As a busy mom of three, I have days when not a single square inch of open space remains on my week-at-a-glance planner. Perhaps, I need a larger planner - or a few additional hours in my day. Or, maybe an extra driver. No two days are alike, but I know one thing is a given: sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 each evening, I will be making dinner.
Because of our on-the-go lifestyle, I seek out recipes that can be prepared without too much fuss. Food that is healthy and flavorful is a huge plus. After dinner, we usually dash off to a school or sports activity, so I appreciate recipes that don’t require a lot of clean up.
In my quest for a quick and tasty recipe, I came across Cheesy Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli. Any pasta dish is guaranteed to be a hit at my house. I like that all the food groups are incorporated into the recipe, and everything cooks in one pot, which makes for efficient clean up. The recipe promised an easy Alfredo sauce. Easy and homemade? Love it!
The recipe incorporates a new Land O Lakes cheese, 4 Cheese Italian Blend. This cheese can be purchased in some markets in the deli. I am all about products that multi-task and this one certainly does. It combines the flavors of 3 Italian cheeses; Parmesan, Asiago and Romano. American cheese is blended in too, which allows this product to melt really well. Four cheeses within a single cheese; how impressive is that?
Cheesy Alfredo with Chicken & Broccoli requires only 7 ingredients: cavatappi pasta, 4 Cheese Italian Blend, half and half, garlic powder, ground nutmeg, cooked chicken and broccoli florets.
To save time, I cook my chicken in advance. An easy method is to drizzle olive oil over thawed chicken breasts and bake on a cookie sheet at 350°F. The chicken will be done in approximately 40 minutes, when the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Simply chop the chicken and proceed with the recipe, or freeze what you will not need in the next day or two. This is a huge time saver!
Remove the frozen broccoli florets from the freezer so they have some time to thaw. (Just like how sometimes-frazzled moms need time to "chill.")
Your deli will slice the cheese for you, but cut the slices into quarters. The smaller-sized pieces assist with speedier melting. This is the extent of the prep work required.
Cook the cavatappi pasta according to the package directions. Cavatappi has a tubular, corkscrew shape that works well with this creamy sauce. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and set aside.
Now for the Alfredo sauce. Homemade Alfredo sauce usually relies on heavy cream and lots of butter. In this recipe, you just need the cheese, garlic powder, nutmeg, and half & half. Milk can be used instead of half & half. I have made the recipe both ways. Although both variations turned out great, the Half & Half adds some additional creaminess.
Combine all the ingredients in a 3-quart saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is melted. You will witness the melting power of the American cheese.
The cheese may take up to 6 to 8 minutes to melt. Mine melted in about 4 minutes.
Now, add the pasta, chicken and broccoli.
Mix all the ingredients well and continue cooking about 4 to 6 more minutes until the mixture is heated through. That’s all there is to it!
I served Cheesy Alfredo with Chicken & Broccoli along with salad and garlic bread. "DELIZIOSO!" was my family’s response. The creamy texture of the sauce is divine. The Italian flavors come through in the cheese without being overpowering. Because the meal cooks in one pot, the after dinner clean-up is a breeze.
This recipe exceeds my standards for a quick family dinner and I plan to make it again soon. We used our leftover cheese slices on grilled turkey burgers the next evening. The Italian flavor was fabulous, once again. This multi-tasking mom is thrilled to have discovered a new recipe and a versatile new product!
Give this Cheesy Alfredo with Chicken & Broccoli a try for your next weeknight meal, and make sure to rate and review the recipe.
Check back in a few days when Emily will share a tasty coffee shop treat you can make at home.
Tami is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.