Sunday, July 31, 2011

At First Sight: Grilled tuna with crispy gluten free hush puppies

Wait! Don't let the "gluten free" part scare you away! They really and truly were amazing, and even the rest of my family, who usually turn their noses up at all my gluten free pastas and bread and such, really, really liked them. Trust me. But first, a little background:

At First Sight picks up Lexie and Jeremy's story where True Believer left off. (Here I'll reveal the ending of True Believer, because I can't really tell the rest of the story otherwise. If you REALLY don't want to know, then I suppose you can scroll down to where the recipes are...) Lexie and Jeremy have known each other for about a month, having met when Jeremy came to Lexie's home town of Boone Creek from New York to investigate some mysterious lights in a cemetery. (If you want a little more about True Believer, you can visit my earlier posts about it--here's the first one, and the second one, and the last one. Come on back here when you're done.) Anyway, Jeremy and Lexie have had a falling out of sorts, and Jeremy goes back to New York to get on with his life. He doesn't stay long, though, because one day Lexie's grandmother Doris suddenly shows up at Jeremy's apartment (she's flown to New York from North Carolina just to see him mind you) and announces that Lexie is planning to marry her friend Rodney the sheriff, and if Jeremy knows what's good for him he'll get his butt down there to stop them. Because Lexie doesn't love Rodney--she loves Jeremy, and Doris knows it. So Jeremy flies to Boone Creek, finds Lexie, and of course she doesn't marry Rodney. (Rodney's in love with someone else, anyway, so now everyone is happy.) The last thing Lexie says to Jeremy at the end of True Believer is, "It's a girl."

Well, now, that's a setup for a sequel if there ever was one. At First Sight follows Lexie and Jeremy through the nine months of her pregnancy (during which time they have a lovely wedding on the beach at Cape Hatteras), and as they are anticipating the birth of their daughter, they're just getting to know each other, too.

It was a little tricky deciding what to cook for this one, because there really isn't a scene where the guy and the girl cook together like in most of Nick's other books. There is one funny scene in a restaurant, though--the nicest one in town, actually--where Jeremy wants to order a porterhouse steak, and Lexie scolds him because that's fattening and too much meat and SHE'S getting chicken, and maybe he should get the broiled tuna. At first he is defiant and says he's ordering the steak, darn it, and she says, fine, go ahead, see if I care; in the end he ends up ordering the tuna.

I was browsing the Internet for a recipe for grilled tuna (Jeremy gets broiled tuna. Forget it. We're grilling.) and I found one on a cooking website with the perfect name: Spark Recipes. That must be destiny, I decided. Here it is:



1-1/2 lbs fresh Ahi Tuna (frozen/previously frozen is not the same)*
Juice from two limes (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
2 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro

*I used yellowfin (I think) instead of ahi, since that's what was available at our favorite fish market. I'm sure almost any type would be delicious.


Combine ingredients for marinade, put in plastic bag with fish. Marinate the tuna for 30-60 minutes. Remove from marinade and place on grill. Grill to desired doneness. We prefer medium rare and it is delicious. It is easy to overcook tuna. You can always cook it a little more. A thick steak should take no more than 8 minutes for medium rare.

1-1/2 lbs tuna usually serves 4. You eat a much smaller piece than you would a steak. Leftovers are good the next day on a sandwich or salad.

Number of Servings: 4

(Source: SparkRecipes)

(Dang, I forgot to take a photo of Joe grilling the steaks. Again.)


At Herb's Restaurant, not only does Doris make the best chicken pesto sandwich, she also makes lots and lots of hush puppies. I've already made hush puppies twice for this blog, (for A Walk to Remember and A Bend in the Road) and since I've started on my gluten free diet I've wanted to try making some hush puppies I could eat. Now I had the perfect excuse! Here's the one I decided to try:


1 1/2 cups cornmeal

1 cup rice flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3 teaspoons seasoning salt (I used Old Bay seasoning, and it worked great)

chives or green onion top (I skipped this)

1 medium onion

1 egg*

milk or water or apple juice, to make doughy (I used a combination of white wine and some chicken broth I had left over from the corn chowder.)


1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, break up any lumps.

2. Stir in onions, green onions, and chives.

3. Add egg and blend well.

4. Add liquid until batter is thick enough to form into balls, but not runny.

5. In a large skillet or deep fryer, heat 4" oil to 350°F or 180°C.

6. Form batter into 3/4" to 1" balls and drop into the hot oil (use two spoons to form them with).

7. Do not crowd. (Why is this a step all by itself? Seems obvious to me...)

8. Cook until dark golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes.

9. Drain on paper towels.


*Up until now when a gluten free recipe called for egg, I used egg. Since Moe is allergic to egg, I asked him if I made gluten free hush puppies, would he want to try them? He said yes, he would; so instead of egg I used 1 1/2 teaspoons Egg Replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons water.

I didn't tell Larry and Curly the hush puppies were gluten free at first. Larry came in and saw what I was making and said, "Yum! You're making hush puppies!" I had him and Curly both try one, and after they gave me their approval, I said, "Guess what?" That's when they realized what I had done, and they said, "Well, they're good!" We ate most of them, and the rest I put in the freezer for later. (I think I liked Paula Deen's just a teensy bit better, though; next time I'll see if I can figure out how to make HERS gluten free.)

With Bobby Flay's coleslaw (to see what else we were eating the first time I made it, click here), corn on the cob, and a nice thick slice of in-season tomato, it makes a perfect summer supper!

Up next, we'll have stuffed chicken, loaded with fat, salt, and cholesterol. I don't think Lexie would approve.

Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes, Volume 6

DISCLAIMER: If you get a sense of deja' vu right around Take Number Three, I apologize. A few of these takes are already on my other blog, Musings of a Catholic Mom. Since they're somewhat food- and/or book-related I decided to post them here too; sorry if some of this seems repetitive. And it's likely my next "7 Quick Takes" post here will have at least one repeat from Musings too. I'll try not to make that a habit.


On a recent weekend, we went camping in Shenandoah National Park (too see some highlights, click here). On Saturday night after returning from the town of Luray after attending Mass and eating dinner out, we built a fire and roasted dough boys for an after-dinner treat.

What are "dough boys," you ask? Just some Bisquick mixed with a little water, wrapped around a stick and cooked over a fire. (I like to call them "Biscuit-on-a-stick.")

Curly put some butter and kiwi jam on his. These would make a great camping breakfast, don't you think?


In my most recent post at Musings of a Catholic Mom, I talked about how I want to make my blogging more authentic (and on that one I want to be authentically Catholic; even here I like to bring my Catholic faith with me sometimes), and I want both my blogs to be reflections of who I really am, not glossed-over versions of myself and my family life.

Therefore, I'll tell you what REALLY happened when we made the dough boys. The kids were all excited because they had just made them the previous week at a nature camp they had attended. I dutifully poured some Bisquick into a bowl (even though I really didn't want to bother with making them--it was late and I just wanted to relax by the fire with my Hornsby's Hard Cider), mixed it up with some water, and let the boys have at it. Well, Moe was very upset because the dough was sticky, and when he tried to put it on his stick, it got all over his hands and made a big mess. "OK," I said, "Why don't I just put a little more Bisquick in it and make it less sticky?" (Remember, I'd never done this before.) He kept complaining that I wasn't doing it right. Even when Curly showed him how to knead the dough to make it smooth and easier to handle, he was having none of it. I finally asked him to show me what I needed to do, and he said he didn't know because Ms. L, the camp leader, had been the one who made the dough and given it to the kids. He whined so much that Joe and I almost banished him to the tent for the rest of the evening unless he pulled himself together. Thank goodness he eventually did.

And you thought there was no drama in my family.


This week Moe is visiting Joe's parents. We've had a tradition these last several years that each summer, one of the boys gets to spend a week with them. It's a great way for them to bond with their grandparents, and the boys always look forward to when it will be "their turn." For about two days before Moe left, I kept finding myself on the verge of tears thinking about how much I would miss him. He's having a great time with his grandparents, of course, and even with only one of the boys gone the house seems quiet. He calls us every night and tells us about his day, and I know I won't sleep well unless I get a chance to say good night to him. I'm feeling a little guilty, though, because yesterday when I made my homemade hamburger buns (I've posted the recipe here and here), I realized I could use a REAL EGG and REAL MILK since there wasn't anyone in the house allergic to them. We excitedly went to Chick Fil-A for lunch; a place we usually avoid because they fry their stuff in peanut oil. And the other day at Costco I grabbed a bag of tortilla chips--not our usual brand, but one we like better but never get because they're cooked in (you guessed it) peanut oil.

He's coming home Saturday, and I can't wait. Having everyone home is much better than getting to eat at Chick Fil-A.

(Oh, and I also bought Honey Nut Chex, too. I realize now that I haven't missed much.)


Speaking of cereal, check out what I found in Target not long ago:

I remember growing up, seeing that on the grocery shelf every time I would go with my mother, and she would never buy it. It was always Raisin Bran and Grape Nuts and Special K in our house. I would be extremely jealous when I would visit friends and notice that THEIR mothers let them have it.

Of course I got some and you know what? It tastes like Captain Crunch. Which my mother would never buy either, but when I got to college it became a staple food.


I finished Stieg Larsson's Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy, and I'm glad I did (a couple of times the graphic sex and violence almost made me quit reading. Almost.) I've decided that the main character, a troubled young woman named Lisbeth who has multiple piercings and tattoos and doesn't relate to people very well, is a female version of Jack Bauer. On second thought, she is a combination of Jack and his computer-savvy friend Chloe, without whom Jack would never have survived many of his run-ins with the bad guys. Not only does Lisbeth habitually hack into other people's computers, but she manages to survive a number of brutal attacks--including (SPOILER ALERT) being shot in the head point blank and then buried alive. My favorite part of this series? When Lisbeth (ANOTHER SPOILER) is about to be murdered by a monstrous villain who feels no pain, and she grabs a nail gun and shoots nails into the guy's feet, pinning them to the floor. Brilliant!


Now I'm reading two books at once: one e-book and one I checked out from the library. My current e-book is C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters. I've read almost half of it now. It's definitely not what I expected--instead of reading like a novel, it's a series of letters written by a demon (Screwtape) to his nephew Wormwood, offering advice on how best to turn a good man away from God and to the Dark Side. Very eye-opening. Screwtape could easily be talking about me.

I'm also reading Long Way Down: An Epic Journey By Motorcycle From Scotland to South Africa, by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. (Yes, I mean THAT Ewan McGregor, as in Obi-Wan Kenobi.) In 2007 ( I think) Ewan and his best friend Charley took off from northern Scotland on motorcycles, along with a team of support people--cameramen, a doctor, producers, fixers--and rode all the way to Cape Town, South Africa for a TV series called Long Way Down and to do some charity work for UNICEF. (In 2004 they rode around the world for their TV series Long Way Round; there is a companion book for that one too. For more about Ewan and Charley's adventures, click here.) Anyway, Joe and I had watched the Long Way Down series on DVD, and I'm enjoying reading Ewan and Charley's accounts of the trip in their own words.

By the way, did I ever tell you I'm a biker chick wannabe? Someday I want to climb on the back of a Harley (straddling my husband!) and ride across the USA. Joe doesn't share that dream. *sigh* Maybe when they make Long Way Up Ewan and Charley will pass through my town. That would be the next best thing.


The other day on my Facebook news feed, I found a fun post from Nicholas Sparks' Facebook fan page: a link to a website,, and a three-minute video of Nick talking about his novel, A Bend In the Road. I did a little searching and discovered that Nick recorded little tidbits there about all of his books from The Notebook to At First Sight. I spent entirely too much time online last night, a good-sized chunk of which was watching these videos. Click the book titles to see them!

The Notebook

Message in a Bottle

A Walk to Remember

The Rescue

A Bend in the Road

Nights in Rodanthe

The Guardian

The Wedding

Three Weeks With My Brother

True Believer

At First Sight

In my next post, I'll share some delicious grilled tuna that was inspired by At First Sight. I'm having to bend my own rules a little bit for that one; the only time anyone cooks (besides grilling steaks and hot dogs, which I think happens in every one of Nick's books) is in the epilogue. I don't think I can do that one in context without revealing the ending. I'll figure something out.

Check out my other blog, Musings of a Catholic Mom, for another Quick Takes Post (as I mentioned, some of it is repetitive, but most of it is not), and for even more, be sure to visit Conversion Diary, the official "7 Quick Takes" hub!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bonus! An amazing corn chowder

As I promised in my last post, today I'm sharing the corn chowder I put together on the Fourth of July, with help from my sister-in-law (aka "Aunt J"). Even though it has nothing to do with any Nicholas Sparks books, this was so delicious I decided it would be criminal not to share it.

I've had this cookbook for about two years,

and I've never tried any of the recipes until now. I was looking through the index for a recipe for cheese potatoes, and when I saw "Corn chowder with applewood smoked bacon" I knew I had to try it. I've been getting applewood bacon from my local butcher lately, and now it's the only bacon I'll buy. With corn in season now, what better time to make some delicious corn chowder? Even though Joe told me he didn't really like corn chowder, I said I was going to make it anyway and if he didn't want to eat it, there would be more for the rest of us!


Yield: 4 servings

1 poblano chile

4 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

3 1/2 cups white or yellow corn kernels (about 4 ears) or 16 ounces frozen corn

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup milk

1/2 pound new potatoes, diced

Salt and pepper

Char the chile over a gas flame or under a broiler until it is blackened and charred on all sides. Transfer the chile to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to steam while cooling. Peel, seed, stem, and dice the chile. (Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Cook the bacon in a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat until it is almost crisp and the fat is renedred, about 7 minutes. Pour off some of the fat (leaving about 1 tablespoon) and add the onion. Cover and cook until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and then the corn. Add the broth, milk, and potatoes, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the poblano chile and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

(From Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden by Jeanne Kelley, p. 62)

I love my Pampered Chef corn cutting thingy!

The best part--the bacon!

One of Aunt J's tasks as Sous Chef was dicing the potatoes and onions.

Aunt J. is a big fan of The Pioneer woman. She likes the way Ree posts step-by-step photos with all her recipes. I'm not as consistent about that; Ree is a professional, after all.

Delicious! We gave Moe a teensy bit; he made me promise to make it with rice milk next time.

"You know how I said I don't like corn chowder?" says Joe. "Well, I like THIS corn chowder." He said the same thing about the beef stew, too.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Rescue: Cheesy Potatoes and Ice Cream with a Side of Steak

On the Fourth of July my brother and sister-in-law spent the day with us. I had one more meal I was saving from The Rescue, and decided that Independence Day would be a perfect time for steak and ice cream.

Taylor's best friend is Mitch, a fellow firefighter. (For more about Taylor and Denise, click here.) Mitch and his wife Melissa invite Taylor and Denise to their home for a grilled steak dinner with cheddar cheese potatoes and salad.

I had a thick London Broil I had picked up at the farmers' market; so thick, in fact, that I decided to cut it into individual chunks for grilling. I sprinkled them with some of this seasoning that Joe had received as a gift from a former co-worker;

and since it was raining, Joe and Bro were in charge of the grill. We womenfolk stayed inside and made the corn chowder (I'll get back to that one).

But it's not about the steak. It's really the potatoes and the ice cream.

I decided to break out a couple of cookbooks that I've had on my shelf for about two years collecting dust, and in here

I found this delicious-looking recipe for cheddar cheese potatoes.


2 pounds potatoes

1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of chicken soup

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

6 tablespoons margarine, melted

1 small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)

1/2 cup dry herb-seasoned stuffing mix*

Cook potatoes in boiling water for 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and cool. Peel and cut into 1/4-inch slices; set aside. Lightly butter a 13x9x2-inch baking dish; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine soup, sour cream, and 3 tablespoons melted margarine. Stir in onion, salt, and pepper. Gently stir in potatoes and cheese. spoon into pre-prepared dish. (If desired, casserole may be prepared to this point and held in the refrigerator util time to bake.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine remaining 3 tablespoons melted margarine with stuffing mix. Sprinkle over potato mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

(From The Best of Virginia Farms, Cookbook & Tour Book by CiCi Williamson, p. 107)

This looks good enough to eat right now! I used white cheddar; hence the light color.

*I took some scraps of gluten-free bread from my freezer that I had been saving for such a time as this (the other such time was when I made a FABULOUS gluten-free bread pudding--oh my, I'll need to share that one with you too), toasted them up a little bit, and ground them in the food processor for the topping. The only thing I would do differently next time would be not to toast them--it made the topping a little bit too crunchy for most of our tastes. Otherwise, the potato casserole was a HUGE hit!!

A real meat-and-potatoes meal.

I'm still waiting for Aunt J. to give me her pasta salad recipe... *smile*


Growing, up we had a tradition of the Fourth of July to make ice cream. My dad would break out the hand-cranked ice cream freezer and the rock salt, and my mom would bring home a bag of ice ('cuz our little ice trays in our freezer couldn't possibly supply as much as we would need) and mix up a batch of the sweet stuff, and my brother and I would take turns sitting on top of the ice cream freezer under a tree in our backyard while my dad cranked. It seemed to take forever. I can remember sticking my finger through the hole in the side of the bucket and touching the barrel as it turned. (Then I'd lick the salt off my fingers, of course!)

In The Rescue, Denise comes home one day to find Taylor sitting in the yard with a hand-crank ice cream maker, whipping up a frozen treat for her and her son Kyle. I just knew homemade ice cream would be in our future! We have (well, had) an electric one in our garage, and when I got it out I realized that the mixing paddle was so old and brittle that little pieces were breaking off the edge of it as the bucket turned. We would have little pieces of plastic all through the ice cream if I'd decided to use it--not good. I took a trip to Bed, Bath, & Beyond and found this one.

And guess what? It only takes 20 minutes. We made vanilla ice cream using the recipe from the owner's manual:

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

Makes about 5 cups

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup granulated sugar

pinch salt

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar, and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

2. Turn the Cuisinart ice cream maker on; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

I know my new ice cream machine will be used a lot. The very next weekend we made the chocolate:

Simple Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes about 5 cups

3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

pinch salt

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugars, and salt. Add the milk, and using a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk, beat to combine until the cocoa, sugars, and salt are dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.

(Repeat Step 2 of vanilla ice cream recipe)

Next on the agenda? Peppermint and peach.

Oh, and about that corn chowder?

That's a whole post in itself. It's to die for.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer as much as we are!

Coming up: It's on to At First Sight, with grilled tuna and gluten free hush puppies. Right after the corn chowder.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

True Believer: Lexie's Easy Lighthouse Linguine

Lexie needs some time alone. She's recently met Jeremy, a hotshot journalist, and she's found herself falling in love with him. Lexie has been in love before, and she's sure that if she gets involved with Jeremy, she'll end up getting hurt, just like she has before. Besides, Jeremy is going home to New York soon, and if she runs away to her beach house in Hatteras, she won't have to say goodbye to him. (Read more about Jeremy and Lexie here and here.)

Meanwhile Jeremy is perplexed by Lexie's sudden disappearance from Boone Creek. He has found himself in love as well, and is determined to let Lexie know his feelings for her. He knows he is leaving soon, and he doesn't want to return to New York without seeing her one more time. When he tracks her down to her beach house, Lexie decides--after getting over the initial shock of having him suddenly appear on the beach out of nowhere--to cook him pasta with her favorite sauce.

Lexie takes out two big cans of San Marzano tomatoes, a couple of onions, a stick of butter, and a great big pot to cook it all in. She pours the tomatoes into the pot, throws in the butter, and instructs Jeremy to cut the onions in half and add them to the sauce.

As she washed her hands, Jeremy peeked into the saucepan, frowning. "That's it? No garlic? No salt and pepper? No sausage? No meatballs?"

(This is exactly what my own half-Italian husband said when I told him what I'd be cooking. His mother is Italian, and she makes the best sauce ever. Complete with sausage and meatballs.)

She shook her head. "Three ingredients only. Of course, we'll pour it over linguine and top it with some fresh-grated Parmesan cheese."

"That isn't very Italian."

"Actually, it is. It's the way they've made it in San Marzano for hundreds of years. That's in Italy, by the way." (True Believer, p. 225)

Well, I don't know whether or not it's really a centuries-old Italian tradition, but Joe and I were both skeptical. "I'm sure it won't be as good as your mom's," I said, "but I'm making it anyway."

My first task was to find out what San Marzano tomatoes are. At first I thought it was a brand name, but I soon learned that it's a specific type of tomato that's grown in a certain part of Italy, and that you can find them in just about any grocery store. Almost all of the San Marzano tomatoes I was able to find were packed whole in the can, rather than pureed or crushed. I wondered whether or not Lexie's tomatoes were whole, and if they were, shouldn't she at least chop them first? I had almost decided to send Nick a message or a tweet or something, to ask him this very question ( there would be any chance of getting an answer! Dumb idea). In the end I opted to put the whole tomatoes in the food processor and chop them a little bit before putting them into the pot. (I do this when I make chili, after all--and I'm sure this is because my chili recipe originally came from the owner's manual from my food processor, and of course it's going to tell me to get whole tomatoes and use their machine to chop them up. I'll share that recipe with you here sometime; it's one of our favorites.)

I didn't know how big Lexie's cans of tomatoes were, so I decided to use three. I found out later this was too many--more about that in a minute.

The butter is beginning to melt...

Whoops, I dripped a little tomato sauce on my book!

I mixed a little bit of the sauce with the linguine to give it some color because it's what my Italian mother-in-law does.

Okay. Now to admit my mistake. As I'm working on this blog post, I've decided to do a Google search to find out if this is REALLY how they cook their sauce in San Marzano. Well, I didn't find out the answer, but guess what I found right away? This, from Deb in New York. It's a recipe for sauce, made EXACTLY like Lexie's. As far as I know, Deb didn't get the idea from True Believer or any other Nicholas Sparks book. I realize now that I should have done this BEFORE making the sauce (slaps forehead) because guess what? You DON'T have to put the tomatoes through the food processor; you just put them whole in the pot and they'll break down while they're cooking (although frankly I don't think it matters all that much whether you process them or not). I would also have known (slaps forehead again) to only use TWO cans, not three, because according to Deb's recipe from Smitten Kitchen, for every 28-ounce can, you should use half a stick of butter and one onion. Now I want a do-over; next time I'll know what to do, at least.

Lexie fixes a simple salad of lettuce, tomato, and olives, and whips up a dressing with olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper.

A little extra sauce to pour over the pasta...

A little Chianti...

...and some fresh parmesan and basil on top. I had the gluten-free rice fetuccini.

Lexie tells Jeremy the sauce would be done in an hour and a half, and that's about how long I cooked mine. It was good, better than jarred sauce, that's for sure, and it's definitely one to make again because it's so easy. (I made a mental note to make this on a Friday next year during Lent.) Even though Jeremy thinks it's the best he's ever tasted--even better than his Italian mother's--I will say that we still like my Italian mother-in-law's more than this one; although if I'd had the proper tomato-onion-butter ratio I might have a better comparison. Her sauce is a lot more work (even more than the one I made last fall), and worth the effort if you have the time. I know I've been promising to share it with you for months; I haven't forgotten. Soon, I hope.

Maybe when I make a sauce like Deb's, it WILL be better than my mother-in-law's.

Next Up: We'll visit The Rescue one more time with a rain-or-shine summer cookout.