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Saucy Talk: Five Favorite Quick and Versatile Sauces

YAY! I have been waiting for a bit to put this post together. On the one hand, I am soooo pumped to share these recipes with you. On the other hand… they will no longer be my little secrets!! Ah, well, sharing is caring, yes?

five friday Collage

Thank you, Ms. Candy!

Thank you, Kierston, Clare, and Heather!

These are classic Suzlyfe Recipes–they are different¬†every time that I make them, they are highly customize-able, and they are beyond versatile. Alex was hilarious the first time that I suggested a mustardo–he never, ever thought it would work. Now it is actually his number 1 request. I got the idea from Orzo, actually, so I would like to think it is quite gourmet ūüėÄ The others were/are the result of experimenting and the need to come up with something quick, easy, delicious, and with often limited ingredients.

As always, adjust to your tastes, what you have on hand, and your dietary needs. I have to cook for both myself and Alex, so I often have to make 2 versions of the sauce from the same base. Have fun, and enjoy!!

1) Mustardo¬†Honestly, this sauce deserves a post on its own. I love it. I have had great success with various types of pasta, from penne, to piroline, to spaghetti. I don’t think corkscrews would be the best (go for a chunkier option for that pasta), but honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong. I dreamt this up to pair with a prosciutto pasta, but it pairs with fish, chicken, pork, sweet apple sausage….

The Mustardo in Action! TJ's prosciutto perline pasta, frozen green beans, artichokes, crispy bacon, shallots, garlic, basil + pesto chicken sausage, parm, and my homemade mustardo (one of my favorite recipes).  Yes, that is the WHOLE box of pasta. Homeskillet cleaned it UP.

The Mustardo in Action!¬†TJ’s prosciutto perline pasta, frozen green beans, artichokes, crispy bacon, shallots, garlic, basil + pesto chicken sausage, parm, and my homemade mustardo .

  • Base
    • Mustard
      • Go with your favorite. I prefer a mix of a grainy, horseradish mustard with a sweeter honey-based dijon.
    • Acid
      • A lighter vinegar, such as rice wine vinegar (unseasoned!!), apple cider (especially if pork is involved), or a mix of the two. You want to continue to add acid but thin out the consistency.
      • Don’t add to much of this to begin. Add as you go–like salt and lemon, once you add it, you can’t take it away.
  • Consistency
    • Olive oil will create an emulsion and give the sauce body, depth and fruity roundness on your palate. This will also help the sauce adhere to the pasta.
    • If you don’t want to use olive oil, what I would do is make your sauce thicker and then thin out with reserved starchy water from the pasta (don’t pour out all of the pasta water).
  • Seasoning (to taste)
    • Garlic (fresh or powdered)
    • Herbs (Tarragon, marjoram, basil, parsley, thyme)
    • Spice (red pepper flake)
    • Salt and Pepper
  • Other options and subs
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Brown sugar (for balance)
    • Worchestershire Sauce
    • Apple Cider Vinegar

2) Maple Mustardo¬†A take on recipe 1, I made this to dress the haricot vert salad for Thanksgiving. And it was spectacular. Super, super simple (far more simple than my regular mustardo, but that is largely because maple syrup itself is a multi-tasker in and of itself–it adds fat, sweet, flavor in one). The balsamic here is necessary for depth.

Maple Mustardo. Even my bro gave a green bean salad the thumbs up after this stuff was added. From Thanksgiving.

Maple Mustardo. Even my bro gave a green bean salad the thumbs up after this stuff was added. From Thanksgiving.

  • Base
    • Grainy Mustard
    • Maple syrup of whatever variety
  • Extra Flavor
    • Balsamic Vinegar
    • Unseasoned rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
    • Brown sugar/honey mustard/oil of any variety as needed for taste and consistency
    • Herbs and seasonings are dependent on what it is being served with. The maple and mustard are such strong flavors that adding too much will hinder, rather than help. I might add a little bit of parsley, ground mustard, and salt and pepper, but as I said, sparingly and conservatively.

3) Suzlyfe Spicy Pad Thai 


  • Base:
    • Peanut butter (I use Extra Chunky JIF because that is what we have on hand, but I think it is the better choice as well because of the pieces, the fat, and the sugar)
    • Rice Wine Vinegar (unseasoned)
    • Soy sauce (thus the unseasoned RWV)
    • Mustard (grainy is ok, here I prefer a honey mustard mostly with a little bit of deli mustard)
    • Oil (consistency)
  • Heat
    • Sriracha (as little or as much as you like!)
  • Spices
    • Garlic (clove or powder)
    • Paprika and Cinnamon (just a titch)
    • Ground Mustard
    • Sesame seed
    • salt and pepper
    • Cilantro
    • ginger powder (this is not a ginger sauce, but this will give some lift)
  • Lime Juice
  • Brown sugar
  • For myself, I start with a base of peanut flour + water/milk, I use liquid aminos instead of soy sauce, and I use FAR less oil–just enough to move things a little bit.

4) Sesame Ginger Soy This is the original signature Susie sauce aka the first one that I took and ran with on a consistent basis.


  • Base
    • Soy/Liquid aminos
    • Rice Wine Vinegar
    • Oil (if desired)
    • Ginger powder
    • Garlic clove/powder
    • Sesame Seed
    • Salt and Pepper
  • Spice:
    • Sriracha (duh)
  • Extra Flavor:
    • Lime
    • Basil/cilantro
    • Ground mustard

5) Southwest Aioli This was devised in name for the Epic Southwestern Burger of the other week, but I actually came up with it for fish tacos that Alex and I had a few weeks before. Super versatile, not oily, but tastes indulgent.

It ain't pretty, but it sure is tasty.

It ain’t pretty, but it sure is tasty.

  • Base
    • Cholula Hot Sauce (don’t worry, this adds spice, not¬†heat)
    • Miracle whip (or other mayo-like sauce)
  • Spices:
    • Cilantro
    • Garlic powder
    • Cayenne
    • Paprika
    • Cumin
    • Lime

As you can see, you don’t need to buy or freeze sauces way ahead of time to have an amazing meal ready to go. Plus, there is no thawing for you to have to wait on, and you can completely customize the sauce and flavor to what you really want. I admit that some of the seasons might be overkill–but I don’t always add in ALL of them. These are the heavy hitters.

So you don’t want to make it from scratch? Here are some pretty much ready to pour sauces that have been favorites over the years:


  • The Inspirations Behind the Sauces:
    • Newman’s Own Light Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette¬†The inspiration behind my Sesame Soy Ginger sauce/dressing. This is great to stir fry veggies in, but it generally a bit too thin to use as a pasta sauce.
    • Annie Chun’s¬†Thai Peanut¬†The Thai Peanut was the inspiration behind my Spicy Pad Thai!
  • Other favorite sauces and dressings
    • Cindy’s Kitchen Mango Coconut Pepper Sauce/Dressing¬†I. Love. This. Stuff. Once you try it you will forever be a fan. Get it at Whole Foods. Put it on EVERYTHING. I have put it on fish tacos, turkey burgers, warm kale salads, cool crisp salads, mixed with other things for pastas, as a dip for veggies (especially jicama!!)….. #trust.
    • Cindy’s Kitchen Korean BBQ¬†(Gochujang) Sweet, spicy, tangy, awesome. Would love it to be just a titch more sweet and closer to a red bean paste, but the fact that it is so well balanced means that it can work with everything, from eggs, to seaweed/cabbage salad, or as an add in to your home sauces!
    • Annie’s Light Goddess¬†Tahini, garlic, and other awesome. On the thicker side, but creamy and delicious.
Mango Coconut Pepper in Action.

Mango Coconut Pepper in Action.

Go on, talk saucy to me!! What are some of your go-to sauces? Do you tend to rely more on spur of the moment creations or pre-prepared, whether from the bottle or your fridge? 

Do you rely on exact measurements or wing it?

As always, let me know what you think!

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