Chicken Alfredo

I love cream sauces, but try to stay away from them as they are generally full of fat. But in the September/October 2010 Clean Eating issue there was a recipe for Alfredo Cream Sauce, so I decided to give it a shot.

2 handfuls of whole wheat pasta (I used spirals)
1 chicken breast
1.5 cups non-fat milk
3 tsp arrowroot
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper

Cook the pasta according to the directions and grill the chicken (I did mine on the stovetop on medium heat). When the chicken is about halfway done, start the sauce. Whisk together the milk and the arrowroot and warm it over medium heat until it starts to thicken. It took me about 5 minutes or so. Then turn the heat to medium low, add in the nutmeg and the pepper and stir to combine. Add the parmesan cheese and continue stirring until it is mostly melted. Add the yogurt and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes more until everything is smooth. By this time the chicken should be done. You can either add the chicken into the sauce, or put the chicken on top of the pasta. Also, you can stir the sauce and the pasta together or you can pour the sauce over the pasta.

I had some trouble finding arrowroot, so the first time I made this I used cornstarch instead. I like it a little better with the arrowroot, but the difference is minimal. It works just fine with cornstarch. although you may need to adjust the amount a little bit. This recipe starts out a bit oddly, since the milk and the arrowroot frothed up as I stirred it. But as soon as I added the nutmeg it calmed right down. Which brings me to my next comment...I never knew that nutmeg was the flavor in Alfredo sauce!

Rating - 4.5/5
Why? This tastes pretty close to the real thing, in my opinion, although the texture is just a little different. Good with chicken, and would also be really good with broccoli.


Baked Cornbread

Remember that chili from the last post? This is the perfect accompaniment! This recipe is adapted from my mom's Jungle Camp Cookbook.

1 cup whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups cornmeal
1.5 cups milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup applesauce

Fold the ingredients together just until blended. Pour into a oiled 9x9 pan, and bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until slightly brown.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? This is pretty good cornbread, and has been cleaned up quite a bit from the original recipe, which called for oil in place of applesauce, white flour in place of whole wheat, and triple the amount of salt. The original recipe also was designed to be baked in a cast-iron frying pan, but I have never managed to cook it that way without burning it.


November Chili

Living in the Pacific Northwest, we either have absolutely glorious Novembers, full of crisp mornings and flaming yellow leaves, or we have dreary, sodden, dripping days of rain. Apparently, this year it's our turn to have a dreary November, and there is nothing better to ward off those days than slow-cooked chili. This recipe is adapted from one off of allrecipes.com.

1/2 bag of mixed dried beans from the back of the cupboard
2 cans of low-sodium black beans
2 cans of organic tomato soup
6 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb low-fat ground turkey, cooked
2 Tlbs ish of chili powder
1 Tlbs basil
1 Tlbs oregano
2 Tlbs red wine vinegar

Soak the dried beans overnight, covering them in at least an inch of water.

In a large pot, combine all the ingredients. Add more chili powder if you want it to be more intense. Bring it to a boil over medium or medium-low heat, then turn down to low and simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

This recipe is infinitely malleable. I also call it "end-of-the-month-chili" since you can throw leftovers in there too - like rice, peas, broccoli, whatever. The original recipe called for 1 can of crushed tomatoes, but I just got regular tomatoes instead, and added the tomato soup since I happened to have it on hand and wanted to adjust the consistency of the soup.

Rating: 5/5
Why? There is nothing better than opening the door to the smell of chili after a long, cold day. This recipe is amazing, and the red wine vinegar totally makes it. I also recommend replacing the red wine vinegar with cider vinegar, as that tastes pretty good too!