Crockpot Applesauce


Fall in New England is all about apple picking. We head out to the orchards to pick, trying every type of apple at least once. Then we hop on a tractor and head to the barn to stuff ourselves even further with hot cider donuts. There is no way you can leave without one (or two or three) after smelling those little beauties coming out of the fryer and being tossed in cinnamon and sugar.

We always tend to bring home way too many apples. Which is a good thing because after scarfing down a few of those cider donuts and maybe some apple pie, did I mention they also have hot pie and homemade ice cream, you’re gonna need some health food. Fortunately apples are perfect for a diet. So it’s a good thing we pick a cart load.

But after awhile, you really don’t want to look at another apple in your lunch bag, and you may or may not use them as target practice, you can always make this applesauce before they go bad. They will last a couple weeks if you store them in the refrigerator.

You can’t get much easier than this. Just throw your apples in the crockpot with the sugar and water and cook on high for 3-4 hours. You can use cinnamon if you are just going to snack on the applesauce or leave it our if you are going to use it to cook with.

My daughter hates chunks, so I will run the cooked apples through a food mill to remove all the skins. Then I throw them in jars, cover and store in the fridge (up to 5 days or freeze up to 2 months). Trust me, it won’t last long. It’s great for snacks or a side dish.

If you don’t have a food mill, just peel your apples first, then mash them with a potato masher when they get good and mushy. You can leave it chunky or use an immersion blender to get it super smooth. Personal preference.

You can make large batches if you are going to can them. You can follow the directions here

Feel free to use more or less sugar depending on your taste and how tart your apples are. I like to taste the fruit but the rest of the family likes it sweet. Again, personal preference.

    Crockpot Applesauce

3 lbs. apples, unpeeled. cored and chopped (a variety is best, but whatever you have will work)
1 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)


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October in a nutshell

The first week of October started fairly normal. The weather was unseasonably warm and the trees were gorgeous. Fall is by far my most favorite time of the year.

Then came Sunday, October 5th. Where it all turned to crap.Pull up a chair. Spoiler’s pretty gross. Here’s the timeline of events.

  • Sunday 10/5…Nina had a sore throat & temp
  • Monday 10/6…Took Nina in for strep test (negative) she stayed home from school. Felt pretty good all day then threw up at bedtime. Which isn’t terrible. We moms handle throw up all the time. However, it was brown, then bright red, obviously blood. Not too much blood, but I called the doctor to get their input. Any blood in barf is not a good thing.  It was then that I noticed she had a sore on her lip that she said had bled during the day. We thought maybe that’s where the blood came from.
  • Tuesday 10/7 2:00 am…Nina woke me up saying she didn’t feel good. I rushed her to the bathroom where she proceeded to fill the sink with brown blood clots. The clots  were so big I had to kind of give her the Heimlich to help her get them up so she didn’t choke. No need to call the doctor. We were off to the Emergency Room. She continued to bleed and fortunately they found out it was her tonsils and not something more serious. We stayed there until 8:00 a.m then headed off to the Ear, Nose & Throat specialist. The bleeding had stopped and he gave her an antibiotic, scheduled her for a follow-up in a week (unless she started bleeding again) and sent us on our way. Oh, by the way, did I mention I felt awful and my throat was killing me?
  • Wednesday 10/8…Nina felt better. I had a temp, sore throat & went to bed without dinner. That’s sayin something folks.
  • Thursday 10/9…Felt a bit better and went to work.
  • Friday 10/10…Husband and Andrew didn’t feel great. Came home to find Andrew asleep on the chair with a sore throat & temp. No surprise there. That morning I noticed these weird little pimple-like things on my fingers. Not many, so I kind of brushed it off.  About 2:00 a.m husband spiked a temp of 102.5 and after the temp came down we Googled all the symptoms and thought it might possibly be Hand, Foot & Mouth disease. Although this usually affects children and infants under 5 years old, we were pretty confident of our diagnosis. Oh, by the way, did I mention I found a letter from the nurse stating “Hand, Foot & Mouth was going around school?
  • Saturday 10/11…The clincher. Andrew came in my room in the morning “Mom. I have bug bites all over my face and arms!”. We quarantined ourselves for the weekend and hoped for the best for Monday. Oh did I mention both boys now had blisters?
  • Monday 10/13…Andrew and Nina went to school. Me & Husband stayed home because of the blisters on our hands.
  • Wednesday 10/15…Nina’s follow up with the ENT. “Tonsils need to come out. How about next Thursday?” Sure! No Problem! Telling a 7-year-old she has to have her tonsils out the day before Trick or Treat. That ought to be fun.  Oh, by the way, did I mention I started a new job in the midst of all this?
  • Thursday 10/16…Andrew and I headed into Boston to Mass General to see the maxillofacial surgeon about Andrew’s jaw shifting to the right to see if his arthritis was back. First bit of good news! No arthritis! Woot Woot! Oh, and did I mention I got a new Alex & Ani bracelet in the Bruins Pro Shop? It was a good day and well-deserved, I must say.
  • Friday 10/17…Surgery day for me. Double hand surgery. Left large ganglion cyst and right carpal tunnel release. More good news, surgery was a success. Although I guess I didn’t think things through as having both hands bandaged left me pretty useless. Nina had to wash my hair. And the bathroom walls. And floors.
  • Saturday & Sunday 10/19 & 20…I hung around recuperating. It drove me bananas!
  • Monday 10/20 I spent at the lady doctor for my yearly and had a mammogram. Don’t forget to do that ladies!!!
  • Tuesday 10/21…Back to work and a week of no family health issues. HALLELUJAH! Praise the Lord!
  • Thursday 10/30…Nina’s tonsillectomy went well. The doctor said they were some of the biggest he had ever seen and she is recuperating well. She had played the pity card all week and collected more candy than you can imagine.
  • Monday 11/3…Nina still at home healing, but doing great. She had a rough night. I’ve been getting her up every 4 hours for medicine and around 2:30 this morning she said “Mom, I gotta say, I’ve had about enough of this business”.  “Me too baby”.

So, now it’s November and here’s to hoping things are turning around. Time to start getting ready for the holidays (yes I said it) and now that I can wash my hands adequately, time to get cooking again!

What have you been up to?

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Barbecue Chicken & Vegetable Skewers


This is one of those recipes that that is so simple you wonder how haven’t made them before. Now I think we’ve all made some variation of grilled meat and vegetables on a stick, right? But these are different. These have bacon woven in between all the chicken and veggies. Yes, bacon. Beautiful, delicious bacon. It caramelizes while it cooks and the saltiness make a perfect partner to the pineapple chunks and tangy barbecue sauce.

It’s genious.

I can never make enough of these. They were great for summer outings and I tend to make them for dinner often with a side of rice. I usually make extra so I can take some for lunch the next day as well. Sometimes I actually have some left to take for lunch.

I suggest you try these sometime soon. The prep time can take a little while, you know with all the chopping and skewering going on. But it really isn’t all that difficult or time consuming. If it was, I wouldn’t make them. You know me. That’s how I roll.

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into chunks
1 lb bacon
2 large red and or yellow peppers cut into chunks
1 large onion (vidalia or yellow) cut into large chunks
2 c. pineapple chunks (fresh or canned although fresh stay on the stick better, canned work)
2 c. barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Barbecue)
Skewers (soak wooden skewers while prepping veggies

Heat the grill to medium high heat.
Start the skewer with a pepper then start the bacon and continue winding bacon through each item alternating everything, in no particular order. No rules here. Once everything has been skewered, baste with barbecue sauce and place on the grill. I don’t skimp on the sauce. I load it right on!
Cook, turning several times, approximately 15 minutes until cooked through. They can be a bit of pain to turn, as things tend to spin on the stick, but don’t lose heart. You’ll get the hang of it. No worries if something falls off the stick. It’s still delicious.


Recipe adapted from the lovely Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb

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All About That Bass


Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty, beauty, just raise ‘em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
No I’m just playing. I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Anyone else digging this song? It’s so catchy and yes I do “shake it, shake it” a little more on my runs when it’s playing. Here is a little playlist I put together of some songs that make me move a bit faster and hold my head a little higher when I feel like I’m struggling during a workout.

Did I miss any? What songs motivate you?

1. All About that Bass..Meghan Trainor
2. Roar…Katy Perry
3. Perfect…Pink
4. If today was your last day…Nickelback
5. Unwritten…Natasha Beddingfield
6. In the middle of starting over…Sabrina Carpenter
7. Fat Bottomed Girls…Queen (Sorry ladies, just keepin it real)
8. Girl In a country song…Maddie & Tae
9. Mean…Taylor Swift
10. I will survive…Gloria Gaynor
11. Firework…Katy Perry
12. Born This Way…Lady Gaga
13. This one’s for the girls…Martina McBride
14. Till I Collapse…Eminem
15. Let It Go…Idina Menzel
16. Survivor…Destiny’s Child
17. Shake it Off…Taylor Swift
18. Dog Days Are Over…Florence & the Machine
19. Brave…Sara Bareilles
20. One Step at a Time…Jordin Sparks

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Sugar Cookie Bars

sugar cookie bar

As you know, I’m always looking for a simple, yummy, sweetie to throw in lunch boxes. These were super simple, quick, delicious and oh so pretty.

I can’t wait to frost some with purple, orange and green for Halloween.

This afternoon I emptied Nina’s lunch box and there were at least six bags of assorted, half-eaten snacks. I asked what they were and she said she got them for trading her cookie.

True story.

    Sugar Cookie Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1½ Tbsp Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 recipe vanilla frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish, set aside. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy about 3-4 minutes. Stir in egg and egg white. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until blended. Slowly add dry mixture and stir until well combine. With buttered hands, gently press (so gently almost patting) mixture into buttered baking dish. Bake 16 – 19 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and edges are lightly golden. Cool completely, cut into squares but leave in the pan and frost. Once frosted, I lifted each out of the pan and piped individually.

Vanilla Frosting

    1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
    2 cups powdered sugar
    2-3 Tbsp half and half
    1 tsp vanilla
    Pinch of salt
    Several drop food coloring (optional)

    In a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, whip together butter and powdered sugar and half and half until fluffy. Stir in vanilla and salt. Add in food optional food coloring and mix until well blended.

    Recipe courtesy of the incredible Jaclyn of Cooking Classy

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Healthy Peanut Butter Balls

peanut butter energy balls

These have been my salvation since making every attempt to eat better foods and cut out some of the sugar and processed crap in my diet.

I don’t know about you, but for me 4:00 p.m. is the witching hour. I’m hungry. I’m tired. I’m hungry. Did I already say hungry?

I make a batch of these on Sunday night and they last us all week. I keep them in a big baggie in the freezer and grab a few to stash in my lunch bag for a late afternoon snack. These stop my belly from growling and they are sweet enough that I don’t want to hit the vending machine. Not to mention they give me some great fuel for my afternoon run.

Oatmeal is a whole grain and has so many health benefits. It maintains blood sugar control, satisfies your appetite, can help lower the bad “LDL” cholesterol, maintain a healthy blood pressure and lowers risk of heart disease. The USDA recommends at least 3 servings of whole grain food every day.

Peanut butter is high in healthy unsaturated fats and contains a significant amount of protein, minerals and some vitamins.

Honey contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is sweeter than sugar and has a healthy Glycemic Index.

Dried cherries are a good source of copper, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. And apricots and prunes are rich in potassium, dietary fiber and iron.

And yes even those little chocolate chips are good for you. Flavenols increase blood flow, shown to be a benefit to your brain, polyphenols have been shown to increase good “HDL” cholesterol and mixed with a glass of red wine has been shown to reduce inflammation. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Health benefits aside. These babies are super simple and contain only a few ingredients all mixed together in one bowl. Yessah! They’re also easy to switch it up and throw in whatever you want. Use the peanut butter, oats and honey as a base and feel free to throw in any kind of dried fruit you have on hand. Raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, dates, prunes, coconut, maybe even some sunflower seeds and flax meal.

It’s a plus that the family enjoys them also. Any kind of healthy snack I can get them on board with is a keeper.

Let me know what you would put in yours.

    Peanut Butter Balls

1 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
2 c. old fashioned oats (dry)
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. chopped dried cherries
1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
1/2 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Use a mini ice cream scoop (about 1/2 tablespoon) roll em up like meatballs and place on a sheet in the freezer until solid, then I transfer them to a baggie and voila! Grab what you want, when you want! They don’t have to remain frozen, but I do keep them in the fridge or they can get messy. Eat them frozen or not. Delish either way.


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Fantasy Football

Sunday night I got a big kiss goodbye from my husband.

No he isn’t going on a trip. He’s not moving to Paraguay or “going out for the milk”.

It’s football season.

All you football widows (and widowers) know what I’m talking about.

Football season starts and we take a backseat to Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.

We lose control of the clicker and Sunday dinner is replaced with chicken wings, crab dip and beer.

Let’s face it. I can leave for hours and would never be missed unless the chip bowl goes empty. Anyone else feel my pain? I know you’re out there.

I think even more time consuming than the televised games is Fantasy Football. Now, I’ve got to be honest with you. I have no idea how fantasy football works. I am not a fan of football. Although have you seen Tom Brady’s backup QB yummy little monkey. Sorry, let me gather myself.

All I know is my husband will lock himself into a room for some sort of imaginary draft to pick players for a made up team. Then instead of simply watching your favorite team on tv, you have to watch EVERY SINGLE STINKING GAME, so you know what you’re fantasy players are doing. Really? No really? I need to know if this is how this thing works.

I thought it was a boy thing.

Until Nina got involved.

Yep. My 7 year old little princess had to make a fantasy team. Now being a little girl who knows only that Tom Brady is number 12 and a football God, creating a team is difficult task.

Cue the boys.

We were on a little road trip the other day and they decided to help her with her team.

Here it is.


First we have the amazing “Cream Outdoulagacabar (translation…Kareem Abdul Jabbar) who won 2 Superbowls with Chris Bosh”.

Andrew suggested she grab the Hamson Brose (aka the Hanson Brothers from the classic movie Slapshot) because they come as a 2 for 1, so she really made out there.

She did figure out Pedro Martinez was a baseball player but he could still be pretty valuable, so she kept him on the roster.

Let’s not forget Myro Jenning or actually Leeroy Jenkins. This guy has no fear. Gamers, you know this guy. For those of you who don’t take a minute to watch the clip. It’s a bit lengthy, but a hoot. You’ll then realize why he needs to be on a team. A true warrior.
Goaltender Martin Pador (Martin Brodeur). You can get a point if you use “the creepy eye” on him. Folks, there are no words.
Last but not least the unbeatable trio of Tom Brady, Pedroya and Megatron.
There you have it. The mother of all fantasy football teams.

I would like to thank my boys for making my sweet, little girl look like a lunatic.

I hope you’re proud of yourselves.

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It’s In The Mix! Bob’s 10 Grain Bread Mix

Bob's 10 Grain Bread Mix

Bob’s 10 Grain Bread Mix

I’ve got a confession. Sometimes I use mixes. Yup. There I said it. I do. If a recipe has more than 5 or 6 ingredients to measure out, it usually ends up back in the recipe box. I hate measuring stuff. I really do. It annoys me.

I’ve got to tell ya, there are some pretty good mixes out there that can save a whole heap load of time and still make you look good. This new segment is designed to give you some reviews for some great mixes to have on hand when you’re in a time crunch. You know those times when your kids tell you there is a bake sale you are on the hook for TOMORROW. Or when your husbannd tells you there are guests coming…IN AN HOUR!
Or simply when the family wants a brownie NOW and you will get no peace until their mouths are full of brownie. Is that just my family that acts like that?

The first in this new blog series is my favorite. Not a cookie or a brownie, but a hearty bread mix. I’m not all about sugary desserts you know.

I am a yeast-o-phobe. It might be a word. Anything with yeast scares the bejeezus out of me. I rarely have good luck. I don’t why. But it has to be me. I am on a serious mission to conquer the yeast beast.

If you’re a yeast-o-phobe like myself, yet crave the smell of hearty bread baking in your own home oven, I suggest giving this mix a try. You can do it all by hand or use a bread machine. I do both depending on what kind of time I have. Typically though, I use the dough setting on my bread machine, then take it out, place it in a loaf pan, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with old fashioned oats, cover it and let it rise another hour, then bake it in the oven. I get the best results that way and honestly, I get a better rise and shape to the baked loaf.

I love Bob’s Red Mill products. I love everything about them. Their products and their philosophy. This bread is made of healthy whole grains, and has a perfect crumb. It is amazing as sandwich bread, simply toasted with some jam or a perfectly poached egg. It keeps well if well wrapped or can be frozen if you don’t plan on using it. It lasts me all week. And trust me, I make a loaf of this every Sunday and have a slice every morning with some peanut butter.

Look for it in your local grocery store or purchase it online at Bob’s Red Mill. It is a staple in my pantry. It will be in yours too. I promise.

Thanks Bob!

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Back to School and Dinky Doozies

dinky doozies1

It’s that time of year again. First day of school. A new grade, a new classroom, a new teacher.

Nina had a hard time falling asleep. She was so excited and anxious. I snuggled in bed with her and snuck out when she finally fell asleep. Then five minutes later she came downstairs crying and needed Dad. Twenty minutes later my husband came downstairs and told me “She said I looked like I needed a break. You better get Mom”. So, back upstairs I went. We went through the whole bedtime routine all over again, talked about all the wonderful, exciting things that will go on in 2nd grade (OMG 2nd Grade!)

Andrew is going into 7th grade. Don’t even get me going on him being an almost teenager. I can’t handle it. I keep telling him to stop getting older, but as almost all almost-teenagers do, he’s not listening to me.

Andrew always gets school lunch. He likes it. And they have a pretty good variety for him to choose from. So I fill his lunch account and we’re both happy.

Nina is a bit more particular. She doesn’t eat a big variety. On certain days she does like to get school lunch though. Brunch for lunch day, cracker stacker day (I don’t even know what that is), yogurt parfait day and of course, pizza day. These days are spread out sporadically throughout the month, not weekly. So we have to fill in the blanks quite often. Most days I do have to pack her lunch. Fortunately, even though she doesn’t eat a lot of different foods, she will still eat fairly healthy.

She is a snacker. A grazer. She rarely sits and eats a “meal”. So her lunches typically consist of an assortment of snack foods.

She does take her favorite sandwich everyday though. Peanut butter and cheese. Or as I like to refer to it as a “sawdust sandwich”. I don’t know how she eats it. I don’t even know where she came up with the idea. White (whole wheat) bread, PB and American cheese.

“Nina, do you want PB&J?”
“Do you want PB & Fluff?”
“No. Just PB & cheese. Maybe you can cut it into a heart. It always tastes good when it’s in a shape.”

PB & cheese it is. Who am I to argue?

The rest of her lunch and daily snack is usually a yogurt parfait or yogurt stick, some kind of crunchy snack like Goldfish or Pirate Booty, light ranch dip and carrot sticks, a cheese stick, some kind of fruit and a cookie.

I usually make homemade cookies on Sunday to put in the snack drawer for the week. This week I decided to try a new cookie and while checking out the lunches on Annie’s-Eats, I came across these dinky doozies. I had never heard of them, but they looked delish and pretty simple and fun.

*Sidenote: Annie is one of my all-time favorite bloggers. She is Superwoman. I want to be just like her. I want to spend a day with her so I can see how she does it all. I want to know how she gets her children to eat what they eat and how she finds the time to make everything so perfect. There you have it, my blogger crush is revealed. End Sidenote.

They were so great. So cute. So perfect for the lunch box. They are fairly small but one is enough as it is 2 cookies with a buttercream frosting in the middle.

The batch only made about a dozen after all of them were put together, so I think I will make a double batch the next time. It seems as if they have mysteriously disappeared already. Hmmmmm.

So, if you’re looking for a fun little cookie to brighten up a lunch or school bake sale, these are perfect. Hop on over to Annie’s-Eats for the full recipe and instructions and prepare to stay awhile, because this woman is UH-MAY-ZING!

Thanks Annie!

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Lightened-up Alfredo


We’ve kinda been on a bit of a pasta kick around here lately. Can you say cheap and easy? It’s convenient and oh so versatile. I’ve got a couple great new pasta recipes to share, this being a “10” on the yummy, easy scale.

Who doesn’t love a thick, rich, cheesy alfredo sauce? That being said, you can almost feel your arteries harden, right? The butter, the heavy cream, the cheese. Yup, my cholesterol points went up just writing it.

Well now you can have your alfredo and eat it too! This sauce is amazing. It uses no heavy cream and almost no butter and only half a cup of cheese. You will be amazed at how creamy, rich and flavorful this is. And, let’s not forget it only takes about 20 minutes to pull it all together.

If you are an alfredo fan but have been avoiding it because of the obvious dietary pitfalls, try this. Throw in your favorite protein or your favorite vegetables and make it even better. I used some grilled chicken breast, which the boys loved, but they even requested the addition of some broccoli. Yes, I’m in shock too.

Fettucine is the pasta shape typically used, but I used rigatoni, simply because the boys like it better. I like fettucine better, but that’s neither here nor there. Majority rules. You can use whatever shape pasta your little heart desires.

I got “Four thumbs up” from the boys. I can’t ask for much better than that.

    Lightened-up Alfredo

1 pound pasta, cooked al dente (reserve 1/2 c. pasta water)
1 Tbls olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbls all-purpose flour
2 Tbls Butter
1 c. chicken broth
1 c. fat-free half & half
1/2 c. parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best)
1 Tbls. chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta al dente. Make sure your water is salted. It is your only opportunity to flavor your pasta. Reserve 1/2 c. of the pasta water before you drain your pasta.

While pasta is cooking, in a large pan on medium heat, saute garlic until fragrant, but not brown.

Using a whisk, mix in flour making a paste and slowly add the chicken broth and half & half, whisking continuously.

Reduce heat to low allowing sauce to thicken. I used a strainer spoon and scooped out a lot of the garlic. This step is totally optional, I just don’t like bits of garlic. After 3-4 minutes add butter, parmesan cheese and pasta water. Continue to whisk another 3-4 minutes until sauce is thick and bubbly.

Toss with pasta. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with grilled chicken or other type of cooked protein if desired.

Note: If you want your sauce a little thinner, feel free to top off with another tablespoon of olive oil or butter at the end and mix it in.


Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven

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