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WARNING: This post contains pictures taken on a cameraphone. For those of you who require hi-res fancy pictures… sorrry! I should get a new camera for me and a cheap one for the Oldest Kidlet, who is quite the photographer- but rough on cameras.

I know, I’m the Queen of Make-It-From-Scratch. But you know… there are a few places that I take shortcuts. A few products out there that you can get quality goods without filling foods with preservatives.

I don’t use baking mixes anymore- making a cake from scratch really doesn’t take that much longer. Same with pancakes.

So where do I use my shortcuts? I used canned tomatoes almost exclusively, and keep a good jarred tomato sauce on hand. Nothing with HFCS as an ingredient- but something that’s essentially doing all the work I would have done if I was making it myself. I try to get something that’s as basic as it gets. Tomato with a little basil. And I always keep a jar of that on hand. That way, when I feel like having pasta, I can grab that and tweak the sauce the way I want to.

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Originally published at American Whitney. You can comment here or there.

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These were a last minute addition to my lineup. How last minute? I ran to the store the morning of the baby shower to buy a few ingredients.

Aside from my contributions, we had a lovely curry chicken salad made by the mother to be’s grandmother, fruit supplied by her mother, and two types of sandwiches made by the grandmother. However, she’d made them two days in advance! My mother-in-law and I were concerned that it was too soon and they might be soggy.

So I decided to make these- a double batch so that I could make 48 for the party no matter what, and another 48 if the sandwiches weren’t edible. Thanks to my mom, for emailing this the night before!

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Originally published at American Whitney. You can comment here or there.

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I am a fan of quick and easy meals from scratch. I think it’s genetic. My mom, the queen of Chopped style cuisine (“What can I make for dinner using a can of tomatoes, a can of black beans and some pasta?”), is as well. Okay, it probably isn’t genetic- but I know that since we were/are both stay at home moms, you run into situations where it’s suddenly lunchtime, you’re starving and don’t have the time to make something elaborate.

But it doesn’t mean you have to skimp on flavor. I’ve mastered the quick tomato sauce, which has a bit of a raw taste to it. While my pasta cooks, I heat a small skillet and saute some onions and garlic in olive oil. Then I throw in a can of drained crushed tomatoes and cook until it smells right- I usually just season with a bit of oregano, some fresh basil and salt and pepper.

This is my staple go-to sauce, but sometimes you just want something more luxurious. On my last shopping trip I’d bought more heavy cream (now a staple since I’ve started baking regularly) and some Parmesan Reggiano. So when yesterday rolled around (a beautiful overcast fall-like day in Southern California), I wanted something a little more luxurious.

So I made alfredo sauce, and discovered that it’s even easier than my tomato sauce and just as fast to make.


Heavy cream
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt & Pepper

You’ll note that I haven’t listed measurements. Mostly because I only made the sauce for myself, and not a family sized portion. But from the recipe I made, I can tell you this… for every 1/2 cup of cream, you’ll need an equal amount of parmesan. And 1 T of butter. So you can just expand as necessary.

While my pasta cooked, I put the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan, heating it over low heat. (This is the only thing you have to pay attention to – while you can heat it over a slightly higher heat, you don’t want the cream to boil. So low makes it fool-proof) When the butter’s melted, and they’ve thoroughly combined, pull off the heat.

Grate your parmesan cheese. (Or use the pre-grated stuff you can buy in tubs, but try not to use the stuff in plastic bags or in a can. They use stabilizers to make them shelf-friendly, which makes it not melt) When the pasta is nearly done, put the saucepan back on the burner. Add in the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Toss with your pasta, and enjoy! Honestly, it’s just that easy!

Note – this is for the Americanized version of alfredo. The true Italian alfredo sauce is basically butter and parmesan, tossed together over warm pasta. Equally easy, and just as good. :)

Originally published at Whitney Drake. You can comment here or there.


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July 2011

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