Category: Italian


There are probaby some products that you buy that are more luxury items than anything else. And if you are like me you proabably think to yourself…

“I really don’t need this….but it just tastes so good” or ” it just works so well”

Well some of those products you can do with out….. Because you can make them yourself!

I’m really big on flavored water. I never really could stand the taste of water by itself. I have tried everything! I recently started using Mio and that works pretty well for me…. Then I discovered Cucumber Water. This stuff is delicious! But oh so expensive….

There is a wonderful invention called the flavor inducer pitcher. This handy little device has a removable cylandar in the center that you fill up with fruit or veggies. Holes through out the cylandar allow the flavor to seep into the water.
The water gets just a little more than a hint of flavor, that is cool and refreshing. Not only does it save you money, but you can also be very certain that there are no additives or sugar substitutes.
I bought my pitcher for $20 at Bed Bath and Beyond, but they are available at several retailers and websites.

The 24 oz. bottle just to the right of the pitcher also comes in quite handy. It is BPA approved, is double walled to keep my water cold, and opens two different ways for easy refill.

If you like your water carbonated, I would also recommend buying a soda stream. Mine has been very useful in carbonating flavored water for me.

I recommend using filtered water. Also if you are interested in flavored teas, this pitcher is very helpful. I have found that it makes a wonderful peach tea.

I love to cook with flavor infused oils like these.
If you have ever seen them in the grocery store,
you know how expensive they can be. In fact
you may have not purchased them for that very
reason!

Making such flavored oils really isn’t that hard.
I suggest buying an oil bottle or dispensor that
has a small opening. Many of them do! Then
just fill the bottom of the bottle up with the
desired spices and pour oil in on top. I would
allow up to a week for flavors to set in well before
using. Here I minced several cloves of garlic and
added rosemary and rubbed sage. Paramsean and
Italian seasonings are also great for flavoring oil.
You can see what flavors your interested in by viewing
them in the store, then recreating them at home.

Dressings and marinades like this can be
expensive and fattening. Plus, you might
buy a bottle, and then never use it all before
it expires.

When you make your own, you not only control
what goes it, but also how much you make! It’s
really very simple to make your own dressings and
marinades, and you probably have just about all the
ingredients already anyway. Most of them require a
vinegar, an oil, a base like mustard or yogurt, and/or
spices. I bought this dressing maker bottle for $3 at
Target. It comes with several healthy recipes on the
bottle itself, not to mention the nurmerous ones posted
all over the internet!

These are just a few great ideas of how you can save money and be a little healthier by doing it your self!
I would love some recommendations from my readers!
What do you make yourself to keep from buying it in a store?

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Resolution Cooking List

Hello faithful readers!

I have been thinking long and hard about what I want to cook and show case here. This has been greatly aided by the arrival of my new MasterChef: The Ultimate Cookbook. Flipping through the cookbook, I had a wonderful idea. This year instead of a New Years Resolution, I am going to make a Resolution Cooking List. I am composing a list of foods, dishes, sauces, etc… that I have never made from scratch before. I would sincerely love your help! I am looking for anything from the very complicated perfect gumbo to the simple spaghetti sauce from scratch. Whether it is French cooking, Italian cooking, Asian cooking, Indian cooking, Cajun cooking, or good ole down home Southern cooking, I am game for anything! I want to know what my readers want to see me cook or at least attempt to cook! My game plan is to come up with a list between 12-24 dishes that I have never made entirely from scratch and document my progress through out next year. Please comment, email, carrier pigeon (or how ever it is you communicate) to get me your suggestions. I’m really looking forward to challenging my self and my cooking ability this next year. This is just one more stop on the way to a MasterChef audition!

I used to think it was solely about the preparation that goes into the dish that makes it…. Then I realized how differently my husband and I make our plates… WOW, can plating completely change how you view and taste a dish!
Take a commonly homemade dish like spaghetti for example….

Here my husband, Lawson starts out by covering the bottom of his bowl with mozzarella cheese. Needless to say… he likes his food very cheesy!

I start with the spaghetti and a meat sauce. There are so many ways you can make spaghetti and sauce. I like mine kind of spicy with more of a Cajun flare.

Lawson coats the layer of cheese with the hot meat sauce so that the cheese will melt faster.  He also prefers to use a bowl.

I on the other hand usually prefer a plate. I take a more traditional route and simply top my spaghetti noodles with my meat sauce.

Lawson tops his off with his spaghetti noodles. He then uses a fork and a knife to cut the noodles smaller and mix all of the ingredients together.

I top my plate off with Parmesan cheese and add baby bell Gouda and garlic bread to the side. While I usually twirl my noodles, I also like to heap the spaghetti onto the garlic bread.

For two people who are so similar, it’s interesting that we basically make our plates completely backwards from each other. We both started with the same seasoned spaghetti noodles and spicy meat sauce, but ended up with very different looking and tasting dishes. So do not start thinking that your way of making your plate is the only way or that it does not matter because it’s all the same! This is far from the truth!
How do you make your plate?

*~Bonus~*

Do you get aggravated when you have left over hamburger or hot dog buns like I do? The bread ends up going stale before you decide to have hamburgers/ hot dogs again or there really aren’t enough buns left for next time anyway. Re-purpose them!!! Here I used left over slider buns to make garlic bread. A little butter, oregano, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, grind-ed sea salt and garlic mix, a few minutes in the oven, and you’ll never pay for over priced bread at the bakery again!

Just another thought… if the bread does go stale or even a little moldy, find a nice duck pond and have a relaxing picnic. A nice after noon out for you… a nice meal for the ducks!

If you have any ideas for re-purposing unused items in the kitchen please share! 🙂

 Whether you are from Italy, New York, or Timbuktu; a pepperoni and cheese traditionalist or a gourmet creationalist, most people can appreciate a good pizza. And a home-made one is even better!

Now everyone knows that the crust is the hardest part to get right when making a home-made pizza. What if you could remove that part all together? I know what you’re thinking…. “Come now! You are not suggesting that we buy store-bought pizza dough/crust are you? That stuff is disgusting!” And OF COURSE NOT!  I would never suggest such a thing! It is blasphemy to pizza everywhere! What I am suggesting is to not use pizza crust at all!

I have a made a wonderful discovery. It is called Naan bread! You can buy this in both original or garlic flavored. (as you have probably guessed, garlic flavored is my favorite). It is a premade, flat bread that is sold in a roundish shape and it comes with a recipe for pizza right on the back of the package! It is delicious by its self, so why wouldn’t it be just as yummy with cheese? Here I have gone the traditional route with mozzarella and pepperoni. Next I believe I am going to try mushrooms, greek olives, and feta cheese. The sky is the limit! Even play around with the sauce. I suggest trying pesto, alfredo, or even an avocado paste (such as guacamole) for some extra creative fun!

Where can you find this amazing pizza crust substitute? Well I bought this at Target, but I’m sure it can be found in the bakery department of many national grocery chains. Brookshire’s is always a good place to go for unique and international ingredients. But the best place to find things if you have access is a farmers market or local bakery. 🙂

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