Simply the Best Tomato Sauce

I was lucky enough to grow up with a genuine Italian grandma. My mother’s mother was born and raised in Italy. Most of my memories of her revolve around the kitchen. I followed her around like a puppy whenever she cooked, and I can’t remember her ever serving anything that wasn’t amazing. She bought premade things from the store so rarely, and I always try to emulate that.

Which brings me to today’s culinary adventure – homemade tomato sauce.  I call it Simply the Best for that exact reason – there is no better alternative out there (outside of Italy, anyway). It’s easy to make, chock full of fresh vegetables, and it’s so darned good. I rarely toot my own horn when it comes to food, but this is something that people beg me for whenever I make it. Jars never last long when I’m making sauce.

Sim

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Funfetti Cake Batter Cookies

I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover/April weekend! This year was our first hosted holiday as married couple so it was very exciting. I did a ton of cooking and baking and everything was well received by family.

Sometimes I have a hard time deciding between cake and cookies when I am in the kitchen. But luckily, for those times when I am stuck, I have the perfect middle ground dessert – cake batter cookies.

Cookies2.

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Michigan Cherry Wine Spritzer

It’s a time for celebration!

For those of you who don’t know, I just recently sat for the Michigan bar examination. It’s been a long and stressful road, but I hope I get the word in a few months that I passed and can go on to practicing law, which has been my dream since I was 14.

I thought it was only fitting that my first post after the exam would be a recipe for a good celebratory drink. I don’t drink often, but I have fallen in love with the local wines since I moved here from Pennsylvania. Michigan has wonderful orchards and I am especially fond of the cherries they produce. My favorite local brand, Grand Traverse Wines, makes a wonderful sweet red with cherries that makes a great base for a wine spritzer.

This was a sparkling, sweet, and wonderfully fruity drink, and the perfect end to a long week of exam taking.

Sprizter.FINISHED

  • Lemon-lime soda
  • Cherry cocktail syrup
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Sweet red wine such as Merlot
  1. Take a wine glass and put a splash of cherry syrup in the bottom, followed by 2-3 maraschino cherries.
  2. Pour red wine into the glass until it is about halfway full. Stir gently to mix the syrup and wine
  3. Pour chilled lemon lime soda over the wine until the glass is full.
  4. Enjoy!

I’m so glad to be back to more enjoyable activities, like working on this blog!

Hangover Soup

hangoversoup

Since I moved to Michigan, my soup making skills have gotten so much better. Probably because it is so cold here thanks to the lake effect, and a pot of hot soup simmering in the kitchen makes me forget how cold it is outside.

I like soups that are chock full of meats and vegetables and spices, so I was really glad to find a recipe for Hangover Soup. It has a really funny name, but it is absolutely delicious and filling. I found this recipe on Food Network and adapted it for my family’s tastes.

It has a rich, creamy broth redolent of pork and bacon, and full of hearty vegetables. Best of all, you can make it in the crockpot and go about your day.

Hangover Soup 

Adapted from Food Network

Makes 8 Servings

  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 5 pieces of center cut bacon
  • 2 cups pork loin, chopped
  • 2 links of sweet Italian sausage, chopped
  • 2 cups of cubed potatoes
  • 2 cups of chopped carrots
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • One teaspoon each of Paprika and Bay Leaf, Salt and Pepper
  1. Prepare the crockpot by drizzling a little olive oil in the pot
  2. Cook the chopped bacon over medium high heat. Remove the bacon but leave the drippings in the pan. Place the bacon into the crockpot.
  3. Fry the diced garlic, pork loin, and sausage in the bacon drippings until cooked. Drain off the fat and add the cooked meat to the crockpot.
  4. Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, and onions to the crockpot. Add the seasonings and stir.
  5. Pour the chicken broth in, and put the temperature on low. Cook for 4-6 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can cook for 2 on high.
  6. Before serving, stir in the cream.
  7. Serve with bread and enjoy!

Six Cheese Macaroni & Cheese

macnchs

If there is something I like more than Mac & Cheese, I don’t know what it is. It is a staple of our household. Tender pasta, creamy, cheesy sauce, and a crunchy, buttery top is a little piece of heaven for me, especially when it is fresh out of my own kitchen.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the stuff in the blue box. You’re never too old for that. But this six cheese version will change how you look at typical Mac & Cheese. I make it for holidays and sometimes just for dinner. It’s great with a side of peas.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Six Cheese Mac & Cheese

  • 1 pound of elbow macaroni or shells
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick of butter, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese
  • 4 ounces of Velveeta, cubed
  • 1 cup mild cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup Colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 12 Ritz crackers, crushed
  • Salt and Pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Bring 8 cups of water to boil and add pasta. Cook 10 minutes. Strain pasta and set aside
  3. Melt one stick of butter over medium heat. Add milk and stir.
  4. Add cubed Velveeta and cream cheese to milk and butter mix and stir until melted
  5. Add the mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, and colby jack and stir until melted
  6. Lightly beat the two eggs and add to the cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat
  7. Butter a large casserole dish and add the cooked pasta
  8. Pour fully melted cheese mixture over the pasta and stir
  9. Melt two tablespoons of butter and combine with the mozzarella, parmesan and Ritz crackers. Sprinkle mixture over the pasta.
  10. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes

This Mac and Cheese is super cheesy, extra creamy, and absolutely delicious.

Dinner Under Ten Dollars: Chicken, Cheese ‘N Peas Skillet

CHICKNPEAS

One of our favorite meals is a throw back to my days in college. My roommate and I discovered this dish during our sophomore year of college, and it is still a favorite of mine today.

Kraft Deluxe Mac and Cheese is something you will find in any college student’s pantry, but it is SO MUCH better (if that can be believed) when you mix in some meat and vegetables. It is enough for four servings, so we could eat for two nights on this.

Now that I’m married, my husband and I like to make this on nights when we’re tired.

Chicken, Cheese ‘N Peas Skillet

One box of Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 cup of canned peas 

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. 

4 cups of water

2 cups of milk

1. Take a large saucepan and boil four cups of water. Add the macaroni and cook as per the box’s direction.

2. In another lightly oiled skillet, cook the two chicken breasts for about five minutes on each side, medium heat, until cooked through. Chop into cubes and set aside.

3. Add the cheese sauce and two cups of milk to the cooked pasta. Stir until coated and take off the heat.

4. Stir in the canned peas and chicken and serve!

We also love this meal with bacon thrown in as well! Try it with your favorite meat or vegetable. It’s a great way to slip them in if you have some picky eaters in your house.

My favorite part of this meal is the price.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese: $1.50
  • Canned Peas: $0.79
  • 6 oz Chicken Breasts: $2.00

That’s a grand total of $4.29. or $1.07 a serving!