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Single Girl Cooking & French Cookbook Winner!


HomeMade Pasta Sauce

Fun, fun news.. my awesome web developer Joey has created an internet TV channel for me! He totally surprised me with it today. I then noticed he made a few changes to the look of FE TV, over there on the right . I invite you to take a lookey over there and tell me what you think about the Plantain demo…all others can be seen on the channel by subscribing to the podcast through one of the feeds, either via iTunes or preferably, Miro.

An unapologetic disclaimer: why the hell does it look like I gained 10 lbs? I’m not even playing! I was so disturbed by the unforgiving camera, I almost didn’t put the vid up. Any of them for that matter. In comparison to my real life body, I swear I look like a caramel fudge ball! Edible, but damn! Do you see what I see? I hired a trainer yesterday as a result. He kicked my ass in the first session and told me I need to lose 6 pounds. So here I am, praying for strength to stay away from green tea ice cream and sushi for 6 weeks.

On to real issues.

I hate cooking for myself. You’ll find me at Chipotle quite a bit every week. They now know me by last name. That sounds crazy, right? I mean how does a PC with a catering company end up at some McDonald’s owned enterprise?

Well the truth is that it’s quicker to go out sometimes. And considering my tight schedule, cooking for mi misma becomes some what of a chore. I so hate to admit that. It’s inexcusable, really. But I’ve analyzed the situation and decided the only way to curb that hate is one of the following:

1. find a boy toy tomorrow so I can start cooking for the guy in exchange for a Fendi bag or those new Rayban’s, or what ever tickles my girl fancy (once a month); opening a new gift every so often will surely inspire me to chop like a fool at home.


2. to hell for cooking for some undeserving man and just make really fast and simple food–FOR ONE.

Pressure cooked beans, skewering pork chops, pulling flank steak, 24 hour marinades, all day chilling for Grand Marnier flan? Save that for paying clients and family get-togethers.

A few weeks ago, I was faced with being really hungry, but incredibly lazy to get dressed to find some food. Even Chipotle wasn’t fast enough. So I looked at my fully stocked fridge and made the unthinkable (well, to me): Espageti, as my mom would say.


I don’t really get into pasta like I used to. It’s been about 4 years since I’ve really indulged in noodlemania. Why? My aunt and I took my father out to this really nice Italian resto in DC for his b-day. I was so eager to eat the butternut squash ravioli. The ambiance was sexy, even for lunch with papi and the food had been generally excellent up until then.

I licked every bit of sauce off my plate it was so good.

I wake up the following day with excruciating abdominal pain and debilitating headaches that lasted an entire week.” Dr. did you just say food poisoning! What the hell?” Ooh I was so livid. I called the restaurant in a mad fury and complained. “Sorry ma’am but our food has never made any one sick. We’re sorry, but there’s nothing we can do”.


That was the last time I ordered pasta at a restaurant.

So back to my at home cooking dilemma. I hate jarred marinara and like even less having to spend time doctoring it up. This leaves me with no choice than to make my own.

I like getting my hands dirty in the cocina, especially when I have loads of time and lots of hungry people to feed. However, whipping out the KitchenAid to make my own, is yet again too much work for just myself. I rely on Barilla (wheat) brand for that.

But the sauce. I love making my own marinara. Nothing fancy or gourmet. I just feel cool when a great and savory marinara is ultimately rendered and deliciously coats the starch. This one is a quickie of sorts. Fast, good and straight to the point! If you’re cooking for self but don’t want to sacrifice a healthy choice and utter goodness, I offer you this. It’s very meaty with the mushrooms, has great aroma with the basil (I love love love fresh basil), and has kick with the cayenne but counterbalanced with the sugar! I made two batches: one with a can of already seasoned diced tomatoes and one without. Both were damn good!

Maybe for just 20 minutes, you’ll feel my joy in being single!



  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled & chopped
  • 1-8 oz. can of plain or Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, optional as a filler
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 c. fresh mushrooms, diced
  • 1/4 c. green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 c. red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green and purple basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. fresh oregano or marjoram, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. black or cayenne pepper
  • salt to your taste


In large skillet, heat olive oil and add tomatoes. Cook on medium-high for 8 minutes or until tomatoes have cooked down. Add can of seasoned diced tomatoes (optional). Mix in vinegar. Add onions, garlic, all peppers, cumin, oregano, sugar and pepper and stir. Cover and let cook for 6-8 minutes. Add basil and let uncovered for another 5 minutes. Dazzle with a bit more olive oil if desired.

Serves YOU!

And finally, I owe one of you a cookbook, don’t I? I was supposed to have done this last week but I got tied up with party business. So, for those of you that tuned in and left comments on the respective post, here is the grand winner of the Culinary Institute of America’s newest cookbook:

Amy of We Are Never Full was selected by a cool random number generator I used in Google! Congrats to Amy, one of my first loyal readers! Thanks girl!


Plaintains & Tostones

We Eat Great American Food Too

Garlic Hummus Heals

Dinner Party Creativity: Mint Chocolate Ganash

Pressure Cooking: Carne Con Papa

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Don't forget to check out my debut cookbook!

1,379 thoughts on “Single Girl Cooking & French Cookbook Winner!

  1. A tasty caramel fudge ball!!! 😛 I agree with Donald, nothing is better than homemade marinara.

    Congrats Amy!

  2. Hey Bren,

    Great site, great video. You look fabulous. I’m a video blogger myself, I do cooking demos, wine, etc. EVERY time I do I video I say to myself, no way I’m posting that I look insane. But I do it anyway. And I’m a lot older, and shall we say, fuller than you. You’ve got great cooking chops, you’re a natural in front of the camera, and you can write. Keep it up, sister. Best, Heather

    P.S. White is a hard color for the camera, so don’t be so hard on yourself. Also, my family is from Jamaica and we love plantain too.

  3. Hey, don’t be knockin caramel fudge balls. Mushroom marinara, I must try! Only a few years ago did I start making tomato sauce (a quick recipe I learned from my mother) instead of bottled sauce. I must say though, my mom made meatballs while I was home and didn’t want to “waste” her homemade sauce for the huge batch she was making. Instead, she used Ragu sauce with some added ingredients to cook the meatballs in. I don’t know what she put in it, some kind of magical fairy dust, but it was out of this world. My dad and I were laughing it was so good, we couldn’t believe it! My mom kept saying it was just Ragu with some added spices but it was something much more than that. Hard to describe, I’ll have to get the exact recipe, because I daresay it may have been one of the best pasta sauces I’ve ever had. Anywho, that’s the end of my sauce rant.

  4. Bren,I haven’t been able to get some of your posts up for the past few days. The screen is either blank, or the title of the article is there with nothing else. Just wanted to let you know.

    This sauce looks wonderful. There’s few things I like more than fresh tomato sauce, especially with mushrooms.

  5. Chica! You do not look like a caramel bar *whap* seriously!

    Now – cooking for one – I hear ya, but it makes cooking fun when you have to really realize that you are taking care of yourself with something fast, simple and delish. Treat yourself like you treat your clients.

  6. Hey Girl, you are so right, cooking for one is not fun but then again as you have proven, sometimes it’s great!

    It is so nice to hear your voice!

  7. I love pasta. Do not eat much of it in the summer time, but winters are full of pasta dishes. This one sounds really great. Always love cumin in dishes. As for that butternut squash ravioli, sounds delicious.

  8. Donald: yup, yup!

    Ben: yes, a caramel fudge honey.. tu vistes mis brazos! hay Dios mio!

    Amy: Congrats girl!

    Heather: thank you, thank you, thank you! I saw your site and I could definitely learn a few tricks from you sista. Let’s keep it going!

    Nick: you are so funny! did you read the part where I said I was edible?!?! 🙂 You must let me know when you make that pasta sauce your mother sugar coated!

    Jen: Thanks Jen it really was so good.

    Lys: Girl, come on, you know how tough it is to make it happen every night for just us…

    Cynthia: the voice. i get more questions about it, but i guess ur right.. uve never heard it… 🙂

    Tracy: i’m not too crazy about pasta after that food poising bit, but if it’s good, it’s just good…

  9. Cooking for one is not to be knocked – when I was single I used to spend one weekend day a week making a big portion of something and then I would freeze it for later use so I always had something good and delicious and yes, special when I wanted it – but I guess that is why they call me the Leftover Queen! LOL!

    I love marinara with shrooms! 🙂

  10. That pasta looks good! I really like marinara sauce. It is nice a quick and always tasty. I like the sound of adding mushrooms to it.

  11. this sounds strange but i can’t wait to be able to cook for only one or two people… cooking for my four sous chefs, friends, and husband… who all have something to critque about my food makes me long for the day I can cook for myself and an army brigade! (i’m having a not so good day!)

  12. Yeah Amy. I dont mind cooking for myself. Like Jen above I always have enough for leftovers. Less work to do in the week.And a nice pasta dish like this was always a fav.All yopu have to loose is 6 LBS! pLUUZZZZ. Dont talk to me.

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