Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Marinara-esque Sauce on the Fly recipe

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (approx.)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (divided use)
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 12 small roma tomatoes (or 8 medium), chopped + one can diced tomatoes (can use all fresh tomatoes if you have enough!)
  • Pinch of red bell pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 ½ tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese plus more for topping
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • Pasta of your choice, 1 box
Additional sea salt, red pepper flakes, onion powder, to taste.

1.       Coat a deep pan with olive oil, heat to medium then add  half of the garlic, sautéing for a minute. Then add diced celery, red onion, zucchini and bell pepper, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and stir to coat.

2.       Cook until vegetables are slightly soft, stirring occasionally to evenly cook, about 3-5 minutes.

3.        Scoop vegetables from the pan and move to a separate bowl for later.

4.       Add slightly more olive oil if it has cooked off, then add the remainder of the garlic and all the tomatoes and the seasonings to the pan.

5.       Cook until the tomatoes have collapsed and released their juices, 5-7 mins on medium heat. (This is a good time to cook your pasta also)

6.       Combine the tomatoes with the other cooked vegetables into the blender, make need to do in more than one ‘batch’ if your blender is small.

7.       Blend the veggies until nearly smooth, or slightly chunky, depending upon your preference.

8.       Return the pureed vegetables to the pan, add in the cooked chicken and the freshly grated parmesan cheese. Heat on low until everything is heated through. If the sauce is too thick, add a little tomato sauce or chicken broth to reach desired consistency.  

9.       Season to taste with the optional additions, then enjoy the sauce on top of your pasta, with additional parmesan cheese on top.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Living in Virginia

Snickers "helping" us unpack.

So we moved to Virginia in January.
We're officially all moved in and genuine VA residents - Got our License plates changed, Driver's Licenses, up to date on Insurance, Inspections and all that fun stuff. I'm stuck around the house while I'm still job hunting, trying to find my place. But in the meantime, the dog and I have been exploring the neighborhood and I've been baking and cooking and figuring out what grocery store is good for this and not that. My current favorite is Safeway, they remind me of Wegmans from NY though not quite as large and specialized. The fruit and veggies seem to be freshest there.

This past week (and weekend) I made baba ghanoush, fresh bread and spinach artichoke dip.

-Baba Ghanoush & Bread -

The recipe I used for the Baba Ghanoush was from Pioneer Woman's website, here:
Baba Ghanoush

With this I made Baguettes from my good ol' Good Housekeeping Baking cookbook.


  • 2 Cups warm Water
  • 1 package active dry Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1/4 tsp Salt
  • About 5 cups All-Purpose Flour (Or 4 1/2 cups bread flour)
  • 1 Large Egg White

  1. In large bowl combine warm water, yeast and sugar; stir to dissolve. Let stand 5 minutes or until foamy. Add 1 Tbsp salt and 3 cups flour. Beat well with spoon until smooth. Gradually stir in 1 1/2 cups flour.
  2. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead 6 - 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic, working in remaining flour as necessary just to keep dough from sticking.
  3. Shape dough into ball and place in greased large bowl, turning dough over so as to grease the top. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  4. Grease 2 large cookie sheets. Punch down dough. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and cut in half. Roll each half into 18in x 7in rectangle or there abouts. From one long side, roll up tightly, rolling dough with hands to taper ends. Place one loaf diagonally on each cookie sheet. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. With serrated knife cut 5 diagonal slashes in each loaf. In small cup beat egg white and remaining 1/4 tsp salt, then brush loaves with this mixture. Bake 30-35 minutes, rotating cookie sheets between top and bottom tacks halfway through baking until well browned. Transfer loafs to wire racks to cool.
This recipe makes 2 loaves.
Prep time: 20 minutes plus rising (rising is about 2 hrs)
Bake time: 30 - 35 minutes


The Spinach Artichoke recipe I used was Alton Brown's found here:
Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

The recipe turned out really good, I was surprised it had some red pepper flakes in it as I'd had it in restaurants before and never noticed it with any spiciness, but make no mistake it tastes great in this recipe! My only qualms with this recipe were:
  • Amounts of frozen spinach, artichoke and sour cream- Of course our local grocery store only had one size of each of these, and of course they didn't match up, so instead of 8 oz of spinach, they only had a 10 oz package. And instead of 12 oz of artichoke hearts, there were only 8 oz packages so I used 16 oz of hearts. And instead of 6 oz cream cheese I had a package of 8 oz, so it all worked out, I added a little more of everything else to account for these changes.

Ever watch your dog sleeping and catch them with their lip stuck up all funny or their face squished in?
Like this?

How could anyone NOT smile at that? He looks like a tough guy :P


Next post - Smoothies, My random concoctions I will be making over the next week or so and hopefully more in the future! Do you have a favorite smoothie?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cookies for Dogs and Cats

Hello internet world!
I have been cooking more frequently lately, though baking less, and have been wanting to post some of my creations. This post will only encompass the mess of treats I assembled for dogs and cats!

Long story short, the humane society will have a booth this weekend at the Speidie Fest in Binghamton , and at all of these events volunteers bake "cookies" for people to buy for their dogs and cats, all proceeds going to the humane society. Also at the booth are toys, leashes and collars for dogs and cats, and pictures of the current adoptable animals.
So in comes me! I became feverish with the need to bake and after scouring the internet assembled a mix of recipes into two - one for dogs, and one for cats.
Fresh out of the oven, cooling

Just frosted with royal icing

Notice the difference between the flowers in this picture, and above. Leaving them to harden as we went off to dinner, Eloise the mischievous cat decided to lick away the not-yet-hardened frosting on the flowers I finished last. Brian did not believe me until I showed him the "before we left" shot. We then discovered a bit of green frosting on her whiskers as well. Caught red-handed!

I researched a few recipes on the internet before making my own concoctions which I then scribbled down for future reference..

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Cookies & Royal Icing

2 cups flour
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups hot water

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add in peanut butter and hot water, scraping bowl occasionally.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Flour a flat surface and rolling pin; roll out dough and use cookie cutters to shape. Place cookies on greased cookie sheet, bake for 30-40 minutes.
When cookies are slightly browned on the edges they are done.
Cool on baking racks for at least 20 minutes before letting your dog(s) "test".

Makes about 50 small dog bone sized cookies, obviously depends on size of cookies you are making.

Royal Frosting: **
1/8 cup meringue (powdered)
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix together all ingredients and stir until well-combined. Must use QUICKLY as this hardens up pretty fast, which makes it great for treats that could otherwise be messy.

*NOTE: I read somewhere raw egg normally used in royal icing is bad for dogs, so I had to go to Wegman's and search for meringue powder. This amount of frosting was plenty for the number of cookies I made to have a thin layer. Dogs approve of these treats with or without the frosting so if you are making these and don't need much sugar so simple decorations or a thin layer of frosting works best and still looks pretty!

Carob decorations

I had originally bought carob ahead of finding an exact recipe or method of going about making these, so after looking for a carob frosting once I
had the chips, I then realized I didn't really need them, but wanted to use what I had already.

Note to readers - carob chips apparently don't melt as well as chocolate chips, I have since found by further researching on the internet that the carob powder is much better for melting, food for thought :)

I had a hard time getting the right consistency; I added some vegetable oil and a little water and thinned out the paste a bit and then dipped some dog bones in my fakey-chocolate. These came out really well, but then when I tried to thin out the carob again to drizzle it over the frosted cookies, I had a bit of a failure. Even after freezing the cookies overnight, the carob was barely hardening.
Needless to say, they will be messy! hopefully they don't melt too bad today and tomorrow in the heat of the park at speidie fest, and someone still brings them home to their pooches


Honey & Catnip Treats

1 1/2 cups flour plus up to 1/2 additional
1 1/2 tsp cat nip, plus extra for rolling in
2/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp honey
1 egg
2 Tbsp oil

Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, then add in the wet ingredients. Dough will become VERY sticky, continue to add additional 1/2 cup flour until consistency is less elastic.
Add more flour or more milk to achieve a bread-dough sort of texture.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Pinch small pieces of dough off and roll in hands to create small balls. Place dough balls on greased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch and lightly browned on all sides.

*Optional: Roll small pieces in catnip before baking

My Husband making cat treats

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A wedding

On June 18th, 2010 I became a Mrs. :)

I will be adding some of the photographer photos once they make it to me, but otherwise here is a photo taken by my cousin, Tracy:

All this name changing and martial status changing business is a pain! I have to change everything but have to wait for the new SS card to come in the mail before I can really do anything.. ugh!

In other news:
Snickers got a wedding present so he wouldn't feel left out, from hubby's grandma:

He cuddled with it all on his own! I think he was trying to get us to stop bugging him during his precious sleeping time.. he's got to get in his 21 1/2 hours beauty rest a day you know!

Will try to post again later this week, I should have some time to get over to the humane society at some point to get new dog pictures :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dogs and more dogs

My fiancee' and I went to visit the dogs again this past Sunday and there was two new poodles among with a few other new dogs. Normally, I'm not much of a poodle person, but there was something about Rusty and his 'beard' that had Brian and I wanting to take him out for a walk... and pick him up, every 2 minutes or so. =P

Meet Rusty, a nine year old (approx) poodle mix that was part of a puppy mill type situation. Basically he lived in a cage most of his life and made puppies.. a lot.

He loves to roll around in the grass.

...And to stick his tongue out at the camera

Laying down after all the rolling around and bouncing in the grass.


Tiburon "T-Bone"
2 1/2 - 3 year old Mastiff

Tiburon is my best buddy. He's been at the humane society for about a year. Not because he isn't a wonderful, hug-able, squishy-faced cuddle monster, but because he's very big and not very well trained. His owner gave him up because he had to have back surgery. And unfortunately, the people who come in and look at him are never 'matching' homes - they either have small children, aren't strong enough/experienced enough, or live in an apartment. This size dog with the amount of energy he has needs a fenced in yard, and another dog that's as energetic and big as he is.

Can I play in the water?

Giant water bowl?

Just imagine how much water comes off a 100+ lb dog with extra floppy skin.


William is a 1-2 year old mixed breed who is your typical happy, active, silly puppy

Mud! that water stuff is weird though.. scary!

Back inside? Why would I want to go there?

How can you resist a smiling dog?

All of the above dogs are from the Binghamton Humane Society, in Binghamton,NY. Find more info by searching on Petfinder.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Buns and more!

I found this recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman from Bakerella's Blog. I had been thinking about cinnamon buns lately anyway, haven't had them homemade in a loooong time.. too long, clearly. And low and behold there they were when I was aimlessly clicking through Bakerella's website. Maple coffee icing?! Don't mind if I do =P

Pre-frosting.. Isn't Pam spray awesome ? My fiancee' is showing off how he flipped the one pan upside down and tapped once or twice, and all the cinnamon buns popped out perfectly, still attached and looking lovely!

Icing, anyone? Drizzled all over for maximum gooeyness.

You need to see it up close to appreciate fully..

I halfed the recipe since it makes about 25 in half, and 50 or so with the full batch. Brian and I don't need that many, especially with the wedding on the way (June 18th!) and us both trying to get back in shape. There's still a lot for just us so I gave a few to our landlord and will drop off some with my mom later today. But then again.. do I really want to share.. hmm.. ;)

Here is the halfed recipe, just to make your life easier:

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls (makes about 20-25 rolls, depending on how big you cut them)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg yeast
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 Tbsp salt
melted butter

Maple Frosting
1/2 bag Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Maple Flavoring
1/4 cup Milk
1/8 cup melted butter
1/8 cup coffee
1/16 tsp salt ( a pinch, really)

The full recipe is here:


since I was feeling like I needed to cook yesterday, I also made two recipes for dinner.. one was an asparagus risotto recipe that was on the tiny tag of the asparagus we bought earlier in the week, and the other was a modified recipe found on the side of Good Housekeeping's Artichoke Pasta Sauce. I will post both later, as I need to get to work soon :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Opening Post

So I'm not really sure yet what this blog is going to be about in a general sense - I like writing about my animals, and the shelter animals, hence the "mutts" and I love to ride horses, so they will definitely make a presence in this blog. My other major hobby is to bake and cook; experimenting in the kitchen is a blast! :)

I am also currently trying to get in better shape so my 1/2 way through the new year's resolution is to make myself get more active. Part of that will be through walking my dogs and the shelter dogs more, along with riding as much as humanly possible.

I am itching to try photography and have been for a while, so I will include my latest attempts.
So these posts will vary between dogs, baking, photography, horses, getting in shape, and everything in-between! I want to get my thoughts out there somewhere, I'm always thinking too much so maybe if I write things down it will get me somewhere.

Today I made pizza dough, 1/2 of which I will use for dinner tonight! I plan on making a white pizza with hot sausage crumbled on top.. wish me luck