DIY Fresh Tomato Marinara

So yesterday’s post was all about the pickles. Todays Taste of Paradise overstock situation is tomatoes. This is another first time recipe for me. One that I will likely continue to work with. But for now, I am pretty pleased with the taste! Pleased enough to share with you all.

Ok, before you decide to take on this project, let me first tell you, it’s both time consuming and messy. BUT it’s worth it in taste and health factor. Plus, sometimes it just feels good to make something from scratch. And if you really have A LOT of tomatoes you can freeze some in bags or jars for later. Or you could can them yourself. One of these days, I will cover canning. But today’s not that day.

I had about 9 medium-large tomatoes. To get started, I washed and cut an X into the bottom of each tomato. I boiled a large pot of water, once the water was boiling I added my tomatoes and let them continue to boil for about 5 minutes. You’ll want to blanch them to make it super easy to skin these little suckers. So as soon as your five minutes is up, throw those little red gems into an ice bath. I tossed them in just long enough to handle them without burning my hands. Probably like 10-20 seconds. The skin should come off really easy. A few of my tomatoes weren’t fully submerged so some took a little extra TLC to peel.

Once you’ve peeled them, you’re ready for the next step. Deseeding the maters. This was the part I found to be extremely messy, and I can’t really think of a less sloppy way to handle this. I am sure there is, and if you know it… do share in the comments! What I did was cut them in quarters and pulled the seeds and juicy pulp out with my hands. There was tomato guts ever where in my kitchen, it looked like a fresh scene from Season One of The Walking Dead. I feel like if I would have used a spoon, it would have been more like a scene straight out of Dexter.

Lets get back on track here. Less sloppy talk, more cookin!


  • 8-9 large tomatoes
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsps. Italian season
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp of chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 1 small yellow pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a handful of fresh basil

Sautee diced yellow pepper until tender, add minced garlic and cook until its golden. Be sure to stay close and not burn it. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine your skinned/deseeded tomatoes and yellow pepper and garlic. Add all your other dry ingredients. Blend on chop or liquify. Add in your tomato paste. This is really a personal preference, add as much paste as your want to achieve your desired consistency. Blend again, then add in your fresh basil. I transferred to a jar right away, because I didn’t plan to use it right away.

Reheat in a sauce pan, salt and pepper to taste! Serve in any pasta dish. If you add a bit more paste, this would make a wonderful pizza sauce as well!

Bread and Butter Chip Pickles

bread and butter pickles

Easy Bread and Butter Chip Pickles Recipe

Every summer I like to make bread and butter chip pickles. They are about the only pickles I actually like. Most of the years I have made them, I have grown our cucumbers. I rarely ever buy cucumbers at the store, they are always so waxy. For the past year, I have been picking up farm fresh veggies from a local company called Taste of Paradise. They are a weekly CSA that also offers one time pick up’s. That is pretty unique for a CSA. My “one time pick ups” have turned into a weekly order of two family size bags. They release their veggie list a week out, so this really helps me plan my weekly meals. The real bonus of course is that fact that the produce is so much better than what we find in our local grocery stores.

Sometimes, because I am picking up such a large quantity of vegetables, I end up with some excess that we really don’t eat on the regular. In this instance, I ended up with a lot of cucumbers. Since our move last October, we don’t quite have the garden size we are used to. And we aren’t growing any cucumbers. SO duh, there’s only one thing I would do with all the extra cucumbers. Make pickles!

Here is my EASY Bread and Butter Chip Pickle recipe. Anyone can make them. Anyone.


  • 5-6 Large cucumbers
  • 1 tsp pickling salt
  • 2  cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 3 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric

Start our by slicing your cucumbers evenly. I use a mandolin and cut them on the largest setting. I feel like it keeps them crunchy. Add your pickling salt and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

After your cucumbers have had time to chill, combine your other ingredients in a large pot. Bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling add your cucumber slices and bring it back to a boil. I usually let them boil for about 5 minutes and remove from heat. Have your jars ready. I pack my jars as full as possible with cucumber, let them rest and pack them some more.BBChipPickles

I also like to add fresh garlic cloves before sealing my jars. And I have been known a time or two to stuff in a fresh serrano pepper. That brings on some heat, so if you do that, do it with caution.


In this pickling, I didn’t seal my jars with a pressure cooker, because it wasn’t a huge batch. They will last in your fridge for a few months. And we eat them fast enough that I’m not at all worried about them going bad.


I have also used this same liquid recipe to pickle red bell peppers, and when adding a serrano chili to that is amazing! I’d love to know what you like to pickle! Let me know in the comments.

Creamy Garlic Mushroom Recipe

Easy creamy garlic mushroom recipe. So I made these the other day for the first time. I had a few bags of mushrooms and wanted to try something new. I found a recipe on pinterest by Damn Delicious. I never seem to have exactly what I need when trying out new recipes, but am pretty good at substitutions. (Or at least I think I am.)

Seriously, this maybe one of my new “go to” mushroom recipes. I think it can be so versatile. I served them over egg wide noodles and added some chicken. That’s what I like to call a “one hit wonder” – that’s a meal that has a veggie, a meat, and something to make complete, like a thigh fattening carb.

Here’s my take on this creamy garlic mushroom recipe.


  • a bunch of mushrooms – two cartons
  • 6-7 large cloves of garlic (um, I don’t believe they can be too garlicy)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 3 tsp corn starch
  • 4 tbps butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: wash your mushrooms.

Step 2: mince your garlic

Step 3: add mushrooms, garlic, bay leaves, seasons, and chicken stock to your crock pot. Cook on low for about 2 hours.

Step 4: after your mushrooms have cooked for a few hours, take about 3/4 cup of broth from your crock pot and add in your corn starch. Whisk starch until completely dissolved, add back into your crockpot. At this point, add your half and half and butter.

Step 5: Optional, I added chicken as you can see pictured. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh parsley or basil. The mushrooms had such a great flavor. They would also be great over rice, mashed potatoes, or even a steak!

Wild Rice with Butternut Squash and Kale

This is what I made for Thanksgiving dinner. I know it’s a little late to be posting but it was pretty good. Especially considering it was my plan B. When I went to the store to buy a fresh beet they were out. It was originally going to have butternut squash and beets. I then subbed the beets for kale and only added the red cabbage for color. It was a great fall dish. Hope you at least give it a try!
And I wish I would have taken the time to take a better plated picture, but we were starving so as soon as we unveiled all the amazing food, we got down to business!

Ingredients for Wild Rice and butternut squash

Ingredients for Wild rice with butternut squash and kale:
2 cups chopped butternut squash
1 cup of shredded red cabbage
1 cup of shredded kale
2 parsnips chopped
1 1/2 cups of wild rice
Half an orange


chopped kale

I used a bag of already chopped kale, which was super easy.

wild rice

I cooked the rice separately in chicken stock according to package directions.

Add butternut squash and sautee

Start by sautéing your butternut squash in a little olive oil first, just enough to make them slightly tender, but not squishy, then add in your parsnips, they will also need to soften some. I admit, I used too much oil, but it was fine in the end. Kept the rice from clumping up.

Add chopped red cabbage

Then add in your chopped red cabbage once the squash and parsnips are to your desired tenderness.

Add Kale and orange juice

Then add in your chopped kale, and once you’ve gotten a good sauté going, take half an orange and squeeze it over the veggies. Then toss with your cooked rice. Salt and pepper to taste. This was pretty simple to make, and if you wanted to make it even faster you can buy everything already chopped at the store.

Wild rice with butternutsquash