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I have a special treat for you today. It’s a recipe. Normally I sell this recipe for $1,000 but it’s your lucky day.

OK, I’m just kidding about that, but honestly, it’s worth even more than that because in the world of cakes, this one is worth its weight in gold, which as I update this post is about $1,275 per ounce.

 

Scrumptious 3-layer carrot cake sitting on a glass cake stand with creamy silky frosting and a sprinkling of walnuts

 

You may already be aware of this, but I’ll say it anyway: In this world there is carrot cake and then there is scrumptious absolutely to-die-for carrot cake—the kind of cake you’ve only experienced with a $200-per-person meal at a fancy hotel (you do that all the time, right?).


MORE: Dinner-in-a-Box is Not What I Thought!


It’s the kind of carrot cake that would surely be named the Grand Champion in a competition at a fine culinary school like Le Cordon Bleu Baking and Pastry Arts Program if I’d ever had such an opportunity to compete.

This is the cake that’s going to make your friends and family think you’re a genius! And don’t be surprised when it becomes your signature cake—the one they request for their birthdays. Imagine how beautiful this cake might look on your Easter Buffet this weekend!

As you peruse this recipe, you may be tempted to make a few adjustments. Please do not do that. You’ll think 1 1/2 cups oil is excessive. It’s not. And the pineapple. Seriously? Yes. Do not doubt me.

This is the perfect recipe both in ingredients and proportions, so please follow it exactly. It’s the recipe you’ll be tempted to keep secret and good luck with that! 😉

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A popular restaurant  Hugo’s, in West Hollywood, Calif., has been critically acclaimed for one of its menu items, Pasta Mama.

The first time I heard about it, I thought it was a bit odd. Pasta with eggs? I couldn’t imagine what would prompt people to drive many miles to get Pasta Mama. But they do, insisting, it’s the best pasta they’ve ever eaten.

A plate of gourmet pasta from Hugo's Restaurant, West Hollywood, Calif.

 

I had to try it, and as you might imagine, I love it. I would describe it to you here, but it’s indescribable—indescribably delicious, that is.

But I don’t drive to Hugo’s to pay $14 (plus tax and tip) for this dish. Instead, I make it myself, from scratch, following my copycat recipe. What a wonderful, simply satisfying dinner—or breakfast—entree.

Pasta Mama takes all of about 10 minutes from start to finish and feeds two for a total cost of about $1.50.


RELATED: Simple Tips to Stretch the Food Budget 


At that price, you have little to lose if you try it and don’t like it, and chances are really good that you’ll love it.

In fact, I won’t be surprised to hear that you’ve added Pasta Mama to your family’s list of favorite meals. Serve it once a week and your grocery budget will love you.

 

A plate of gourmet-quality Pasta Mama from Hugo's Restaurant, West Hollywood, Calif.
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Pasta Mama

People drive for many miles to enjoy Pasta Mama at Hugo's, the famed restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif. Here is a quick, easy and super cheap way you can save the trip and make it yourself in under 20 minutes.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword budget dinner, cheap dinner, pasta mama,
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 405kcal
Author Inspired by Hugo's, West Hollywood, Calif.

Ingredients

  • 5 oz pasta dry or fresh like fettuccini or spaghetti
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp seasoning salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley optional
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 tbsp hot water or pasta water
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan

Instructions

  • Prepare pasta according to package directions (or use any kind of leftover pasta).
  • While pasta is cooking, mix seasonings together in a small bowl and beat the eggs in another bowl. Set both aside.
  •  Pour oil (or melt butter) in a 10-inch saute pan. Add minced garlic and the entire amount of seasoning mix (should be 1 teaspoon total).
  • Saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add parsley; add hot pasta right out of the cooking water along with one tablespoon of hot water. (If you are using leftover pasta, make sure it is hot!)
  • Add the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly, tossing it in the pan using tongs.
  • Add Parmesan. Toss and allow to cook for an additional 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

Notes

Pasta Mama has as many variations as you can imagine. To make it Pasta Papa, add any vegetables you would put in an omelet—other cheeses, sausage, bacon, chicken; adjust seasonings to taste. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts
Pasta Mama
Amount Per Serving
Calories 405 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 165mg 55%
Sodium 396mg 17%
Potassium 218mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 54g 18%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 2g
Protein 16g 32%
Vitamin A 4.8%
Vitamin C 1.1%
Calcium 7.3%
Iron 9.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition

Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 165mg | Sodium: 396mg | Potassium: 218mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 4.8% | Vitamin C: 1.1% | Calcium: 7.3% | Iron: 9.4%

 

MORE: Soups to Soothe the Soul and The Budget


Question: Is there a dish you make at home that’s a dead ringer for a popular, pricey restaurant dish? Oh, please share!

PREVIOUSLY: This is the Best Car Trash Can Ever


Original 2-13-2015; Updated 3-29-2019

I may be the only person in the world for whom this happens, but I doubt it. On a whim, I invite a bunch of friends over for Sunday Dinner. Or the phone rings and just like that I need to get a meal on the table in a big hurry because guests are on their way.

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Those are the occasions that I run to an amazing recipe that is easy to prepare, delicious to eat and quite impressive, too. Think: Italian restaurant in a pan. While it’s in the oven I make a big salad and we’re good to go.

This is a recipe that kids love as well as adults. It’s just amazing and I bless the day that the folks at Pillsbury came up with the idea. I, of course, have tweaked the recipe bit, but I give credit where credit is due.

Because life is uncertain, you will always find a bag of Italian meatballs from Costco and several loaves of Italian bread in my freezer, a big jar of marinara sauce in my grocery stockpile and cheese in the fridge.

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I love to bake, however, baking has not always been fond of me. We’ve had our moments. It wasn’t until I surrendered to following recipes exactly that our relationship made the turn.

I had to come to the point that I was willing to measure the ingredients, follow directions and believe that little things like “folding in” does not mean “beating it to death,” “one-cup of flour” doesn’t mean, “that looks about right,” and “butter softened,” does not mean “boiling like a witch’s cauldron.”

Ordinary blueberry muffins

One day, I was reminded about how far I’ve come as a home baker when one of my staff could be heard throughout the office, “These blueberry muffins are insane!” I just smiled, choosing not to confess to how easy they are to make—cheap too, at about 25 cents each. Compare that to my local Panera Bread drive-thru where Blueberry Muffins are $2.79 each—$33.48 a dozen. That’s what I call insane!

Back to the office muffins. Sure, Max called them blueberry muffins, but I call them Einstein Muffins. That’s because every time I make them, I feel like a genius. You can feel like a genius, too—provided you follow these recipes exactly.  Read more

I have loved my Instant Pot since the day it arrived back in 2016. I’ll admit to being slightly intimidated in the first few days but that was short-lived. Thanks to a few tips, tricks, and these ridiculously simple recipes, in no time I was making dinners in 30 minutes or less—start to finish.

Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker

Meals from my Instant Pot are as good (often better) than slow-cooked meals that I have to think about early in the day—and only one pot to clean at the end.

While there are plenty of recipes out there for electric pressure cookers, I find myself going back to my tried and true, no-brainer recipes that are as simple and the gadget itself.

All you need to pull this off in your kitchen is an Instant Pot, a few awesome, albeit it simple, recipes plus a general knowledge for how it works. Here are the basic terms:

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