Desperation Marinara Sauce

This year, our tomatoes have gone wild. We have been eating so many of them that we are starting to smell like them. We planted Roma and cherry tomatoes, and I can’t count how many we’ve given away (gladly, too).

Each day we end up picking an enormous bowl of them, and I have filled six large freezer bags full of them. These days I am making loads of what I call “desperation marinara sauce” with them; I don’t want to waste all that produce.

Also, since our garlic, onions and peppers have also been prolific, they are added right in with the tomatoes. If you ever need a quick and delicious tomato sauce, this is what I’ve been making for weeks:

Ingredients:

Lots of tomatoes, washed and chopped

Lots of *chopped onions, garlic and green peppers

1-2 T. of olive oil

1-2 cans tomato paste

a squirt of hot sauce if you like

2-3 T. agave or sugar

chopped basil leaves (feel free to use the dried kind)

chopped oregano leaves (ditto)

salt and pepper to taste

a few generous glugs of red wine

1-2 T. balsamic vinegar

Directions:

In a large saucepan (or smaller if you’re going to make a smaller batch), heat the olive oil (medium heat). Drop in the chopped garlic, onions and peppers; stir. Let them soften up, and then add in the chopped tomatoes.

A word here about peeling the tomatoes: since our tomatoes are Romas, which are usually about a finger-length long, and cherries, the skins are quite thin, so I don’t bother. 

Stir everything and let the mixture heat and spread their favors around. Add in the hot sauce if you like, stir, and then add in the basil and oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir as needed; the mix is going to be chunky at this point.

Next, add in the agave or sugar. Why? Because tomato sauce can be acidic, and the agave (you use a lot less than with sugar, BTW) can give the sauce a bit of sweetness to balance it.

Depending on how much sauce you have, add in the tomato paste. Why? Because tomato paste gives the sauce more richness and body. Plus it tastes great.

Next, pour in the wine and stir. If you feel that the sauce is too lumpy, then just grab your potato masher and smoosh the lumps down. Stir and add in the balsamic vinegar, which gives the sauce a nice finish.

Try it on raviolis or whatever kind of pasta you enjoy. And it’s easy to freeze, too!

*Do yourself a favor and buy one of those chopper thingys. This is the kind I use:

Prepworks by Progressive Onion Chopper

 

 

 

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Vegged-Up Corn Chowder

Now that winter’s here, we love comfort food like soups and chowders. This is my favorite recipe for corn chowder, which over the years I’ve turned into a corn+vegetable chowder. It’s easy to make and delicious to enjoy on a cold winter’s day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of corn
  • 4 cans of evaporated milk
  • 1 cup each of chopped onions, red peppers, carrots, potatoes, celery
  • 1 T. olive oil, bacon fat or butter
  • 1 t. each thyme, garlic salt and sage
  • S&P
  • a few shots of hot sauce
  • a few slices of cooked bacon

Directions:

In a large saucepan, saute the vegetables in the oil, bacon fat or butter until fairly soft. Add the seasonings, corn, hot sauce and evaporated milk. Let the chowder simmer until the vegetables are tender. Before serving, crumble up some bacon on top of each cup of chowder.

This is great with sandwiches like BLTs, plus some sweet pickles. Serves 8-10.

Note: I find that the chowder tastes better when you let it cool completely for a few hours, then heat it up. But that’s just me. You certainly can eat it right away.

GREAT Turkey Recipe – Just in Time for Thanksgiving

The Crankee Yankee (my husband) is a pretty good cook. He loves to barbeque, and his ribs, pulled pork and brisket are fantastic. This year he found a great recipe for turkey and decided to treat us to an early Thanksgiving. He found it online; it is Martha Stewart’s Herb Roasted Turkey recipe. While the Crankee Yankee cooked our turkey in the smoker, I’m sure it would be just as delicious in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 1 turkey (about 12 pounds), thawed if frozen, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus 3 sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (3 tablespoons)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 lemons, poked all over with a fork
  • 1 quart apple cider

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in lowest position. Remove packet of giblets and neck from cavity. Discard liver. Rinse remaining giblets and neck; refrigerate until ready to make broth.
  2. Turn turkey on its back and bend wing tips forward and underneath neck cavity of bird so they stay in place (you may have to break the bones).
  3. In a small bowl, combine parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic, 4 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using your fingers, carefully loosen skin of breast and around thighs and rub herb mixture under skin of both.
  4. Season cavity with salt and pepper and loosely fill with lemons and rosemary sprigs. Using cotton kitchen twine, tie legs together so bird retains its shape and moisture during cooking.
  5. Pour cider in bottom of pan. Set roasting rack on top. Lift turkey onto rack, breast side up; rub with remaining tablespoon oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Tent turkey loosely with foil. Roast 1 hour. Uncover and continue to roast, basting frequently with pan juices, until an instant read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh (avoiding bone) registers 170 degrees, 2 1/2 to 3 hours more. (Temperature will rise about 10 degrees as turkey rests.) Tent with foil if browning too quickly; add water if pan becomes dry. Cover loosely with foil, and let stand 30 minutes before carving. Serve with roasted vegetables.

Take it from me–the turkey was fall-off-the-bone delicious.

 

 

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

This smoothie is an antioxidant powerhouse, full of fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C. Best of all, it contains cherries and chocolate! This recipe makes either two HUGE (nearly three cups) servings, or four smaller ones.

NOTE: Please do not be put off by the addition of spinach—you won’t taste it.

Ingredients:

2 cups spinach, fresh
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
2 cups cherries, pitted (frozen is recommended)
2 bananas
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

Directions:

Blend the spinach and almond milk until smooth. Next, add the remaining fruits and blend again; last, add in the dry ingredients and blend until smooth.

Roasted Vegetables – A Healthy and Delicious Side Dish

This is one of those recipes where the majority of the work is in the prep, so you might as well make a lot of it.

Ingredients:

Cauliflower, cut in bite-size pieces

Onions, peeled and cut in quarters

Parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-3″ pieces

Carrots, peeled and cut into 2-3″ pieces

*Butternut or buttercup squash, peeled and cut into 2-3″ pieces

Whole, peeled garlic cloves

Optional: chunks of green cabbage and/or brussels sprouts, cut in half

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking pan with tin foil, then either use cooking spray or olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Put all the vegetables into the pan, drizzle with olive oil and S & P. Add some curry if you like for interest. Stir so that all the vegetables are coated with the oil and S & P, then put into the oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, stir up the vegetables, and put them back in for another 15 minutes. Repeat this until the vegetables are softened (if I fill a pan it usually takes about 45 minutes total). Serve as a side dish to just about anything.

Here’s what happens: the vegetables when roasted, especially the garlic cloves, parsnips and brussels sprouts; become incredibly sweet and delicious. You’ll not only enjoy a fantastic side dish, but you’ll be getting all the benefits of antioxidants, fiber and just about everything in the world that’s good for you.

*If you don’t want to spend the extra cash to buy already peeled squash, here’s an easy way to get their skins off: cut the squash in half and scoop out the strings and seeds. Place the halves, cut side down, in a microwave-proof dish, then use a fork to make vents in the skin. Depending on the size of the halves, nuke for 6-8 minutes until soft. Let it cool enough so that you can handle it, and cut the softened skin off. Easy-peasey.

Turkey Curry

This is a fabulous, flavorful curry, and you can substitute chicken, pork, or most any kind of meat or poultry.

Ingredients:

1 onion, minced

1 apple, peeled and chopped

2 T. butter

1/3 c. flour

2-3 T. curry powder

1/2 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

3 t. ginger

1/2 c. chicken broth

1 c. milk

juice of 2 lemons

3 c. diced cooked turkey

Cook onion and apple in butter til transparent. Remove and set aside. Blend flour and seasonings in butter, then add broth and milk. Stir til thickened. Add lemon juice and turkey, and apple and onion. Stir, then cover and cook on low about 10 minutes.

Serve over rice. Put out cups of chopped nuts, raisins, coconut, chutney, etc. OPTIONAL: Feel free to add in vegetables of your choice as well as the apple and onion; mushrooms, water chestnuts, green and red peppers, etc.

African Peanut Chicken Soup

This soup is delicious, nutritious and is spicy and satisfying.

Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 3 chicken breasts
    • 1 onion
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 2 medium sweet potatoes
    • 1 green bell peppers
    • 1 red bell peppers
    • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
    • 1 1/2 cups V8 vegetable juice or 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
    • 1 teaspoon ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

Directions

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot.
  2. Add 2-3 chicken breasts, diced; 1 onion,chopped; and 3 cloves of garlic, chopped.
  3. Stir and cook 5 minutes or until chicken is done.
  4. Peel 2 medium sweet potatoes then either grate, food process, chop, or bake/microwave and mash them.
  5. Add the sweet potatoes to the pot along with 1 green bell pepper, chopped; 1 red bell pepper, chopped; 2 cans of chicken broth (or 3 1/2 cups chicken broth made with chicken buillion); 1 1/2 cups V-8 or tomato juice; 1 teaspoons ginger; and 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper. Mix well.
  6. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter and stir well.