Melissa’s Menu: Restaurant favorites at home


It’s week two of quarantine, and I’m really starting to miss going out to eat. Then I had an idea: Why not make some of my restaurant favorites myself at home? It’s easier than you think, and ends up being a lot healthier than the restaurant version. I’m sharing three recipes that taste so close to the restaurant version you won’t even be able to taste a difference. The first recipe is The Cheesecake Factory’s classic avocado egg roll appetizer. The outside is crispy and flaky, while the inside is creamy and packed with flavor. The second recipe is Chili’s cajun chicken pasta. This pasta dish has the perfect combination of spice, creaminess and cheesy goodness. Lastly we have Outback’s bloomin’ onion, cooked in an air fryer and complete with the special sauce.

These recipes are just three of the many delicious restaurant copy-cat recipes you can make at home!

Avocado egg rolls


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Photo courtesy of

3 avocados, diced

1/4 cup of chopped red onion

3 tablespoons of chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher salt

12 egg roll wrappers

Vegetable oil, for frying

1/3 cup of sour cream

Few splashes of hot sauce


In a large bowl, stir avocados, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, half the cilantro and juice of 1/2 lime together and season with salt. Lay an egg roll wrapper on a clean surface in a diamond shape and spoon two tablespoons of the mixture onto the center. Fold up the bottom half and tightly fold in the sides. Gently roll, then seal the fold with a couple drops of water. Repeat until filling is all used up. In a large skillet, add enough oil to reach one inch up the side of the pan. Heat until it starts to bubble. Add egg rolls and fry until golden, which should take about one minute per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. To make the dipping sauce, stir together sour cream, remaining lime juice, remaining cilantro and hot sauce in a small bowl. Serve egg rolls with dipping sauce.

Cajun chicken pasta


1/2 box of penne pasta

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (thinly cut)

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1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning

3 tablespoons of butter, divided

1 pint of half-and-half

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup and 3 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan

1 diced tomato

1 teaspoon of sliced flat-leaf parsley


Cook penne according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and dust both sides with Cajun seasoning until thoroughly coated. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter. Add chicken, cooking through completely, which should take about five to six minutes on each side. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the skillet, along with half-and-half, garlic powder, salt, pepper and one-third cup of Parmesan. Stir until combined and remove from heat.

Toss pasta in the sauce and divide onto plates. Slice chicken and place atop pasta. Sprinkle each with remaining Parmesan, diced tomatoes and parsley and serve.

Air fryer bloomin’ onion


1 large yellow onion

3 large eggs

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1 cup of breadcrumbs

2 teaspoons of paprika

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of onion powder

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

For the sauce:

2/3 cup of mayonnaise 

2 tablespoons of ketchup

1 teaspoon of horseradish 

1/2 teaspoon of paprika

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano  

Kosher salt


Slice off the onion stem and set onion on its flat side. Cut an inch from the root down into 12 to 16 sections, being careful not to cut all the way through. Flip over and gently pull out the  sections of the onion to separate petals. In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and one tablespoon of water. In another shallow bowl, whisk together breadcrumbs and spices. Dip the onion into the egg wash, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, using a spoon to fully coat. Drizzle onion with oil. Place it into the basket of the air fryer and cook at 375° F until the onion is tender all the way through, for about 20 to 25 minutes. Drizzle with more oil as desired. To make the sauce, whisk together mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, paprika, garlic powder and dried oregano in a bowl. Season with salt. Serve onion with the sauce.

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If You Like This Read:

Melissa’s Menu: Homemade pasta

Melissa’s Menu: Chicken carbonara pasta

Melissa Scrivani is the associate life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at

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