Archive for the ‘Sauces and Extras’ Category

Pizza Night and Re-purposed Tomatoes

November 6, 2009

Tomatoes fresh IMG_4177I love a good tomato…the firm, sweet, juicy type with the most wonderful texture.  And then there are those mealy things that pose as tomatoes; if you didn’t know what they were supposed to taste like you’d swear you’d never touch another tomato again!

Well, I managed to pick up a batch of the later.  Ick!  They have been sitting on my counter for a couple of days, looking oh-so-beautiful but far from salad worthy.  I determined it was time to put them to use before they headed any further south. 

You can probably tell by now that Pizza is my cure for just about any dinner quandary.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that pizza can’t carry off perfectly!  Forget diamonds, pizza and chocolate are this girls best friend (and possibly mashed potatoes, lasagna, spaghetti, avocado, umm…but I digress). 

Now I know there are some chefs out there who would cringe at the thought of using mealy, half-mushy tomatoes for anyting…purists.  Personally, I don’t care how far gone they are, I’m not letting my $2.50 worth of tomatoes go to waste ;-) 

So my three tomatoes became homemade pizza sauce, and I have enough left over to smother a couple of baked chicken breasts or toss with some pasta and fresh basil for a side dish!  The flavor came out wonderfully, and the mealy texture didn’t matter one bit once they were cooked and seasoned!

Another Delicious Chicken Pizza 

(Oh Pizza, how I love thee!  How else can you stretch half of a chicken breast between two and a half people?) 

  1. Take about 10 minutes to mix up your pizza dough (give yourself at least 1 hour before you want to eat so it has time to rise and bake); when it is ready, press out and…
  2. Spread with a thin layer of chunky, homemade tomato sauce mixed with Greek Vinaigrette Dressing
  3. Top with shredded mozzarella, chopped chicken, sliced olives and thinly sliced red onions and green bell pepper.
  4. Enjoy!

    Pizza 2 - cooked

    Chicken Pizza with Mozzarella , Fresh Tomato Sauce, Vinaigrette, and sliced Red Onion

Next time you have a couple of tomatoes that are a little past their prime, or need to make a small batch of sauce quickly, give this a try and let me know what you think!

Fresh, Homemade Tomato Sauce

Prep Time:  5 minutes / Cook Time: 10 min / Yield: about 1.5 cups

  1. Peal tomatoes (using a fork, I held mine over the gas stove burner for about 20 seconds, rotating, and the peals came right off with no trouble)
  2.  Chop or puree until you have a chunky sauce (I use a pair of kitchen choppers for this…not fan of most kitchen gadgets, but love these scissors)

    Tomato Sauce 1 IMG_4197

    Time Savers

  3. Season to taste (oregano, salt, dried onion, olive oil if desired) and simmer in a small saucepan for about 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft and slightly stewed.
  4. Use as sauce for pizza or pasta; leftovers can be frozen in ice cube trays (each cube will be about 1 oz) for easy dinners later on. 

 

Marinara Chicken with Pasta

October 22, 2009

Dinner plans began tonight (as they do many nights) by digging through the fridge in search of bits and left overs needing to be used up.  Tonight I found a about 4 ounces of leftover stewed tomatoes  from our meatloaf a couple nights back, and some Little Caesars Crazy Bread from last nights pizza picnic at the lake.  Sound like something Italian to me…Marinara Smothered Chicken with Parmesan Pasta, Side Salad and Bread Sticks.  And for dessert, fresh tapioca pudding with strawberries.

First, a most fabulous super quick recipe for marinara!  (My handy-dandy Betty Crocker was mum on this subject, so this my own version…which turned out oh-so-wonderfully if I do say so myself!)

  • In a food processor or blender mix together any sort of tomatoes (I used stewed, but fresh or canned diced would work just as well I’m sure) with some Basil (fresh really adds something special if you have it on hand) and Oregano; add enough white wine to get the consistency of a spaghetti sauce.  We usually have a bottle of white wine open in the fridge, but if you don’t have any on hand try using olive oil instead which will make for a delicious “red pesto”.
  • I found starting with about 4 oz of stewed tomatoes I ended up with just the perfect amount of sauce to smother two huge chicken breasts.

~ MARINARA CHICKEN WITH PASTA~

Time in Kitchen:  about 20 minutes / Total prep+cook time: 30-40 minutes depending on thickness of your chicken breasts

  1. Set a pot of water on to boil for your pasta…add some salt and it will boil faster.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F
  3. Mix up marinara sauce in a food processor or blender.
  4. Pound chicken breasts thin and place in baking dish; drizzle with olive oil and slide them around a little to coat each side.  Sprinkle each side with a mixture of bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese.  Smother with homemade marinara sauce and top with grated mozzarella.
  5. This should have taken about 10 minutes and your water is now boiling :-)
  6. Toss pasta in to boil and slide chicken into the oven, uncovered.
  7. While chicken and pasta are cooking, this is a great time to make a side salad or veggie dish, warm up bread or make toast, and make up a quick desert (pudding, sliced fruit or toss a pan of brownies into the oven since it’s already at the right temp!)
  8. Pasta and chicken will be done roughly at the same time; pasta will need between 12-20 min and chicken will need between 20-30 minutes depending on thickness of your chicken breasts.
  9. Drain pasta and toss with a little butter and grated parmesan
  10. Plate everything up and enjoy!

Quick Pesto

October 9, 2009
Basil PestoI love spinach salad, however there always seems to be that last serving left we never get to before it starts to droop.   Try this quick and easy pesto recipe for a fresh addition to your supper…and a budget friendly way to keep aging veggies out of the trash:
  • about 2 cups fresh spinach (it’s ok if it’s a bit wilted!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 -1/4 cup olive oil…start with a little and add until desired consistency

Combine all ingredients together in a blender or small food processor, and in two minutes you will have a delicious pesto!  If you don’t have fresh basil on hand, experiment with dried herbs…crushed dried basil, Italian Seasoning, cilantro, crushed rosemary…pick your favorite, but start with just one until you know how the flavors will combine.

Tip:  freeze extra pesto in ice cube trays and then store in the freezer in an airtight container; each cube is about 1 oz