A to Z of Little Life Wins: C is for Cooking

eating healthy is hard.  i am not a fan of this 'no fast food or ordering in' month, i really really want chipotle and possibly a milkshake.  and definitely pizza.  but i am being better about walking across the street to the grocery store and actually cooking things for myself, and that, my friends, is a little life win in my book.  progress is progress and i'll take what i can get.

i think some people over estimate the difficulty of home cooked things.  (alright, myself included.)  i will admit that spaghetti sauce and pesto sauce in a jar is obviously easier than making it from scratch, but they are the two things i will always make instead of buy.  and i have no real kitchen skills at all.  but spaghetti sauce in a jar is too sweet for my taste and pesto is insanely expensive for a little bitty jar.  so while i was cooking, or what i consider cooking, i thought i'd quickly post my recipe for making these things at home.  try it!  so easy, much cheaper.  and they freeze great, so you can make huge portions at a time.

spaghetti sauce
1 finely chopped small onion (and tiny amount of oil)
3 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes in puree
2 12 ounce cans tomato paste
2 cups water
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon oregano
4 teaspoons minced garlic
4 teaspons dry basil
2 teaspoons sea salt

saute onion in a little oil in a large pot until golden.  add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 2 hours.  use an immersion blender to thin.  yeah, that's it.  and you can just eyeball the dry ingredients, it's really just adjust to taste!  and it doesn't have the added sugar that i hate in jar sauces.

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

combine basil and nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times.  (yes, my magic bullet is my best friend.) add cheese, oil and garlic and process until well combined.  and salt and pepper to taste and pulse again. 

now i just have to figure out how to make spaghetti squash spaghetti instead of regular noodles.  i'm still learning that...

oh and for dessert, cheesecake! it's soft set, so it's not like cheesecake factory cake but it's soft and creamy and delicious.  think similar to very thick yogurt, or melting ice cream.  and there's no oven involved.  and it's ready in an hour.

no bake cheesecake
11 ounces cream cheese, softened
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
19" graham cracker or chocolate cookie pie crust (store bought is the way to go on this one)

beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  gradually add half of the sweetened condensed milk, beating constantly.  add the lemon juice and beat until smooth.  add the remaining milk and beat until smooth.  pour into crust and chill at least 1 hour.

so fine, maybe cheesecake doesn't fit into my diet plan, but hey, it could be worse, right?  i add veggies to the pasta sauce, i feel like that counts for something.

got any easy recipes for me to try?


  1. Your pesto sounds so good. And easy. I might have to try that.

  2. mmmmm i am thinking I need to try the pesto!!

  3. Love making marinara sauce. I use my grandmothers recipe but its so quick and easy to make and so much better than jarred sauce!

  4. I can't find a marinara sauce I like so yours sounds great!! And you know what...even if cheesecake isn't in the diet, at least you're cooking something!

  5. Mmmm I think as long as you make it yourself, it qualifies as "better than going to Cheesecake Factory", right? But no seriously, that marinara sounds delish!

  6. i've been doing this healthy eating/living thing since jan 1 2012 and even i haven't made my own sauce or pesto so lady, you're 100% awesome in my books!

    Vodka and Soda

  7. You can make spaghetti squash in the crockpot, it's pretty easy. Or slow bake it. I always burn myself when I make it in the microwave.

  8. i really don't know why i never make homemade pasta sauce...i cook pretty much everything else, so now i must try it!

  9. I'm not a huge fan of pasta, but I'll take the cheese cake :)

  10. I absolutely LOVE to cook. I have an easy recipe for scones and turkey based chili if you want.

  11. Kevin has been trying to make his own pasta sauce by just adding herbs and oil to tomato puree. So far it hasn't come out too bad. It is my goal to make my grandfather's sauce recipe so maybe we need to break that one out soon!

  12. i hate jar pesto so much, but i've also never made my own (mostly because i don't own a food processor...yet!)
    most jar sauces are barfalicious. but there's a few that are really natural and clean with just a few ingredients; like Mario Batali and RAO's Homemade. BUT yes more expensive than making it yourself.

  13. I made pesto sauce a month or so ago, froze it and forgot about it. I finally pulled it out this weekend and used it. Yum! Still so much better than the pre-made kind. I'll have to try your spaghetti sauce!

  14. I dont like buying sauce either but i never really thought to make it myself. Will definitely try this out ;)

  15. We are trying to eat at home more too, which is SO not exciting! I'm trying a new pasta recipe tonight and if I succeed I will share the recipe with you. Not the healthiest...but so much better than fast food or even most restaurant food!

  16. UMMM i've been on the hunt for a pasta sauce recipe.
    a million thank you's lady.