Spaghetti with Tomato and Garlic

As I was flipping through an Allrecipes magazine (which is amazing by the way), I encountered a meal that had been saved 13, 812 times on the website. Well, for good reason! This dish is so versatile, you can substitute different types of diced tomatoes, herbs, greens, and meats. The original recipe can be found here. I made this dish twice: first without meat and using the original recipe calling for 2 cans of diced tomatoes, and the second time with shredded chicken (leftovers from last night’s tacos) and one can of diced tomatoes. I didn’t have fresh basil the second time around, so I just used dried oregano and basil flakes. The second time I also used thin spaghetti instead of angel hair, and I liked it better. I also added fresh spinach to the sauce while simmering. This is a dish I will continue to make for an easy weeknight meal!


  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta (or thin spaghetti)–about half a box
  • 4 T olive oil (I used about 2)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed–I used about 2
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes–I used Del Monte, plain; you can also use one can only for less sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar (optional ingredient, but I added it!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil–If you don’t have fresh basil, sprinkle in some dried basil and dried oregano flakes)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil over high heat and add the pasta, cooking until al dente. For angel hair pasta, cook about 4 minutes and drain. For thin spaghetti, cook about 8-9 minutes.
  2. While your pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil (2 T) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute about 30 minutes, until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste, sugar, salt, and pepper. This is also a good time to add in the dried basil and oregano if you are using. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 2 minutes. Add fresh basil if you are using. You can also add fresh spinach here.
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the tomato sauce in the pan and stir. Top with grated Parmesan.

A reader from Allrecipes suggested you add mushrooms or zucchinis too.


Here it is without the chicken using angel hair pasta and two cans of diced tomatoes:


This is the dish with chicken and spinach using thin spaghetti and one can of diced tomatoes:


Parmesan Pasta with Olive Oil and Garlic

This is a very easy dish for a weeknight:


  • 1/2 box angel hair pasta (4 servings)
  • 3 T grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Parsley flakes


Boil a pot of water and add salt. Cook the pasta according to the package directions (4-5 minutes).

In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil to medium heat and add the garlic, red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and parsley flakes. Saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant and remove from heat.

Drain the pasta and toss with the olive oil mixture. You may also reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and toss it in too. Sprinkle pasta with grated Parmesan cheese!

Chimichurri Sauce

This chimichurri sauce goes great with skirt steak!


  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T fresh oregano leaves, chopped (You can use 2 tsp dried oregano)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red (or white) wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well!

How to prepare skirt steak in a cast iron skillet:

Pour olive oil in the cast iron skillet and heat to medium-high. Marinate the steaks with salt, pepper, parsley flakes, and Worcestershire sauce. Place the steaks in the skillet and turn once, cooking 4-5 minutes per side or until it is cooked enough.

Chocolate Chip Cookie for One

Cookies have been on my mind for a while now. My stand mixer was boxed up for about a month during the transition period of moving and finding everything in boxes. I Pinned this recipe from Cooking Classy a while ago. It’s fantastic and does not require a mixer.

Here is how I tweaked it.


  • 2 T softened butter (salted) — I used Kerrygold Irish butter
  • 3 T light brown sugar
  • 1 T whisked egg — Crack one egg open, whisk it, and scoop out 1 T of the mixture
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla — I used white vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup flour — I used organic white flour
  • 3 T chocolate chips — I used Nestle large chocolate chunks


  1. Combine the softened butter, sugar, egg, baking soda, vanilla, and flour. Stir with a spoon until mixed well.
  2.  Add the chocolate chips and form into a 3.5 inch disk on a baking sheet. Press more chocolate chips onto the cookie if you want.
  3. Bake at 350F for 12-14 minutes. I baked mine for 14 minutes, and it came out perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside!

Processed with Snapseed.

Guava Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Guava…one of the most fabulous fruits you can find in sunny south Florida. I am very excited that we will soon be moving back to our home state. Hopefully I will see guava more often in central Florida than I see it up here.

For this recipe, I used a Duncan Hines cake mix and simply used guava marmalade (Ancel) instead of the 1 cup water called for in the recipe. I had a little bit of marmalade left over, so I added more to half of my cream cheese frosting. I found this cream cheese frosting recipe on Allrecipes. This was my first time making cream cheese frosting, and I had a blast. I was impressed with how well the gel food coloring blended into the frosting! I’ve always had trouble blending color into buttercream frosting. Although I prefer the taste of buttercream, I think I’ll be using this recipe a lot more. This is the cake mix and marmalade:


For the cupcakes:


  • 1 box Duncan Hines Classic Yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs (as called for in the Duncan Hines box)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (as called for in the Duncan Hines box)
  • 1 cup guava marmalade (to replace the 1 cup water)


  1. Beat all ingredients together using a stand mixer on low until incorporated, 30 seconds.
  2. Beat on medium high for another 2 minutes. The batter will be thick and frothy.
  3. For mini cupcakes, bake at the temperature suggested on the box (I think it was 325F), for 13 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. For regular cupcakes, bake at the temperature suggested for 20-22 minutes.
  5. Let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

Yield: About 36 mini cupcakes and 12 regular cupcakes.

For the frosting:


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened (I left the Philadelphia cream cheese out about 2 hours)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Beat butter and cream cheese on medium high until blended, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the sugar and vanilla, beating on low until incorporated.
  3. Beat another minute or two on medium high until light and whipped.

If you wish, you can add 1-2 T of guava marmalade to make the frosting even tangier and sweeter. The cupcake batter is quite sweet (you could eat it as a Bundt cake alone) so you may want to skip this step. But if you really want to incorporate as much guava flavor as possible into your cupcakes, add the marmalade to the frosting. If the frosting isn’t pink enough, add a bit of red food coloring. The gel coloring blended perfectly in.





Nectarine-Basil Salad

Nectarines, peaches, apricots…use whatever you like in here. I was already making BBQ chicken with nectarine-basil couscous, so I added a side salad!


  • 1 small head of Boston lettuce, washed, dried, and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 nectarine, cut into chunks
  • 2 T chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into small chunks
  • 3 radishes, cut into thin coins
  • 1/4 cucumber, cut into thin coins
  • 2 T slivered almonds
  • 2 T chopped sweet onion


Combine all ingredients in a salad bowl. Serve with your favorite light summery dressing. I used an avocado-cilantro one.


BBQ Chicken Legs with Nectarine-Basil Couscous

I paired this meal with my Nectarine Basil Salad, and the flavors worked well together. The chicken had a great BBQ taste and was very juicy. The couscous recipe was featured in Cooking Light.

As a side note, I’ve been looking for ways to improve this blog. I’m experimenting with photo filters to tackle this photography issue, so we’ll see.

My friend Tiffany of Cherrise’s Jewelry also suggested I list my recipe steps instead of writing them in paragraph form. I can’t believe I never tried doing that before! It simplifies the cooking process, especially when you’ve got one hand stirring a pot and another testing the meat temperature with your thermometer–all you have to do is glance at the next number. See below for the exciting new changes!

For the chicken:


  • 1/4-1/3 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 5 chicken legs, skin on, rinsed and dried
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  2. Grab a rimmed baking sheet and line it with two pieces of aluminum foil. The lower layer helps the sheet stay clean and after you’re done baking you can just peel the top layer off and discard.
  3. Spray the top foil sheet with Pam.
  4. Sprinkle the chicken legs with salt and pepper and toss with the BBQ sauce.
  5. Place the chicken legs on the baking sheet. Cover with a third layer of aluminum foil, creating a tent.
  6. Bake the chicken at 400F for 30 minutes. Remove when done. Test the temperature using a meat thermometer. If it’s at 160F, you’re ready to eat!

For the couscous:


  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 medium nectarine, cut into small chunks
  • 2 T orange juice (I ran out, so I used chicken broth instead)
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Add the couscous and stir. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, covered, 8 minutes, or until water is absorbed.
  3. Uncover and add the chopped basil, nectarine, onion, salt, and orange juice (or broth).

Stir and enjoy!