Chicken Alfredo

One of the easiest dishes to make that gives the impression you’ve slaved away in the kitchen for hours, and probably one of the most popular items at the Olive Garden. 6 ingredients and about 30 minutes gets you a tasty (but extremely unhealthy) dinner.

Choose your favorite fettuccine. If you want to make your own from scratch go for it, but the cost of dried pasta makes it hard to pass up. If you HAVE to use something other than fettuccine go with spaghetti, or even better linguini, but stay away from rotini or rotelle as the shapes will soak up all of the sauce.

The chicken cut is up to you. I used to swear by breast, but recently have been converted to thighs as the most flavorful part.

Put 6 thighs, 3 breasts or equivalent (boned and preferably skinned) into a skillet with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkling of your favorite Italian herbs. I use garlic powder, rosemary, oregano and basil.

Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally. Start the water for your pasta.

About the time the water starts to boil the chicken should be done. Remove from skillet and chop into bite-size pieces.

The Alfredo sauce:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter … not margarine, butter
1 cup cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese
garlic to taste

Melt butter (if you’re lazy like me just use the same skillet…one less thing to wash) and add the cream. Put the pasta in the water and set your timer.

As the cream starts to simmer add the cheese and garlic. I was out of fresh garlic so I used a spoonful of my in-case-of-emergencies roasted garlic and it came out great.

As the cheese melts it will thicken the sauce. Stir slowly but constantly. Add a bit of black pepper if you like. When it starts to boil immediately remove from heat. By now your pasta should also be done.

Mix the sauce and pasta and top with chicken. Garnish with additional Parmesan and green onions.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Note: Good additions are broccoli or peas & mushrooms.

Smartass Note: It’s Fettuccine, not Fettuccini.

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce (AKA Spaghetti sauce, Neapolitan sauce, pizza sauce, etc) was created by southern Italians when the Spanish explorers brought tomatoes from “The New World” to Europe. The Italian sailors traveling to Spain were naturally the first ones to get their hands on the new fruit hence the name (marinara = mariners). Since southern Italy is heavily influenced by the sea much of the cuisine is seafood, and marinara sauce started out as a seafood sauce, but as it spread north other meats were used. Once the sauce made it’s way back to where the tomatoes came from, it became known as THE pasta sauce.

This is a recipe for a simple marinara sauce. I prefer to make a large amount this way as it freezes very well, and can have meat or spices added to it later, or thickened for pizza.

Two things you can’t skimp on if you want good sauce: tomatoes and basil. If you HAVE to use some other tomatoes, at least use fresh basil.


  • 6 28oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 12oz cans tomato paste
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • handful of fresh basil
  • 2-3 Tbs Italian spices
San Marzano tomatoes which include basil

Open the cans and pour into a 10+ quart pot. Use a stick blender to break the tomatoes up, but don’t feel the need to liquify them since the cooking process breaks them down. Start simmering over low heat.

Blended tomatoesOnce the tomatoes are started, chop the onions and garlic and saute over medium-high heat with a bit of oil until translucent.

Onions and garlic. (I used roasted garlic in this shot)

Mix onions and garlic into the tomato sauce and return the pan to the burner. Pour tomato paste into the pan and stir constantly to caramelize and thicken the paste.

Once the paste has darkened, add wine to deglaze the pan and add to the sauce.

Chop the fresh basil along with any other fresh herbs you’re using and add to sauce.

Add any dried herbs and spices you like. I use fresh basil, a bit of black pepper and 2-3 Tbs mix of oregano, thyme, marjoram and rosemary, saving the crushed red pepper for myself.

Add olive oil to the sauce and stir well. Reduce heat as low as you can and simmer for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally.

Once it has cooled the sauce can be frozen for months. Reduce a few cups of the sauce for use on pizza or as breadstick dip. Save a jar in your fridge for topping leftovers.

But first, while it’s fresh, serve with pasta, Parmesan cheese and garlic bread.

Note: Many people use carrots, I choose not to, but nothing wrong with that. Also, for the best results, brown a large piece of beef or pork in the pan before starting.

Barbecue dry rub

A rub is a combination of spices, herbs and other flavorings added to meat before cooking. It is to both add flavor to the finished product as well as create a crust called “bark” on the meat to help seal in juices. The basic ingredients commonly used are salt, brown sugar, paprika and chili powder. This is a recipe for a generic pork rub, and should be tweaked for both the meat as well as the intended diners. For example, many people expect ribs to be spicier than pulled pork or brisket.

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 2 TBS garlic powder
  • 2 TBS onion powder
  • 2 TBS chili powder
  • 1 TBS salt
  • 1 TBS cayenne
  • 1 TBS mustard powder
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1 TBS white pepper
  • 1 TBS black pepper
rub spices
Clockwise from 12 o' clock: garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, black pepper, paprika, mustard powder, chili powder, white pepper. Brown sugar is peeking out of the center, and is underneath all of the others.

Mix well and rub all over your choice of meat before putting in the oven/smoker/grill. Some people like to coat the meat with yellow mustard first to help the rub stick, but I haven’t found any difference in flavor, and seems like a waste of mustard to me.