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In The Kitchen With Dani Johnson

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Dani’s passion for teaching others to spend wisely begins with the simple step of assessing our kitchens. The average American home over-spends, wasting large amounts of money at the grocery store often throwing away items that go bad before they are ever consumed. Dani is a gourmet chef who cooks not only for her family of six every night but regularly feeds additional guests — she does this on an average of $100 a week! Below, she shares one of her spectacular (budget-friendly) meals with us.

Penne-Pinching PASTA

Makes: 10 - 12 servings. Total Cost: $1.10 per serving!


  • 1 package (5 links) Italian hot sausage (casings removed)
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (or ½ of two different types of onions)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large stalk broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 lbs uncooked pasta
  • Kosher salt

Alfredo Sauce

  • ½ cup butter
  •  4-6 cloves garlic, minced (save time by using a garlic press!)
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 2 cups grated parmesan cheese


Add water and salt to a large pot over medium-high heat. Cover and allow water to come to a boil while you prepare the sauce.

In a two quart sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until light brown. Slowly whisk half and half into the butter mixture. Stir sauce frequently over medium-high heat until cream begins to foam and thickens slightly. While the cream is heating up, add pasta to water and reduce heat to low.

Once the cream and butter mixture foams, reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. While the mixture simmers, add olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan, using a wooden handle to break up the meat; cook until sausage is heated through, about 5-7 minutes.

Once the sauce is thickened and the meat is browning, add cheese to the cream and butter mixture and stir until melted. Allow the alfredo sauce to simmer on low heat. Meanwhile, add the diced onions to the cooked sausage and sauté until onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Stir broccoli florets into the sausage mixture and cook 1-2 minutes. Follow by adding the red and green bell peppers and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes,
or until vegetables are crisp-tender or “al dente”.

Finish by adding the simmering alfredo sauce to the sausage and vegetables mixture and stir to combine. Remove the pasta from heat, drain and return to the pot. Add the sausage and vegetable cream sauce to pasta and stir to combine.

Serve with a fresh garden salad, if desired.

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