Friday, March 27, 2009

A lightened up Cheesecake Factory meal...

My husband and I like to eat out more than we care to admit. The last time we made it to the Cheesecake Factory he ordered the Louisiana Chicken Pasta. Sure enough, as always, the meal was killer. I thought I'd try to find a copycat recipe to surprise him with, and sure enough, I found one that had great reviews. The only problem - I refused to make a dish so fattening, especially when the nutrition information was flashing in my face. The easiest change I could make was to nix the cream and replace it with low fat evaporated milk on the advice of my friend Dana. I kept everything else pretty much the same.

I was leery of the flavors being the same. The cream sauce was pretty much just red and yellow peppers, and red onion. I thought for sure there had to be some Cajun seasoning in there. I decided to try to trust the recipe and add Cajun seasoning if I felt it wasn't right. I kept sniffing the sauce to see how close it was. From the moment I added the evaporated milk to the peppers and onion, I knew instantly that this copycat recipe had nailed it.

The result: it was SO CLOSE to the real thing. Definitely a recipe we will be making again perhaps when the funds aren't there to hit the restaurant for the real thing.

Go to RecipeZaar
here for the recipe (it's pretty long, but easy when you have a hubs who doesn't mind helping you out in the kitchen). Note that my only changes were: (1) to sub lowfat evaporated milk in place of the cream, and (2) I scaled the servings down to 2, and there was plenty of food for 3-4 people. You're sure to enjoy this if you try it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sausage Coins & Farfalle

Sometimes I feel like I make the idea of dinner too complicated. I look for "recipes" and sometimes I find one that seems easy enough, uncomplicated, and ends up tasting good. But other times I just don't even want to think about it. That explains the extreme lack of posting lately.

So yesterday I was stressing over what to make for dinners this week, and I recalled a lunch I once had at La Cena Italian Ristorante. It was called Linguini Salsiccia e Broccoli di Rape, also known as Italian sausage sauteed with garlic and olive oil, topped with broccoli rabe and crushed red pepper then tossed with linguini. Of course I ordered it minus the broccoli rabe. I've never had it before and have heard it tastes bitter, so I decided not to even go there.

This dish, in all of its simplicity, was so good that 4 months later I was remembering it out of nowhere and craving it. So I made a stop at the grocery store to grab some things for the next few nights worth of dinners (God willing I cook each night) and set to trying to recreate this dish.

And so, here it is:


Enough farfalle for 2 servings, cook according to package directions (linguini would of course work just as well)

2 italian sausage links (hot or mild), cut into coins (hint: it helps if the sausage has been in the freezer for an hour or so - and to have a sharp knife)

2 Tbsp olive oil

several generous dashes of crushed red pepper

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

grated parmesan for serving


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add sausage coins and saute until nicely browned on both sides.

3. When the sausage is done browning, shake a healthy dose of crushed red pepper and add garlic. Turn the heat down a little to prevent the garlic from burning. Sautee quickly until fragrant and return to a medium sized bowl.

4. When pasta is done, drain and add pasta to the bowl with the sausage coins. Toss. Add in more crushed red pepper to taste.

5. Serve with parmesan cheese.
(Serves 2)