Monthly Archives: February 2015

Homemade Pasta Sauce


We made a trip to Sam’s Club today to pick up our big box needs like peanut butter (it fills the cracks), coffee ☕️(Dunkin Donuts coffee, I love you) and meat.  $3.68 per pound for 90/10 ground beef is such a great price.  $1.98 per pound for boneless, skinless chicken breast is great when each one weighs in at over a pound.  And who doesn’t need 5 pounds of peanut butter, 8 pounds of shredded cheddar cheese  (see I told you I was the cheesiest!😀) and almost a gallon of catsup?  I picked up some ground turkey to make maple turkey sausage for G, some beautiful strawberries 🍓to make strawberry hot chocolate and some goat cheese to go in the quinoa salad I’m going to make.  By the time I put all my treasures away it was dinner time.  No plan as to what to make, what’s a girl to do?  She looks at all that ground beef and asks “How about pasta for dinner?”  My green eyed Irish guy said, “Sure.”  So, dinner is prepared.🍝🍴

Homemade Pasta Sauce

1 pound ground beef (I used 90/10)

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1-2 garlic cloves or about 1 tsp., minced

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 pound your favorite pasta (I used campanelle.  It reminds me of flowers.  So pretty!)

In a large Dutch oven, brown ground beef.  Drain off grease. Add onions to pot and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic, basil, oregano, parsley and thyme.  Cook for a minute or two.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar. salt and pepper.  Simmer on low for 30-40 minutes.  While sauce is simmering, cook your pasta in salted water (that’s the only time you’ll get to season your pasta) per package directions.  Taste the sauce to check seasoning.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.  Plate your pasta, top with sauce and add cheese if desired. Now mangia!

Afterward you definitely need a little root beer float like this.

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,



Good Ole Grilled Cheese


Can we talk about grilled cheese for a moment?  Good ole grilled cheese.  It’s the quintessential comfort food.  Ooey.  Gooey.  Cheesy.  Goodness.  That’s what I’m talking about.  Usually for me it consists of 2 slices of american cheese, buttered bread and toasted to a perfect golden brown.  Don’t judge.  American cheese just melts so lovely.  It usually gets paired with tomato soup which the kids and I call bricks and blood.  My green eyed Irish guy prefers to have lemon rice soup with his.  It’s one of his favorite meals.  The wonderful part is that pretty much any kind of cheese works too.  I have the honor and distinction as being known as “The Cheesiest”.  In my humble opinion you can add cheese or chocolate to just about anything and make it delicious.  I was watching Food Network one day and it opened a new door to grilled cheese toasting for me.  The host of the show was making grilled cheese but instead of buttering her bread, she used mayonnaise.  It seemed totally wrong.  Who on Earth “butters” their grilled cheese with mayonnaise? Intrigued,  I had to try it.  And I liked it.  A lot.  It doesn’t taste like mayonnaise and it seems to brown better than butter (see picture below).  Give it a try.  You might like it.

Projects that I’ll be working on this weekend include a quinoa salad with orange pineapple rum vinaigrette (provocative, isn’t it?), possibly a tomato soup cake (very curious about that) and French macaron.

 Grilled Ham, Honey Smoked Turkey, Swiss and American Cheese with honey mustard dipping sauce on fine china.

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Chili Cheese Dog Baked Potato Boats


What to do with leftover chili?  It’s perfectly tasty on it’s own.  In fact everybody knows the flavors develop in the fridge overnight so it tastes even better the next day. I wanted to do something different with it though.  Chili cheese dogs?  No buns.  Chili cheese fries?  Not in the mood (might also be known as too lazy, but I didn’t say that) to peel, cut and fry potatoes.  How about baked potatoes?  Loaded with a chili cheese dog?  Heck yeah!  Let’s do this!

All dressed up and only one place to go….in mah belly!

Chili Cheese Dog Baked Potato Boats

2 Medium sized potatoes, scrubbed well

1 Tbs. butter, melted

Salt and Pepper

2 hot dogs (I used all beef, bigger than bun size)

1 to 1-1/2 cups your favorite chili, homemade or canned

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Optional sour cream and your favorite chili toppings

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Prick the clean potatoes in several places with a fork.  Brush with the melted butter (I used spray butter) and sprinkle with salt.  Wrap tightly with foil.  Bake for 1 hr.  Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees.  When cool to enough to touch, cut potatoes in half.  Place in an oven safe baking dish.  Cut the ends so that the two halves are flush to each other.  Scoop a trench on both sides large enough to fit a hot dog.  Salt and pepper the potato.  Place the hot dog in the trench.  Top with chili and then cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted.  Garnish with sour cream and your other favorite chili toppings.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Rice Crispy Bars


It’s been a cold, windy day here in Ft. Wayne.  Winter time in the Midwest.  Sigh!  It’s not the most fun place to be this time of year.  😕 Unless you happen to like snow, which I don’t.  Although I must say this winter hasn’t been as snowy as last year.  I’m very grateful for that.  And we haven’t gotten the worst of it.  Places in the Northeast have had more than 5 feet of snow.  Five Feet Of SNOW!  That’s a heck of a lot of white stuff.  ❄️⛄️ Even the South hasn’t been spared.  Snow, ice and freezing temperatures have been showing up in places they don’t normally.  It’s a great day in the winter when the sky is blue and the sun shining.  🌞 I just want to sit in a sunny place and bask up the warmth like a cat.  🐈 If I could persuade the kids to move to Florida, that’s where you’d find me. 🎵🎶 Somewhere over the rainbow…. 🎵🎶 

 When trying to decide what to post today (It’s not that I didn’t have any idea. Problem was I had too many.) as I was cooking up a pot of chili for dinner, I thought about rice crispy treats.  How could I make them different?  G loves apple so I knew she’d be a fan.  Without further ado….

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Rice Crispy Bars 

 4 Tbs. butter 

 10 – 10 1/2 oz. bag mini marshmallows

 6 cups crisp rice cereal

 1/8 tsp. apple pie spice

 2 pouches spiced apple cider drink mix* 

 6 caramels 

 1 Tbs. milk 

 pinch of salt 

 Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with non stick cooking spray.  In a large Dutch oven melt the butter.  Add the mini marshmallows and stir until almost melted.  Sprinkle in the apple pie spice and the apple cider drink mix.  Continue stirring mixture until marshmallows are completely melted.  Pour in the cereal and stir until all the cereal is coated with the marshmallow mixture.  Turn the mixture out into the prepared pan.  Spray your hands with non stick cooking spray and press the cereal mixture firmly into the pan.  Set aside to cool.  Unwrap the caramels into a small bowl.  Add milk and microwave for 30 seconds.  Remove and stir.  If they’re not completely melted, microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring afterward until smooth.  Drizzle caramel on top of the treats.  When completely cooled, cut into 18-24 squares.  Munch, munch, munch! 

*You’ll find these by the boxed hot chocolate packets in the grocery store. 

 Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Nutella and Banana Stuffed French Toast


nutella and banana stuffed french toast 2

Welcome to my first blog post!  Blogging…I’ve been thinking about it, talking about it and dreaming about it for a long time now, but fear always stopped me.  What if no one reads it? I worried.  Then I realized if I don’t write it no one even has a chance to read it.  DUH!  So, carpe blogiem.  Seize the blog!  I’m not a chef nor have I gone to culinary school.  I just love food, cooking and baking.  I cook and/or bake pretty much every day.  I’m always on the lookout for new recipes and ways of changing recipes to make them better.  When my green eyed Irish guy and I first started dating he asked me why I have to make everything homemade.  I told him because it tastes better and you know exactly what goes into it.  Now after 8 1/2 years of marriage he appreciates the fact that I cook for him.

Now onward to the French toast.  My daughter, G, was making yum sounds and saying oh my gosh which I understood to mean she approved.  The cream cheese was warm and gooey, the bananas warm and soft and the bread was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.  Definitely a decadent way to start the day.

Nutella and Banana Stuffed French Toast

nutella and banana stuffed french toast 2

2 Slices bread of choice (I had made some honey oatmeal whole wheat bread which I used) cut 1-1/2″ thick or sliced white bread (you’ll have to use the “grilled cheese” technique)

4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature

1-1/2 Tbs. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 heaping Tbs. nutella

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 banana, sliced

1 Tbs. butter

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Toppings such as maple syrup, butter and more sliced bananas or other fresh fruit of choice

Cut each slice of bread in half from the top crust down but not all the way through, leaving a pocket.  Combine the cream cheese, sugar, tsp. vanilla and nutella in a small bowl.  Mix with a hand mixer until smooth and completely incorporated.  In a bowl or baking dish add egg and beat with a fork until white and yolk are combined.  Add the milk, 1/2 tsp. vanilla and cinnamon and continue to mix with the fork until slightly frothy.  Open the pocket of the bread and stuff with half the banana slices and then half the cream cheese/nutella mixture being careful to not tear the slices apart.  Don’t worry if you do.  It’ll be like making a grilled cheese sandwich instead of a pocket.  Dip the stuffed bread pocket into the egg mixture for about 10 seconds on each side and repeat to make sure the bread is well saturated.  Repeat process with second bread pocket.  Place the butter in a medium sized skillet and melt on medium high heat.  Add your bread pockets.  Cook 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Move to serving plates and sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.  Add toppings, if desired, and enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,