My youngest son & me

My youngest son & me

About me

My name is Tanja (Sater) Miller and I'm excited about sharing my journey of converting my favorite recipes to gluten free! I am not a fancy cook - I prefer just a casual, fun meal. I am married with grown children (and have small grandchildren) & 3 dogs. I work full time as a registered nurse & I am a geek. Yes, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, Fringe, Firefly, Farscape and most of the other Scify shows. You will probably see a little of my geek side come out once in a while! Please join me on my journey of cooking, baking & converting every day recipes into yummy gluten free meals that everyone can enjoy (not just those with a gluten allergy!) Don't be shy about checking out my recipes....I have the gluten free version along with the regular recipe that I adapted from!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pasta Alfredo

Pasta Alfredo. Dinner to the table in less than 20 minutes! The great thing about this dish is that you can add chicken, seafood, beef, pork, sausages or vegetables (or serve it plain for vegetarian entree) and it is a quick meal. It literally goes together super quick and you probably already have the ingredients on hand. On busy weeknights, I like to get dinner to the table in less than 20 minutes. This is one of those "go-to" recipes that gets dinner to the table really quick especially if you "cheat" and use rotisserie chicken, pre-cooked shrimp, pre-cooked chicken sausages or chicken tenders that you can cook up in a skillet in just a few minutes. Why go out to dinner and spend a fortune and the long wait...when you can cook dinner for your entire family for the price of one meal at a restaurant? Especially when it is this easy! Traditional Alfredo sauce calls for heavy cream which most people don't have on hand & it is pretty heavy on the tummy. I like this recipe because it calls for cream cheese which I usually have on hand. Just don't tell my husband this recipe has cream cheese in it...he thinks he doesn't like cream cheese and I sure don't want to ruin this dish for him when he finds out the main ingredient is something he "thinks" he doesn't like! ;)

I am not saying this is a recipe you would find on the cooking channel that competes with professional chefs and specialty ingredients. This is a fast, affordable but still delicious recipe. (Leftovers are even better the next day after flavors have "blended") This is a REALITY recipe that busy parents can make fast & on a budget to feed a hungry family. You don't need a bunch of special expensive spices or ingredients. It's a casual recipe. I wasn't posting these super easy dinner recipes on the blog originally because I figured that everyone had these basic recipes and wasn't interested in mine. However, I have been asked by my kids, friends and family to post more of my daily dinner recipes that are fast and economical because that is what they need for their everyday busy schedules and let's face it...most people like pasta...especially kids & it's economical.

I try to use up whatever meat I have in my refrigerator or freezer to go with this pasta Alfredo sauce. My husband prefers shrimp, scallops or langostino lobster tails. My kids prefer chicken. My mom prefers chicken sausages and adding spinach or broccoli. It all works. If you prefer vegetarian then you don't have to add any meat. You can also use this as a side dish. I make it with gluten free noodles (whatever shape I have on doesn't  have to be fettuccine noodles!) but you can use regular noodles if you don't have a gluten allergy. If you prefer using hamburger then it will be like a "hamburger helper" version. It all works. Be creative and use what you have on hand.

This Pasta Alfredo sauce recipe is also a great "sauce" recipe for making a white lasagna. If I am making a chicken lasagna or a vegetarian vegetable lasagna then I like to use this recipe. It has so much more flavor than the super runny store bought versions that taste more like corn starch than Alfredo sauce. I also like to use this sauce as the base for my homemade baked Ziti and for my Macaroni & Cheese recipe. I just add additional different flavor cheeses for a creamy, flavorful sauce. If you want to spice it up a little bit, you can use a flavored cream cheese like Chipotle flavor or Jalapeno flavor. I like to use half Chipotle cream cheese + half regular cream cheese if I decide to add some black beans & corn to the pasta for a "Mexican" flavored dish. Yeah... like I said before...I get creative sometimes because I use what I have on hand. You can add noodles & cheese sauce to just about anything and it turns out yummy! That is why I like quick pasta dishes on busy work nights! ;)

Pasta Alfredo Recipe:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (you can use regular or light cream cheese. If you use fat free then you may need to add 1 additional tablespoon corn starch or tapioca starch to get it to thicken. Be sure your corn starch is gluten free if you have a gluten allergy!)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (you can use any type of milk including vitamin D, 2%, 1% or fat free. I have used them all at one time or another and they all worked. I use whatever I have on hand).
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter. I like to use real, unsalted butter but you can substitute margarine although you may loose some of the rich flavor that only butter can provide.
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 1-2 tbs. fresh minced garlic (or substitute 1 tsp. garlic powder, not garlic salt!). I like the flavor of fresh garlic and try to use it whenever possible.
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 12-16 oz. pasta noodles, any shape (I used Ronzoni gluten free noodles in my batch today)
  • 12-16 oz meat (any type), optional (I used chicken breasts for today's batch)
 If you are cooking meat then start it going first. I used boneless, skinless chicken breast today that I cut into strips to cook faster. I just cooked with a little olive oil and garlic in a skillet & set off to the side while I prepared the other ingredients. If you are using already cooked meat then you can just warm it up after everything else is done. Put your noodles in a pan of water and bring water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to box instructions. I find that I need to cook the Ronzoni gluten free noodles a minute or two longer than it says on the box so they are a little softer. In the meantime add the butter to a skillet along with the garlic. Cook until melted and then add the cream cheese (I cut into cubes before adding to the skillet because it melts faster) and cook until smooth and melted. Add the Parmesan cheese, corn starch (or tapioca starch) and milk. Cook, stirring constantly until smooth, creamy and slightly thick. Salt & pepper to taste. By this time, the noodles should be done. Drain & rinse noodles. Pour sauce over noodles and gently toss. You can mix your meat (and any veggies that are pre-cooked if you are adding them) into the pasta-sauce mixture or you can serve them on the side. I like to lay my meat on the top for better presentation and veggies on the side so people can eat what they want and not have to pick stuff out of the pasta if they don't like it. Sometimes if I feel a little fancy...I will garnish it with chopped basil or parsley for color.

Cooking the melted butter, garlic and cream cheese until smooth

Cooking the sauce after adding remainder of ingredients

Served immediately (sauce will thicken as it sits)

Up close view of pasta & sauce

Dig your fork in! Time to eat!

Another view of chicken & pasta

Ready to eat!

Up close view of the creamy sauce bursting with flavor

I hope you enjoy one of my family's favorite quick & easy weekday dinner meals. I love the flexibility of this recipe. I know it isn't "authentic Italian" but it is still delicious. Besides, it is quick, easy & affordable...and I am able to get it to the table in less than 20 minutes which is important to me on busy weeknights.

Feel free to share your pictures or your version of this pasta dish. We all learn from each other and I enjoy hearing your tips & what combinations you do with a basic recipe!

Gluten Free Casually

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