Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homemade Marinara Sauce

I have been trying to make the perfect homemade spaghetti sauce for so long with no luck.  I never seemed to be able to get the right balance of spices and it seemed to always come out tasting too tomato-y or metallic.  Blech. 
Then I found this recipe on Kaitlin in the Kitchen and it changed my life!  I made this for dinner last Sunday and we all loved it so much!  Peanut even said I should put it in jars and sell it!  It was really so good and so easy!  
I pretty much followed the recipe exactly except that I ended up adding about a tsp of extra sugar at the end.  I strongly advise you not to leave the sugar out.  It does not make the sauce overly sweet but it is necessary for balancing the acid in the tomatoes.  
This sauce was so good I honestly don't see myself ever using jarred sauce again! 

Homemade Marinara Sauce
1 28 oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Cup Diced Onions
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar
5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
In a pan, add 3 tablespoons of your olive oil and turn on medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add your onions and saute them for about 5-7 minutes or until they start to turn slightly translucent, then add your garlic and saute for another 3 minutes or so, making sure not to burn the garlic. Pour in your crushed tomatoes and mix with the onions and garlic. Add all of your seasonings including salt & pepper, the remaining olive oil, and the Parmesan cheese. Check for seasonings and add more depending on your taste. Lower heat to medium, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes, or even longer at a slightly lower temperature.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apple Pie

Every year about this time I get so excited when I see caramel apples in the store.  You know, the ones with the nuts on the outside?  I love love LOVE those things!  To me, nothing says fall like apple pie.  And pumpkin.  This really is my favorite time of year. 

This is my mom's recipe for apple pie and it truly is my all time favorite.  It is so simple.  Just apples and a few spices but it is heavenly!  Especially when topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple Pie

1 pkg deep dish frozen pie shell
7-8 apples (I like to use Rome or Gala), chopped or sliced, whichever you prefer
3/4 cups sugar
2 tbs. flour
1 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
dash salt
2 tbs butter

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine sugar, flour, spices and salt.  Mix with apples.  Put apple mixture into crust.  Dot with butter and place second crust on top.  Brush top with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar or just plain sugar.  Put pie on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 50 minutes.  If the crust gets too brown at the end you can cover with foil.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Crock Pot Beef Stew

I have been such a bad blogger lately :(.  Blogging has been on my to-do list, but school and all the extra meetings we have this year has left me exhausted and severely time challenged.  Sadly, I've hardly even had time to cook lately! 

The good news is that the weather in AZ has finally gotten a little cooler.  Last week we had temperatures below 100 and lows in the high 60s and 70s!  Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love when the weather starts to cool down and I love all the holidays.

Once the weather starts to change I always start to crave all those yummy Fall-ish comfort foods (and all things made with pumpkin).  Beef stew is definitely a fall favorite!  My mom used to make a really yummy beef stew.  In fact, it was always the meal I requested for my birthday dinner. 

This recipe is a little different from my mom's because it is made in the crock pot which is so nice because you just throw it all in there and leave it!  I like to keep this recipe simple with potatoes and carrots and some onion for flavor, but you could easily customize your stew with your favorite veggies.  I serve it with egg noodles and some nice, crusty bread.  It makes a ton so I usually put the leftovers in the freezer and save for another meal.  I hope you will give this delicious and hearty fall meal a try! 

Crock Pot Beef Stew

1 1/2 - 2 lbs. beef stew meat
1 pkg. baby carrots
8-10 small-medium size potatoes, cut into chunks
1 onion, quartered
3 pkgs. brown gravy mix
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
3 cups water

Put meat, potatoes, carrots, onion and potatoes in crockpot.  Sprinkle gravy mixes and Ranch mix over top.  Pour water over all.  Cover and cook on low 8-9 hours.  Serve over egg noodles.