Parma Rosa Sauce

We were having a pasta dinner at Libby and Mark’s house with the family the night before the Slacker Race and it was my responsibility to bring a sauce. So I decided to bring a homemade Parma Rosa sauce (Jake’s favorite when he was growing up)
So I decided to throw it together and see what happened. I had everything I needed in my fridge and pantry (Jake picked up the cream on his way home from work)


  • 6 large garlic cloves (yes I use a lot)
  • 4 chives thinly chopped green and white parts
  • 2 fresh tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cans of Italian flavored crushed or diced tomatoes (pictured in jar)
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste 
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream (my pic says heavy whipping-my bad)
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 tsp onion powder 
  • Water as needed

ImageImageFirst you will chop up your garlic, tomatoes and chives and set aside
Next heat a pan with some olive
Once your pan is warm add your garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant about 3 minutes (do not let it brown or it will taste bitter)Image
once the garlic has softened add your chives.
While your chives cook down heat a pot with your canned tomatoes and let them simmerImage
Next add your FRESH tomatoes to your chive and garlic mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste
Once your chive mixture looks and feels soft and juices have begun to extract from your tomatoes add it to the pot of your canned tomatoesImage
Add about 2 tablespoons of water and let it simmer
Now you can begin to add your cream
Slowly add it in and stir- you can also sprinkle in your cheese. (Save some for a topping too!)
You can continue to add water for a thinner sauce
I then added the onion powder- this is an extra step it is not necessary but I thought it gave the sauce a great flavor!ImageI let it simmer for about 5 more minutes. Done and Done!Image

I got rave reviews at our pasta dinner and I think you will too!


Cast Iron Skillet Brussels Sprouts Bacon Pizza – Jazzin it up with J9 (Guest Post)

Jazzin it Up with J9 – Post #2

For my second post I thought I would try a pizza!

I personally love brussel sprouts. The first time I made brussel sprouts I used Ina Garten’s recipe: I absolutely love her recipe and have made it several times. So when I saw this pizza recipe I was excited. I was also intrigued to cook the dough in a cast iron skillet.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and my thoughts on how to “Jazz it Up!”

Follow me on Pinterest and see if you can guess what my next post will be! 😉

Cast Iron Skillet Brussels Sprouts Bacon Pizza from How Sweet It Is:

DOUGH RECIPE MAKES 2 SKILLET CRUSTS, PIZZA TOPPINGS LISTED FOR 1 PIZZA PREP TIME: 1.5 HOURS COOK TIME: 3 MINUTES (YES, 3!) ingredients: crust (NOTE: this recipe makes TWO doughs for skillet pizza)


1 1/8 cups warm water

3 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt pizza (NOTE: these ingredients are for ONE pizza)Image

For the toppings:

6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

1 shallot, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 3 garlic cloves)

1/2 pound brussels sprouts, stems removed and thinly sliced (I had quite a bit left over so you may not need the full amount)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 ounces provolone cheese, freshly grated (I couldn’t find grated provolone so I used thinly sliced and cut it into thin strips)

4 ounces fontina cheese, freshly grated

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheeseImage

Directions for making the crust: In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, honey and olive oil. Mix with a spoon, then let sit  until foamy, about 10 minutes. Image

It didn’t get very foamy for me but it still worked great.

Add in 2 1/2 cups flour and salt, stirring with a spoon until the dough comes together but it  still sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and work in the additional 1/2 cup  flour, kneading it on a floured surface for a few minutes. Rub the same bowl with olive oil  then place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to  rise for about 1 1/2 hours. ImageImage

After the dough has risen, punch it down and place it back on the floured surface. Sometimes I work in a few more sprinkles of flour if the dough is sticky. This amount of  dough yielded 2 pizza crusts for my 12-inch cast iron skillet. If you’re using an 8-inch, you  may get 3 doughs, but you also may just want to stick with 2 thicker doughs. Divide the  dough evenly in half (or thirds). Place one dough on a well-floured pizza peel and roll into a  round about the size of your skillet. I placed the dough on a Slipat Mat. It worked but I needed another set of hands to help me with it.

Make the pizza + the cast iron skillet method:

Heat a large skillet (preferably NOT the skillet you are going to cook your pizza in) over  medium heat and add bacon. Fry until crispy and fat is rendered. Remove crispy bacon with  a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.Image

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and add shallot. Cook for 5 minutes until soft, then add garlic, sliced brussels, salt and  pepper, stirring well to coat. Cook for 6-8 minutes, tossing occasionally. Remove from heat  and set aside. Image

At this point, place an oven rack directly under your broiler and preheat your broiler to the  highest setting. Additionally, place your cast iron skillet on the stove top burner, turning the  heat on high. You want to heat the skillet for 10 minutes. If it begins to smoke a lot, you can  reduce the heat a bit. But you want it HOT. While the skillet is heating, begin placing your toppings on your dough. Remember, the  dough MUST be on a well-floured pizza peel (or surface) so you can simply slide the entire  thing into the skillet. Add about 2-3 ounces of cheese to your dough, then cover with the  brussel sprouts mixture and the bacon. Top with the remaining fontina, provolone and  Parmesan. Place a potholder or thick towel on the handle of the skillet (it will be sooo hot).

Carefully  slide the pizza into the skillet, dough side down. Don’t worry if a few toppings or pieces of  cheese slice onto the surface – it will be totally fine.

After about 30 seconds, turn off the  burner, grab the skillet and pop it in the oven, right under the broiler. Broil for 1 minute,  the using the potholder, grab the handle and rotate 180 degrees, broiling for only 1 more  minute. Remove immediately and place on the stove top.

Let cool slightly for about 5  minutes, then use a large spatula to remove the pizza.  Image

Things to Consider and Ways to “Jazz it Up!” Since this recipe makes two doughs I went ahead and made another pizza (one pizza would serve 2 people so having the second pizza made it perfect for four people with a small amount of left overs). On the second pizza I made it the exact same way. Although I added Alfredo Pasta Sauce first, then chopped garlic, sliced shallots, diced fresh tomatoes, spinach and then topped it off with the same cheese. I loved it with the Alfredo sauce. For the brussel sprout pizza, I think it needed a sauce as well. I think you could use an Alfredo sauce of even a red pizza sauce would work well too.

“Skinny” Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

I wanted to make a healthy pasta so I went with my usual chicken broccoli pasta and I got the idea to give the “cauliflower” Alfredo sauce I found on Pinterest a go.

For the broccoli it is very simple:

Cut up your heads of broccoli rinse them. ImageSeason them with salt pepper and garlic powder. Lay them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for 8 minutes viola!


For the pasta:


Cook as directed on the package- viola!

For the chicken:

I got 5 chicken breasts cut them into small cubes

Season with one tablespoon each of garlic powder, thyme, chives, oregano viola!


Cook in a saute pan until internal temperature is 165 degrees, season with salt and pepper to taste!


Now for the sauce:


9 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
5-6 cups cauliflower florets
6-7 cups vegetable broth or water
1.5 teaspoon salt (more to taste)

1 teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
2/3 cup milk (more to taste) (not pictured)

What to do: (while your chicken and pasta cook)
  1. Garlic: Saute the minced garlic with the butter in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook for several minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned (browned or burnt garlic will taste bitter). Remove from heat and set aside.Image
  2. Cauliflower: Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.Image
  3. Puree: Transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1.5 cup vegetable broth or cooking liquid, sauteed garlic/butter, salt, pepper, and milk. Blend or puree for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth, adding more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. Image
  4. I then added some Parmesan cheese for a little more Alfredo sauce flavor.

Grab a big bowl and mix your pasta chicken and broccoli and toss together. Pour your sauce over and do another toss. Grab a bowl, and a fork and eat up!Image

Side note: The sauce is a great alternative to Alfredo sauce but I will say that the taste is not much the same. It is creamy without all the calories, which we all enjoyed and it still has a great flavor in my opinion!


Strawberry Mimosa Cupcakes

All of a sudden I have a sweet tooth!

I am not one for baking really but I enjoy the challenge!
I found the recipe for this on Pinterest  but I made a few changes. I wanted my cupcakes to taste a little more like citrus.

Here is what you will need:
For the cupcakes:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. champagne or ginger ale (take a wild guess at which one I used?!?!)

For the filling:
1/4 c. champagne or ginger ale (again guess which one I used)
1 c. strawberries
1/4 c. sugar
Juice of half an orange

Photo by Shari Nelson

For the frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 lb. powdered sugar
Zest of one orange
2 tbsp. strawberry filling

Now here is what you do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 12 cupcake wrappers in cupcake tin.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar using a hand mixer. (You can use a stand mixer for this part too if you have one.)

Photo by Shari Nelson

Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.

Photo by Shari Nelson

Vanilla and eggs

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Photo by Shari Nelson

Wisk together

In a third bowl, whisk together champagne and sour cream.’

Photo by Shari Nelson

Wisk together

Photo by Shari Nelson

All three mixtures get added in together

Gradually beat flour and champagne mixtures into butter mixture.

Photo by Shari Nelson

Batter should be creamy

Divide batter evenly among cupcake wrappers and bake for 17-20 minutes.

Photo by Shari Nelson

Cool completely.
To make the strawberry filling, combine strawberries and the juice of half the orange as well as the champagne in a small non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

Photo by Shari Nelson
Once filling comes to a boil, use a wooden spoon or tool of your choice to mash strawberries.

Photo by Shari Nelson

Add sugar and continue to cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened. Cool to room temperature.
When cupcakes and filling have cooled, you can begin to fill the cupcakes.

Use a paring knife to cut a divot into the center of each cupcake. Put about a tablespoon of filling into the hole you’ve made, then replace divot. Reserve 2 tablespoons of filling for frosting.

Photo by Shari Nelson
To make the frosting, combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl using a hand or stand mixer at low-speed. (If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.) Once mixture is well-combined and fluffy, gradually add powdered sugar with mixer on low. When powdered sugar is fully incorporated, beat in orange zest and strawberry filling.

Photo by Shari Nelson

Photo by Shari Nelson
Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Now you can pretty it up with a little orange or strawberry slice on top!

Pipe frosting

Photo by Shari Nelson

I piped my frosting with the old fashion zip lock baggie trick (after failing with my piping bag) Piping is not one of strong points but it will do.
These are delicious cupcakes not too sweet and I think perfect for a summer day!


Side note: adding champagne or ginger ale may make your batter a different consistency then you are used to at first, stick with it, it will be come creamy again.

Cajun Mac and Cheese- Jazzin it up with J9 (Guest Post)

Hi, My name is Janine and I am Shari’s older (wiser, J/K) sister. Shari has allowed me to post on her blog once a week and share my preparation, thoughts and alterations on a pinterest recipe.  Basically, once a week I will take a recipe from pinterest.  I will create it at home, take pictures, and document my thoughts about it.  I hope that you enjoy these recipes and try them out yourself!  To see this pin and follow me on Pinterest click here:
Week 1:  Cajun Mac and Cheese from Food Network:
Kosher salt
12 ounces wagon-wheel pasta (I used a Costco organic brand called Gemelli)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces andouille sausage, diced
2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper (red or green), chopped (I used some red and some orange)
1 tablespoon Cajun spice blend
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk (I used 1% milk)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
Here’s what you do:
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the label directs. ImageReserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and sausage in a large skillet over high heat and cook, stirring, until the sausage starts to brown, about 2 minutes. ImageStir in the scallions and bell pepper and cook until the vegetables are slightly soft, about 3 more minutes. This is really important because you don’t want your veggies to be mushy.  Image
Add the Cajun spice and flour and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 5 more minutes.ImageAdd the pasta, cheese and reserved cooking water to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, tossing to coat the pasta in the sauce and melt the cheese.  I stirred it around for about 5 minutes or so on simmer.  Then I let it sit for a couple of minutes off heat. I think this really let the sauce thicken.
A couple of things to consider:
I do think that you could use less than 12 ounces of pasta and or increase the amount of sausage and peppers.
Also, I would have added maybe a half of teaspoon more of cajun spice.  I think it could have been more “cajun-y”.
Finally, I really enjoyed it with Sriracha Hot Sauce but my husband thought it was good with Valentino Hot Sauce.  .

Products I’m loving right now!

So as I look for what exactly it is I am going to focus on with this blog I will continue to just post.
One of the products I have loved and just bought is Benefit’s They’re Real Mascara
(You can find it at Ulta or Sephora for $23 or mini size for $10)
I was a die hard just buy my mascara at the drug store type of girl but I gave this one go and the name says it all- my lashes look like I have a set of fake lashes on, in a non crazy way- that is no joke!
My favorite spray sunscreen for this summer is Neutrogena Fresh Cool Body Mist Sunblock SPF 45. It sprays on easily and with this can I really don’t feel like I have to rub it in like you sometimes do with other spray on lotions. You can find it at your local drug stores and usually costs $8.99
Need a quick and cheap make-up remover? I recommend Aveeno Ultra-Calming Makeup Removing Wipes. They run $6.49 for 25 wipes. They smell nice, they don’t leave my face oily and the container snaps shut so they won’t dry out. They are not the cheapest ones out there- so I would also recommend Pond’s Wet Cleansing Towelettes- $4.69 for 30 wipes. The downside on those is that sometimes they were over saturated and I had to ring them out and the container is not all that great.
Now just to keep you on your toes, my last product I love…
New Amsterdam Peach Vodka
Why do I love it? Cause it tastes delicious especially when it is a chilled shot and I am sharing it with friends and chased by pineapple juice!
Did I mention it is usually one of the cheaper vodkas on the shelf at my local liquor stores?
Hope this helps in some way or another!

Turkey stuffed peppers

The reason I like this recipe so much is because it is so easy to make changes to it depending on what you are in the mood for. Sometimes I make this with out the turkey for Meatless Mondays. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

What you will need:
Medium sized bell peppers
Mild cheddar jack cheese to sprinkle on top of your peppers

One 5.8 oz package of couscous

One can of fire roasted diced tomatoes

One can of black beans semi drained

One tube of lean ground turkey


What to do:
Wash your peppers- cut the tops off and take out the seeds and ribs so you can easily fill them later.

Chop up the top of the peppers
Cook your turkey in a skillet until it is about fully cooked.

(Before your turkey is fully cooked you will add your can of tomatoes)

While the turkey cooks preheat your oven to 400
Cook your couscous as directed on the package.

In a separate bowl 
Once your rice is cooked mix that in with your black beans

Add your turkey and the tomato mixture
Add the chopped up portions of the peppers
Season with some salt, pepper and I added some cayenne pepper for some spice to taste.
(I have noticed that turkey usually calls for more seasoning than most proteins)
Mix all the ingredients together and let them cool

Once all your ingredients have cooled down you can start filling your peppers!

Once your peppers are filled place them in a baking dish, sprinkle some cheese on top and let them bake for about 20 minutes and then covered for 20 minutes102_0883
The peppers should be soft and warm- You are now ready to eat!

I also grabbed some Crema Mexicana (Mexican table cream) to drizzle on top but that is totally optional of course.


Hope you enjoy! Salud!