Olive Garden in the big kid’s favorite “grown-up” restaurant (aka they have cloth napkins). He saw a commercial for this deal the other day and told me I had to tell the internet about it.
Olive Gardens Buy One, Take One deal is back for a limited time. The complete list can be found here.
The basics of the deal are that you order a meal to eat in the restaurant from the list above (complete with the soup or salad and breadsticks that you all know and love), and you get to take home another prepped meal (Spaghetti with Meat Sauce*, Fettuccine Alfredo, Five Cheese Ziti al Forno, or Cheese Ravioli) sans soup/salad and breadsticks (although you usually can snag a couple extra breadsticks in a doggy bag if you ask your waitperson nicely).
And don’t forget that Olive Garden has a loyalty club too! You earn points with every purchase, and points can be redeemed for freebies like non-alcoholic drinks, appetizers, entrees, kids meals, and desserts. You can sign up on their website, or in the restaurant at your table on the little Zoosk kiosks.
Aunt Linda’s Mess, this recipe has been in my family for at least 50 years. When I was a kid we ate it at least once a month. My mother was born on her Aunt Linda’s birthday. Aunt Linda and her husband live in Minnesota, where the majority of my mother’s family still lives today. This dinner is what is referred to in the midwest as a “hotdish” and is frequently prepared in an electric skillet. This recipe serves 6-8 with a side dish, like a green salad, or steamed veggies.
This cheesy delicious mess is a great meal for kids and grown ups alike. I’ve modified it a bit from it’s original form (which calls for Velveeta and canned mushrooms).
I’m not sure if Aunt Linda invented this dish or if she inspired this dish- and no one knows why it’s called a mess. It reminds me of a cheesy stroganoff. Regardless- No one can say no to this dish!
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1C chopped mushrooms (fresh are better, but you can used canned mushrooms if you prefer- just remember to drain them!)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (you can use low fat/low sodium if you prefer)
We love Garlic. It’s a good thing that hubs and I both like it, because otherwise this recipe wouldn’t go over too well.
This is my spin on the Spaghetti with Garlic White Wine sauce found here. It appeared in hubs Facebook feed one day several months ago, he sent it to me, and we’ve been tweaking it to make it our own ever since.
To make it a little healthier, I added in 1 large spaghetti squash. If you’ve never cooked one, I write about it here. It’s super easy to cook, and it’s very yummy
Lemon Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole
2 large white onions, cut into quarters and layers separated
1 T Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
2 large lemons, zested and juiced
4 T butter, divided
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced (you can use more or less)
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 T Thyme (I usually have it dried in my spice cabinet, but if you have it fresh, use 5-6 springs)
1 c. Grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 c chicken broth (or pasta water)
1 large spaghetti Squash
If you want to add pasta to this dish, you’ll need 1/2 lb spaghetti, 8-10 cups water (to cook pasta), and salt (to salt the water)
Preheat oven to 350.
Prep spaghetti squash (scoop out the stringy parts and seeds) and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.
Toss cut up onions in oil, salt and pepper. Bake in a baking dish covered for 20-30 minutes, uncover and bake an addition 10-15 minutes.
After the squash is done cooking, allow to cool for about 10 minutes, or until it’s easy to handle. Scoop the “meat” out and set aside.
After onions are done baking, set aside.
If you are cooking pasta, start the water to boil and cook pasta as directed.
Zest and juice the lemons, set aside.
Heat half the butter in a skillet. Once melted, add the minced garlic and cook on medium for 5-ish minutes until fragrant (watch out, it burns really easily). Add red pepper flakes.
Add Lemon juice and wine, turn up the heat for a few minutes. You’ll want to cook off the alcohol, so about 5-10 minutes at medium high heat. Add the baked onions.
Add 2 T. chicken broth (or pasta water), and the remaining butter, and the Thyme. Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat.
Add the spaghetti squash and/or pasta into the skillet, and gently toss to coat. Add lemon zest, and half of the parmesan cheese. If the mixture becomes too thick, add more chicken broth or pasta water a little at a time.
Top with any additional cheese, thyme, and/or pepper flakes.
Here is an extra step that makes it a little better (IMO) but isn’t needed: Place skillet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese on the top is brown and bubbly.
I have made this recipe with both pasta and spaghetti squash. This last time I made it, I used only 1 serving of whole wheat spaghetti, mostly because I prefer the way it turns out when it has the pasta water in it, instead of the chicken broth.
*If you are a vegetarian, feel free to substitute in veggie broth.