Posted in Cooking

Making Past Sauce

Today, I have a food post for you. Many people don’t know this about me (some just don’t ever seem to remember, others it’s never come up), but I went to culinary school a few years back. I loved it and found a passion for baking while going through the 16 month program. Due to circumstances beyond my control (car accident), I never ended up getting my certificate because I was 40 hours short for my internship. I was let go after the car accident after I called out a few times despite being told they’d work with me. Anyhow… I found a love for cooking. Then, for a long while, I didn’t cook or bake often. My partner at the time was the one who did all the cooking and I just took a back seat. Slowly, I’ve been finding my way back to cooking a little at a time. More recently Matt and I have tried to “kick up” our dinner routine because we were getting a bit bored with it.

Last weekend, we made a trip to Findlay Market. There’s a new pasta place there that makes fresh pastas, sauces, and ravioli. We got two different kinds of pasta, pesto, and ravioli. Last night we planned on trying the tomato basil pasta that we bought with my homemade tomato sauce.

Pasta sauce is one of the easiest things to make, I think, yet I know few people who make their own sauce. It’s one of the things I never really made myself, even after culinary school! So, today, I wanted to share how to make pasta sauce which I started to do after finding the cost of my favorite jarred pastas to be too expensive. I buy the main ingredients from Costco (tomato sauce, tomato paste, and stewed tomatoes/Rotel), which brings the cost down quite a bit and all of the spices I use are all things I keep on hand.


Here’s what I use in my pasta sauce:

1 – 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 – 4 oz can tomato paste
1 – 10 oz can Ro-tel (tomatoes and green chillies – you can also use stewed tomatoes if you prefer)
Chopped onion
Emrils Origional Essence
Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic
Mrs. Dash Onion & Herb
Black Pepper
Italian Seasoning
Lawry’s Garlic Salt
Slap Ya Mama

My one “secret ingredient” is the Slap Ya Mama. I think it really adds some kick. I like spicy pasta sauce, though.

My Secret Pasta Sauce Ingredient
Secret ingredient: Slap Ya Mama

The first step is to put the Ro-tel (or stewed tomatoes) in a food processor. I love my mini food processor for this!

Rotel in Food Processor

Next, add all the spices to taste. My sauce is probably never the same because I don’t measure anything, but I’ve never been disappointed by it.

Add Seasonings

Now blend it all together!

Give it a whirl


Note: This step can be skipped if you like chunky sauce (or just pulse it a few times rather then blending it well) – I’m not particularly a fan of chunky sauce. You can also use crushed tomatoes instead if you don’t have a food processor.

Add the can of tomato sauce and the can of tomato paste to a medium sized sauce pan, then add the Ro-tel and spice blend and give it all a good stir.

Tomato Sauce & Paste
Tomato sauce and paste

Add in Rotel/spice mix
Add Ro-tel and spice blend

Give it a good stir
Give it a good stir.

Cook on medium low heat for as long as you can. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors blend. Sometimes this means I just heat it through, other times this means I cook it for 30+ minutes, depending on how much time I have and if I’m waiting on Matt to get home or not. Even on the nights it’s just heated through, it’s still quite delicious!

Last night I heated the sauce for about 40 minutes.

Heat on med-low

Cook your noodles and place in a dish…

Cooked Tomato Basil Pasta
We had fresh tomato basil fettuccini. YUM.

Top with sauce and Parmesan…

301/365: YUM - Fresh pasta and sauce
…and enjoy!

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m sometimes surprised how easy certain things are to make. Like pasta sauce! Throw a few cans together, add some spices, heat and enjoy. Plus, when you make it yourself, you never have to worry about the store not carrying your preferred brand anymore. πŸ™‚

(We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled knitting tomorrow, but I think I can safely say – start expecting more food posts here!)

Posted in Completed Projects, Current Projects

FO: Starlight, Springtime Bandit Blocking, and Snapdragons

I had been putting off blogging because I wanted my next post to be about Rhinebeck, but I’m having issues getting all the pictures uploaded to Flickr at home, so it will have to wait. I did finally get pictures of Starlight and other things I’m working on, though. I think it’s time to do an FO post about Starlight, don’t you?

Pattern: Starlight (My Ravelry project page.)
Started: April 1, 2007
Completed: October 10, 2009
Yarn: RYC Silk Wool DK in “Porcelain”
Needles: US 2 and US 3 circulars
Notes: (Brace yourself, these are long notes.) I don’t even know where to start with this sweater. It went in and out of hibernation because I got really bored with the constant cabling. I left off the border that is knit separately then sewn on because after knitting a swatch I thought it was big and floppy and would get caught on things. I really didn’t want to sew that big border over the whole sweater and didn’t really care for the look of it. After washing it, the sleeves were too big. I put it through the dryer, which shrank them a little, but not enough. I decided to cut the sleeves and re-knit the garter edge to the proper length. That was difficult to do, but I manage to do it and you can’t even tell! (Go me!)

I really like how this sweater turned out, but my one disappointment is that I spent so much on this lovely yarn only to have it pill a ridiculous amount on the first wear. Pre-Ravelry is when I bought this yarn and I didn’t know other knitters that had used this yarn that could tell me how it holds up. The comments on the yarn in Ravelry say that it pills and doesn’t hold stitch definition well. I think it does hold up the cables quite well (so far), but holy crap this yarn pills A LOT.

I wore this sweater at Rhinebeck 2009 and carried my camera bag with me, over my shoulder like a messenger bag. Where the bag sat on my left side is where it pilled the most – I was pulling off clumps of pilling later on. How disappointing! It did pill quite a bit all over on just the first wear, so the next day I was pulling off all the little bits and finding them everywhere. Were I to knit this sweater again, I’d definitely pick a different yarn. It’s really quite disappointing to me to spend so much on this yarn, put a ton of work into this project, only to end up with a sweater that pills so much I’ll probably only wear it on very special occasions. The yarn itself is really nice to work with, very soft, and has a lovely drape, though, just not something I’d use on another sweater.

As for the pattern, I really didn’t have any issues with it. I don’t think it would be great for a beginner or someone that doesn’t have some sweater knitting experience because some of the instructions aren’t super clear. The front piece instructions are a great example of this. It give you directions from start to finish for one side, then tells you to “reverse all shaping” for the other side, without giving you much other direction then that. There’s also a lot of “do ____ and at the same time do ____ and at the same time do ____” which can easily get confusing.

Starlight is finally done. I still can’t believe it.

299/365: Finally Photographed
Yep, it’s done and I love it.

Starlight, back
Here’s the back.

Starlight, side
And here’s the side.

286/365: Buttons
The beautiful buttons. I love them!

Over the weekend, I blocked the Springtime Bandit shawl. I don’t have any pictures of it post-drying yet, so here it is blocking.

Springtime Bandit - Blocking
Springtime Bandit, blocking.

I finished up the first Snapdragon and decided that instead of a flip-top, I wanted to do fingerless gloves. I started the second one and just have the thumb part left to knit. I love how soft and warm Malabrigo is. Love the cabled pattern on the gloves, too!

Snapdragon, Modified
First Snapdragon fingerless glove.

I did start a sweater, but it’s been frogged and the yarn (hopefully) has a new home now. I’ll share more of that story after my Rhinebeck post since the yarn was yarn I purchased at Rhinebeck, which I haven’t even posted about yet! I have three projects on the needles (I’m counting Snapdragons done since I have so very little left to do) – Featherweight Cardigan, Colorwork socks, and iPhone mitts which might end up fingerless gloves or frogged. I think I’m going to cast on for Waves of Grain with the Sea Silk I got recently. I’m itching for a project that will grab my attention and make me want to knit it! πŸ™‚

Posted in Completed Projects, Current Projects

FO – Stripey Socks, Springtime Bandit, and Post Project Blahs

Rhinebeck felt like it came and went so quickly and almost like I didn’t have time to do everything I wish I could have! I had a great time and got to meet some wonderful folks, but I’ll save all the details for another post since I haven’t had time to go through all my photos and upload them yet. πŸ™‚

With all the travel time I had, I was able to finish up a pair of socks and was about 10 rows away from finishing Springtime Bandit when I arrived home on Monday. Friday, on the bus to NYC, I finished up my stripey socks. I started back on them Thursday, about halfway done with the foot, and by the time I’d landed in DC, I’d already finished the heel. Next thing I knew, they were done!

Pattern: Plain Vanilla Socks (My Ravelry project page.)
Started:July 11, 2009
Completed: October 16, 2009
Yarn: Vesper Sock Yarn, club colorway “Open Flame”
Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm) Knit Picks DPN’s
Notes: I used my own pattern. 64 stitch sock with round toe and short row heel – my “standard” for plain vanilla socks for myself. These seemed to take so long because I kept putting them aside for other projects, but I’m happy I’ve finally finished them and can add them to my growing collection of Vesper socks!

Open Flame Socks
Open Flame Socks

Open Flame Socks
I love these colors together!

I started Springtime Bandit on Tuesday last week and after I finished the Open Flame socks, I picked it back up. I worked on it non-stop over the weekend. I had decided to change the needle size to a US 6 (pattern says US 8) because the yarn I chose wasn’t worsted weight and I thought it looked too loose on US 8’s, so I knew it would probably end up smaller. Since it was looking like I’d have yarn left over, I decided to add an extra repeat in the body chart to give it a little more length. Even with that, I have about a skein and 1/3 left! Probably could have added more repeats, but I think it ended up big enough, even pre-blocking.

Spingtime Bandit, pre-blocking
Springtime Bandit, pre-blocking

I’ll be washing and blocking this either tonight or tomorrow. Unstretched, it measures 37 inches across and 18 inches from the center top of the shawl to the center point. Pretty decent size without blocking! I used Tilli Thomas Pile for this, which is 100% silk. I’m anxious to see how much it grows with blocking. The Shetland Triangle I made with 100% silk ended up growing quite a bit, so I’m sure this will, too.

Now that some of my projects are off the needles and I’m working on mostly small things, I don’t find myself super excited about any of them. I think it’s post-big-project syndrome. I’ve finished Starlight (which still needs FO shots), which felt like the Epic Sweater That Would Never Be Done, so without any nagging project needing to be done, I feel rather blah about what I’m currently working on. I’ve gone back to the Sooper Seekrit Project for my TLE swap pal, which is gaining my interest again. Half thought about ripping out the Snapdragon Flip-Tops and iPhone Mitts, but I’d still like to finish them, so I haven’t yet. I think I just need some time to recover from finishing things before starting anything big again. I’ve already got my eye on a few sweater patterns, though I’d like to finish some of the smaller things I’m working on before casting on just yet!

Ever feel kinda blah about things you’re working on after finishing a big project? What helps you to get your knitting mojo/excitement back?

Posted in Completed Projects, Current Projects

Starlight is Done and Rhinebeck is Almost Here

Yesterday, I was able to put the final touches on my Starlight Sweater. No full pictures of it yet, but here’s a little teaser.

286/365: Buttons

Yesterday, after I got the buttons on, I tried it on only to find that the sleeves were about 5 inches too long. They came to the tips of my fingers. I was pretty devastated to find this out after all the work I’d put into it, just DAYS before Rhinebeck, but I managed to save it. I put it through the dryer, which shrank it about 2 inches in length. That brought the sleeves to my knuckles, which was still a little longer then I wanted. I though, “Oh, I can live with it.” As the night went on, I kept thinking about the sleeves and I knew I wouldn’t be happy with them, I needed to fix them. I carefully cut it where I wanted to re-knit the garter stitch edge from, picked up all the stitches and re-knit the edge. The sleeves come to about the base of my thumb now, a length I can definitely live with! Crisis averted. πŸ™‚

Since I finished this, I’ve started some new projects. The first thing I started was my TLE swap partner’s knit thing, but since it’s a seekrit, I don’t have any pictures I can post! Monday, I started the Snapdragon Flip-Tops. Today I finished the first part of the first one.

287/365: Snapdragon Flip-Tops
Snapdragon Flip-Tops, using Malabrigo Worsted in Sunset

I started Springtime Bandit with Tilli Thomas Plie (100% silk, plied) last night, but no pictures yet. I plan on starting the Featherweight Cardigan very soon, maybe tonight. I want to make sure I have enough interesting knitting to keep me busy during my trip since Laura figured I’d have at least 15 hours of travel time to knit. I’m undecided if I want to frog my iPhone mitts or not, so I might not bring them along with me, but as of now I plan on bringing my plain sock, colorwork socks, Springtime Bandit, Snapdragon Flip-Tops (which might be finished before I even land in DC), Featherweight Cardigan, and yarn/needles to cast on for Sunday Swing socks. Should be enough… right??

Alright… well, it’s time for me to get on out of here. Got some last minute errands to run (gotta get my “this chick is bionic” card from the doctor before flying tomorrow) and knitting tonight, then tomorrow it’s off to Rhinebeck! I’ll try to do some mini updates while I’m away since I can post to my blog from my iPhone now, but if I don’t get a chance to, I’ll do it when I get back Monday.

Have a great week everyone! See some of you Saturday! πŸ™‚

Posted in Current Projects


Last night I finished up the sleeves of Starlight!

281/365: Sleeves
Two completed sleeves.

I’m beyond excited that they are now done. I don’t know what I did, but somehow I was off by a few stitches at the end of the second sleeve. I ended up having to add in some extra decreases before binding off to make the two match. Ah well, you can’t really tell at all and they are the same length/shape, so I’m not worried about it. This weekend I’ll sew it all together, knit the button band, and find some buttons for it. Definitely feeling a lot better that I’m so close to being done, especially with Rhinebeck nearly here! πŸ™‚

I can’t wait to start some new projects! I’ve got one secret project that I need to start for my Loopy Ewe swap pal I want to start Waves of Grain, but I still need beads for that. I want to knit a pair Snapdragon Flip-Tops (Ravelry link) with the Malabrigo I have in “Sunset” (same color I knit the scarf in). I’ll probably start the secret project and the mittens this weekend. There’s other things in my queue, but these two projects are calling to me right now. Plus, I think some smaller projects are definitely in order after such a big project.

I’m looking forward to the long weekend since Columbus Day is Monday and I have the day off. This weekend we have no plans, other then lunch with some folks on Sunday. It’ll be a good weekend to get things together for Rhinebeck next week and just relax. Have a good weekend everyone! πŸ™‚

Posted in Current Projects, Life

Housewarming, Starlight, and New Yarn

Friday, we made the final big grocery store run before the housewarming party Saturday.

275/365: Fridge Full
Fridge Stuffed Full

Saturday morning, I had to do the final run to the grocery store for ice and when I returned, the first guests had arrived. It wasn’t long before we had a house full of people, though! In the end, we had a lot of food, a lot of company, and a good time. I think Rock Band was being played most of the party!

276/365: Housewarming Party
Rock Band: Matt and Jerry on vocals, Caitlin on bass, Andrew on Guitar, and Billy on drums

I haven’t had much interesting knitting going on. I’m still working on Starlight and have pretty much put everything else aside to work on it. I’ll be leaving for Rhinebeck in a week (wow, time flies!), so this takes priority over all other projects at the moment! I’m working on the second sleeve and I’m about 2/3 of the way through it. This weekend I’ll be sewing it up and blocking it. That reminds me… I still need buttons!

279/365: Still This Sweater
Starlight Sleeves

Since I don’t have that much knitting to show, how about I show you some lovely yarn that arrived recently? Laura gave me a Loopy Ewe gift certificate for my birthday (it was last Friday) and I purchased a skein of Sea Silk (150 g) in Sangria.

Sangria Sea Silk (150 g)
Hand Madien Sea Silk (150 g) in Sangria

I’ve already decided what I want to do with it, too. I’m going to make the Waves of Grain scarf. I still need to pick out beads for it, but I’m considering not doing beads at all or maybe contrasting beads instead of matching ones (maybe teal?).

First weekend in who knows how long that we have no plans! And it’s a three day weekend! Hoping to get some sewing done and finish the sweater up this weekend. Next week is a 2 day work week for me… then RHINEBECK!! πŸ™‚