Vegetarian Pasta Sauce

Vegetarian Pasta Sauce

When I started to move toward more plant-based meals, I knew pasta sauce would be an issue. Who doesn’t love a big old plate of spaghetti? Wonderful stuff. But vegetarian pasta sauce? Hmm. At a restaurant this typically means just a tomato (marinara) sauce to coat your noodles. Tastes great, but that’s a meal of 100% simple carbs. That will not satisfy an appetite, unless you’re training for the Iron Man. I wanted a better solution. My sauce had to be tomato-based, it needed protein and I really wanted veggies in there. I experimented with different combos and found there

queso dip on plate

Queso Dip

(Spoiler alert: Velveeta rant ahead) I think we can all agree: Cheese is a wonderful thing (Why aren’t there more poems to cheese? Are there any poems to cheese?). And it’s even better when melted. Here’s a formula for cheese success: Melty cheese + Tex-Mex flavors = Queso Dip = Delicious! The only problem with recipes for Queso Dip is that 90+% seem to start with a so-called “processed cheese product.” Hmm.. Another curiously bland marketing name for the same thing is, “Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product.” You know where I’m going, right? Two words: “Vel” and “veeta.” Look – I’m

Snickers Pie

Snickers Pie

With Halloween approaching, get ready for the fun part: leftover candy! If you’re serious about trick-or-treating, there are going to be extras. No one wants to be THAT house, the one that ran out of candy. For shame! So, stock up, hand out the Twizzlers FIRST, and ration the Snickers bars because you’ve got to try this recipe: Snickers Pie, found at thekitchenismyplayground.com. To start, you’re going to need 1½ cups of chopped Snickers bars. That equates to about 12 so-called “Fun-sized” bars. For the record, I think the LARGE candy bars should be called “Fun-sized,” don’t you? More candy

Monster Eye Cookies

Monster Eye Cookies

October means Halloween, so what better time to make Monster Eye Cookies? This recipe is courtesy of lillune.com and I can certify: THIS IS A KID PLEASER! Plus, it’s super-simple. Here’s the secret: Use cake mix for the dough. That makes short work of preparation leaving more time for the important stuff, like – (say it with me) – “Googly Eyes!!!” YAY! (Cue cheerleaders and University of Wisconsin marching band). To begin, beat together butter, cream cheese, vanilla and an egg until fluffy. To this, add one box of yellow cake mix. That’s it. The basic dough is now complete.

Silly Apple Bites

These Silly Apple Bites are delightful to all ages. Go ahead, take a look and try not to smile.

Banana Bread sliced

Banana Bread

Anyone can make banana bread, and everyone should! It’s easy and delicious, and the “best-est” way to use bananas that become a little too . . . “mature.” I am the queen of overbuying bananas. I purchase four planning to have one a day, but by the fourth day the remaining banana is just too ripe for me. Problem: what to do with just one over-ripe banana? Solution: freeze it! Just throw the unpeeled banana into the freezer. Once I have at least three frozen bananas, I’ve got the makin’s for banana bread. (Note: Yukky part ahead.) When you thaw

Stuffed Peppers

Jack O’ Lantern Stuffed Peppers

Halloween is almost here and while costumes and candy distribution get top priority, don’t forget to have fun at meal time! I make stuffed peppers every year, and love to carve Jack O’ Lantern faces into each pepper. It takes only a few extra minutes and turns an everyday meal into a Halloween treat. Spooky good! For a meal as iconic as stuffed peppers, I turn to a trusted source: Betty Crocker. Betty tells us to make our stuffing from one pound of ground beef, one cup of rice, a garlic clove and tomato sauce. When the peppers are stuffed

Pepperoni Cheese Ball

Pepperoni Cheese Ball

Halloween is coming so, of course, we need an appetizer! This Pepperoni Cheese Ball works great because, like all cheese balls, you can pick the shape. So go ahead and make a football for a tailgate party, but if you’re having a Halloween party, use your head . . . or skull shape instead. I adapted this recipe from sugardale.com and it’s a crowd pleaser. Almost all cheeseballs start with cream cheese and shredded cheese, but this one adds pepperoni and a packet of Italian dressing seasoning to rev up the flavor. Green olives are an optional add-in. I added

Split Pea Soup

Instant Pot Split Pea Soup

As a child, I always turned up my nose to Split Pea Soup. Was it the color? Too bad, because I’m sure Mom’s soup was great: starting with a ham bone, cooked on the stove top; the whole bit. As an adult with wiser taste buds, I love this. However, I thought I could do it the way Mom did: purchasing ham on the bone, serving a “normal” meal of ham and then saving the bone thinking I could use it for soup. You know what? HUGE pain! My pot was too small for the bone and I had no

Beef Stew

Bloody Mary Beef Stew

This classic beef stew can be made in a Crockpot or Instant Pot to produce a delicious, warming stew for a cool weather meal.

mini bell peppers

Mini Bell Pepper Poppers

Turn mini bell peppers into a tasty appetizer or side dish for any Mexican-themed meal.

cilantro lime sauce

Cilantro-Lime Sauce

Sometimes all you need is a great sauce to take a dish from good to great. Some people like a little, others a lot, so a sauce on the side pleases all palates. The idea for this cilantro-lime sauce was inspired by Café Rio’s Creamy Tomatillo dressing. Like many others, I am a big fan of Café Rio. For those not familiar, Café Rio is a fantastic casual restaurant chain based in Salt Lake City. My daughter lives there, and a Café Rio visit is mandatory every time I visit. Hey Café Rio people: your brand would be HUGELY popular

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White Russian

A couple of interesting holidays this week. October 1 is National Coffee Day and October 4 is National Vodka Day. Hmm… combine coffee liqueur with vodka and – White Russian, anyone? This recipe comes from liquor.com, where the drink is described as “decadent and sophisticated.” It was created in the 60’s when someone added a little cream to a Black Russian. For those movie buffs and mixologists (aka bartenders), the White Russian had a bit of a “stodgy” reputation until “The Dude” re-branded it in the 1998 movie, “The Big Lebowski.” No bathrobe required here. It’s acceptable in any attire.