Friday, October 19, 2007

Frugal Olive Garden Dinner

I don't know about you but I love going out to dinner. The prices, though, can be steep to feed the entire family. One of the kids favorite places is Olive Garden so I've come up with a few recipes to re-create the Olive Garden experience at a fraction of the price!

Pasta e Fagioli
1lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 sm (1cup) onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lg (1cup) carrot, julienned
3 stalks (1cup) celery, diced
15oz can of tomato sauce
12oz can of V-8
2-14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
15 oz can kidney beans
15 oz can great northern beans (or navy beans)
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1 pkg Datali pasta (or any other small tubular pasta), cooked and drained

Sweat onion, garlic, carrot and celery in large soup pot for 10 minutes. Add beef and simmer 3-5 minutes. Add rest of ingredients (EXCEPT PASTA) and simmer for 1 hour. During the last 10 minutes add cooked pasta.

Serve with garlic butter bread sticks (I buy a box of 6 or 8 at Wal-Mart for less than $2) and Caesar salad.

If that's not enough to satisfy you or if you're entertaining, try adding Spaghetti or Lasagna or Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo.

Quick Alfredo Sauce (from my favorite...The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook)
1/2 cup butter (I wouldn't substitute margarine...hey, I didn't say this was the 'healthy' version)
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley
1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)

Cook butter and whipping cream over low heat until butter has melted. Add cheese and next 3 ingredients; add nutmeg if desired. Pour over pasta and toss well.

(one note - this sauce will separate as it cools; it is best eaten the same day it is made as in my experience it does not reheat well)

4 comments:

Sarah said...

I love to duplicate restaurant recipes too! If you type Olive Garden recipes in your search engine, tons of tried recipes will come back. I love Top Secret Restaurant Recipes books and their sites. Happy cooking!

Christie@tisbutaseason said...

Sarah,

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Making duplicate recipes has helped me to be frugal with our food budget. If The Coach doesn't feel like he's missing out then all's well! :-)

Have a great week!

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Sounds yummy!

My oldest daughter loves to cook and created a Shrimp Alfredo from a visit to Chili's!

Love your songs, too!

Regina said...

oooh, walmart garlic bread is the best.
r