Friday, December 27, 2013

10 Sexi Sopranos of the Past

Hey there, sexi sopranos. It’s christmas month, the one time of the year it is acceptable to stuff our faces with goodies like pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with your mamas homemade gravy. But the fun doesn’t stop there — to add even more oodles of fun we get to watch football!

Ok, so maybe not all of us are looking forward to four hours of parking it on a couch. You’re thinking, “What can I do?” Well I’m so glad you asked that question, because you can take that time to read or youtube any of these ten sexy sopranos from the past. They were some fierce divas in their time, but now they have been nearly forgotten. It’s time for them to make another appearance in the spotlight, so let’s start off the countdown:

Talk about a soprano with some Spanish pizzazz — Monserrat Caballe is a Spanish soprano and is known mostly for her portrayal of bel canto roles. If you have never heard her “Poveri fiori” from Adriana Lecouvreur, head over to Youtube and prepare to have your heart melted.

Her international breakthrough came in 1965 as a substitute for
Horne at Carnegie Hall
, where the crowd went wild over her fabulous singing. She went on to perform all around the world, and as time went on and her voice changed, she took on harder repertoire. Her portrayal of Mimi in 1988 marked the final show in her singing career.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Your Body is Your Instrument

Unlike all other musicians, singers have something incredibly special that sets us apart. We do not have to carry any heavy instruments to our rehearsals or rely on the quality of craftsmanship for a performance. Our body — the only one we get in this lifetime, and the one that houses the initial talent we were given from the start to strengthen and beautify — is our instrument. Only if everything is running on all cylinders and functioning at its best and healthiest capacity can we even hope to give our greatest performance. This is why it is so important that we, as singers, take care of our instruments and keep them in tip top shape.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Home Remedies

You’ve braved treacherous winter weather through the fall audition season. You’ve climbed the Thanksgiving food mountain. You’ve battled maniacal sale shoppers in search of the best holiday gifts. Now you’re ready to take on a new year! With all of the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s easy for your immune system to get worn down (not to mention the lack of sleep!). Don’t let illness or winter blues put a damper on your 2014 plans!

This warm, comforting tea

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Becoming an Artist

Becoming an “artist” can be challenging for a singer. Like the transition from a young artist or student to a professional, we can all continue to grow and learn over the course of our lives if we remain open. This is not a hindrance in becoming an artist, it gives the ability to show greater depth in artistry.
How do you take all the different information from the coaches, teachers, conductors and directors and weed the good from the bad? Sometimes there is no “wrong” choice, but which one is right for you? We rely on coaches, teachers, conductors, other singers and tradition to tell us how to perform a piece, but at some point you have to start thinking for yourself and make your own decisions.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Skin Care on a Professional Singer’s Budget

Taking care of our bodies is one of the most important aspects of being a professional singer. We have to wear heavy costumes, wigs, and thick stage make-up while we run around on stage — all the while singing for durations that sometimes exceed 3 hours. Not to mention all the exhausting hours of staging and rehearsal to get the show up and running!

Not only do you need to be in great vocal and physical shape, you need to feel great to be successful in the business. If you are stressed, over-tired, or not getting enough vitamins and minerals, it can show in your skin. Your skin works hard to protect you — protect it! 
As a professional singer, it can be hard to give your skin all the care and attention it deserves. Traveling to and from different parts of the country or overseas can affect our complexion. Eating certain foods with high fat content can cause breakouts, leading to even more stress. This can also be frustrating, because as singers, our expenses sometimes exceed our income. We tend to buy what is cheap and affordable and not think about how it might affect our skin.
Here are a few helpful things to maintain a healthy complexion and to provide maximum skin care on a budget:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Part 3 AUDITION GUIDE "Preparing for Auditions"

It’s that time of year again!  Can you hear the Christmas bells ringing, and smell the cinnamon, spices, and evergreens?  Do you feel the sure excitement about visiting with family, seeing all the lights, eating turkey and stuffing and drinking hot cocoa and warm cider? Oh, but wait. Surely those thoughts of the holidays are wonderful, but there’s also the unforgettable rush of cars and the pressure of remembering words and notes, the freezing cold blowing against your face, and sirens and people everywhere, crammed into small hallways all pushing towards the same goal! Ah, yes, it is the season.  Auditions in New York; how we’ve missed you for the last 10 months.

The first time I landed in New York City for auditions was the first time I had ever landed in New York City! I was on my own. All I had with me was one carry-on with an audition outfit, a few necessities, and a mission to complete my first opera young artist program audition.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Falling for Fall- Baked Apples with Maple Oat Crumble

Sexi fans, we’ve got another one for you! We love fall so much, we’re loading you up with ideas to keep your fall season Sexi!  This week’s focus: the quintessential fall pastry dish, the one that brings you right back to Grandma’s house every time. We’re talking, of course, about apple pie.

There is obviously nothing you can’t love about a good apple pie. The buttery, flaky crust encompasses a warm, gooey,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Part 2: AUDITION GUIDE "Budgeting and Money Saving Tips for Audition Season"

 It’s that time of year again- Audition Season! The anticipated two months of auditions that every singer spends all year preparing for. It is the time of year where your skills as a performer are tested against the stresses of travel, money management, and endurance. Every year singers spend thousands of dollars on application fees, food and travel expenses, audition attire, headshots, accompanist fees…the list goes on and on.  How can singers save up for this time of year? Create a budget. Putting away a little bit of money from your paycheck each month can help you save up for this time of year. Taking time to plan your audition trip and make a list of expenses can also help reduce costs.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Falling for Fall- Butternut Squash

Ahhh, Fall! How we welcome your cool breezes, your festive ambiance, your ability to gather loved ones from far and near, those inevitable 10 holiday pounds…well, ok, maybe not so much that last one. Fall is notorious for the delicious bounty it brings. It inspires warm flavors, feel-good comfort foods, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love baking a nice pumpkin bread while humming a tune with the windows open and the smell of autumn wafting in from outside?

While richness abounds during this fabulous season with pies, breads, and gravy-laden everything, there are many healthy alternatives that will leave you feeling equally as warm and fuzzy inside as their indulgent counterparts.

One popular fall side dish is the infamous sweet potato casserole. Loaded with added sugar, butter, and marshmallows, those once-nutritionally sound sweet potatoes have been given a calorically nightmarish (although, admittedly tasty) makeover. So how do you get your sweet side fix?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Part 1: AUDITION GUIDE "How to survive your first NYC audition trip"

                  If you pursue classical singing for any length of time, chances are eventually you’ll need to go to New York City for an audition. Companies and training programs from all over the country (and world) audition singers there and often nowhere else. Here are some tips to help make your first trip to NYC an enjoyable and fruitful one!

Where to stay. After you’ve been in the game awhile, it’s very likely that you’ll have friends in New York with whom you can crash. Often though, for that first trip you don’t know anyone who lives there yet, and are on your own when it comes to housing. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that hotels in New York are very, very expensive. A middle-of-the-road chain, such as Best Western or La Quinta, will cost $250 a night in Manhattan. If you have a trust fund, or exceptionally generous parents, by all means go for it. For the rest, you’ll need to be a little creative.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Recipes for Special Diets (and everyone else, too!)

Living in today’s foodie society, it seems one would be able to find something for every culinary palette and dietary need.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  It can be difficult to find a satisfying variety of foods and recipes for special diets, and even harder to find one that doesn’t break your budget. Never fear, Sexi! This one’s for you!

There are countless types of protein and energy bar products on today’s market, but the laundry list of ingredients on the label is not only concerning, it also makes it difficult to determine if it’s safe for your special diet. Not only will these yummy bars give you a healthy energy boost, they contain easy-to-find and affordable ingredients, they are super simple to make, and they fit perfectly into special diets. The best part?  Think of these as an amped up version of your favorite childhood Rice Krispy Treats, minus the subsequent sugar crash. All-natural peanut butter and honey hold together scrumptious ingredients such as dried fruit and gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free chocolate chips, creating a flavor combination that will delight your inner child while keeping all the perks of a grown-up energy snack. Power up, Sexi, these are delish!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Grocery Shopping: Plan ahead to be healthier and save $$$

Step 1: PLAN
 Sit down and plan out your weekly meals.  Google Recipes or check out Sexi Soprano Cooks:) Make sure you know the quantities that you need for the week (or two or three depending how far in advance you are planning)
*If the thought of making three meals a day seems daunting, then plan a double portion of each meal, and use the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.

Make a list of ingredients needed at the store and organize them into sections based on where they are in your store (or if you are like us at Sexi Soprano and shop at several store to save money,  organize by store).

Step 3: SAVE money by shopping at different places.  
-For Produce:Your local farmers market-.  Shop weekly for ONLY WHAT YOU NEED for the week.  
-For grains (quinoa, rice, couscous ect) Shop at costco or Sams Club.  Buying in bulk can save lots of money and you are set with your grains for weeks or months.
-For Spinach (for those who drink green smoothies): again Costco or Sams.  You can get a 5 pound bag for around $5.  Freeze the spinach so it will last longer and then throw it in your smoothie when ready
-For meat, cheese, canned goods: Try your Walmart or Target Superstore


Step 5: Immediately PREP your groceries
-Divide meats into individual portions and freeze
-Cook your grains in advance and store in tupperware.  This saves time when cooking meals later.
-For veggies you will use in the next few days, prep them by cutting them to the size you need and storing.

-Hang up your list of planned meals so that you can stay on track throughout the week.  


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Learning Operatic roles is ongoing, and I find that I can learn on the train or the subway, during a manicure, getting my hair done, and even while driving if I only look at my score during the red lights."

-Renee Fleming
"leaLearning operatic roles is ongoing, and I find that I can learn on the train or subway, during a manicure, getting my hair done, and even while driving if I only look at the score at red lights.

A Book A Day Keeps the Boredom Away!

Hello little sexy sopranos! So we’ve established it’s Fall — there’s pumpkin and apple scents everywhere and the amount of clothes we put on each day is multiplying. Pretty soon it will be snowing and then it’s adios outside world, hello couch kingdom. However, instead of becoming a couch potato watching reruns of Boy Meets World, wouldn’t you like to engage that pretty little brain of yours while being entertained!? Here are some books that you’ll love to curl up with, perfectly paired with hot cocoa and a blankey on a crisp Saturday afternoon!

The Diva Looking for Fiction, Fiction, Fiction:

 Bel Canto by Ann Patchet
Summary: Set in South America, opera singer Roxanne Cross mesmerizes the audience with her voice at a lavish dinner party. But what happens when a group of terrorists crash the party and hostages are taken? In this twist of a tale with ups and downs Ann Patchet keeps us on our toes!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Relationships on the Road

It’s a great feeling—after a grueling audition season and an endless stream of rejections, you get the call you’ve been waiting for: a contract!! After the initial jubilation has worn off and the good news spread to all and sundry, reality starts to sink in. A contract, yes, but one that takes you away from your significant other for days, weeks, months. Takes some of the shine off, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, time spent away from loved ones is an aspect of this business that isn’t going away. It’s crappy, it’s sucky, and you can complain about it all you want, but it is simply a fact of the operatic life. If your relationship is a priority in your life, you’re going to have to work to keep it strong during long periods of separation. My fiancé and I spent two years of our relationship an ocean apart, and even though we now technically live in the same place, we spend practically as much time apart as together. Here are some things we’ve learned along the way:

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Complaint: I don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. What can help motivate me?
Answer:  Fruits and veggies provide many of the nutrients needed to prevent heart disease and cancer, as well giving you the tools you need to stay healthy and energized for late night rehearsals and traveling. Joining a local farm share can help you to stimulate the economy and motivate you to eat them!

Complaint: I am so busy I just want to buy easy things to cook.
Too busy to go out and shop?  Try a local organic delivery service such as Door to Door Organics.  This service allows you to select produce and have it DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR!  No more excuses not to make those green smoothies or to incorporate vegetables.  Chances are if you pay to have them delivered, you will find a way to eat them and voila! More veggies in your diet.  Look for a local delivery service in your area.

Complaint: But, they are too expensive!!
Companies like these are very affordable.  We priced out the same products that came in one box of organic produce verses the price in the grocery store and the difference was $25!!  On average, a small box costs $20.  This can often be split into 2 weeks. Just think about it $10 a week for ORGANIC produce, AND you are supporting your local farmers. :)

Complaint: I don't know how to cook them!
Door to Door Organics offers a search engine on their site where you can type in the produce name, and it will give you a list of recipes that go along with it. You can save these in bookmark form or you can save them in your meal "plan".  You see in advance what is coming in your box and can plan your other ingredients around your produce box.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Store Bought vs. Homemade

Ladies and gentleman, get ready for this edition of Sexi: Versus!, a fun column which  compares store bought and prepackaged foods with their home-assembled counterparts, focusing on cost, value, and nutrition! Today’s contenders are the convenient and beautifully packaged “Cottage Double”  and the made-with-love cottage cheese and fruit spread bowl.

Our first contender boasts the epitome of ease with its ready-to-go packaging and mindful portion size, complete with 2% cottage cheese and a sweet fruit topping.  This little snack pack is available in several  flavors to suit your every craving and tasty desire…just grab a spoon and you’re set to dig in.  When you catch them on sale, they average about $1.00 a pop, which won’t set you back a whole lot and is a far better choice than the “dollar double cheeseburger” you saw advertised on that sign driving to work. But will it satisfyyour hunger? Will it fulfill your nutritional needs?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Nobody Said It Was Easy!

A Guide to Successful Fitness and Health While on the Road

Greetings Sexi Sopranos!

Many of you have asked us to talk about topics such as agents, auditions, and attractive fashions for performing, BUT the big topic suggestion buzzing around our feed is Fitness and Health.

We know many of you are traveling for auditions for jobs, schools, groups, and young artist programs but are scared to death of failing to maintain your daily workout routine. Fear not Sops! The team at Sexi Soprano is here to help you out with a few suggestions for exercising and eating healthy while on the road! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

JFK Becomes and Opera!

Fort Worth Opera lives up to its word by commissioning new opera!

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Aria Ready: The Business of Singing " A new book by Carol Kirkpatrick

"You are the product, the company and the person who manages your business" Might want to learn how!

Deborah Voigt Teaches us a Valuable Lesson

A lesson to us all. Stand up for the longevity of your instrument. Stand up for the health of your body. Know your body and know yourself.

"A lot of people “cannot grasp” that singers would do anything to jeopardize their voices, “even if they’re 325 pounds and their knees are giving out and they are borderline diabetic,” she said. But, “I just thought I can’t do this anymore. It’s not worth it.” "

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kiri Te Kanawa on Downton

'Sexi' Soprano, Dame Kiri 

Te Kanawa to guest star in 

an episode of Downton 

Abby! We are so excited!

Artistic Challenges: Arizona Opera Chief Takes On Funding

"I’ve been in “La Bohème” probably 60, 70 times onstage, and I still cry at the exact same moment that I did the first time I heard the show as an audience member. But I can’t serve “La Bohème” for dinner every night five nights a week. We’re the only full-scale, full-production opera company in our state, and we do have a responsibility to expose people to something that is bigger and more diverse. ... So we’re looking at how to do that better."

Great thinking!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lip Color for Any Budget

Does your lip color often fail you in an audition or rehearsal setting? Do you ever leave a meeting with donor and realize that your lipstick has completely dried out your lips? We at Sexi Soprano have slaved away in order to research and wear numerous lipsticks products, and let me tell you, it was hard work sampling all those great lipsticks.  From our research, we have created a list of what we believe to be some of the best lip color products. Categorized by “splurges”, “half splurges” and “steals”, this list has everything from lipsticks and lip pencils, to lip stains and even lip tar. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Check out this article by Vanity Fair about the Met's Cosi revival.  This will be Maestro Levine's first performance in 2 years! Welcome back Maestro!
 Up and coming 'Sexi' soprano Susanna Philips will sing the glamourous role of Fiordiligi.  Find out more at

 Erik Madigan Heck

Monday, October 7, 2013

What it's actually like to be an Opera Singer!

What it’s ACTUALLY like to be an Opera Singer: An Interview with Heidi Melton

By on October 2, 2013
heidi_melton_valkyrie_posePeople ask me all the time what it’s like being an Opera Singer. I have my standard answers that I recycle and reuse whenever necessary. They ask me all sorts of things, and I’ve noticed that strangers have absolutely no problem delving into the most personal of information immediately upon meeting you.
“Oh wow! You’re an opera singer? Don’t you have a real job? How do you handle moving around all the time? That must be really hard on your personal life. You’re not getting younger are you? Don’t you want kids?”
Holy Mary. Cut to the core of me, you bastards. Unfortunately, most of the time the people who are asking these invasive questions are people who fund our livelihood so you better come up with an answer and you better come up with it quick, and it better be interesting and funny and a little self deprecating and it better make them feel like they’re spending their hard earned inheritances on the right art. Champagne helps. I usually say something like, “Well, singing opera is my real job and I feel very lucky to travel the world and meet new and interesting people like you!” Then I deflect. I don’t want to screlt at people for inappropriately asking my plans for procreation so I turn it around on them. Getting people to talk about themselves is a sure fire way to avoid having to answer these deeply personal questions.
Lately, I’ve been asked by a lot of young singers what it’s ACTUALLY like to be an Opera Singer. I think they want to know if they’re going to go from College to Young Artist Program to instant fame and glory and glamour. I feel dishonest giving them my sugar coated standard answer, so I’m using the phone a friend lifeline.
Ms. Heidi Melton is one of my nearest and dearest friends and we are both figuring this crazy career out as we go along. You can read all about her seemingly unstoppable career here: From outfit choices to travel plans, and from career decisions to boy problems…there isn’t anything we haven’t talked about in great length. No matter where we are in the world, we always find time to connect with each other, and so I’d like to share my mostly unedited interview/conversation/gab session with the one and only Heidi Melton!!

See the rest of the article at:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"A Woman in Morocco"

Butler School of Music mounts Daron Hagen's "A Woman in Morocco". 

Daron Hagen is one of America’s most versatile, prolific, and respected composers. All eight of his major operas are currently in production or revival somewhere in the U.S., Europe, or Asia. His orchestral, chamber, and song catalogues are frequently programmed internationally. Mr. Hagen’s activities include stage direction, conducting; and engagements as a collaborative pianist, artistic director, writer, and librettist.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Midwest Institute of Opera

Singers: Looking for a young artist training program that wont break the bank? Tired of spending your entire summer away from your home and your bills? 

Consider Midwest Institute of Opera in Illinois. This program mounts a full opera in 10 days as well as a cover concert, scenes program and coachings. Work with Met Opera conductor Joshua Greene as well as well known director James Marvel. Their 2014 season will present Bizet's Carmen!

"It is MIO’s goal to give you, the emerging professional musician, an opportunity to shine on the stage in this intensive no-nonsense summer opera program; offering young artists the chance to perform complete operatic roles in their original language under the guidance of our professional opera staff, their experience and their expertise. Your success is our success."

- Professor John M. Koch, and Tracy M. Koch, Lirico Spinto soprano, Artistic Directors and co-founders, MIO

Curious how to build your professional internet "presence"?

Check out this series from the National Opera Center of America. You stream these sessions from the comfort of your home. Valuable advice that is hard to find. Go get 'em SS'ers!




Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Shining, The Opera

With King's blessing, Minnesota Opera will mount a classic novel. Check it out!
"An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination. it becomes my life. and it stays part of my life long after I've left the opera house."
-- Maria Callas

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Managing Rejection: The importance of a healthy delusion BONUS: How to select your auditions!

All singers have to handle rejection practically every day, but how do you avoid letting the rejection hurt so badly that it inhibits you from picking yourself back up to continue pursuing this wildly difficult career?

First of all, it’s important to have an amazing amount of self-belief or what’s called a “healthy delusion”. You must think you are amazing enough to perform glorious music composed by genius musicians for thousands of people!  Let’s face it, if YOU don’t think you’re awesome, no one else will!  Singers are like warriors, running into battle every day, when all the odds are completely against them (this metaphor may be disrespectful to warriors, a healthy delusion is important!). The truth is, every day we have to put ourselves out there, whether it’s in an audition, during an application for an audition, or in a rehearsal. Every day we are faced with the possibility of hearing the words “I’m sorry, you’re not good enough,” which faced without a healthy dose of “it doesn’t matter what you say, I’m amazing,” could be quite daunting.

Healthy Tip of the Week

Feeling low on energy? Skip the sugary coffee and try to incorporate these vegetables into your diet. Hate veggies? Try a green smoothie in the morning. We promise you wont taste the green. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fall into Audition Season with Style

Hello Sexi Soprano fans! Fall is just around the corner and we all know what that means... pumpkin pie, apple orchards, the falling of covered leaves, and apple crisp! While the fall does mean that, it also means the start of undergraduate/graduate APPLICATIONS. Before you engage in “freak out” mode, read this article to help a little with the process. As a fellow victim of the ceremonial process this year, I am here to tell you that everything will be okay.

 The most confusing application item is often the resume.  Don’t pull your hair out.  While the “perfect format” constantly changes, the example below is polished, eye-catching, and solid. The format has changed over the years but recently one has been deemed as “the chosen one” and you can find an example below!
Remember: Always tell the truth when you submit your resumé.  Companies check!

Limit your resume to one page.  Even though you have tons of awesome experience, employers want to read a nice clear and concise paper of the roles you have done, not a dictionary. To create a sense of unity, use the same header for each audition document, like your resume and repertoire list.
Keep your font lively yet professional. No chalkboard or curvy cursive fonts allowed ladies. Make sure your headshots look like the current you! If you recently chopped of twelve inches of your golden locks, it’s time to get a new headshot. Just remember we say this with love, soprano friends! Pretty please, with lots of beautiful notes on top, do not hesitate to contact us with questions, concerns, or exciting new information. We love hearing from you and enjoy your responses. Until next time divas! 

"Like a rock we stand unmoving against the wind and the storm and are always strong in trust and in love."
-Fiordiligi, Cosi fan tutte

Auditioning? Need a cheap place to stay in NYC?

Check out Lauren Flanigan's Music and Mentoring House on West 121 St. in Manhattan!

Put your hotel money to good use (and pay less, yay!). This house offers comfortable dorm style rooms, 3 MEALS A DAY, wifi, Wii, TV, DVD washer/dryer, linens and a WEEKLY coaching.  Residents also have access to Ms. Flanigan's full music library, CD's, reference materials and piano. She aids residents in audition attire and purchasing of scores and research material.  Once a month, residents are brought to dinners with industry professionals and sometimes are given performance opportunities.  You get ALL of this for $50 a day.  
I would take this over the $150-$200 a night hotels and expensive restaurants ANY day. Think about the home cooked meals and all the saved money...
Email Ms. Flanigan at for more information.
Also, check out for other housing options.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sweet and Savory Quinoa Salad

Make-ahead recipes to keep you going strong! 

If food was fashion, then quinoa is the new black…and it looks good on you.  Touted as one of the healthiest and most diverse foods on the market, as well as a pantry staple for many of today’s top celebrities, quinoa is the perfect addition to the Sexi menu.  It’s loaded with fiber and protein as well as a slew of other nutrients such as iron and amino acids to keep you satiated even in a time crunch.  Its subtle flavor makes it the perfect canvas to create a flavor profile to suit any and all palates, and the fact that it’s gluten free makes it a welcome addition even to specialized diets.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Singer’s Life: On the Road

Audition season can RUIN all the hard work you have done to eat right and exercise. It’s quick and convenient to run to the nearest fast food joint and spend your hard earned money. Use these handy tips for staying healthy and stress free while traveling for auditions or gigs.

-Make a detailed list and pack a day in advance. Include everything— the perfect shoes to walk the streets of NYC, audition clothing, music, and of course, your toothbrush. Be specific, but do NOT over pack.  Lay out your clothes and narrow your picks down to what you actually need. And don’t forget to check the weather.  No one performs their best when they’re blue with cold. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sexi Spicy Chipotle Pasta

If you’ve ever been to The Cheesecake Factory, you know their menu is a thirty-something-page novel of just about every tantalizing flavor combination imaginable, and then some. From lettuce wraps to seared tuna to the classic cheeseburger to the overly tempting 33 different types of cheesecake (but who’s counting?), there’s bound to be a favorite for anyone. Then, there’s this little gem. Nestled somewhere in that vast expanse of menu lies what could be one of the most delicious, most unique, most unexpectedly indulgent dishes out there: the Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta. It breaks the rules of what one may consider a traditional pasta dish. Creamy, spicy, and smoky with little bursts of sweetness from both peas and peppers…this dish has it all.

And we mean all…

All the soul-tingling flavors, the break from the ordinary, the stunning “feast with your eyes” presentation and unfortunately, ALL the calories (there’s always a catch!) …a whopping 1749 of them, to be exact. YIKES!

Now, that’s not to say you should never order this dish from The Cheesecake Factory …you should. You really should. It’s that good. Everyone deserves a little indulgence from time to time, right? But what about those days when that creamy, smoky, spicy craving hits you and you don’t want to break your calorie budget? Here it is: your new favorite pasta dish, gone Sexi.  Keep all that flavor and lose all the guilt… at only 391 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving, you can indulge all you want and even feel good about it!  

Sexi Spicy Chipotle Pasta
Cooking spray
1 medium red bell pepper, roasted and chopped*
(jarred roasted red pepper can be substituted)
1 c. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 c. skim milk + 2 TBSP
¼ c. fat free sour cream
¼ c. fat free cream cheese
2 TBSP salt-free chipotle seasoning
1 TBSP Adobo seasoning
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 TBSP corn starch
2/3 c. frozen peas, thawed
½ box whole wheat penne pasta
1 TBSP fresh chopped parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Sautee asparagus over medium low heat until just cooked, about 7 minutes. Remove from skillet and place in a small bowl. Set aside. Add 2 cups milk, sour cream, and cream cheese to skillet over low heat, whisking frequently until smooth. Stir in chipotle seasoning, Adobo, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce begins to thicken. While thickening, cook pasta according to package directions until “al dente”, approximately 9 minutes. Drain and set aside, spraying lightly with cooking spray to prevent sticking, if needed. In a small bowl, whisk corn starch and remaining 2 TBSP milk until smooth. Add to sauce and stir until mixture begins to thicken. Stir in peas, asparagus, and red pepper. Add cooked pasta and toss until well coated.  Top with fresh chopped parsley.

Makes 3 servings.

*If roasting your own red pepper: Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place pepper on a roasting pan and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes, turning twice during roasting to allow all sides to darken. When pepper is soft and skin is blistering, carefully remove from oven and place in a large Ziploc bag. Set aside for at least 20 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Open bag and peel and discard skin from pepper. Skin should peel easily. Remove seeds and chop pepper into large pieces. Set aside.
Author’s notes about this recipe:

-You will notice that The Cheesecake Factory dish contains chicken and this recipe does not. This recipe provides you the framework so that you can customize this dish to suit you, whether you choose chicken, turkey, chicken sausage… this dish works with any type of meat you’d like! Adding 4 oz. of cooked, cubed, boneless, skinless chicken breast will bring your calorie count up to 431 per serving, but this recipe is still WAY under 1749 calories and you added extra protein to boot!  

-Using the full 2 TBSP of chipotle seasoning will give your sauce a bit of a kick. If you prefer a more mild sauce, reduce the amount to 1 TBSP (or whatever fits your preferred heat level) and add an extra half teaspoon of paprika for flavor and color.

-Those cute little toasts on the side? Super easy, super delicious, and a great flavor pairing with this dish. Simply pick up your favorite whole grain baguette, slice into thin rounds, and top with a light spread of a good store-bought basil pesto. Bake on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes or until crisp and, voila! Cute and tasty pesto toasts!