Diana’s Fake It Spaghetti Sauce

December 24, 2008 - Written by Diana

Last night I started dinner.  Spaghetti with Italian Sausage.  I  heated the water for the spaghetti, cooked up the sausage and was looking for sauce and discovered I was out.  I mean really out.  I hate when that happens.  I didn’t have time to sit and simmer for an hour or so to make sauce, so here’s how to prepare it in a hurry.  I keep cans of chopped tomatoes and tomato paste in the cabinet.  It’s one of my staples I like to have on hand.  It makes more sauce than you need for a meal, so I made extra spaghetti too.



Chop onions and garlic and saute in olive oil. When soft, throw in tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir and combine well.  If you think it looks to thick, throw in a little water.  I added 1 tomato paste can full of water and at least a little more. Then add spices , salt and pepper until it suits your taste.  Add cooked sausage and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Serve over Spaghetti, top with Parmesan.

This isn’t as delicious as sauce that has been simmered for more than an hour, but it does just fine in a pinch.  We threw all of the leftovers together in a bowl.  Then for lunch my son and I added some parmesan and mozzerella and heated it up in the microwave for lunch.  Mmm mmm good leftovers for a cold and icy day. 

Homemade Stocking Stuffer – Chocolate Craisin Bark

December 12, 2008 - Written by Diana

I haven’t started my treatmaking, so no pics yet.  I make this treat every year and everyone loves loves loves it.  It’s the number one requested item and so simple to make.  This is one of the first things my kids ask for in their Christmas stockings.

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler.  I usually make it half milk and half semi sweet or dark, so it’s not too sweet and not too bitter.  You can also substitute white instead of milk and dark chocolate if you prefer. If you use larger pieces of chocolate, cut them down in size so that it all melts evenly. You can use a microwave to melt the chocolate.  Put the chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and for a minute at time melt and stir the chocolate until it’s completely melted.  Empty Craisins into a bowl, pour the melted chocolate over top and stir together, blending well.  Pour this mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator until it looks like a big solid bar.  Break this bark into pieces, put into small gift bags with a bow. 

Orange Craisin works well with the dark chocolate, too.  I may try some of my specialty spiced chocolates this year with the Craisins and see what kind of combination I can come up with.

Holiday Cooking: Mama Lucia’s Meatballs Italian Style Meatballs

October 28, 2008 - Written by Diana

When I’m spending days making salsa, sometimes other cooking is neglected.  My poor 6’2″ son and my husband would starve if I didn’t have frozen stuff waiting in the wings.  Meatballs are one of my favorite staples.  They’re quick, delicious, filling and hearty.  This weekend when I was up to my elbows in salsa making I knew I had to do something fast and easy, in the microwave for our dinner that wouldn’t get in the way of my work.  Well, I took some leftover penne pasta and sauce, threw in some Mama Lucia meatballs and cheese and microwaved it.  It was the perfect meal since we really didn’t want to stop chopping.  The next morning my son woke up starving, because he went to a party and was too late for the pizza that had been served.  Before I could make the eggs, he grabbed a bowl of cold leftovers from our quickly thrown together meal and ate it cold (not my favorite way, but hey it worked for him).  Then later he heated up another bowl for lunch.  I’m serious they love the stuff. 

For Thanksgiving or other big family meals, I take frozen meatballs and put it in a crockpot with onions and peppers, and sauce.  People munch on it all night long.  It’s such a treat and since we travel a couple of hours to visit family, it’s an easy set up.  Mama Lucia’s meatballs are just perfect for any gathering.

Diana’s Famous Meatballs in a Crockpot


Orzo Minestrone

October 24, 2008 - Written by Diana

review-pics 019 Time to use up some of those vegetables.  It’s starting to frost outside, so a good warm soup for dinner is a nice thing.  I used carrots, celery, parsley and swiss chard from my garden.  Instead of bigger pastas, I used Orzo which is more rice sized. This soup was a quick easy and delicious way to end a work day.



Dice and saute the first four ingredients together.  When they seem soft add chopped up swiss chard and a little chicken broth.  In a soup pot, heat up the chicken broth, plus canned tomatoes. Chop up parsley leaves and drop into the broth and tomatoes.  Put the vegetable mixture into the broth, add the orzo and heat until the orzo is cooked.  Salt and Pepper it and it’s just right. The garden vegetables have a stronger taste than those found in the grocery store and add quite a bit of flavor to the soup.

Dorm Recipes

August 10, 2008 - Written by Diana

bisq-cup 002

Here are a few easy recipes you can throw together. 

They aren’t elaborate because you don’t have the room or equipment for elaborate.


Bean salads: healthy fast food

August 6, 2008 - Written by Robin

This took me all of five minutes to make!


I ate this with a toasted whole wheat roll, avocado slices and some fresh corn on the cob.  Bean salad is great when it’s 90 degrees out and you want something super easy to prepare.  You could also stuff it in a pita and have it for lunch. It’s also a great side dish for a more ambitious meal.

I used:

1 can or drained and rinsed cannellini beans (2 cups cooked dried beans if you like)

1 TBL olive oil

1 TBL balsamic vinegar

2 cloves minced garlic (use one if you’re not a garlic addict like me)

1/2 of a small vidalia onion, finely chopped

seasoning to taste:  Mrs. Dash Italian Blend, kosher salt, and shredded fresh basil or whatever you feel like.  Parmesan cheese is also optional.

To prepare, stir everything in a bowl and serve.  You can even serve it in the mixing bowl (as I clearly did!)

Cold Chicken and Couscous Salad

June 14, 2008 - Written by Diana

It’s been a little warm, so I wanted a salad or something cool to eat rather than a hot meal. I decided to try a cold couscous salad, and I made a green salad to go with it. We have plenty of salad greens and herbs growing right now. Plus it’s pea pickin’ time around here. I like to make my meals based on what’s available. In the summer it will depend on what’s ripe or ready to use after I’ve visited the garden and brought some fresh things inside.


Best Fast Side Dish

June 11, 2008 - Written by Diana

School is over for this year for us. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activities. One event was the track potluck. It’s right after practice, parents can come, and you are assigned something to bring. I work 40 minutes from the school and home, so I stopped at the store and picked up some cutup fruit. It’s always a big hit, and I didn’t have to worry about how to keep it fresh while I was at work. However, the best thing I saw there was a really fast salad that one girl put together in less than 5 minutes.

Making pizza at home

April 7, 2008 - Written by Robin

homemade pizza illustration

When I was in college, a small investment saved me hundreds of dollars in my take-out budget. I figured out how I could stiff the pizza parlor by making delicious pizza at home. I had stumbled upon the baker’s secret weapon: the baking stone. (more…)

White Bean & Kielbasa soup

March 6, 2008 - Written by Diana

This soup is a family favorite.  It’s a chunky soup with lots of flavor.  I usually make a double batch and refrigerate or freeze half for another day.

Olive Oil

1 clove garlic

1 cup chopped onion (about 1 med)

1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)

2 cans navy beans

1 can chicken broth

1 can diced tomatoes

3/4 lb Kielbasa


bay leaf

minced parsley

rubbed sage