Jalapeno Cream Sauce

jc sauce 7One of my favorite restaurants here in town serves this delicious pan fried chicken breast with a jalapeno cream sauce over the top. I order it every time we go there because it’s simply delicious and I just love the sauce. Well, as I’ve talked about before, eating out is SO incredibly expensive and unfortunately, this is a $20 dish at this place so make it at home I must!

Luckily for me (and my family), my experiment turned out pretty well because although I really like that restaurant, I haven’t been back since I concocted my own sauce. And recently, I was talking to a friend about this very restaurant and she mentioned her husband loves the sauce as well. We scheduled a day for her to come over and we cooked this dish right up in my kitchen and she agreed! The sauce tastes very similar to what you get at the restaurant. And it’s so incredibly easy, yet looks like you spent way more time on it.

Jalapeno Cream Sauce

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 c. pickled jalapenos, chopped (these can be found on the pickle aisle)
  • 1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 c. half & half
  • 1 heaping tbsp. flour
  • White pepper, cayenne, salt to taste

In a skillet or saucepan, heat over medium heat. Add butter and let melt. Add in the jalapenos and sun dried tomatoes and let cook for a couple of minutes, until warmed through. While that’s cooking, in a measuring cup, add the half & half and the flour. Use a whisk to combine and stir until smooth. This is the slurry that will thicken the sauce. Add in the garlic to the pan and let sauté about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low and add in the slurry. Bring heat back up to medium, and whisk. As it comes up to a bubble, it will thicken. Add in the seasonings a little at a time, tasting as you go. Reduce heat to low until ready to serve.  *White pepper and cayenne are very strong flavors so start off lightly.

jc saucejc sauce 2jc sauce 3jc sauce 4jc sauce 5jc sauce 6Once the sauce has thickened and is seasoned to your liking, pour over whatever you like! I love this on a panko coated pan fried chicken. I’ve also served it with shrimp and pasta and it went very well together. The restaurant that I got the idea from, uses it as a dipping sauce for calamari as well.

jc sauce 8And surprisingly, my kids really like this sauce. I just make sure to put it on the side and they dip their chicken in it. Family friendly!

Spaghetti Sauce

spaghetti sauce 4OK, so yes, technically, I didn’t use actual spaghetti pasta when I made/photographed this. But, it’s a red, tomato based meat sauce that goes on top of noodles which in my opinion, equals spaghetti sauce. Call it what you want, I call it yummy.

The key to this sauce is letting it simmer and cook down. This is what I think is the spaghetti secret. For those of you who’ve had spaghetti where the sauce is a bit watery and leaching out liquid all over the plate, well, that’s no good. But if you let the sauce cook longer, the flavors develop MORE and the end result is a thicker, heartier sauce that doesn’t taste like liquid tomato. Sad to say, but I’ve actually eaten at restaurants that serve their spaghetti just like that! And I’m sure you have too.

Even though you need to let this simmer, this recipe for me is just about the easiest thing you can make. And a good spaghetti recipe is something everyone needs to know. So for you new cooks just starting out (or seasoned veterans), this one’s a keeper!

Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, bulk (or 1/2 pound each of ground pork & ground beef)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced (that’s a whole package)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 c. red or white wine (whatever you have on hand that’s open)
  • 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. salt (if using ground pork & ground beef) OR 1/4 tsp. salt (if using Italian sausage)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat over medium. Once hot, add in the Italian sausage. Cook until almost fully browned, stirring occasionally and add in the onion and bell pepper. Stir together and let cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 1 more minute. Then add in the wine. Stir, making sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Let cook for 1-2 minutes or until wine has slightly reduced. Then add in both cans of tomatoes and seasonings. Once sauce starts bubbling, add in the parmesan cheese and stir together until it has melted. Reduce heat to a simmer and leave uncovered on the stovetop for approximately 1 1/2-2 hours, or until it has reduced and reached a thicker sauce stage. Serve over spaghetti or your favorite pasta.

spaghetti sauce 3spaghetti saucespaghetti sauce 2spaghetti sauce 5*This also freezes exceptionally well! So once it’s cooled, you can pop it into a plastic freezer container (even a gallon sized Ziploc freezer bag works great, but make sure to lay flat on top of something) and place in the freezer. I heart having this type of stuff already made and waiting for me in the freezer on those hectic days.

Not-Cho “Cheese” Sauce (Vegan)

cheese sauce 2I am not a vegan. Not even close to being a vegetarian. I’m a die hard carnivore! However, I bought some nutritional yeast because it was called for in another recipe and since the container is so big, I knew I had to find other ways to use it. A little dash of this, a little dash of that, and this vegan “cheese” sauce was the result.

When I had my oldest daughter give it a taste, she told me she thought it was queso. Score! I have not divulged to any of my kids that this sauce actually has no cheese in it whatsoever. And my very creative husband came up with the name of it, since it in fact reminds us of cheese. I think it looks like hollandaise sauce with a cheese like taste.

I used this sauce over steamed broccoli, which was very yummy. I’ve also made it and used as a sauce in a casserole of shredded chicken, rice, broccoli and almonds. YUM. In that case, I didn’t tell my husband I used nutritional yeast (he HATES the name and sound of it) and the whole time, he thought it was a cheese sauce over the casserole. Until I burst his bubble! 🙂 But I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. The nutritional yeast has a reminiscent “cheese” like taste, however, the actual flavor is very unique and hard to describe. If you don’t want to go all out and buy a large quantity like I did, you can typically pick up a very small amount in the bulk section at your market. It also comes in powder form or in flakes. I went with flakes as I heard that they dissolve quicker.

cheese sauce 3Not-Cho “Cheese” Sauce

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter substitute (I used real butter since I’m not vegan!)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1/4 tsp. each paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, and salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast flakes

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter/butter substitute and let melt. Add in the flour and whisk together, letting cook for about 30 seconds. Add in the rest of the ingredients and let come to a bubble. Simmer for a few minutes until sauce has thickened. Serve over steamed veggies. It also goes great with Mexican food too!

cheese sauce 6cheese sauce 5cheese sauce 4And check out the nutrition facts. This stuff has got some great healthy benefits!!cheese sauce

Sun Dried Tomato Ranch Dressing

sd tomato ranch saladI am a condiment girl. I love dips, sauces, and dressings. I am also a resourceful girl. Put these two together and you get sun dried tomato ranch dressing.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I like to use what I have on hand! If I have leftovers or I bought an item for just one recipe, I absolutely need to find a way to incorporate it into another dish. I don’t like to waste or throw things away. So one night for dinner, I decided I wanted to make a “gyro-ish” type meal, but not Greek tasting. So I had the naan (Indian yes, Greek no), some citrus marinated chicken breast, diced cucumbers and tomatoes and I positively needed a sauce to drizzle over the top. I had a jar of sun dried tomatoes with herbs in oil in my fridge that were just begging me to use them. Tah-dah! I came up with this dressing. My hubs and I loved it! He said, “This dressing is blog worthy.” Yeah, he’s a keeper 🙂

This dressing is delicious on salad. Yummy on “gyro-ish” type foods 🙂 And would even be great with some carrot sticks for dipping.

sun dried tomato ranchSun Dried Tomato Ranch Dressing

  • 1/3 c. sour cream
  • 3/4 c. mayo
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 green onion
  • 4 sun dried tomato halves
  • 2 glugs worcestshire sauce
  • 4 tbsp. milk
  • dash of cracked black pepper

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.

sd tomato ranch dressingsd tomato ranch