Homemade Tomato Sauce

I have mentioned my homemade tomato sauce numerous times {here, here, and here}, so I thought its time to finally post the recipe. You can use this recipe just as it is, or just use the method and go ahead and adapt to your taste.  For example, add a diced carrot and/or celery stick and omit the onion and peppers…whatever you like is fine!  I happen to prefer it chunky and peppery, but you may not, so add more wine, broth or water to thin it out and omit the red pepper flakes, etc.

This makes a lot, but it freezes nicely.  And, I know you may be thinking that it is easier to open a jar of sauce from the grocery store, but those generally contain more sugar than necessary.  A homemade batch of sauce only contains exactly what you like and want and you can control the quality of ingredients.  If you freeze smaller portions of this, it is just as easy to use as reaching for a store bought jar.

If you are making this for kids, pregnant women, or are just avoiding alcohol for whatever reason, go ahead and substitute any kind of broth for the wine (even though the alcohol cooks out, you can’t be too careful).

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 bell pepper {any color}, diced

1 onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup red wine

one 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

one 28 oz can diced tomatoes, slightly drained if you like thick sauce

one 14.5 oz can tomato sauce

3 or 4 heaping tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a deep soup pot or dutch oven, saute bell pepper, onion and garlic in oil over medium heat for a few minutes or until slightly soft and starting to brown.  Add wine and scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon.

Then add all of the tomatoes and stir well.  Bring to a simmer and taste.  Then add seasonings, and taste.  Continue to simmer at least another 20 minutes {1 hour is better}, taste again and adjust seasoning.  It will get thicker the longer it simmers.

At this point it is ready to serve over pasta if you like it chunky.  If not, you could use an immersion blender to puree it if you like a smoother sauce.

Or, cool it down and freeze in smaller containers.

Pictured above – I added meat to the sauce.  To do this, add ground sausage {sweet or hot} or hamburger to the pot with the onions, bell pepper and garlic.  Be sure to thoroughly brown the beef.  Drain, and then continue adding the tomatoes, etc…

Keep in mind that if you add meat, you won’t be able to blend it to a thinner consistency.

Taco Salad

Can one of my 3 readers let me know if you can see the picture? I can’t see it from home, but see it at work ?! Thank you!

Even though summer has drawn to a close, I still wanted to post this taco salad recipe since we made it so often this year.   It is certainly one of our favorite summertime meals.  It is super easy to throw together with fresh vegetables from the garden or farmer’s market.

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Taco Salad

leafy green lettuce, torn or chopped

shredded cheese {we like pepper jack}

seasoned taco meat {beef, turkey or chicken}

onion, chopped

peppers, chopped {bell or jalapeno}

salsa

crushed taco or tortilla chips

fresh dressing {or ranch}

sour cream

cilantro

additional topping options:  chopped red onion, black beans, quacamole

Directions:

Cook meat with chopped onion and peppers.  Drain.  Season as you like for tacos.

Create a bed of lettuce in a bowl or on a plate.  Top lettuce with cheese, then meat.  Then layer on a handfull of crushed chips.  Drizzle with salsa and french or ranch dressing.

Top off with sour cream and cilantro leaves {or other toppings of your choice}.

Enjoy!

Green Beans with Bacon

This has been the side dish that Tim has requested the most this summer.  Whenever I ask if he has any requests for food that I make, he always eyeballs the pile of fresh green beans that we have, smiles and says “green beans with bacon”.  Then his eyes roll back in his head as he dreams of their delicious taste. Coming in as his second most requested dish are bacon wrapped jalapenos.  It must be that he loves green vegetables.

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Yeah right.  Did you buy that?  It’s the bacon, of course!  Bacon makes everything better. 🙂

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Green Beans with Bacon {serves 4}

Ingredients:

about 5 cups of fresh green beans, washed and snapped

4 or 5 pieces of bacon

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

cracked black pepper

4 heaping tablespoons soy sauce {other liquid/combos works too – I’ve used beer, wine, broth, and red wine vinegar, but soy sauce is our favorite}

Directions:

In a large skillet {I prefer cast iron}, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate.  Pour off the bacon grease leaving just 1 teaspoon or less remaining.  Add the chopped onion to the skillet that is over medium high heat and saute for a moment to get lightly brown.  Then add the green beans and garlic.  Stir until the beans turn bright green.  Then, turn the heat to medium low and add the soy sauce.  Cover the pan with a loose fitting lid.  Let them steam for about 10 minutes, checking and stirring frequently.  They are done when the liquid is reduced/evaporated, the onions are caramelized, and beans are tender.  Season with cracked black pepper.  Chop or crumble the bacon and stir into the beans.  Serve and enjoy!

Salsa

A great way to use fresh produce is obviously salsa.  And since Mexican food is probably our favorite type, we use a lot of it.  So instead of buying jar after jar of it at the store, why not make our own!  It tastes better and saves money too.

This recipe comes from a friend that Tim used to work with.  If you haven’t noticed, we like a lot of heat so I leave the seeds and ribs in the jalapeno, but you can remove those if you need to.

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Salsa {makes about 6 cups}

Ingredients:

4 large tomatoes, washed and cored

8 whole jalapenos {or 2 jalapenos for every 1 tomato}, cleaned and stems removed

5 cloves of garlic, peeled

small bunch of cilantro leaves

1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

salt to taste

shot of tequila 🙂

Directions:

Bring a stock pot of water to boil. Wash tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro.  Once water boils, drop in the 4 cored whole tomatoes and leave in the water until skins crack {about 5 minutes}.  Remove the tomatoes from the water and carefully peel the skins off.  Place the tomatoes and all other ingredients in a food processor and pulse to desired consistency.

Enjoy with chips or in your favorite mexican meals.

Shrimp Fried Rice

Wow.  The introductions to my posts are terrible.  I have absolutely nothing interesting to say about this next dish.  It was super yummy though!  So, let’s pretend I said something really funny and fantastic here, okay?  And, I’ll work on my writing skillz for next time.  Allrightythen.

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Shrimp Fried Rice

Yields 4 or 5 large servings

Ingredients

16 oz frozen shrimp; thawed, peeled, de-veined and tails removed.

1 or 2 tablespoons oil

3 cups cooked rice

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrot

3 finely chopped jalapenos-optional

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

salt and pepper to taste

2 large egg, lightly beaten

2 or 3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 cup frozen peas – optional {I left them out this time}

Directions

Cook rice and set aside.

Heat oil in a large wok, add the shrimp and stir fry until cooked, about a minute or two.  Remove the shrimp to a plate.  Add more oil to wok if necessary.

Add onion, bell peppers, celery, carrots, and jalapenos to wok and stir fry a few minutes, then add garlic and ginger.  Finish stir frying when veggies are crisp tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the rice and allow it to heat thru.  Then, make a well in the center of the wok, add the eggs.  Gradually stir the eggs as they cook and slowly mix them into the rice mixture.

If using peas, stir them in now.  Then add the shrimp back into the mixture.

Add soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Canned Green Beans

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we grew a lot of wonderful vegetables in our garden this year.  And for the past few weeks, I have been meaning to try canning some of the produce.  But, for one reason or another {mostly intimidation} I haven’t gotten around to it.  So, to make a long story short, my Mom came over this weekend and canned the green beans for me.  LOL.

The good news is that Tim and I were both observing her so we think we can handle canning on our own next time.  She also left the equipment at my house, so we have everything we need to do so.

She canned 7 quarts.

Jambalaya

We were in the mood for something spicy last night, so I turned to the Food Network site in search of a jambalaya recipe.  No surprise that I found one by Emeril Lagasse.  While I don’t like to watch his shows because I find his personality annoying, I do trust and always have success with his recipes.

I used Emeril’s recipe mostly as a guide, making several changes based on our taste and what I had on hand.  My adaptations are in italics.

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Cajun Jambalaya {serves 4}

Ingredients

  • 12 medium raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
  • 4 ounces chicken, diced {I used one 9 oz. can of cooked chicken breasts}
  • 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion {I used 1/2 cup}
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper {I used a combo of green bell and jalapeno peppers to equal 1/2 cup}
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery {I used 1/2 cup}
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic { 3 cloves}
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes {one fresh garden tomato}
  • 3 dried bay leaves {two small leaves}
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 5 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced {I substituted cooked chorizo}
  • Salt and pepper {I omitted}

Directions

In a bowl combine shrimp and Creole seasoning, and work in seasoning well.  Set aside.

In a large/deep saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, saute 3 minutes.  Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces.  Stir in rice and slowly add broth.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. When rice is just tender add shrimp and chicken mixture and sausage. Cook until shrimp are done, about 10 minutes more.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Enjoy!

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