Nothing Fancy, Just Good Food

Category: recipes


So, I have a confession to make… I love the Real Housewives of New Jersey, specifically Caroline Manzo… She reminds me a lot of me, 20 years from now! On one of the last episodes I saw, poor Caroline and her family trying to make some Southern food… They were making cornbread and gravy from a box and I thought to myself… “My Papaw would tan my hide if he ever saw me using a box to make cornbread; he would tan it twice if he caught me making cornbread in anything but a well seasoned, piping hot, cast-iron skillet.” But this isn’t a post about cornbread, soooo back to my original point! Caroline and her family were talking and one of her kids wondered if Southern people used a box to make cornbread and gravy. Caroline then said, “I bet they don’t, but I bet they open a jar of red pasta sauce and call it Italian!” This made me realize two dreams… One, I want to learn how to make spaghetti sauce from scratch and two, I want to teach Caroline Manzo to make cornbread and gravy the RIGHT way! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to succeed in either of those dreams. However, since it’s tomato canning season I’m hoping to learn both canning tomatoes and making spaghetti sauce from scratch with said canned tomatoes. Until then, I’m happy to tell ya’ll how I make due with the jarred version. 😉 First of all, you can use pretty much any sauce, but I like Prego Roasted Garlic. Second of all, I have a big family and on most nights there are at least five people eating, so this recipe will feed at least 5 hungry people! You can change it however you like! So, the recipe is as follows:

1 package spaghetti noodles, I like the thin ones but you can use whatever kind you like,

1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground round hamburger meat,

1 jar pasta sauce,

1 can crushed tomatoes,

1 can tomato paste,

2 tbs pesto (I use jarred Classico brand),

1 small onion,

1/2 green bell pepper,

3 cloves of fresh garlic,

Oregano (fresh or dried),

Basil (fresh or dried),

Garlic powder,

Tony Chachere’s.

I know that seems like a lot but it’s not as much you think! First things first, chop the onions and bell pepper. Now, you may know this but just in case you don’t, when chopping the garlic, take the dull edge of the knife, push down on the blade with the heel of your hand, and crush the garlic; then peel it and chop it. Crushing the garlic allows the flavors to “activate” sort of. Now, put the sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, pesto, onions, garlic, and bell peppers all in the pot and mix it together. Put it on medium to high heat and allow it to simmer while you brown the hamburger meat. I like to use ground round, it’s 80/20 so it’s a little leaner, it’s definitely not as greasy. I also like to use ground turkey and for fun sometimes I throw in a little Jimmy Dean sausage too. Deer meat is awesome in it too! Whatever you like ;). Drain the meat and add it to the sauce. Now, add the spices, and let it all simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. I like to let it simmer for as long as possible so all the flavors can marry and it’ll pack a PUNCH of deliciousness. You won’t know what you did before this; if I do say so myself. 🙂

So, a lot of people think there is only one way to serve spaghetti; but, I’m here to tell ya’ll there are two other little known ways to serve it. One, you can take the noodles, the sauce, some parmesan shavings, and some monterey jack cheese, mix it all together in a big bowl, pour it in a baking dish, top it with a little more cheese, and bake it at 375 for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty. Ooey, gooey, goodness!! And the other way, newly discovered by me, is to use the recipe for the Olga Noodles that I posted last night! Just get a bowl of the Olga Noodles, pour some sauce on top, and enjoy! I know it sounds a little different, but it actually works really well.  This is the picture I promised ya’ll yesterday of these delicious Olga Noodles!

photo 2


Try it out and let me know what ya’ll think! And, I’ll keep ya’ll posted on my tomato canning and homemade spaghetti sauce dreams! Hope to hear from ya’ll soon!

Starting out easy!

For my first post, I figured I would break ya’ll in the easy way and post about two things that I’ve cooked so many times that I could probably cook it in my sleep! The first dish is something I call Olga Noodles. My family has a Mexican lady that comes to clean the house about once a week and every now and then she’ll cook for us. The first time she cooked she made us these unbelievably good noodles. I mean, I could have eaten a whole pot of them all by myself; they were creamy, buttery, and garlicky (my fave!). Of course, she doesn’t speak a lick of English, so, while I’m raving about how amazing these noodles are, she has no clue what I’m talking on and on about. Finally, I talked to her granddaughter who told me that it was just spaghetti noodles, butter, salt, pepper, garlic salt, and “Mexican cream”. I got her to show me what in the world “Mexican Cream” was and I set off to learn how to make it and realized that it was SO simple and easy, that I wondered why I’d never thought of it before. Obviously, it was because I had never been introduced to the wonder that is “Mexican cream.” What Olga’s granddaughter called “Mexican cream” is Nestle Crema or Table Cream. It’s like a lighter condensed milk and it’s used in a lot of low carb cooking. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing low carb or healthy about this recipe; I just found out that that’s what this is used for and found it quite amusing since I use it in the least healthy way possible. 😉 ANYWAY, the recipe is as follows:

1 package spaghetti noodles,

1 can Nestle Cream, found in the ethnic cuisine aisle in a can similar to sweetened condensed milk,

1 stick butter, yes a whole stick, I know, devilish,



Garlic salt, all to taste.

Cook the noodles as you normally would and drain them, while they’re still hot, add the stick of butter, salt, pepper, and garlic salt as you like. I like a lot of garlic and a lot of pepper! Then shake up the crema really well, pop the top, and add a little at a time, mixing as you go, until the whole can is incorporated into the noodles. Taste and make sure you don’t want more of anything and then fix yourself a big ole bowl of deliciousness because ya’ll, it will not take long for these heavenly noodles to disappear. You can add some grilled chicken or steak or ham or whatever you want. You can use it as a sort of pasta sauce, similar to alfredo, whatever! It’s your meal! I’ll post a picture of my finished product tomorrow… all this talking about it has made me insanely hungry for some!


Now! The dessert portion of our night together! I love to bake and for the Super Bowl one year I decided I wanted Homemade, from Scratch, chocolatey, caramely (is that a word), crunchy brownies! Sooooo, I got in the kitchen and went to work!! This is the outcome!

Turtle Brownies:

Brownie Portion-

1 cup butter

1 package semi sweet or milk chocolate, chocolate chips

2 cups sugar

5 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1  cup all-purpose flour

Melt butter and chocolate together; I don’t care how ya do it! I like simple and easy so I stick it in the microwave for about 40 seconds while I move on to the next step, which is: cream sugar, beaten eggs, and vanilla together. Then add the two mixtures together! Stir in the flour. Here is the tricky part… You can get some Pam and spray it on a baking dish if you want, I’m not one to judge, it’s easy and it’s fast; but, I like to take a little butter, half a stick or so, put it in the baking dish, and stick it in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes. Once the butter melts, take the dish out, and spread the butter around, making sure you get all the corners and the whole bottom of the dish covered. Pour in the brownie mixture, spread evenly, and bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes; depending on your oven. They will be moist, chewy, and delicious all on their own; BUT, I take it just a little step further. Which brings me to my recipe for caramel sauce.

Caramel Sauce portion-  This is what you’ll need. I use Kraft Caramels, but you can use any kind of soft caramel candy.

1 bag of Kraft Caramels, about 15 candies, unwrapped of course,

1/2 cup light brown sugar,

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream,

1 stick of butter,

1/2 cup of light Karo syrup,

2 tbs lime juice.

Kraft Caramels package

These babies are fabulous!

Now you take the stick of butter, let it melt in a sauce pan on medium heat; once it’s melted, take it off the burner, slowly incorporate the heavy whipping cream into the hot butter, stirring as you pour so the cream doesn’t curdle. Once that’s fully incorporated, put the brown sugar, the Karo syrup, and lime juice in and stir quickly. Then add the caramels and let them melt. Now, this can be made without the brown sugar, the Karo, and the lime juice; but, it helps the caramel not to get too hard. You can also make it with more brown sugar, and maybe a little more butter and take out the caramel candies but I think it adds more of a creamy texture. When you have it done,  you’ve stirred all you can stir, and you’ve pulled the brownies out of the oven; you can top the brownies with this deliciousness and kick it up one more notch with some toasted pecans. Just a few chopped pecans, a little butter, a little salt, and throw it in the oven for about 10 minutes on 350 degrees. You’ll be the belle of the ball with both of these dishes!!turtle brownies






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