Marinara Sauce

Yesterday I found a recipe online for a crock pot marinara sauce.  I used that idea and tweaked it a little bit.  The recipe called for canned crushed tomatoes.  I wanted to use all those frozen tomatoes from the garden.  My mom had told me if you run frozen tomatoes under water, the skins will loosen and come off, just like if you dunk them in boiling water.  It worked!  She’s so smart!  I used a colander and just ran the tomatoes under hot water until the skins loosened.

Since the tomatoes were frozen, after I took the skins off, I put them in a bowl of hot water to defrost a little bit.  Then I put them in the blender with some of the water the tomatoes had been soaking in.  (Yep, forgot to take a picture of the blended tomatoes, so all you get is the empty blender…)

I dumped the tomatoes in the crock pot.  I did leave a few whole tomatoes in there for texture.

Then I added about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of minced garlic, a couple tablespoons of brown sugar, a can of tomato paste (I know, I shouldn’t ruin homemade sauce with paste, but I like the thickness it adds, along with the added flavor.)  I added a good amount of dried basil and italian seasoning.  It was also the first time I used my dehydrated onions.  They were crunchy enough I didn’t need to cut them with a knife.  I just crumbled them up with my fingers.  Some were a little more chewy, so I just left them in bigger pieces.

Ready for a stir…

Ready to turn on the heat

I cooked this on low for about 7 hours, then I was starving and wanted to eat dinner, so I scooped some out.  It was delicious, but still a little runny, so I left it cooking for another 4 hours, then put it in the fridge over night.  Oh, the dehydrated onions turned out perfect.  They re-hydrated and looked and tasted just like a fresh onion.

This is what it looked like this morning.  I put it in some freezer jam containers and put it in the freezer.

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Healthy scrambled eggs

Before I met Kyle, I lived on scrambled eggs on toast.  I ate it for dinner more than breakfast, as it was quick and easy.

Crack three egg whites and one egg yolk in a bowl.  It won’t turn out quite as bright of yellow as normal, but it’s better for you.  I have a hard time doing straight egg whites, as I think all white looks weird, but if I add a little yolk, it doesn’t cause me mental anguish.

Add a little salt and pepper, garlic powder, or Johnny’s seasoning.  I went with Johnny’s.

Toast a piece or two of your favorite bread while prepping the eggs. I went with Dave’s killer bread, since that’s what was in the freezer.

Mix up the eggs.  You can use a whisk or a fork.

I usually use spinach when I make this, but I didn’t have any spinach, but did have some left over broccoli, so I warmed it up.  You could also use peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, you name it.

Add the egg mixture and cook until eggs are almost set.

Sprinkle some cheese on top and let it finish cooking.  I like my cheese scrambled in, so I continue to mix my eggs, but you could wait til the very end if you want it more like an omelette.

Serve on toast.  Yum!

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I love it when a plan comes together!

I love to cook, but hate trying to figure out what to make for dinner, especially when I’ve been at work all day and am tired and hungry and grumpy.

Every once in a while I have a day where I actually decide what to make for dinner before dinner time.  I’m trying to plan out a week’s worth of meals at a time, or at least an idea of a week’s worth of meals.  Last night I tried an orange chicken recipe, so while I was thawing chicken for it, I threw some more chicken in the oven to use tonight.  Kyle LOVES chicken pot pie.  He would be happy if I made it twice a week.  My waist line would not be happy if I did.  A couple years ago I got The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook.  She has the BEST chicken pot pie recipe, and pie crust recipe.  To find her recipes, go to her website,  She has seriously changed my life.  Well, at least kept  my husband from leaving me!  Her recipes are not diet friendly, but they are husband friendly, especially if your husband likes meat and potatoes, or good ole comfort food.

I try to cut down on the fat in her recipes when I can, for example, her chicken pot pie recipe calls for cream.  I usually just use milk, but since I had cream today, I did use it.  I wanted to see what the difference was in taste.

The pioneer woman’s pie crust recipe makes two crusts.  The other day I found some blackberries buried in the freezer and decided I should use them up.  So yesterday I thought hmmm….if I make chicken pot pie, I’ll have an extra crust, what if I just make blackberry pie too.  (I know, sometimes my geniusness amazes me!)

I now have a blackberry pie cooling on the counter and my chicken pot pie filling waiting for me to toss the crust on and stick in the oven. Oh, and the dishes drying in the rack.  All before 4:00.

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Classic homemade macaroni and cheese

I have to confess, I love cheese and I love pasta.  Always have, always will.  When I was probably 10 years old I made the macaroni and cheese recipe on the back of the macaroni package, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  I have tried different recipes, that use a variety of expensive and yummy cheeses, but always go back to my classic.  I’ve experimented with additions to this recipe also, most of which are good, but the plain classic is always delicious!

I had three cheddar brats in my freezer from the summer that needed to be used up last night.  My first plan was chili dogs (I know, gross, right….yet somehow….delicious….)  My hot dog buns had seen better days though so I needed another use for the dogs.  I like my mac n’ cheese just plain and cheesy,  with a salad or some broccoli or something, but Kyle doesn’t consider it dinner unless it has meat.  I’ve started adding ham to it to keep him happy, but since I had the dogs, thought I’d throw them in instead.

When I was 10 and first started making this recipe, I thought it took HOURS to cook, so only made it when bribed by my parents.  I have come to realize it really doesn’t take that long, so make it more often.

Here’s the recipe:

1/4 c. butter

3 T. flour

1/8 t. dry mustard

1/8 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

2 c. milk

2 c. grated cheese

2 c. uncooked macaroni noodles

(I’ve made this recipe enough that I don’t really follow the recipe….I measure the 3 T. of flour, then just add the salt, pepper and mustard til it looks good.  I actually like to add a little more mustard than 1/8 t.  Usually more like 1 t.)

1.Cook macaroni according to package directions in sauce pan.

2.Melt butter, blend in flour, dry mustard, salt and pepper.  Cook until smooth.  (I usually use a little dish and measure the flour, mustard, salt and pepper before I get started.  That way I can just dump it in and don’t have to worry about the butter burning while I’m trying to measure ingredients.)

3. Gradually add milk.  Cook and stir until mixture boils.  Boil 1 minute.  Gradually stir in cheese.  Stir until smooth.  Add pasta.  Mix lightly.  Bake in casserole dish at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

This recipe makes an 8×8 dish.  I usually double it for a 9×13.


*Add chopped hot dogs or diced ham

*Add cooked, chopped bacon and caramelized onions (So good!)

*Use different cheeses.  (I usually use medium cheddar, but sharp is good, or you can use half cheddar and half parmesan.)

*Use whole wheat macaroni

*I was on a kick last year of pureeing veggies and adding them to sauces, since Kyle doesn’t really like vegetables, but after having bright pink spaghetti sauce from beets, and many sauces that looked like pesto, but certainly didn’t taste like it, from spinach, I had to give up on that plan.  The only one I’ve found I can get away with is sweet potatoes.  You can add some pureed sweet potatoes to this recipe and you can’t even tell.  Just stir it in when you add the cheese and it adds to the creaminess.

*Add bread crumbs, crushed crackers, crushed chips, or cheese to the top.  (I always add grated cheddar to the top, then after baking, I broil for a few minutes until it gets nice and crunchy.  That’s my favorite part!)

This may have been the left overs for breakfast this morning!  Hey!  Don’t judge!  It was delicious!  Yes, it may be on a paper plate….I don’t have a dishwasher, so I have to cut back where I can!

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