Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Here are the facts:
  • I love broccoli and DJ hates it.
  • We're on a budget so I dug through the pantry to see what was on hand when I planned our weekly menu.
  • I have been getting more and more adventurous in my cooking and in my flavors I'm willing to try.
  • I'm trying to cook healthy foods while staying in budget.
Now that you know the facts, here's the menu:
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Home-made alfredo (from scratch!)
  • Grilled chicken
  • Fettucine
All of it was new for me. I mean, I've made chicken but never put the seasonings on it to make fettucine alfredo. I've boiled fettucine, but I've always used a can of sauce and frozen chicken. This was an entirely new menu for me. I'm very proud of myself for attempting such a feat all in one night! (DJ's quite proud of me too. And, he says it's his new favorite.) So, here you go. Do with this what you will:

Roasted Broccoli - Your best bet is to check out Alton Brown's recipe here. Before today, we'd never had Panko Bread Crumbs. They're basically Japanese bread cumbs. I found them on-line for $12 and felt like that was just a little ridiculous. So I made my own! I crushed the fool out of three sleeves of saltine crackers (about three-four cups). I put them in a Ziploc bag and beat them with a rolling pin. (That was a blast and a half!) I tossed them in the bowl and mixed them up with 2T basil, 2T thyme, 1t chili powder, and 2t ground pepper. Stir them up, spread them out on a cookie sheet, and put them in a 325 degree oven for 6-8 minutes. Shake/stir them around and make sure they're that good and dry but you don't want them browned and toasted. Best of all, the house smelled AMAZING! And, I felt super fancy and cool. It made a ton, so the rest are in the freezer. We'll use them to coat chicken, as a crunchy topping for salads, or on top of veggies and casseroles. I'm excited about the possibilities!
We then used our Panko Bread Crumbs on our broccoli. DJ hates broccoli and was very skeptical and was sure he'd hate it. He had two huge helpings and ranted and raved about how delightful it was! I know it sounds different - but it's so worth it! What a great new way to get veggies on the table. For me, it was just a little spicy so I liked the pieces that were bigger and had more of the sweet stem. DJ liked the kick and picked out the smallest pieces. (I might have to do something to cut the chili powder in the Panko. Or maybe the garlic in the broccoli. We have left overs so I'll figure something out.)

Homemade Alfredo Sauce
I know, alfredo's not too healthy. So I found a healthier option. 1/2 cup cream cheese (we used 1/3 reduced fat), 1 cup milk, 3T shredded Parmesan cheese, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2t salt, 1/2t pepper, 3T parsely. Pour all but the parsley in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Heat in a saucepan and add parsely. I forgot that last step and so the pepper had quite the kick! It was delicious, just a lot of pep when combined with everything else.

The chicken
I took frozen chicken breast and marinated it in lemon pepper marinade for several hours. I cut it in bite sized pieces and tossed it in the skillet with a little olive oil. I sprinkled a mariade of spices in the pan until it smelled good. I think I used lemon pepper spice, garlic powder, and onion powder. I don't remember what all I used - I just know it was GOOD! It was incredible! I could have picked all of that chicken out and eaten it alone. I didn't, but I could have. When the chicken was done I chunked it in the sauce pot with the alfredo so they could share their yummy goodness with each other.

Toss it all on the table with some fruit and a bowl of fettucine (I wish we'd had whole wheat pasta on hand - I'll make sure to buy it in the future) and here was our result:

I think it made for a beautiful table and quite a yummy meal! And, just for fun and just because I love the camera on my iPhone so much, here's a close up of the broccoli yumminess:

Enjoy! Let me know if you need more details on recipes. And don't be afraid to roast some broccoli! It's a quick veggie and because you roast it, you're not at risk of losing all those wonderful nutrients in the bright green trees. :) (Random broccoli facts: Most of the nutrition is in the floret at the top, not in the stem. And, when you microwave broccoli you lose 86-98% of the nutrients. I assume this applies to those handy steamer bags but I'm not sure. I'll have to research it all...)

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