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My Thursday Thing: Your “Go-To” Dish

Penne Alfredo

As a new cook, it’s important to have a dish that’s easy to make yet delicious that can become your go-to recipe to impress. Something that doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or work but will have your guests coming back for seconds and thinking you’ve mastered the art of cooking.

So, what’s my “go-to” dish? Nearly 30 years ago, my dad took me on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Western Caribbean. It was a wonderful week and we feasted day and night on some of the most incredible food.

When it was time to depart the ship for good, my dad bought me one final souvenir, a set of menus from the dinners they had served. On the back of one of those menus was a recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo. At the time, I was just learning how to cook, and the recipe had only a handful of ingredients, so I learned how to make it with some help from my mom. I didn’t know it at the time, but that dish, with a few minor modifications, would become my go-to dish. In the years to come, I would make it my high school sweetheart’s family and then later for my first real-world girlfriend’s family. Are you seeing a theme here? Eventually, I’d settle down, and this dish became a family favorite. Even today, with a wide repertoire of dishes, this is still a quick and easy go-to dish in times of need.

Here's the simple, step-by-step instructions for how to make this dish. Perhaps, with a little practice, it can become your own go-to dish.

Penne Alfredo


Ingredients (feeds 4-6 people)

3/4 cup heavy cream

6 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese, freshly grated or from a container if it’s the real stuff

1 egg yolk

Salt and pepper

16 ounces uncooked Penne noodles (you can use any short or long noodle you like)

6 TBSP unsalted butter (3/4 of a stick)

Any or all of the following make great add-ins to enhance the dish:

  • 1/2 to 1 pound grilled chicken breast, chopped or sliced

  • 1/2 to 1 pound pan-seared shrimp (and size), left whole

  • 1 pound broiled Italian sausage, sliced

  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas

  • 1/2 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes (if packed in oil, drain; if dried, re-hydrated in hot water for 10 minutes and drain)

  • 1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes


1) Make the sauce. In a 1 cup measuring cup, add the heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Separate the egg from the yolk. Add the egg yolk to the cream mixture. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a fork to break the yolk and mix well to incorporate everything.


2) Prepare the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box, stopping one minute early. Drain the pasta but do not rinse the noodles or use oil. This will prevent the sauce from coating the noodles properly. Don’t worry if they stick a little bit.

Boiling Pasta

3) Finish the dish. Add the butter to the same pot the noodles were cooked in and return to the stove over medium low heat. When the butter has melted, add the noodles back to the pot and toss the noodles to coat them in the butter. Add any of the add-ins you are using to the pot and a little more black pepper and toss again.our the sauce you prepared in step 1 over the noodles and toss to coat. Allow to warm for a minute, tossing occasionally.

Finished Dish in Pot

4) Divide the pasta into decorative serving bowls, top with a little extra Parmesan cheese and serve alongside fresh Italian or French bread. Enjoy!

Served Dish


[King of Perfection]. (2017, November 1). 4 simple ways to separate egg yolks [Video file]. Retrieved from

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