my first crack at making tomato sauce

In last week’s blog, I mentioned that I was about to attempt to make Heirloom Tomato Sauce. I did, in fact, attempt it, and I have to say: it turned out pretty damn good. I definitely made some mistakes, and I need to tweak the recipe for next time. I used this recipe as a base, but I made a lot of revisions, since I only had about three pounds of tomatoes (heirloom and roma, instead of all heirloom – like it calls for). Next time, I’m going to follow whatever recipe I use more accurately, since I only yielded one pint of sauce, and it was just too much work for one meal’s worth. But in all fairness, I’ve never made, or watched anyone make, tomato sauce. I now get why you make and freeze so much. I finally get it, you guys.

I will say it turned out delicious, although there wasn’t a ton. The fiancé didn’t care for it as much because, as he put it, he “doesn’t like tomato sauce to be too chunky”. Way to tell me that after I slave over a stove for three hours, hun. So next time, I’m going to find a recipe that uses a food processor to make the sauce smoother. Luckily for him, I’m an accommodating chef.

tomato saucedoesn’t this look great? it was. anyone who says differently is a fool.

Ingredients (altered from original recipe):

3lbs heirloom and roma tomatoes, washed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8-10 small cloves garlic, peeled
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup white wine
olive oil
2 stalks fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

For instructions, visit: Mountain Mama Cooks Recipe – I’m loving her recipes, and her canning tips. As someone who is eager to get into canning, I’m definitely plan to use her blog as a resource for other recipes.

Anyone know another sauce recipes that I should take a crack at?

fall treats + traditions

I love fall. It’s the combination of the leaves changing, fall fashion, fall food and creepy Halloween movies and decor that make it my favorite time of the year.

This past Sunday, we had what I would consider to be the “perfect fall evening.” We carved pumpkins while watching Hocus Pocus (a staple for the season, if I do say so myself). After we gutted our pumpkins, I decided to cook the seeds. I rinsed them, and then coated them in melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. I put them on a baking sheet and popped them into the oven at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Once I put them in the oven, I went back to carving and watching the movie. The apartment filled with the delicious smell as they baked.
image (5)

image (6)Our pumpkins – mine is the Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas and Jeff’s is Wreck-It Ralph.

I usually go all out for Halloween – deck my apartment out in Halloween decorations, dress up, pass out candy at my family’s house, and go pumpkin and apple picking. Since we are in a new state, we are laying a little low this year. We are sticking with two traditions – halloween movies and fall cooking. Some of my favorite movies to get in during the season are: Scream, Hocus Pocus, Monster House, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice and of course, Halloween.

For our fall cooking this year, I decided to make apple butter this season. I found this recipe from Changing My Destiny and adapted it a little bit by using six large Fiji apples, rather than 12 small ones. It turned out incredible.

image (7)

Do you have any fall traditions?

The Simple Way To Make Lemon Oregano Chicken With Orzo

This dish is my new favorite meal. It’s packed full of flavor and super simple and easy to make. I’m a Greek girl, so we used to cook with oregano and lemon a lot in my house. This tastes like home to me. When my fiancé tried it, he said “This tastes like I could get it at a Greek restaurant.” My Yiayia would be proud.

Oregano Chicken

Lemon Oregano Chicken with Orzo
6-8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Lemon juice
Olive oil
A handful of fresh oregano
2.5 cups of fresh spinach
1/2 cup orzo
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Garlic
Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Chop up the oregano and put in a bowl with 2 tbsp of olive oil and lemon juice (use to your liking – I use a lot!) sprinkle garlic salt or crushed garlic and black pepper in the bowl. Mix with a spoon.

Coat each of your chicken thighs in the mixture and add to a baking dish lined in tin foil. Bake for 35 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, boil water in a saucepan and add ½ cup of orzo.

In a medium sized saucepan, sauté the spinach and cherry tomatoes with 2 tbsp of olive oil, the juice of one lemon and garlic. Add cooked orzo to the saucepan.

Once the chicken is done, remove the chicken from the pan, and add some of the remaining juice in the pan to the orzo for extra flavor. Mix together, and serve!

The Simple Way to Make Spicy Fish Tacos

Since I have been trying to lead a healthier lifestyle recently, I have been buying a lot more fruits and vegetables, which has been upping my weekly grocery bill. I have been trying to off-set that extra money but buying all meat and frozen items in bulk at Sam’s Club. I recently bought a huge pack of Tilapia, good for about 5 meals for us. I’m experimenting with new ways to eat it, and we tried these new spicy fish tacos last night.

We have made fish tacos in the past, and they’ve always turned out only okay. With these ones, I knew I wanted to actually marinate the fish to add more flavor, plus I added a simple chipotle cream sauce to the mix. My fiancé, while he has always had a good appetite and a liking for fish tacos, is a well-known wuss when it comes to spicy foods. He complained at first that these were a bit too spicy for his liking, but after trying another one with less chipotle sauce, he was just fine. Just beware of that when making them for your loved ones.

Hope you enjoy!

Image

Spicy Fish Tacos
2 Tilapia fillets
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Lime Juice
1/2 cup of light sour cream
Garlic powder
1 can of chipotles in adobe sauce
1 mango
1 avocado
1 tomato
1/2 red onion

Start off by marinating the fish:

Wash the tilapia fillets, slice and put in a medium bowl

Add olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, a squeeze of lime juice and salt and pepper to the bowl.

Mix in bowl, until fish are coated in mixture. Cover and set aside in fridge.

While the fish is marinating, make the chipotle cream sauce.

Chipotle Cream Sauce
2 spoonfuls of Chipotles in adobe sauce
4 spoonfuls of light sour cream
lime juice
garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until creamy.

Next, chop up the mango, avocado, tomato and half a red onion. Mix in a bowl together.

Take out the marinaded fish, and sear it in a skillet, over medium heat. As soon as the fish is white all the way through (about 1-2 minutes on either side), take off the heat.

Put the fish, mango salsa and chopped lettuce into a tortilla. Top with the chipotle cream sauce.

The Simple Way to Make Quinoa Fried Rice

Like I said in my last post, I’m on a quite the quinoa kick lately. I’m also trying to eat healthier and for cheap. My latest recipe accomplishes all of those things!

Stir-fry is one of my favorite meals to make, lately. I simply sauté some chicken or shrimp and veggies then cook them in a skillet with some sesame teriyaki sauce. I won’t write a full recipe on this for a few reasons: A. I make it different every time and B. I pretty much just said the recipe in one quick sentence above.

All and all, this side dish will compliment your favorite stir-fry recipe and is just as delicious on it’s own: Quinoa Fried “Rice.”

Image

My sister, the nutritionist, says that even though I add an egg and fry the quinoa, that this still counts as healthy. I’ll take her word for it. I’m obsessed with it. It’s delicious and easy to make with ingredients I almost always have in the house. I was first inspired to make this when I saw a recipe for Quinoa Fried Rice on Pinterest. That recipe had about double the ingredients I use to make my version, so I simplified it and made it my way.

Quinoa Fried “Rice”
1 cup quinoa
2 carrots
1 small white onion
1 egg
teriyaki sauce

Start to cook the quinoa in a saucepan with 1 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and reduce heat. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Take off heat and let sit.

While the quinoa is cooking in the water, chop up your carrots and onion. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet and add the chopped onions. Let the onions cook for about 5 minutes, then add the carrots. Add the cooked quinoa to the pan and mix.

Push the quinoa/vegetable mixture to one side and crack the egg in the pan. Fry the egg in half the pan, and then chop and mix up with your cooking utensil in the quinoa mixture. Add the teriyaki sauce to the mixture – amount to your liking. Let simmer together for a few more minutes and serve!

The Simple Way to Make Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes

Since I’ve been working from home, I’m on a new health kick. For the first time in a long time, I’m actually working out regularly (and I don’t hate it! Hooray!), eating better and experimenting around with new fun recipes.

I’ll admit, when quinoa became the new fad (like a year ago?) I went out and bought a big bag of it. It wasn’t cheap – cost me about $10. I’m also a little embarrassed to say, I never used it until recently.

I got the urge to test out the waters (took me long enough), and what a delight! I was inspired by a Dr. Oz episode about best ways to eat quinoa. One of the recipes he shared was for Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes. I tried his recipe, and they were okay. It definitely needed some tweaking and some simplifying. See below for my version of the Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes Recipe:

Image

Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes
1 cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup of whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 egg white
1 tbsp melted butter + a little extra for the skillet
½ cup of almond milk
1 tbsp of maple syrup
1 cup blueberries

I mixed everything together in a bowl, then because it was still a little thick added ¼ cup of water and put it in the blender. I blended it all up in my Ninja Blender, then cooked spoonfuls on a lightly buttered skillet. Flip each over when bubbles appear around the edges. I hand-placed blueberries on top before flipping, but add whatever fruit you want! Oh, the possibilities.

Let me tell you – these were absolutely delicious. Even my fiancé, who CLAIMS to not like pancakes, ate all of his. I love pancakes, but they are usually too sweet for me to get going in the morning. These aren’t too sweet. They are fabulous.

You can also find Dr. Oz’s original recipe here.

There are more quinoa recipes to come. Get ready.

The Simple Way To Make Chick Pea and Feta Salad

This is one of the easiest things I make on a regular basis now. My mom used to make this and have it sitting in a big bowl in the fridge at all times for us to munch on. It’s a much better (and just as convenient) option instead of reaching for the bag of chips. It’s simple, cheap, healthy and delicious – all the things I look for in a recipe.

Ingredients:

– 1 can of chick peas

– Feta cheese

– Fresh basil

– 1 tomato or a package of cherry tomatoes

– 1 green pepper

– 1 cucumber

Salad 3

Basically, all you do is rinse and drain the can of chick peas and add to a large bowl. Then cut up the pepper, cucumber, tomato (or half the cherry tomatoes) and basil and add to the bowl. Shake in the feta (amount to your liking – for the big bowl shown below, I used about a third of the container).

Salad 4 copy

 

Mix and enjoy! I eat this as a side dish or a snack. It’s great to pick at in between meals. Sometimes, I add just a little balsamic vinegar to it but most times it’s flavorful enough on it’s own.

Enjoy!