Birthdays, the lake, and some Shrimp Dip

I haven’t done much cooking in the past few days because I’ve been out of town. I went to Lake Michigan for Labor Day weekend (Pictures here). My stepdad’s birthday was on Friday, so I made him some shrimp dip before I left.

This dip happened the first time kind of by accident. I was trying to think of some dips that I could take to a family get together and didn’t feel like going out to the grocery store, so I looked around my kitchen and just started mixing.


  • 1/2 lb cooked and cleaned shrimp, tails off. (I bought mine already cooked and cleaned, because the vegetarian in me refused to clean them myself)
  • 1/2 a green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 bar of cream cheese, softened (about 6 oz)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
  • juice of half a lemon
  • dash of paprika (I don’t measure this, but it’s about 1/2 a tsp.)
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • olive oil to sautee with

Chop peppers, onions, and garlic. In the meantime, have some olive oil heating up in a sautee pan.

Sautee onions and peppers for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic. Don’t add the garlic first because it tends to burn up by the time the veggies are finished cooking. Continue cooking until veggies are soft.

Next, chop the shrimp. I chop it pretty small, but if you’d rather have larger chunks then go for it.

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and sour cream with the veggies and shrimp.

Next mix in the lemon juice, paprika and cayenne. If you like things spicy, add in some more cayenne or you can nix it all together.

Chill for about an hour, and serve with crackers or veggies.

Now, I can honestly say that I have no idea what this tastes like. My step dad, grandpa, and boyfriend all say it’s great…but if you have some suggestions, I’ll gladly take them!

Currently dancing to: “Bubbletoes,” Jack Johnson


Chunky Marinara Sauce

Every kitchen needs a basic, go-to, homemade marinara sauce. It’s cheaper, and has so much more flavor than jarred sauces. If you think you don’t have time to make a sauce from scratch, think again. Prep time is maybe 15 minutes, then you can leave it simmering and forget about it.  It’s also good to freeze and keep on hand for later.


  • Olive oil, to sautee with.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c red wine ( I used a cabernet)
  • 1 tsp each of dried oregano, basil, and parsley *
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 6 cups of crushed tomatoes ( I used fresh, you can use canned if you like)
  • 1 small can tomato sauce (approx. 1/2 c)

*If you’d rather use fresh herbs, double the amount and add towards the end of cooking. Since dried herbs hold their flavor longer, I tend to use half dried and then add half fresh later on.

Get some olive oil going in a soup pot. Make sure it’s nice and hot before adding the onions. Once the onions are in, reduce heat to medium and allow the onions to carmelize slowly.

Add in the garlic and herbs (if using dried herbs),  and cook for another 5 minutes.

Now the fun part! Wine! Add in the 1/2 c of wine to deglaze the pan, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Next add in the tomatoes and sauce. Let it boil for about a minute, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover, stirring occasionally for 1-2 hours. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes!

As the name of the recipe states, this marinara is chunky. If that doesn’t suit you, wait until it cools down and pop it into a blender or food processor until it’s smooth.

The great thing about this sauce is that it’s a great base. You can add whatever things  you like.

Carnivore? Toss in some sausage or ground beef with the onions. Vegetarian? Throw in some bell peppers or mushrooms.

Moms: This is a great way to hide veggies from the kiddos! They’ll never know they’re in there!

Serve up over pasta and top with cheese, or spread some on a hoagie roll and add some pepperoni or meatballs for a nice sub.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first recipe! More to come!

Currently dancing to: Norah Jones, “Shoot the Moon.”