Category Archives: saucy!

Easy Marinara Sauce


This is going to be a recipe sans photo, since it got gobbled up too quickly by the two of us for me to photograph it.  But since I posted about the deliciousness of it on Facebook, my friends have been demanding I post the recipe, so here goes.

I got a food mill for Christmas, which I’d been wanting to put to use.  Not being consumers of mashed potatoes, baby food or applesauce, there were few things I could make using this shiny new tool.  I’d wanted to make my own tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, since many sauces have onion powder added to them, which SB is allergic to.  On top of that, jarred pasta sauces are something I like to use for certain recipes, although after this recipe, I don’t know that I’ll ever buy a jarred sauce again.  Many jarred sauces have added corn syrup in addition to onions, neither of which SB can eat, so I set out to make my own.  I needed the recipe to be easy, tasty, and something I could make regularly.  I’ll say this:  as long as I have access to fresh Roma tomatoes, I’ll make this recipe over and over.

Here’s how I did it.  You will need:

  • about 2 pounds Roma tomatoes, cut lengthwise
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 extra for sauteeing the garlic
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped into small pieces but not minced (I like mine a bit more rustic)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil (you can increase this as you like)
  • kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Meanwhile, prepare a rimmed baking sheet by spraying it with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.  Arrange the halved tomatoes in rows on the sheet, and drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes so that they are lightly coated with the oil.  Sprinkle salt over the tops of the tomatoes, and place the pan on the middle rack of the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the skins just start to brown and the tomatoes are nice and soft–keep an eye on the tomatoes, because you don’t want them to get too brown.

Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool for about 30 minutes.  For the next step you can elect to use either a food mill, or a blender.  I didn’t want skin or seeds in my sauce, so the food mill was perfect.

I put the fine grinding disc into my food mill because I wanted a smooth sauce.  Placing the food mill over a bowl, put the tomatoes in (carefully so you don’t lose any juice!) and turn the handle so that you can get as much lovely puree as possible.  If you use a blender, just put all the roasted tomatoes in the blender and puree.

Finally, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan or other pan (I used a Dutch oven since I was going to heat meatballs in it with the sauce) and lightly saute the garlic.  Once the garlic softens, add the puree, tomato paste, and basil.  Stir over medium heat so that the sauce thickens up a bit.  Cook over medium-low heat so the flavors meld and serve with your favorite pasta.

This recipe made about 2 cups of sauce, which I served over homemade meatballs and al dente spaghetti.

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Stufffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce


This past week, I’d been craving pasta like nobody’s business.  I think it was because the previous week, we’d gone out with a friend to Olive Garden for the endless pasta dinner special, where I ate some whole wheat linguine with roast chicken and marinara (which was good, but I won’t do it again).  I think having that gave me an Italian food jones something awful, and so I thought about things I could make at home with the ingredients I had access to.  The week before, I’d bought two large zucchini squash and had picked up some hot Italian sausage at Central Market.  I decided to make stuffed zucchini–it was easy, filling and really tasty.

Stuffed zucchini: easy to make, delicious to eat and full of antioxidants and fiber! The meat used can be changed to ground chicken or turkey sausage as well; pork was what I happened to have on hand. Serve with a salad and crusty bread, and you've got a filling dinner.

You will need:

  • 2 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise and cut in halves
  • 3/4 pound hot Italian sausage*
  • 1 cup instant brown rice, uncooked
  • 1 1/4 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 28 ounce can tomato puree

*certainly, ground chicken or turkey sausage could also be used here as well; pork sausage was what I had access to.  For vegetarians, I think I’d probably mince up 3 cups of Portobellos sautéed with onions, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until completely done. While the sausage is cooking, cut the zucchini in half vertically, then slice them lengthwise.  Take a grapefruit spoon or melon baller (or something that scoops that has a sharp edge to it) to scoop out the pulpy middle of the squash.  Reserve this pulpy goodness in a bowl.  Lay the hollowed zucchini quarters in a 13 x 9 baking dish.  You do not need to grease the dish, as there will be plenty of liquid to prevent the zucchini from sticking to the bottom of the dish.

Once the sausage is done, drain it and return to the pan, and add the garlic, stirring to distribute it evenly throughout, cooking at medium-high heat.  Add in the zucchini pulp, again, stirring to evenly distribute it throughout the meat, cooking for about 10 minutes until the pulp really isn’t so visible.  You are adding the pulp back in to add moisture to help the rice cook and to add a bit more fiber.  Add in the half cup of water and then stir in the instant rice until it is well-distributed.  Stir in 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese until it melts throughout the mixture.  Turn off the heat to the skillet, and stuff the zucchini quarters, mounding the filling into each quarter.  Pour the can of tomato puree over all the zucchini quarters, and sprinkle the top of the baking dish with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely browned.

This recipe serves 4, or two really hungry adults, as it did the night I made it.  It is lovely with a bit of garlic bread and a salad.  You could serve it over pasta if you wanted.

Mushrooms in Creamy Bourbon Sauce


Earlier this week, I posted the recipe for the beef tenderloin I fixed SB and myself for Valentine’s Day.  The accompanying photo, seen here:

A creamy mushroom sauce with a hint of bourbon on the tenderloin sends it over the top with flavor.

shows some lovely Cremini mushrooms draped over the top of the luscious rare tenderloin.  Sweet Baboo is a big fan of fungi, and while I am not, I am always glad to make him sauteed mushrooms of some sort whenever we have steaks.  This time, I didn’t want to make the run of the mill sauteed mushrooms, though.  I wanted this to be a bit more elegant and flavorful; after all, we were eating tenderloin, which is not an every day occurrence in our household.

I happened to pick up some Cremini mushrooms at Central Market when I did the shopping for this meal, but really, any sort of button mushroom would do here.  I also used half and half to cut the fat slightly, but unfortunately I think the butter I added just put it right back in!  The bourbon I used was Knob Creek, but you can use any bourbon you have.

Here’s how I did it.  You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup half and half (for a richer sauce, use heavy cream)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • salt to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a skillet on medium-high heat and then saute the mushrooms in it.  Sprinkle a bit of salt on them during this part of the cooking process so that they release a bit of their liquid.  Once the mushrooms have released a bit of their liquid and are starting to brown, pour the bourbon in the pan to deglaze it, and stir the mushrooms around carefully to wet them with the liquor.  Once the mushrooms have been sufficiently flavored by the bourbon, add the half and half, and stir until thoroughly mixed.  Allow the mixture to bubble and then remove from the heat.  Feel free to add in some fresh ground black pepper.  Serve immediately over steaks or any other favorite meat.

This recipe served one very hungry husband, who thoroughly enjoyed the ‘shrooms as an accompaniment to a tasty rare beef tenderloin.