Tuscan Pasta With Tomato-Basil Cream

As I grow older I become more focused on the quickest way to getting a tasty dinner on the table without going for greasy, cold, take out burgers.  It’s become even more important since I’ve gone back to work part-time and  I’m also picking Eric up from school three days a week.  I’m dealing with rush hour traffic on two freeways trying to get from southwest suburbs of Detroit to northeast suburbs and not walking through the door until 5:30 p.m. or 6:00 p.m.,  I don’t want to spend a lot of time hanging out over the stove.

Now that Walt is taking sandwiches to work instead of leftovers, I have eliminated the need to cook at least one day a week, sometimes two.  Another day or two we use the crock pot so dinner is ready as soon as I walk through the door.  We generally go out to dinner one day a week so that leaves me with 3-4 days that I actually have to plan meals that I prepare when I get home.  It’s not always easy to come up with meals that I can make quickly and still be tasty when reheated for Walt as he walks through the door a few hours later.

This recipe is quick, easy and tasty.  It started with a bag of ravioli, a jar of Alfredo sauce, a splash of wine, a little basil and parmesan.  What made it perfect?  The fresh chopped up tomatoes right out of our garden.  Try it….you’ll love it too!

Tuscan Pasta With Tomato Basil Cream


What You’ll Need:

1 (20-oz.) package refrigerated four-cheese ravioli*

1 (16-oz.) jar sun-dried tomato Alfredo sauce

2 tablespoons white wine

2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, chopped**

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Garnish: fresh basil strips


  • Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, pour Alfredo sauce into a medium saucepan.
  • Pour wine into sauce jar; cover tightly, and shake well.
  • Stir wine mixture into saucepan.
  • Stir in chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped basil, and cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  • Toss with pasta, and top evenly with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Garnish, if desired.

Source:  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tuscan-pasta-with-tomato-basil-cream-10000001646355/


Monday Shopping Extravaganza

Hope everyone had a great Monday and smooth transition into the work week.  I actually spent 4 hours shopping yesterday.  Yes, me, the person who dislikes shopping spent four hours doing it yesterday.  No, I have not been brainwashed, my body has not been taken over by aliens, I have not discovered a love of shopping.  It was purely a necessity, I had to get a printer and while I was out I figured I might as well pick up some material to make a Valentine Wreath, the books I want to read, plus a few craft items from Michaels.   Although the printer was my main focus, I knew it would be relatively easy to get the other errands done as well since all the stores were close.  So you see it was an event, an extravaganza, that I would spend four hours in and out of stores.  It helped that I was on a mission for a printer and because I’m not a fan of shopping it’s why I made the printer the last stop.

So I decided I would shop hopped.  Now that I’ve learned that I don’t have to pull back onto Hall Road to get to each store, with the exception of Best Buy, I have discovered that it’s easy to just hop from store to store to store.  So my day went…..JoAnne’s, Barnes & Nobles, Michael’s and of course down the road to Best Buy for a printer.

I spent the most time at Barnes & Noble (I love being around books) and then of course Best Buy looking at printers.  I found a printer and bought it.  Yeah me and it was on sale, the article I read was right, don’t buy computers and such before January 1st because the stores have great sales and promotions on these things to get their inventory down.  I’m glad I waited.  Now all we (yes WE, I bought it, the installing falls to Walt so it’s “WE,”) have to do is get rid of the old one and figure out how to configure this one.  I never realized how much we (I) used the printer until our’s quit working.

Walt moved the old printer this morning and discovered that ink had leaked out of the printer onto our beautiful cream-colored desk.  It was my hope that I could wipe it up gently so that it would not smear across the desk and I did accomplish that.  Unfortunately under the two ink puddles, probably no bigger than a dime and a quarter circle, I discovered that the ink had already started to eat away at the desk top so now I have two little circles.  I’m heartbroken but hopefully I can get it fixed.  The sad part is that I know that ink could not have been there that long, I am sick about the fact that I didn’t catch it earlier.  Perhaps Art Van can come out and repair it OR, I’ll pick up a light off white craft paint and try to fill it in the best I can.  Although the new printer is a little smaller I am hoping that when we place it on the desk it will cover that area.

Last night I made a new Ravioli recipe.  I almost hate to even include the link to Hunts Recipes because even though their Beefy Skillet Ravioli was the inspiration for me to create my version, my version is completely different from theirs.  But fair is fair, I did get the general idea from their recipe and the only reason why I did not follow their recipe is because of my spoiled husband.  Walt does not like canned or bottled spaghetti sauces, he can tell when it comes from a can or a jar.  A few weeks ago I attempted to use the Hunts “Garlic and Onion” spaghetti sauce in a recipe and picked up right away that it was not one of my home-made sauces.

So I’ll leave you with the link to the original inspiration for my Adapted version of the recipe on the Hunts website : http://www.hunts.com/recipes-Beefy-Skillet-Ravioli-3386 and I’ll post my version.

This was really delicious and it didn’t any more time than if I would have opened up the already prepared can of spaghetti sauce instead of mixing my own sauce.  Served with a Caesar Salad, this makes a quick to the table home cooked meal.


Cheese Ravioli


What You’ll Need:

1 lb.  Ground Round

1 15 oz Tomato Sauce

1  8 oz  Tomato Sauce

1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes (un-drained)

1 6 oz Tomato Paste

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp Basil

1 tsp Oregano

2 tsp dried garlic

16 oz bag frozen Ravioli


  • Brown ground beef – drain off fat
  • Return ground beef to pan
  • Add the tomato sauces, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar and spices….mix well
  • Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Meanwhile cook Ravioli according to package directions and drain
  • Add to pasta sauce – mix well
  • Serve with fresh shredded parmesan cheese

Cheese Ravioli

Source: N. Rezich

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Hello family, friends and fellow bloggers.  Hope everyone had a great weekend.

The beginning of the week here in Michigan is getting off to a hot and humid start….not complaining, I’ll take hot but maybe with  just a little less humidity.  I think today is going to be one of those days when I go outside just to check on my patio and porch planters and make sure the water in the water features has not evaporated and then stay inside where it’s cool.

Our garden is growing and doing well even with lack of rain.  Walt makes sure that everything gets watered regularly.  It’s nice to see that Joshua’s watermelon which got off to a slow start for some reason is now beginning to take off.  I just hope it produces something, our little guy has such high hopes.

Josh also planted corn which may turn out to be one of the few corn crops in Michigan this year.  He has about 24 stalks that have taken off and so long as we can keep the birds out of them hopefully this year he will be able to enjoy the rewards of his efforts.

I have mentioned in previous blogs that my dad grew up on a farm.  He has lots of stories about life on the farm, my favorites are the one about the haunted house and the other one is about a duck.  I’ll save those for another blog.

When I was a child, any time we traveled either up north to my grandparents cottage or even if it was a Sunday family drive to the country, my dad would always comment on the corn crops.  I grew up hearing “You know your corn is going to be ready if it’s knee-high by the fourth of July.”

It’s what I said to Walt the first time he tried to grow corn in our garden (until the squirles and birds helped themselves) and it stuck with him too.  So when Joshua asked how we would know if the corn was growing like it should Walt turned to him and said “Dzia Dzia says you’ll know your corn will be ready if it’s knee-high by the fourth of July.

Now anyone and everyone who knows Papa Walt knows that the man is never at a loss for words.  That was true until the day we were in the garden in the middle of June and Papa made that statement to Joshua.  Josh turned and looked at Papa, looked down at papa’s knee’s then his own and said “Who’s knee’s papa….mine or your’s?”

It was actually quite comically watching Papa search for the answer, it took him a moment for him to recover.  Of course he told Joshua it was his knees and we hoped that the corn would be at least that high by July 4th.  The weeks passed and every Saturday the boys would go out to check the progress of the corn.

A few days after the 4th of July when Joshua got back from his little get-away up north with Mio and Kaylee, the first thing he wanted to do was to check his corn.  He looked at me and said “Come on grandma, we’ve got to see if my corn is knee-high.”  So out the door he ran to the garden to check on his corn…..

Joshua’s Corn
Knee High By
The 4th Of July

Phew….knee high by the 4th of July.  Josh is so excited and checks his garden every time he is here.  We are all looking forward to enjoying his corn!

Everything in our garden’s (yes plural, we have two) are doing well, tomatoes, pepper plants, cucumbers and more.  I love having chives in garden, there is nothing better than going out and cutting them fresh from the garden for a recipe.

That’s what I did for today’s recipe which calls for fresh chives.  I was looking for a new sauce for ravioli, I wanted a white cream sauce, something quick and easy.  My search turned this one up on an internet search….it was on the Better Homes and Gardens website and it now joins the other two ravioli sauces as one of our favorites.

What I really like about this recipe is that it gives you options to choose from a variety of cheese and herbs.  My choices made a delicious sauce.  I used fresh parsley and chives, the cheese I picked was Asiago.

Creamy Vino Sauce

Creamy Vino Sauce

Makes: 6 servings
Serving size: 1/ cup sauce

Start to Finish: 20 mins

What You’ll Need

What You’ll Need

2   tablespoons finely chopped onion

2   cloves garlic, minced

2   tablespoons butter

1   tablespoon all-purpose flour

½  teaspoon salt

1/8  teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/4cups whipping cream

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup shredded or crumbled Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, Asiago, Gorgonzola, and/or provolone cheese

2 tablespoons snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or chives or 1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage, thyme, oregano, or rosemary

1 lb bag Ravioli


In a medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic in hot butter over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Onions and garlic

Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.

Add flour, salt and pepper

Add cream and wine all at once.

Add wine and cream at the same time

Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Cook and stir until thick and bubbly

Add cheese.

Add cheese – stir until blended


Cook and stir for 1 minute more.

Stir in chives and parsley.

Stir in chives and parsley
(Or your choices)


Serve over cooked ravioli


Ravioli WIth Creamy Vino Sauce




Walt and I have come up with our own pet name for our local meteorologists…..”Wrongerologist.”  The name says it all…..they are more often wrong than they are right.  Today they are calling for rain, turning to snow by 3:00 a.m. along with thunder and lightning.  The snow will continue increasing well into morning rush hour and piling up to 4-6 inches by 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night.

This from the same crew who just a few short weeks ago said we were going to get a “dusting” and it ended up snowing…..and snowing……and snowoing all day leaving about 5 inches by the time it was over.  I don’t know about anyone else but a “dusting” to me means that you can go out and brush it off with a broom, 5 inches requires a shovel and snowblower.

So….we will wait and see what happens this time.   As of right now the rain that was supposed to develop a few hours ago has not arrived.  Think I’ll just be surprised when I wake up in the morning.  However if it does snow, we are all set to hunker down for a few days without having to go anywhere for food, supplies or munchies!

Today was grocery shopping day, I have found that I don’t mind going as much now that I’ve started going several hours earlier in the day.  Unfortunately today everyone in town must be listening to the same “Wrongerologists” as we have been because everyone was at Meijer and Oakridge today.  It was packed, people were everywhere, on the right, on the left and stopped dead in the middle of the aisle and blocking freezer doors while they run to another aisle so they could get what they forgot when they were there.

The cutest sight was the little couple who looked to be about 90, they were comparing potato chips, name brands vs. Meijer brand.  It was so cute watching them with their heads together reading and trying to decide which one to get.  I have to say not an unkind or flippant word was spoken.  Neither one said “get whatever you want, I don’t care.”  Perhaps many years together has developed into teamwork.

Our teamwork comes in the form of cooking….I cook, Walt eats. So it’s nice when he walks through the door at the end of the day and asks “what’s for dinner?” and when I reply “an experiment” he doesn’t freak out or question what I’m doing, he trusts that I will make something that he will enjoy.  And if he doesn’t enjoy it I am confident that he will tell me ever so sweetly that I don’t have to make it again or that it’s ok if I don’t put it in the rotation.  So we have Teamwork……I cook, he eats.

Yesterday was an experiment.  It was Ash Wednesday, for we Catholics, it is the beginning of lent and a meat-less day so I had wanted to make a recipe I found for Cheese Ravioli in Sun Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce.  The problem was I couldn’t find a jar at the stores I shop in so I had to punt.  I picked up an Alfredo Sauce and had already had sun-dried tomatoes in the cupboard so I figured what the heck…….marry the two and it’s the same thing.

So that’s what I did and it came out great….don’t you just love when that happens?  As we were eating dinner we were trying to decide if we liked this one more than the spinach alfredo sauce I’ve been making which I posted on here last month.  We both agree, it’s a toss-up.  Both are delicious with two definite distinct tastes.

So here you go, my experiment that came out pretty well………This is just way to easy for something so tasty!!

Sorry no photo….WP is not being cooperative tonight.



1 pkg                         Frozen Cheese Ravioli

1 jar                           Alfredo Sauce

1 jar (7 oz)                Sun Dried Tomatoes in olive oil  – (I only used half a jar)

1/4 tsp.                     Basil

1 large                       Tomato – Chopped

                                    Grated Parmesan


  • Prepare Ravioli as directed on package
  • While Ravioli is cooking pour Alfredo Sauce in sauce pan
  • Chop half the jar of sun-dried tomatoes (you can use it all if you like) and add to sauce
  • Add Basil
  • Heat to bubbly and let simmer about 5 minutes
  • Meanwhile chop fresh tomato and add to sauce – simmer an additional 3-5 minutes
  • Remove from heat and mix with ravioli
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan
  • Serve with a salad or vegetable – DELICIOUS!