Pasta Sauce on the Fly

Every once in a while I come across something that I think would be great with or for dinner, or even as a snack. It’s rare, however, that I actually bother using what I have found in the way I had intended. Hey, I’ve always admitted I can be lazy when it comes to implementing the ideas I have, but that doesn’t stop me from having them or wanting to make them happen.

When I have the time, of course…

But, I digress.

20170714_120408Over the course of the last few months, I received these three specific items in my Degustabox deliveries, all of the same brand, that I decided needed to be turned into something! (My apologies for the nasty glare on the tube of tomato paste.)

I had seen the Mutti brand name in the store before, but honestly, I don’t tend to buy tomato products unless I have a plan to make chili or a meaty spaghetti sauce, so I had never tried them.

The tomato paste showed up first, back in April, and I was sort of nonplussed about it. Believe it or not, I really was that thrilled about receiving something that I always mean to grab at the store, to have on hand, and always forget to actually grab. It was the start of my brain working to decide what I would use it for and then turned into wondering how long it would sit in my pantry before actually being used.

When the May box came along, I was even more excited to see the chopped tomatoes. I even joked to my kids that if we got a tomato sauce in the next box, we would have all the fixings for a killer pasta sauce, and I was secretly hoping a can would show up in the June box.

However, I had to wait until July’s delivery showed up to find out that there was a can of their tomato sauce included and I went completely squealing crazy happy about it.

Okay, I didn’t go jumping up and down and get out of hand, but I did squee and I did happen to get that girly squealing voice that women get when they get super excited about something. And who could blame me?! I love that I get things like these items in Degustabox and that over the course of a few months, I managed to get everything for the base to a good sauce.

Soooo, I have had these items sitting on my bigger pan on the stove for a good week, waiting for the perfect day to just through it all together. Today was that day.

I set to work with a few extra items I had on hand, and one more Degustabox goody, and heated up the pan. This is one of those things where you just kind of eyeball how much you are going to use of each extra ingredient and flavor to taste.

I emptied the two cans of Mutti tomato products into the pan, and then squeezed about one third of the tube of tomato paste in. I know that may seem like a lot of tomato paste, but had I a small can of it instead of a tube, I would have used the whole can.

I added between 1 and 2 tablespoons of the Goya Extra Virgin Olive Oil (also from my July Degustabox), and roughly 1 tablespoon of the dried oregano and the same for the dried onion.

** Side note: I keep dried things like the oregano and onion on hand, because most fresh ingredients that I bring into my house, if not used the day I bring them home, go bad before I remember I have them. I’m a lazy chef/baker, remember? And, all in all, they work just fine when flavoring sauces on the fly. I’m usually looking for quick prep and cook times, and chopping up something fresh takes time that I don’t usually have. **

The best part of this sauce was that it didn’t need too much added flavoring. I did not add any salt in, and where I did add more of the tomato paste (using half the tube, total), it wasn’t lacking in any sort of flavor. It also was not overpowered by flavors, either.

This one big(ish) pot was enough sauce for me, the husband, and my daughter. (My son is not big on tomatoes. He won’t even eat ketchup on his fries! I know, right?!) Sprinkled with some Parmesan Romano cheese and it was absolutely divine!

Oh, and there are leftovers for a least two more servings, maybe three, depending how much sauce you like on your pasta.

In closing all I really can say is that I love pasta, pasta sauce and Degustabox!

I do suggest to any reader interested to click on this link to go check out Degustabox for yourself. Degustabox is a subscription service, that sends you a box each month full of surprise food items. Some of them may be new to you, and some you may have already been purchasing for your home, but everything is more than worth the $19.99/mo cost. Also, if you sign up while using this link you’ll receive $10.00 off your first box.

Believe me, it is totally worth it!

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Baking Loves & Pecan Pie Weakness

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love to bake and create all sorts of the not-so-good-for-you stuffs. You know what I mean. Cookies, cakes, pies, candies, muffins, and all sorts of floury, sugary, gooey, frosted, sprinkled, drizzled, dipped, coated, candied, caramelized goodies that you are constantly being told to not eat too much or it will just go straight to your hips.

I am by no means a master baker, but I just love that aspect of using my kitchen!

I follow the recipes I find, or have on hand, and rarely twist them into something new, but I have been known to take what’s in my head while baking, and just run with it. The only downfall is that some things wind up wildly inappropriate for mixed company, or just don’t turn out at all as planned. But, at least they still tasted great!

I have managed to attempt making my kids their own special birthday cakes, but honestly Rapunzel’s tower did not turn out near as well as the Mickey Ear Hats, and I learned to never work with black food dye ever again.

Pre-cut sugar cookies have been turned from hearts into busts and bottoms, all while completely sober, and the fact that I was left to myself to finish decorating the rest of the cookies.

Homemade soft pretzels have been twisted and knotted to try and be gag gifts for the holidays for friends across the country, only to prove that one should never try to make pretzel boobs and expect them to actually look like something more than a glob of dough on the baking sheet.

I don’t think I will ever live that last one down, to be quite honest…

The point of all this brings me to the fact that I was reminded last night of one of my favorite things, that I don’t make enough: Pecan Pie! Seriously, it is such a simple pie to make, and it does not take very long to prep. I don’t know why I don’t make it more often. The reminder of this delicious confection that makes me smile at the memories and makes me almost smell one baking as I think about it? Well, the 12th was actually Pecan Pie Day, so what better way to celebrate than with a fresh pecan pie!

The problem is…

I don’t really need to be eating an entire pecan pie by myself, and that is just what will happen. I have zero will power where this is concerned. So I took myself to Pinterest, once again, to see if I could manage to find a recipe for something pecan pie-like, but not quite the size or standard item, which would just cause me to wind up in a total corn syrupy coma!

And what luck!

With very little scrolling, I found a recipe for Pecan Pie Cookies!

How perfect! Cookies and pie all in one – what more could I ask for?!

Of course, I jumped up to start them right away only to remember that the last pre-made pie crusts that I had were no longer in my fridge, and neither were the pecans I keep on hand. ACK!  My quest for gooey pecan goodness was going to have to be put off until the next day.

A quick trip to the local Meijer this morning (and another stop by the husband on his way home from work this afternoon), and I was back to being prepared for my house to smell uh-may-zing!

And ya know what? These are truly simple to make, taking very little time to prep and, the best part, taste like a mini pecan pie!

Oh. My. YUM!

I will most certainly be making these Pecan Pie Cookies again, and I think I may even try my hand at coming up with my own twists for it, as the year goes on. These are a total win of a recipe!

To make these cookies yourself, you can find the original recipe here. Many hearts to Holly at spendwithpennies.com for her delicious take on two of my baking loves.

 

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My notes/tips on the original recipe:

  1. The original recipe calls for a single refrigerated pie crust (or to make your own), but I used both that came in the package I bought at the store. This gave me a total of 16 circles, with room for 15 on my large rack. I saved the extra circle and the scraps in a zip bag and tossed them in the fridge (as is) to use with the kids tomorrow.
  2. The directions call for 1 tablespoon of filling in each circle. If you use only the single pie crust, you will have more than 1 tablespoon of filling for each circle! This may not be a bad thing, but it was the amount of filling in my pan that made me decide to cut the second crust into circles as well, and the filling worked out well to fill all of them, then.
  3. Spread the filling out! Honestly, if it’s perfect pecan pie filling, it won’t be running to the edge of your prepared circles, but just sort of settling slowly into place. I suggest the spreading of the filling because I did have a couple that turned out to be much more ‘pie like’, due to the filling staying in the center where I dropped it, and the pie crust then puffing up around it.
  4. The original recipe gives optional instructions for a chocolate drizzle over these babies. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of chocolate and pecan pie, and where it is probably insanely delicious, I suggest trying different toppings, as well. For example, these taste amazing while still warm and with a scoop of ice cream, it makes that fresh outta the oven warmth even better! Also, I received a Wilton Candy Melts Drizzle Pouch (Salted Caramel flavored) in a Degustabox earlier this year, and thought it would make a tasty addition to these cookies. I actually had a bit of an impatient streak waiting for them to melt properly, and wound up getting more of a clump of the candy melts verse a drizzle. It still tasted yummy, but I’ll be more patient next time I try to use this exact product with these cookies. (I may even use this on a pecan pie, if I ever make one again…)

Happiness is a New Logo

I AM SO EXCITED!

Can you tell?!

It may seem a bit odd to get excited over, but I have recently talked a friend into helping me with an actual logo for my site and brand, and I finally got one!

–insert moment of crazy happy dancing here–

I’ve even spent some time trying to update my pages and social medias with the logo, so please bear with me as I make this slow transition into new things coming ahead!

Oh, and now that my kids are out of school and I keep having these amazing ideas of things to do, I might finally get around to posting more often, again, too.

Wish me luck!

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Walking in Place Can Take You Far

Earlier this week I posted about challenging myself to do a few things. Mostly this included taking new supplements on their promise of weight loss, as well as adding coconut oil to my daily diet, and moving more. My issue with moving more, this time of year, has always been that it tends to be rather windy and cold outside. Also, there can be a possibility of snow or ice, so the idea of walking outside really puts me off the idea.

I can also say that my house isn’t really made for working out.

Jumping jacks make everything shake and wobble, the floors creak just walking up and down the stairs, and where I tend to jump at the chance to do Zumba when the house is empty (more space when no one is around), there really is just not that much room to make it all happen easily.

Now, in that previous post I mentioned I would likely pull out the Wii and get some steps in with the Wii Fit Balance Board, but would also do some videos on YouTube from the Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home channel.

So as the weather is constantly going from high to low and continues to tease me with promises of spring and sunshine, I will continue to go through these videos.

In the past I have done more than just this first one I am mentioning here, but my current go-to is the 1 Mile Happy Walk, which is roughly 15 minutes long. It’s quick, gets your heart rate going, and my kids love it, too.

The best part about doing these videos is that where I do not have that much space in my living room, I have just enough space to continue to keep moving along with the videos and make adjustments where need be.

I’ve already completed my walk for today, and hope that next week I will be feeling up to adding a mile by doing one of her 2 mile videos instead of just the 1 mile. I also noticed that she has a 5 minute walk added recently, so I am looking forward to trying that one out soon, too!

Are you ready to walk with me?

Check these videos out and make them work for you, too!

A Colorful Moment

It is pretty typical that around and on Easter, one can expect to color eggs, have an egg hunt, and make up baskets for the kids full of candy and treats, but does it really have to be so typical? I have spent a few years wondering what I could do differently to make the normal, non-religious Easter traditions a bit more in the style of my family.

I have looked through lists of things you can put in plastic eggs for egg hunts that are not candy.

I have looked at photos and sites full of ideas for what to put in baskets that means less trash a week later when the chintzy Easter toys all break or get forgotten about because focuses have moved on to other things.

I have even looked up new ideas for egg hunts, inside or outside the house.

Basically, I wanted to come up with ideas that did not require being ‘typical’.

This year I decided to finally act on things. I have already shopped to pick up some not-so-typical items (along with a few typical things) for my kids’ baskets, and decided to test a new-to-me way of dying eggs. My mother-in-law usually does egg dying at their house with all of their grandchildren in one afternoon. It can be a mess with all the tubs of egg dye, not to mention the underlying smell of vinegar from the dye kits.

The method I decided to try is based on a method of making sort of prints with paint and shaving cream, but instead of paint, I used food coloring.

But, shaving cream? On my eggs?!

Yes, shaving cream on the eggs, people. Seriously, it’s only on the shell, and not on there for that long, but if it bugs you that much, pick up a tub or two of Cool Whip and use that instead.

I am adding the photos from how I did this here for you to see and go on. I used regular shaving cream, not gel (this is important – do not use gel shaving cream, if you are going to use shaving cream vs Cool Whip), and picked up disposable cookie sheets, figuring if it was overly messy, I could just toss out the whole lot after things were done. The food coloring I used is just your typical liquid food colors. I was searching around stores for the neon colors, but of course, the one time I actually want neon food dye, I cannot find it anywhere, so just used the basic colors.

Basic instructions are to fill the sheet pan with the shaving cream or Cool Whip and then drip your food coloring around randomly on that. Using some sort of utensil (I used a straw, since we seem to have an overabundance of them in the house), swirl the drops of dye around the surface of the shaving cream to make your tie-dye look.

Assuming you have prepped your eggs by hard

boiling them ahead of time, take your boiled eggs and set them on the dye covered shaving cream. You will need to make sure to turn your eggs over and make sure that you cover the full egg with dye to get a good coat of color. You don’t have to remove the eggs from the shaving cream mess, but depending on how many eggs you are working with, you may want to move them to another pan or tray for rinsing off later, anyway. I removed mine from the shaving cream and set them in my steam colander from the pot I used to boil my eggs so it would be easier to rinse them after they sat.

Let the eggs sit for at least 10 minutes before rinsing them off and ta-da! Easy tie-dyed eggs!

 

 

Oh… I would suggest, if you’re having children do these, or you just don’t like the idea of getting food coloring all over your fingers, to grab some disposable gloves for all participants.

I even managed to have one of these eggs for breakfast the next morning and unlike the usual dye methods that tend to seep into the shell and can color the egg white itself, this did not seem to do that. I think this will be a method for egg dying that I do more often. I will have to suggest to my mother-in-law to try it with the kids this year, and maybe use Cool Whip instead of shaving cream, just to be on the safe side.

Time to Do Something Again

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It has been quite some time (again) since I have posted anything, and where I don’t consider this blog to be only a ‘Here, let me try this and tell you about it!’ sort of blog, I do continue to search for things to try or to attempt to debunk, as it gives me a purpose for writing another post.

This only works, however, when I am not busy with other things in my crazy life, and well, honestly, when my household is actually healthy. Three sick family members in a single house hold, at the same time, can really be a hindrance on your normal daily routine. But now that we’re all healthy, and I’m not feeling near as lazy after two weeks of pretty much sleeping all day, I think I’m finally ready to make good on some of the things I have been looking at trying.

From here on out, I will discuss four new challenges that I have decided to set for myself, and, more importantly, the three main things I have found while web surfing and perusing Pinterest that are supposed to help with weight loss. (Note: Nothing in my research of these three main items is claiming that they cannot all be taken/done at the same time. However, I will be making sure to keep an eye on any major health changes with my personal being, in order to decide whether to continue with all three at once, or cut them out completely.)

Item #1: L-Carnitine

Sometime in 2016, I came across a pinned blog article about how L-Carnitine can be used as a weight loss supplement. Now, of course I pinned this to my personal board of things to try, test, and blog about, because I apparently rather enjoy putting my body through a plethora of weight loss techniques and ideas that usually do nothing more than make me have to add something new to my day-to-day actions. Seeing as I can rarely remember to take my vitamins every day, adding more supplements is not usually something I jump at the chance to try. And that includes ones that tout weight loss help.

But this one seems to be fairly legit. The article I read here was rather informative about the number of uses and benefits of taking carnitine. I highly suggest reading the full article yourself to find out more, if you are indeed interested, as my main focus here is on the supplement dosing specifically for weight loss.

According to this article, for weight loss you should be ingesting 2 to 4 grams of L-Carnitine per day. The bottle I picked up is of 500mg capsules and I will be doing this with the lowest dose of 2g, so will be taking a total of 4 capsules every day. You should be able to pick up a bottle of L-Carnitine wherever you can purchase vitamins and other daily supplements, however, I did notice not every brand at the store I shop, carried this particular item. That said, you can always shop online!

Item #2: Turmeric

Turmeric is another one of those items I was seeing being pinned but never really bothered to look much into. I was seeing it as something being added to other items to make a drink that you should have at night before bed, usually stating it was some sort of miracle item that would melt belly fat overnight. I rolled my eyes at a few of these, pinned one, and moved on.

Lately, however, I was wondering more about turmeric as a whole, and tonight decided to look online a bit more deeply into this item. What I found here is pretty well informative and actually rather interesting information. I would highly suggest reading up on turmeric and its uses and benefits whenever you get a chance, because it could very well indeed be something you want to consider for other things than just weight loss.

The mentioned site that I found when searching, suggested 500mg of a turmeric with curcumin supplement, taken three times a day for weight loss. I will mention, the article did state that turmeric is best if taken in powder form, preferable organic, to get the most out of this product. For me, however, it was easier to find the capsules with the curcumin, and also in this form, something you should be able to purchase wherever you pick up your vitamins and other supplements.

Item #3: Coconut Oil & Honey

Okay this one doesn’t sound new, does it? I think I have mentioned coconut oil a few times before, especially when it comes to putting it in your coffee. And the benefits of honey, especially local raw honey, are something I will stand by as being 100% why I hardly suffered at all from seasonal allergies this past year.

This particular pin I found, linked to an article that gave a recipe for a sort of coffee creamer, if you will, that is basically made from coconut oil and honey, with a little bit of cinnamon added in for taste.

You are supposed to add 1 to 2 teaspoons to your morning cup of coffee, and it is supposed to jump start your metabolism. With all that I have been reading on coconut oil over the past couple of years and what a great benefit it is to your daily health, and how adding it to your diet can indeed help reduce your weight, I think this is something I can surely do on a daily basis.

Item #4: Exercise!

I have been reading more and more that excessive exercise can actually be more harmful than helpful to your body. The harder, more jarring the workout, the more strain and possible injury you could be putting your body through. That viewpoint makes a lot of sense, at least to me, and where I will stand by the fact that movement is beneficial to a person’s health, overdoing it is not something anyone should make it a point of doing, even if they do not know they could be doing just that. I know, I know! That does not really make sense. Yet maybe it does?

As I have done challenges in the past that are wrapped around acts of exercise that target certain parts of the body, this one I am giving myself is supposed to just benefit the body as a whole. And, it’s something simple and something I tend to do on a regular basis, anyway.

What is this challenge?

Walking!

My goal, while working on the first 3 items during this month, I am going to add walking or stepping to my daily routine.

Stepping for 30 minutes via the Wii allows me to read at the same time, so I am usually jumping at the chance to finish another book while getting to workout at the same time.

My other option for walking is this YouTube channel I was told about while doing Weight Watchers a few years ago, Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home. These videos are some of the most energetic and un-annoyingly perky and quick ways to fit in a good mile or three worth of walking, into your day. There is a line of DVDs of hers as well, and I do have a couple that I picked up for a couple of bucks at a yard sale last year, but I do prefer the number of options you can choose from on her YouTube channel.

With any luck, maybe by the end of the month I will be able to complete her three mile video(s) without wanting to quit before I have made it two miles in!

Final Thoughts:

I have managed to give myself a mega list of challenges to get through over the next couple of weeks, at least. I would like to say that I will do all four of these from now until the end of March, however, I cannot be sure that I will be able to make that happen. Doing the math, I know I will need to buy more of the supplements after two weeks, if I do choose to continue this throughout the month. I may even need to pick up more honey for more of the coffee creamer, and I know after a few days I will need to go buy more coffee.

I will continue to weigh myself on Sunday mornings, as I have been trying to do this year, and I will be sure to update via Facebook and/or Instagram. I’d say I would update via Twitter, but I’m lucky to remember to do much more than share my Instagram posts to Twitter on a regular basis. Either way, I will update as the month goes on and of course share results after I have finished with everything.

If anyone cares to try these items for themselves, I wish you luck in your venture with it!

Let’s Keep it Up!

Maybe I should have used ‘off’ instead of ‘up, in my post title. Hmmm…

Simple and quick post here. Basically I wanted to inform you readers on the whole results from the last post, and wanted to do so before I forgot to.

Here goes nothing…

Wednesday, January 18th, I did that wannabe juice/water fast thing. It was only for one day, and I figured that since I had done 30 hours at a time for a good cause, I could handle a full day of liquids only, with my health being the main reason for trying. I say it’s a ‘wannabe’ sort of fast because it really was not what a full on juice fast is, but it had a good base of the same components to one. (Maybe one day I’ll get that brand new juicer that I cannot sell, out of my basement and do a week of actual juicing and do a real juice fast…)

So I started the day off wanting to weigh myself and measure around my tummy. That sounds odd to some, but remember how I stated that that ‘diet plan’ promised a flat stomach in 24 hours? Makes sense, now, doesn’t it…

I won’t give full details on my weight and inches here, as I will leave that to another post another day, and will just carry on. I followed the recipe list, which was seriously lacking in instruction. I chose to mix each item at 1:1 ratio so that I was drinking the full glass of water as well as drinking a full glass of juice, which would better provide my body with some of the nutrients I was missing out on by fasting, in the first place. If I choose to do this again, I will seriously rethink how I go about ingesting a full glass of water mixed with lemon juice, because a full glass of lemon juice, even diluted with an equal amount of water, was so tart, it took me over an hour to drink it. And I had to drink two of that mix by the time the day was over!

That was really the only thing I didn’t like about the whole ordeal, by the way.

Anywho…

The results? I lost 2.4 pounds and lost 1 inch off my tummy.

Would I recommend this plan to others? Certainly!

In all honesty, it isn’t going to make you have a flat stomach instantly (especially if you have an almost 8 year post baby belly like me! lol), but it can help you jump start a diet plan. If you do decide to try this the way that I did, let me know! I’m curious what your results would be. I have already decided that I will do this again, but maybe once a month. I would shoot for once every other week, but after seeing how much a bottle of actual lemon juice costs (not the concentrated stuff), it’s kind of off-putting to want to do this more than once a month. (It was $5.00 for the lemon juice I bought, and the only straight carrot juice I found was $6.00 so this isn’t something you can do on the cheap unless you are juicing with a machine vs buying juice at the store.) You will also want to makes sure that what juices you are using are not from concentrate. I did not think to check the grapefruit juice that I already had at home before picking up the other things I needed to pull this off, or I would have seen it was not what I was wanting for this. You are getting a more natural product by using not from concentrate products. They might not be as shelf stable as others, but I guess that’s incentive to drink more juice!

So that’s the gist of it, I guess.

I had results, I feel good today, not even as hungry as I thought I might feel. I have not reached for a snack since I had breakfast and my coffee, and I am not even considering what to make for lunch yet. All in all, I would call this one a success for a good way to kick start your healthier lifestyle, or to at least fit into that dress or outfit that you’re dying to get into in two days for some event.

Next on the list: Do not gain back all the weight I just lost!

Hehe