Tag 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 www.copykat.com, 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 a.maze.ing! 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!

Fall Creative Cooking

Lately, since husband and I have actually been home more often, and because we’ve tightened the belt on our food budget a bit, it’s been an opportunity for some creative recipes in the kitchen.   I’ve been working to figure out interesting ways to work through our weekly box of veggies from Garden Treasures before everything goes bad, using only the things in our cabinets and buying as little new stuff as possible.

Here are some of the creative options that popped up this week:

1)  Chocolate Cake…with beets! No, really!  I got the recipe from Simply in Season, and it gives the cake a nice rich fruity flavor…we paired it with a white chocolate raspberry buttercream frosting, and amazing things resulted!  I even fed them to a bunch of people who had no idea they were made with beets (except now they know…if they’re reading this.)  Way to go beets!  I don’t always love you beets, but you definitely transformed yourself into a rad cake this week.

2)  Mashed Potato Stuffed Chili Peppers! I collected about 75 peppers from my final end-of-summer harvest from the backyard bucket garden, and husband requested stuffed peppers.  Turns out you can roast peppers, whip up some mashed potatoes (avec cream cheese), pipe them into the roasted peppers, sprinkle them with cheese, and amazing things result!  (via Simply Organic.)  Way to go peppers!  (These are so amazing, I keep sneaking back to the kitchen for more!)

I also made some not-so-creative spaghetti sauce with the last of my tomatoes…it resulted in about 6 cups of sauce.  What a crummy year for tomatoes…not the harvest I was hoping for.

Can’t wait to see what’s in the box this Thursday!  I’m hoping for pumpkins!

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.