Category Archives: Sauces

Cookbook Challenge #3 – Mushroom Bolognese


Look at me go. I’m down 3 recipes and still have….19 to go! I’ve finished the two recipes from Isa Chandra’s Appetite for Reduction, so I moved onto a cookbook I own that now doesn’t suit my diet whatsoever: Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis.

First off, I’m not the biggest fan of Giada. I don’t know if I ever was, but I was gifted this cookbook probably because I wanted cookbooks from all types of cuisine and figured “Hey! She’s bone thin and seems relatively healthy, I’ll get her cookbook.” Except, her cookbook isn’t made up of the healthiest recipes, definitely not lower carb and she only eats like 2 bites of food a day so no wonder she’s bone thin.

Either way, I figured I should tackle this cookbook next since carbs are my enemy and I need to just get it over with. So I made a version of her mushroom bolognese.

I forgot how much I love Italian food. I also forgot how heavy it can be. And I also forgot that carbs aren’t my friends and eating a lot of them in one sitting after not doing so for months did not make my stomach feel happy. I just felt full. Talk about carb binging.


Nonetheless, it was done. Now I can check it off my list and go scouring through the book to find another recipe to make. Maybe I’ll just stick to something simple, like a vegetable appetizer.

Mushroom Bolognese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A heartier version of Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe.
Recipe type: sauce, main dish, mushrooms
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound (2 8-oz. containers) mushrooms: I used creminis, shitakes and oysters – wiped clean, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the onion and red bell pepper and cook until tender, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Remove peppers and onion from pan and transfer to a bowl and set aside
  5. Add the remaining teaspoon olive oil, then add the mushrooms and cook until softened and tender – 5-10 minutes.
  6. When the mushrooms have reduced in size and most of the water has evaporated, add the peppers and onions back to the pan.
  7. Add the tomato paste, whole tomatoes and crushed tomatoes to pan and stir well.
  8. Add dried oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and stir well.
  9. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until thickened.
  10. Serve over pasta of choice and enjoy.



Happy Birthday America!

Hello hello! I hope everyone had a really fun and safe Independence Day! We had a really fun time with our friends Amber and Richard; we invited them both over for some dinner. It all started with them bringing one of their dogs so Gryff could meet him. The four of us are renting a cottage in Northern Michigan for the last week of summer, so we thought it might be good for our dogs to meet and make sure they get along!

It should come as no surprise that Andy and Gryff got along wonderfully! Now we just need to have him meet Dex, the other pup, and we’ll be all set! Anyway, so we had them over for dinner and we bought a grill so we could grill up black bean burgers and corn! Mmmm grilled corn is probably one of my all time, favorite foods of summer! We ended the night with some vino, beers, sparklers, drunk “golfing” on the golf course, and watching stand up on Netflix!

So anyway, onto the other parts of our dinner. I wanted to make potato salad. I love potato salad, but I hate gloppy, disgusting mayonnaise-based potato salad. REB and I are not a pro-mayo household. It’s unhealthy, tastes like pure salt and has the texture of mucus. Sorry to anyone out there who has the Jones for it. Point blank: it ain’t our cup of tea. So I made my own version with a mustard vinaigrette.

Lookie how patriotic we are! It was REB’s idea to use the red, white and blue potatoes, too. Glad he decided to do that! I was going to be happy with just redskin potatoes.

Perfectly roasted and vinaigretted, this salad turned into a huge hit. We also have leftovers, which is good because any holiday food that is saved for the day after the holiday is always a good thing. Speaking of holidays, how many people thought Thursday felt like Monday again?? I had the hardest time getting my butt to work. It didn’t help that our power went out from a freak thunderstorm at 3 a.m., and I had shower and get ready in the dark thereby making myself look like the world’s hottest bag lady. Keep your hands off. I’m all REB’s! Poor guy.

I hate the humidity that comes with thunderstorms. It makes my cute blow-dried, straightened, Aveda’d hair turn into a frizzy ball of dry nast. Sexy, I know.

Heat and humidity aside, we had a fun July 4 and I hope the rest of you did too!

So, happy birthday America!! Here’s to you and your big 236! Can’t wait to celebrate again next year! :)

Roasted Potato Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: roasted potato salad, rosemary, mustard vinaigrette
Serves: 6
  • 2 pounds baby potatoes; half or quarter the bigger ones
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon French’s yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (3 stalks) celery, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, drizzled in
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Half or quarter the baby potatoes, leave the small ones alone, and spread onto a baking sheet in a single layer
  3. Drizzle olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary on the potatoes and coat well
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until slightly browned and fork tender
  5. Once the potatoes are done, let them cool completely for 15-20 minutes.
  6. In a small bowl combine the mustards, vinegar, celery, shallot, salt, pepper and stir. Then whisk in the olive oil until it’s smooth. Taste and add more pepper if you need more oomph.
  7. Transfer the potatoes from baking sheet to bowl and pour enough dressing over the top to coat well without being too heavy. Combine and give a potato a taste. You can add more dressing as needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 hours so the flavors really sit. Enjoy!

How did you spend America’s Birthday?

Once-Every-Two-Months Garlic Cream Sauce

You’ve been warned.

REB and I had some tortellini in the fridge, which we decided to make since it’d be quick and it was getting late into the evening. It was store-bought tortellini because I don’t have time to make fresh pasta. While we’re on the subject, if someone wants to buy me the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid, I’ll love you forever, kthx.

Anyway, we decided that instead of having a marinara sauce, we’d make a cream sauce because we had some cream in the fridge that had to get used. For one thing, I’m not a huge fan of tomato-y sauces unless they’re fresh (as in, fresh tomatoes and basil in it, not sauce-y). I like light sauces, or extremely heavy, full-of-fat-and-flavor garlic-y sauces.

Lucky for me, my fiance adores me and doesn’t mind giving kisses when I’m garlic breath, so we made this sauce.

It was amazing. It was easy. It was unhealthy.

The name is true. Eat this only once every two months. You need to give your arteries time to unclog themselves.

Here’s what you need:
•1 tablespoon olive oil
•1 1/2 cups heavy cream — hey, I warned you
•2 tablespoons butter
•1/2 tablespoon flour
•3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped — the more the better (in my opinion)
•1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
•S&P to taste
•2 pinches ground nutmeg
•1/2 handful parsley, chopped

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the skillet is pretty hot, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Literally. You don’t want to leave garlic in a screaming hot, oiled pan. Otherwise it will burn. Burnt garlic = bitter = nast. The more you know.

Add the butter and stir it around to melt it. Add the cream. We used 1 1/2 cups, which is almost 2 little cartons. You can use more if you want, but I think we had enough fat in that skillet for one night. Then add in the flour. This will help thicken the sauce a little quicker. You can use corn starch, but I try to stay away from that if I can help it. Adding too much corn starch results in a big clump of sauce. Gross.

Bring that to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Add the salt and pepper (we used more pepper than salt, which is delicious, but optional). Then add the ground nutmeg. It’s a mild flavor in the back that gives the whole sauce a warm, cozy taste. Yes, tastes can be warm and cozy. Don’t question me!

Near the end of the cooking process, add the cheese and stir. The sauce will get nice and thick, coating the back of a spoon. Add the fresh parsley at the end. For me, I think parsley has no flavor, but it adds that bit of green, which livens up the sauce. So use it if you want, but it’s totally optional.

Toss whatever pasta you want with the sauce. We used spinach tortellini. Top with a little more grated cheese and the remaining chopped parsley and you’re good to go!

It turned out really great – we were so pleased and impressed with ourselves. Thinking back now, I think if we added a pinch of red pepper flakes, it would have given the sauce a little kick. Yum. I also wished we had used another clove of garlic (we used 3). Like I said, this really should only be eaten every 2 or 3 months. Don’t get crazy and make this every night, or your heart will hurt you. Seriously. But hey, we’re all allowed to indulge every once in a while, right? I thought so. Enjoy!

Aparnabiata Sauce

I threw together a quick and easy arrabiata sauce for dinner tonight. It turned out so well!

Unfortunately, I did the unthinkable…and…didn’t take any pictures!




Sorry ’bout that. I just threw this together and the pangs of hunger REB and I were feeling took over and my camera sat sadly on the coffee table. Sigh.

I’ll take a picture and throw it on here tomorrow or something, but it’s pretty idiot-proof to make. It’s not too terrible for you either. If you use whole wheat pasta or don’t gorge yourself on regular pasta, it’s even better. Oh come on. It’s the new year. I too am in the “must-lose-weight” mode. I predict this will pass in about a month or two. (kidding. …sort of…)

Aparnabiata sauce featuring:
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•2 small yellow onions (approx. 1 1/2 cups), roughly chopped
•1 cup diced green bell pepper (I took the easy way out and bought frozen veggies – win!)
•1 cup frozen stir-fry veggies (gets you the mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, red bell pepper and other vitamin-rich veggies you need!)
•4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
•1 15-oz. can petite diced tomatoes (get the plain kind; nothing doused in garlic oil or chilies or anything like that)
•3/4 of a 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
•4 ounces tomato paste
•3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
•1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/2 teaspoon dried basil
[by all mean, use fresh herbs. I just didn't have any on hand]
•Approx. 7 dashes Franks Red Hot sauce
•1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (I probably added more for that extra kick)
•1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I think I used a little more though)
[I probably should have used one of my all-time favorite condiments, Siracha, but sadly, it didn't make the cut. ...This time...]
•1/2 cup frozen Boca crumbles (totally optional. I’m a vegetarian and added this to get some protein)

It’s spice-time:

1). Fill a large stock pot with water to get it boiling for the pasta. While that gets going, heat the oil in a large skillet.

2). Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Create a small bed so your garlic won’t burn and then add the garlic. Cook another 2-3 minutes.

3). Add the bell peppers and stir-fry veggies. Since I used frozen, I really just had to cook them through. If you take the time to cut up fresh vegetables, you’ll need to cook them a bit longer so they cook properly and get tender.

4). Drain some of the liquid from the diced tomato can, then add the tomatoes and stir

5). You’ll want to salt and pepper the dish at this point – don’t use too much though!

6). Add half the herbs and stir.

7). Add the crushed tomato, and the rest of the herbs and stir well

8). Add in the tomato paste. I love this stuff. It adds such a depth of flavor and helps thicken the entire sauce. So delish!

9). Let the sauce come to mild boil (basically let it simmer) for a good 10 minutes or so.

10). Your water is probably boiling happily at this point, so salt it liberally (optional, but doing so will allow you to flavor the pasta) and add in your pasta. I used Penne regata (the kind with the lines so it holds all the nom sauce). You can really use whatever pasta you want, though.

11). Once the sauce has been bubbling away, add in the red wine vinegar, hot sauce, red pepper flakes and the cayenne pepper. Stir and taste. I had to do this a few times because I kept thinking it wasn’t spicy enough. So I added a lot more pepper flakes and a lot more cayenne pepper. Yum!

12). In the last 5 minutes, I threw in the frozen Boca crumbles so they could heat through. Tasted one more time to add any more salt or spices I needed and we were done!

What I loved about this sauce is that it’s mild when you first taste it, then you feel the kick and heat of the spices on the back of your tongue. It’s such a great combination!