Archive for the ‘Dressings and Sauces recipes’ Category

Meat and mushroom sauce, ready for anything you can think of

March 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Use it for lasagna, spaghetti, orzo pasta… the choices are limitless.


  • 1 (28 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pint sliced mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Blend the stewed tomatoes and crushed tomatoes in a blender:

Blenders are great for making sauce. Here is the result of a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and a 28 oz can of stewed tomatoes. Ready for action!

  • In a large stockpot, heat up a few tablespoons of olive or canola oil, and chop up the onions, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms. Let cook until the onion softens.
  • Brown the ground beef with the vegetables:

Ground beef browning with the vegetables

  • Add sugar, basil and oregano plus the tomato mixture, stir it up, and simmer about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving:

Spices are added!

So, after 40 minutes of simmering on low heat, here is the result:

Rotini and homemade meat and mushroom sauce… soo tasty 🙂

This type of sauce is great to freeze for later meals. That’s great for me because most days I get home pretty late and don’t really want to cook. If you ever go to KFC (their grilled chicken is to die for), pick up a few of their sides containers. They’re reusable and are a perfect size for a single serving. There are quite a few going into the freezer ready to rock and roll:

KFC sides containers are perfect to freeze leftover sauce

A simple yet tasty Balsamic Vinaigrette, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

March 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Originally found here:

His recipe says that brown sugar is optional, but I liked the addition of it:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional* (I used one tsp)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup olive oil


Beat the vinegar in a bowl with the optional sugar, garlic, salt and pepper until sugar and salt dissolves. Then beat in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly. (Or place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine.) Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the salad mix and desired salad ingredients, or use as a marinade. Fresh garlic makes the recipe for sure. If you’re following the South Beach plan, this is a good dressing for Phase 1 if you leave out the brown sugar.

Tonight I’m trying out a new spaghetti meat sauce recipe also. If it’s worthy, I’ll post it.

The easiest Ranch Dressing recipe and words about words

August 28, 2011 Leave a comment

If you’re like me bottled ranch dressing leaves a lot to be desired. I like it thinner, with a more oniony flavor. Think Jason’s Deli or Wing Stop. Hell, if you got a Double Dave’s or Gumby’s you know what I’m talking about. It’s what they give you with pizza rolls (don’t get me started on them boy howdy).

Check it…


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Hidden Valley Ranch mix (get the Buttermilk packet, works the best here)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp paprika

Whisk it up and put in the fridge to set for at least an hour. If you want it thinner, add more buttermilk. Erik made his special chicken wings last night for his parents and nephew, and I made the above recipe as a dip. Very tasty combination.

So, about those words…

Grad school starts again for me this week. Sometimes it’s hard to get right back into the thick of things after three months off, but it should prove fruitful. I think I’ve finally started to figure out what could be the beginnings of my Master’s project. I don’t want to say until I get final approval from my advisor, but it’s shaping up. Hopefully he gives me the go-ahead.

A couple of weeks ago I took the second part of the EnCase Computer Forensics course at the Woodlands. Erik went along as a little vacation. He proved to be a great flying companion, even giving me the window seat. What a guy, right? We had some issues with his navigation skills early on, but otherwise it was successful. As for the training, I learned more about the stuff I’m starting to tackle now like recovering files, finding files that may be intentionally renamed, and setting up custom hash sets. Things are much clearer now than ever before.

As for Erik, I took him to some great eateries, we strolled around Market Square, very Melrose Avenue. A highlight was finding Borders bookstore having a huge going out of business sale. Bad for Borders, great for my bookshelf. Another was partaking in a pomegranate berry smoothie from the heavens above (sorry, I meant to say Jamba Juice). The taste buds were doing cartwheels and were sad when I was done. “More, Jen, more!” Sorry kids, no Jamba Juice around here. If there was I’d be there every other day.

I like the Woodlands. It’s not as fast paced as Metro Houston. Actually reminds me a lot of College Station, albeit with more traffic jams. However, it’s very conservative. As liberal as this gal is, it’s hard to walk into sandwich shops blaring Fox News 24/7. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

I predict that the weekdays will get busier with school, work, and martial arts classes. I find that the more I have to do, the more accomplished I feel. That’s not to say that I don’t still enjoy a few hours of reading a book or watching Arrested Development with my beloved husband. That’s cool too 🙂

Recipe: a tasty marinara, ready for extras

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m definitely a fan of homemade marinara. Sometimes it comes out tasty, sometimes not. This time around, I decided to use canned San Marzano tomatoes, specifically the Cento brand, but use whatever you have available to you at the supermarket:

Cento brand San Marzano Italian tomatoes


It’s really easy to get these bad boys ready for a sauce… use a blender. Seriously… throw them in a blender, pulse a couple of times, and they’re ready to rock and roll. One can will probably make 4 servings, so use more if you’re planning on feeding more folks than that.

I like the sweetness the San Marzano tomatoes bring to a sauce… they’re not as acidic as regular Roma tomatoes.

This recipe was tried and tested in my kitchen last night, and met with full approval from me and my husband. Throw in some meatballs (ready made or homemade, if you like), for more fun. My sauce also included chopped portobello mushrooms, so it’s a marinara with a little extra.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan or pot)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smushed and chopped (this gets the oils out to play)
  • 1 cup chopped portobello mushrooms
  • 1 28 oz can San Marzano Italian tomatoes (whole and peeled)
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • assorted spices (salt, pepper, basil to taste)
  • 1 TB sugar (this cuts the acidity in the sauce)


  1. Heat up the olive oil in a stockpot or heavy saucepan (medium heat). Throw in onion and cook until translucent.
  2. Add garlic and cook until slightly brown. Add in mushrooms, cover, and let cook for 7 minutes.
  3. Run tomatoes through blender for a couple of pulses, then add into the vegetable mixture.
  4. Add the tomato paste and use a spoon to mix it up fully into the sauce. The paste is a bit thick, but is a welcome addition to the sauce.
  5. Add the sugar and spices, stir it up, then set the heat to low. Cover, and let cook for 1 hour, stirring and taste testing occasionally in case you want to adjust spices. The longer you let cook the more the flavors get to incorporate together, so if you want to go longer than an hour, feel free.
  6. If you’ve cooked up some meatballs, throw them in the sauce and let simmer for 5 more minutes.

Some folks add red pepper flakes for more kick, some folks like their sauce a little more bland (per doctor’s orders). This is just a barebones sauce that you can adjust to your specific tastes. I didn’t have any fresh basil on hand, but feel free to chop some up and add to the sauce. Fresh basil provides a nice little aftertaste that stands out more than the dried variety.

In using pasta, I tend to not have a lot of options in trying to stay lower on the Glycemic Index scale (higher fiber, lower carb). The husband can’t stand whole wheat pasta, and I don’t quite blame him. However, I found a brand at the supermarket called Dreamfields that works on all counts. So this, I used and everyone was happy:


Dreamfields brand pasta... a low carb option


The meatballs I made were very simple, just ground pork, ground sirloin, an egg and some breadcrumbs. Into the oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, and done.

I wish I could have included pictures of the result, but we were just too hungry 🙂

A quick homemade balsamic viniagrette, perfect for a summer salad

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I made this one over the weekend, and Erik and I both loved it.


  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin or regular, it’s all up to you and your taste buds)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk this up and store in a container in your fridge for at least an hour before using to let the flavors blend together… It’ll be ready to rock and roll in no time 🙂 If you have a cruet like the one Good Seasons offers, even better for storage and serving:


Old School Good Seasons cruet


New School cruet

%d bloggers like this: