Vodka & Fireball are usually trouble

Years ago I had found an amazing recipe for vodka sauce that was a little different than all the other vodka sauce recipes. I used the sauce for spinach & sausage stuffed shells and it was DIVINE. Since then, I’ve tried searching for the link a million times over, based on the secret ingredient, but the pin I saved on Pinterest no longer works. So I did some researched and improvised my own version and loved the results!

Using a method similar to the Red Wine Bolognese I made a few weeks ago with veggies, meat, and tomato sauce, I simmered the sauce for about 45 minutes, adding the best ingredients at the end. I read one recipe that said to add the vodka first so it would cook off. Uhh…why? Not how I do it! I WANT to taste the vodka.

Vodka sauce with garlic sauce looks so similar to Red Wine Bolognese, but the taste is completely different!

This sauce must be stirred fairly often as it simmers away on the stove. Below is a picture showing how much liquid is in the sauce early on, and then how the sauce should look when most of the extra liquid has simmered off. BAM – that’s when you add the vodka, and the secret ingredient…CREAM CHEESE.

The tanginess of the cream cheese pairs perfectly with the vodka, and replaces the need for heavy cream. The sauce becomes thick & velvety to coat each strand of pasta! I served this over spaghetti, like the Bolognese, but they taste completely different.



  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 tsp (or 2 cloves) minced garlic
  • 12 – 16 oz sausage, removed from casing
  • Italian seasoning, salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • pasta, for serving


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften.
  3. Add seasonings and tomato paste, stir to coat the cooked veggies.
  4. Add the sausage, breaking it up and browning.
  5. Add crushed tomatoes and stir until combined.
  6. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Once the sauce is reduced, add the vodka and cream cheese.
  8. Stir to combine; season to taste.
  9. Serve over pasta!


For my last #boozeinfusedapril meal – I knew I had to try something unique, with a booze I hadn’t used yet. I’ve already used red wine, beer, champagne, tequila, marsala wine, and rum. Red wine or beer sauces were the most common, but I needed something new. The white wine sauces just didn’t appeal to me. And then I saw some recipes for Fireball BBQ sauce. A few called for a red pepper jelly, but then I found a Fireball BBQ sauce with regular ingredients I already had on hand.

I made the linked recipe exactly as indicated, cut in half because somehow we’re out of ketchup! Using boneless chicken thighs, I seasoned the meat lightly and grilled it, coating the cooked side when I flipped the meat.

Fireball BBQ sauce was sweet, thick, with just a hint of burn / cinnamon. Served with sweet potato fries & salad for a summer-like meal!

April is almost over! I’ll post a review of everything I made, along with May’s theme, later this week!

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