Category Archives: Recipes

How to Cook Good Food Inspired by Your Favorite Restaurants!

This afternoon, we went to our “Dinner for 6” dinner club group, and our friend said she was making Pasta e Fagioli inspired by the soup at Olive Garden that she likes.  In an effort to go along, I thought I’d shoot for an Olive Garden-inspired salad, only making it better by replacing romaine for the iceberg and leaving out the only food I can’t love: olives.

In the process, I found out about, this lovely website that provides copy cat recipes of restaurant dishes.  How lovely!

So here’s the link to Olive Garden Salad.  I recommend replacing the iceberg with a romaine or green leaf lettuce.  Also, I substituted Newman’s Own Light Italian with a bit of salt and pepper added in lieu of the “real” Olive Garden dressing, which is probably much higher in sodium.

My friend used the recipe for Pasta e Fagioli from America’s Test Kitchen subsituting the bacon with italian sausage.  With a bit of parmesan sprinkled on top, it was a soup with incredible flavor.

The combination of the soup with the salad was! So, next time you’re in the mood for Italian, I totally recommend this soup/salad combo…and next time you want to make a better version of your favorite restaurant dishes, try CopyKat!

From Scratch: Hummus

Hummus is where it’s at.  Over the last few years, I’ve definitely noticed hummus’ growing popularity on yuppie grocery stores specialty shelves.  But guess what?  You can save the $6.99 for 6 oz and make something better and waaaaaay cheaper at home!  Super, super easy if you have at least a small food processor.  Full of protein, flavor, and great as a main dish or side dish for a vegetarian main course.

Here’s how I do it, thanks to my first roommate and her amazing tutorials:


*Chick Peas (about 1 c. dried or 1 can per batch.  Start with Step 3 if you’re using canned.  Dried save you sodium, $$ and have better texture/flavor.)
*1 lemon or lemon juice
*1 heaping T. Sesame Tahini (orange can found near the peanut butter)
*1-2 Fresh Garlic Cloves
*Salt to taste
*Other things you want in your hummus.  I like plain or roasted red pepper & basil.  Husband likes jalepeno.  Yuppies seem to like roasted garlic.

  1. Soak several cups of dried chick peas in water (Overnight for morning hummus or before work for dinner hummus.)
  2. Swap out the soaking water and replace water till it’s 1 inches higher than the beans in pan.  Cook dried chick peas 1-2 hours until they’re soft.  Drain them.
  3. Fill a small food processor about 80% full with drained, cooked chick peas. Add either lemon juice or 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon, along with tahini, garlic, and a 1/2 t. salt.  Blend together.
  4. Throw in extra veggies such as jalepenos, roasted red peppers, or herbs like basil or cilantro if you want.
  5. Gradually add small amounts of water to smooth out texture and continue to blend.
  6. Check flavor, and add additional tahini, salt or garlic to taste.  Finish off with extra water if needed to make texture completely smooth.

Serve with pita bread, as a spread for sandwiches (my fave is hummus, turkey, pepperocini, lettuce, and a little italian or caesar dressing), or with tortilla chips.  Makes a great main dish for lunch or appetizer.