and stir over medium heat) or buy the tubs that you get from the dairy section at the supermarket. But I like the jar. I heated the sauce over low heat while the water boiled and the pasta was cooked.

c. I microwaved the veggies according to the package directions. I really wanted to add peas, but I didn't have any. You could use fresh veggies, too. ALthough, I think the garlic herb flavor added a little something.

3. I mixed it all together in a bowl and then put it in a casserole dish that I sprayed with no-stick spray. Although, I'm not sure I needed to spray it. I topped it with the little mozzarella cheese that I had and baked it (uncovered) at 350 for about 30 minutes. If I had fresh parmesean (which I originally thought I did) I would have added a little to the sauce and would have topped the casserole with A LOT more. I like cheese.

It was delicious! Jack had three helpings and didn't even notice the brocolli. I had two and Kyle had a full plate. I had three pieces of frozen garlic bread that I popped in the oven, and a frozen cherry pie that I baked while we ate dinner. Most of the stuff I used was cheap or free thanks to coupons.

I was dreading dinner tonight, but it turned out to be pretty good!