Friday, August 17, 2012

Spaghetti Sauce -vegetarian

Spaghetti is one of our favorite meals around here.  I always make a meat sauce and a veggie sauce, which I have tailored to fit my tastes over the years.  I got tired of using other Italian Seasoning so I finally made my own mix using a variety of recipes for inspiration.

It's sweet and very savory.

1 large onion chopped
1 large red or orange bell pepper chopped
1 cup of chopped carrots (I prefer the baby carrots because they are sweeter)
5+ cloves of garlic minced
3 tbsp olive oil (it can vary depending on how many veggies I put in)
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp brown sugar
1.5 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp basil
3/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp rosemary
1 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (I like the ones with garlic and onion or herbs for extra flavor)
1 can tomato paste
2 cups water

1 lb of spaghetti

First, I chop and mince my veggies.  
Next, I mix my sugar, spices and herbs then set them aside.
Then, I open up the cans of tomatoes and tomato sauce, and measure the 2 c of water so they are ready to pour in when I am.
In a large five quart pot, I sauté the onion, bell pepper, carrots, and garlic until tender.
Then I stir in the spices, tomatoes, tomato paste and water.
I bring the pot to a boil and then simmer the sauce on low about an hour or until it is the consistency that I like -not too thin and watery.

When I can tell the sauce is almost done I put on water to boil for the spaghetti and turn on the oven for garlic bread.  If you want to make your own garlic bread, you can use the recipe here.

Grate a little parmesan cheese on top once you plate it and you're set!

Bon appétit!

Suggestion: You really can't go wrong with the amount of veggies you add.  Sometimes I add more than what I noted above, especially if I have leftovers.  I love to add pretty much any veggie to the mix: zucchini, squash, peas, or anything that you think would taste good in spaghetti sauce.  Just toss them in after you your veggies are sautéed.  If you have some grilled or roasted veggies, it will make it even better.  It also freezes well, I just portion it in quart sized freezer bags to pull out anytime I'm ready.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Love Being in the Kitchen

I love being in the kitchen and this reminds me why.  It's quite different with a three year old and three month old but bringing them in with me to share in the preparation can be a beautiful thing.  The silent part is near impossible but being with them is amazing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Banana Bread

Of all the things my Grandmother left behind, the love of baking and cooking and her recipe books are some that I cherish the most.  I have binders stuffed with her recipe collection, most hand written, as well as a few cookbooks.

Banana bread is definitely a Fall favorite.  My Mom makes it every Christmas.  Now I make it every time we have old mushy bananas.  Grandmother also taught me never let anything go to waste!

Here is her recipe:

2 cups sugar
1 cup of shortening
6 well-ripened bananas, mashed
4 well-beaten whole eggs
2 cups and 4 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup of chopped nuts, walnuts, pecans or roasted almonds -optional (I don't do this)

Grease two loaf pans.
Cream together sugar and shortening.
Add bananas and eggs, one at a time.
Combine dry ingredients, sift and add to mixture.
Stir in 1 cup of chopped nuts, optional.
Pour into loaf pans and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
If you use glass pans, bake one hour at 350 degrees.

Do not underbake.

Her words of advice: Let your bananas ripen until they have black skins.  If you use yellow or green bananas, you may lose the flavoring.

You can also freeze the black bananas (in a plastic bag) and add some sugar from the recipe to them as they are thawing out.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Just Toss It In

Sometimes I just need to clean out the veggie drawer/pantry before I refill it with fresh new food and produce. So I just chop what's left of the veggies, sauté them and mix it with some pasta and sometimes a protein.  It's easy and delicious.

Last week I had:
1/2 a red bell pepper
1/2 a yellow squash
1/2 a green zucchini
1/3 of an onion
a handful of small carrots left
Two different boxes with a little pasta in them.

1. I put on the water and pasta to boil.  (If the two pastas have different cooking times put the 10 min one in first then the 8 min one in 2 min later).
2. Then I drizzled some olive oil and butter in the pan and sautéed the veggies with some salt and pepper until almost tender over medium heat (a few minutes).
3. I tossed in a can of diced organic tomatoes for the last few minutes.
4. Next, I set the veggies aside and sautéed some soy "chicken" in the same pan.
5. Then I mixed the veggies with the "chicken" and tossed it with the pasta.

It was delicious and super easy.
Our toddler, Z digs it with all the colors and different pastas.

Last minute thought: Some tiny fresh mozzarella cubes mixed in would be awesome.  But I didn't have any.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fettucine Alfredo

Fettucine Alfredo is a favorite around here. It is one of the most simple yet deliciously creamy pasta dishes ever. We love ours loaded with garlic and basil and served with hot fresh garlic bread. Daddy and the tiny boy love meat so they usually grill steak while Mama makes dinner.

Fettucine Alfredo ingredients
1 lb. fettucine
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 c. grated parmesan, fresh is best*
7 tbsp. sweet cream butter
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper

*If you like a creamier alfredo cut the parmesan down to 1 1/4 c. when you make it and sprinkle more on top once it's cooked. That way you get the full parm flavor but a creamier pasta.

Garlic Bread ingredients
Loaf of French Bread
8 tbsp. sweet cream butter (one stick, 1/2 c.)
1/3 to 1/2 c. chopped fresh basil (it's up to you)
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper

Garlic Bread (prep first):
1. Let the stick of butter sit until room temperature
2. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees
3. Chop all the basil and mince the garlic (separate in half for bread and fettucine)
4. Slice the French bread in half lengthwise
5. Saute minced garlic in 1 1/2 tbsp. of the butter -about two minutes until soft and golden but not brown.
6. Let cool in a bowl about 5 min then mix in rest (6 1/2 tbsp.) of the room temperature butter.
7. Mix in the basil with a little salt and pepper, to taste
8. Spread on each half of the French bread
9. Pop in the oven when you put the pasta on to boil
About 8 minutes for softer bread, or 10+ minutes for crispier bread

Fettucine Alfredo (second):
1. Boil the water for the pasta
2. While the pasta cooks (after you pop in the garlic bread), in a medium sauce pan, saute your garlic in 1 1/2 tbsp. butter -about two minutes until soft and golden but not brown.
3. Put in the rest of the butter (5 1/2 tbsp.) and let it melt
4. Pour in the heavy cream and parmesan and whisk it together well, then bring to a boil.
5. Toss in the basil and twist in some salt and pepper, to taste
6. Pour into the drained pasta and mix well.
Serve immediately (with or without steak)

Makes 6 good sized servings.

Serving suggestion: side salad of any kind

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cheesy Peas & Linguine

Cheese, sweet peas and pasta.
These are a few of my favorite things!

We had been playing all morning and lunch suddenly was upon us as our tummies rumbled. I had some of each of these ingredients so I decided to mix them up. The finished product is now one of my favorite quick meals. The creamy cheese melted in our mouths with the buttery linguine and heavenly sweet peas. I just have to share!

1/2 c. shredded asiago with rosemary and olive oil (regular asiago would be awesome too)
1/2 c. large shreds of fresh mozzarella
1/2 package of frozen organic sweet peas
1/2 lb. linguine
2 tbsp. butter
A few twists of sea salt
A few twists of fresh black pepper

Boil the water for the linguine and peas then put them on when it's ready.
While the pasta and peas cook shred the cheeses into a bowl.
Drain the pasta then mix the butter in.
Toss in the peas.
Toss the cheese in and mix well with a few twists of salt and fresh pepper.
Eat it warm right after you toss it.

It will melt in your mouth.

Makes three servings.
Would be great with garlic bread.

After thoughts: I bet I could make an awesome creamy cheese sauce because the cheese will clump a little. But we ate it right away so that wasn't a problem! I was perfectly happy with this as a quick meal. It's super simple, quick and fresh and you can't go wrong with that!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homemade Pimiento Cheese

Homemade pimiento cheese is delicious and easy to make.
My mom frequently makes this and now we're addicted (my difference is I use two cheeses).
I highly suggest good quality organic cheddar, vegetables and mayonnaise.
Or choose two or one cheddars that you like, it can be that simple.
Also, use as much red bell pepper and red onion as you prefer.
We like it this way.
1 1/2 c. shredded sharp or medium cheddar cheese
1/2 c. shredded mild cheddar (I use white cheddar)
1/3 c. red bell pepper diced
1/3 c. red onion diced
1/3 - 1/2 c. mayonnaise (use Miracle Whip if you prefer)

Shred your cheeses.
Dice the bell pepper and onion.
Mix the ingredients and stir in the mayonnaise.
Serve with crackers or make a delicious sandwich.