Cheating is wrong. We all know this. It’s wrong to cheat on tests. It’s wrong to cheat on a loved one. It’s wrong to cheat on your taxes.
There is, however, one place where cheating is good. In fact, it’s more than good. It’s creative.
I’m talking about the kitchen.
Kitchen cheats are a thing. No more baking powder in the cupboard? A half teaspoon cream of tartar and quarter teaspoon of baking soda will do the trick. A recipe calls for buttermilk? Mix one cup of milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice. You really want a home cooked dinner, but you’re swamped? Slow cooking conversion charts are your new best friend.
My favorite kitchen cheats are copycat recipes.
I love going out to eat. A meal I didn’t cook, dishes I don’t have to wash and tomorrow’s lunch ready to go? Yes, please. Unfortunately, restaurant meals are too expensive to justify dining out often, so I turn to the next best thing: recipes that promise to be just like — insert-favorite-menu-item-here.
I love chipotle chicken pasta. Love it. I used to work for a company that had a cafeteria on site and it served chipotle chicken pasta every Tuesday. Since leaving, I’ve tried to recreate the recipe with varying degrees of success.
My latest attempt is said to be a copycat version of The Cheesecake Factory’s popular entree. I can’t say either way — I haven’t eaten there in years — but I can tell you this version is delicious. It makes a lot of food, about six heaping servings, so feel free to half it. I didn’t and had leftovers for days. Luckily, it was still delicious.
Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons honey (separated)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 large chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter (separated)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound penne pasta
2 to 3 tablespoons adobo sauce
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Tortilla strips and parsley for garnish
Combine lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the honey, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to marinade. Toss and cover. Place bowl in refrigerator, then chop peppers and onions and mince garlic.
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Preheat large skillet on medium high heat. Add one tablespoon butter and olive oil to pan. Once butter melts, add chicken and marinade into pan. Cook on all sides until it starts to brown and chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Once chicken is fully cooked, remove onto a plate.
Heat a pot of water to boiling for the noodles.
Add the other tablespoon of butter into pan. Toss in peppers and onions. Let cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until onions start to become translucent. Then add garlic and let it cook another minute or so. Add last tablespoon of honey and adobo sauce.
Cook pasta al dente in boiling water. Drain and set aside.
Add cream and Parmesan cheese to vegetables. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Let this bubble on medium heat for about 4 minutes or so to thicken.
Add chicken and pasta to skillet, including the juices on the chicken plate. Toss so everything is coated.
Place in large bowl and garnish with tortilla strips, additional Parmesan cheese and parsley.