What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from Frozen Tomatoes

Did you know you can freeze tomatoes?  I thought it was frowned upon, but I saw (here) the other day that you can totally do it!  We got a bag of free tomatoes a few weeks ago that were about to bite the dust, so I threw them in the freezer.  Today I dumped them in a crockpot with a few seasonings and by the end of the day I had homemade spaghetti sauce.  Voila!  It was a little bit runny, but that’s my only complaint.  Anyone know how to fix that?  I heard that if you make spaghetti sauce from scratch, you are supposed to de-seed them first.  Maybe that was my problem.

Anyway, here’s how you do it.  (Originally from Superhealthykids.com)

 

 

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from Frozen Tomatoes

 

  • 3 frozen, whole tomatoes
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs Italian Seasoning
  • I also added a bit of salt to taste

Dump it in the crockpot and cook on low for 5 hours or so.  After the tomatoes defrost, the peel comes off really easily. Just peel it off and throw it away.

The tomatoes just break apart and form this lovely mush.

After it’s done cooking, put it in a blender for a few seconds, and it’s ready to go!

 

 

From the Garden: Sauteed Veggie Pasta

We’re back We’re back We’re back We’re back We’re back!!!!  We took a red-eye flight from New York back home, and less than 48 hours later we drove 10 hours to San Diego.  We are finally home and I am officially sick of traveling.  I came home to find a beautiful, humongous garden bursting with fruits and veggies in our backyard (our landlords have amazing greenthumbs).  We have plums, pumpkin, watermelon, tomatoes, tomatillos, zucchini, corn, carrots, beets, cucumbers, peaches, etc. etc.  I am in heaven.   There is so much food I literally cannot pick it and eat it fast enough.  Tonight I had no plan for dinner, so I just went out to the garden and picked what was ripe and then tried to figure out what to do with it.  I ended up with zucchini, tomato, corn, and cucumbers.  I put some olive oil in a pan, added garlic and onion, and sautéed the zucchini, and tomato til they were nice and flavorful.  Meanwhile I boiled some pasta, and added corn on the cob for the last 2 minutes.  I threw it all together with some salt and pepper, tossed in a few sun-dried tomatoes and sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top and we had a perfect meal!  For some reason I never think to put veggies over pasta, but it totally works.  Such a yummy meal and we got so many veggies in!  I also sliced up the cucumber and cut up some honeydew.  Man I love summer.  What am I going to do when all this yummy produce is gone?

NY Does It Best Recipe: Bruschetta

We made it safe and sound and fairly hassle free!  We’re all settled in and I made our first classic NY dish tonight.  Nothing gets you more in the New York spirit than a good plate of Bruschetta.  I used to hate tomatoes, and this is one of the appetizers that helped me start to like them.  I’m still not totally there (I can’t eat a whole tomato by itself with salt and pepper), but I am getting much better.

This literally took 15 minutes to make, start to finish, and that includes washing the basil, grating the garlic, etc.  Easy easy, and the best part is that most of these ingredients are usually in the pantry, so it makes a fast, easy, last minutes meal.

Caprese Bruschetta (original recipe from For the Love of Cooking).

  • whole wheat baguette
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, diced (this is FRESH mozzarella…different than regular mozarella you buy in a block.  It is softer and usually sold in a ball in the cheese section of the deli)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet and place sliced bread in the pan.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until the bottom is a nice golden color.  Flip and repeat on the other side.  Remove bread from the skillet and place on a platter.

Mix the diced tomatoes, chopped basil, and diced mozzarella together in a bowl; add the minced garlic, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste, white balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Mix until evenly combined.

Place spoonfuls of the caprese salad on each slice of baguette. Serve immediately. Enjoy.

Consensus:

The Mr.:  Raved about it.  He loves this tomatoes, basil, and mozarella together.  He ate about 5 slices.

Me:  YUM

Tornado:  He ate it, just not all of it.

The Wild One:  Liked it, but thought the tomatoes were “spicy.”

What’s For Dinner Wednesday: Time Saver Edition

I didn’t really do that much today, now that I think of it, but for some reason it just felt like a crazy day.  If your house is anything like mine, 5:00pm is the “bewitching hour” where the kids are bored and tired after a long day and mom is not in the mood to deal with it, and is trying to get dinner going (right? I’m not the only one, right??).  So luckily this meal is pretty easy to throw together with what you have lying around, and it is quick start to finish.  I made a few changes to this original recipe – I didn’t have sausage so I left it out, I used a white onion instead of red, I doubled the broccoli amount, and I added a bit of ricotta cheese at the end (because I had to use it up!).

Whole Wheat Penne Pasta with Turkey Italian Sausage (original recipe from For the Love of Cooking)

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 turkey Italian Sausages, removed from casings
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thickly
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes
  • 1 dash (or more) of crushed red pepper
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz whole wheat penne pasta, cooked per instructions
  • 3-4 tbsp reserved pasta liquid
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, drizzled
  • 2-3 tsp butter
  • 3-4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the penne pasta per instructions in salted boiling water.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, removed from casings, along with the red onion. Cook the sausage and onion for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, making sure to break up the sausage into crumbles as it cooks. Add the broccoli florets, the grape tomatoes, and crushed red pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic then cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Add the cooked and drained pasta and the reserved pasta liquid to the pan then drizzle some olive oil on to the pasta as well as the butter, Parmesan cheese, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Gently mix until evenly coated. Taste and re-season if necessary. Serve immediately. Enjoy.

Consensus

Me:  I really liked it a lot.  Sometimes marinara sauce can get a little mundane so it’s nice to switch up the flavors.  The vegetables added a nice crunch.

The Mr.:  Missed out on this one!  He’ll have to have it for lunch tomorrow.

The Wild One:  He ate it but wasn’t super interested.  He’s not a huge pasta lover (and that’s ok).

Tornado:  Ate it all!  And tried to steal broccoli off my plate.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday – Time Saver Edition

Luscious Last Minute Burritos

This has become my go-to meal when I have a crazy day when it is suddenly 6 pm and I have no idea what I am making for dinner, and we have nothing in the house.  And it is soooooo good, I should plan on doing it on purpose next time.

They have these tortillas at Costco and Walmart.  The name says it all. TORTILLA LAND.  I mean really, who does their marketing?  It’s okay. I still love them.

They are raw, but easy to cook.  It literally takes 60 seconds per tortilla.  Here are the ingredients. 

Probably not 100% whole wheat, but right now I am an ingredient snob, and this list is clean.  Have you ever looked at the ingredients in most flour tortillas?  Even the whole wheat ones?  There’s like 50 ingredients.  So I am good with this brand for now.  Just throw it in a skillet on medium high heat and wait til it starts to get little air bubbles in it. 

Flip it and cook the other side.  I like to add a little bit of cheese to mine so it is one less thing I have to serve in a bowl on the table. 🙂

I just whip up a couple of these and find things to put in it.  We usually have rice and beans leftovers at any given time in my fridge (that’s my money saver meal!) so I warmed those up, added my window ripened garden tomatoes, avocados, corn, salsa, and a bit of sour cream.  Served it with a green salad and BAM dinner in ten minutes.

Other times when I have no beans and rice, I will saute onions, garlic, peppers, and any vegetables I have and add a little cumin.  It’s adds a nice spice and makes it sort of Mexican-y.  That makes a good burrito too.

Caught a beautiful sunset as I was whipping this up.  One last feel-good view before I get mad tomorrow night that it is snowing.


Fried Green Tomatoes?


The only bad thing about autumn is the end of the gorgeous summer produce, especially in our garden outside.  I loooooove working in the garden.  Most people dream about their big fancy future house – the layout, the big bedrooms, the decor, the special features, the tree-lined driveway, etc.  Although I do dream of a big fancy kitchen, I mostly just dream about a future garden.  Nerd alert!  I am so excited to plant all kinds of yummy fruit trees and vegetables and to take care of them like they are my little babies.  For now it’s just a dream, but there IS a nice garden outside where we are currently living.  It’s gotten pretty cold here so we had to salvage what we could from the tomato plants.  Green, green, and more green.  All I thought you could do with them is fry them or toss em out.  BUT my friend came to the rescue when her mother-in-law (the master gardener) said to just put them in a sunny window and they will turn red all throughout the winter.  I was SUPER skeptical.  But I gave it a try anyway.

What in the world??? It totally works!  Here is a picture just a week later.

Look at those red babies!  And I didn’t even have to do a single thing (except take these tomatoes out of Tornado’s mouth every 3 seconds).  I can’t wait to use these bad boys up!  It makes me wonder about tomatoes in the store though…well all produce, actually.  Do they pick everything really green and then ripen them up in a window somewhere before they ship them out?  Probably.  It’s okay though.  In a few years I will have a little garden of Eden out back, and that’s where you’ll find me growing my own bright red tomatoes.  Until then, I am so glad I learned this trick!