Sunday, October 10, 2010

Marinara Sauce and how to cook Brown Rice

This weekend was nice and relaxing! Friday night, I took Ham Fried Rice using brown rice over to Tamra's for dinner with her family. It's always fun to see Alan, Peyton and Amelie. Amelie always has stories to tell! I making this recipe, I found a new way to prepare brown rice that will make it perfect every time! Sorry, but no photos. You'll just have to take my word that it looks and tastes great!

Saturday, I went to Tamra's for lunch and spent the afternoon shopping with Tamra and Amelie. I picked up some cute Halloween decorations at Target. I just couldn't help it! I've been going through withdrawls. After that, I went to dinner with my neighbor Corby, then got some things done around the house.

Sunday, I went to the Home & Garden Show at the Idaho Center in Nampa. The one in Idaho Falls is better in my opinion. After that, I came home and made marinara sauce from scratch. I had to do something with all the donated tomatoes I've been getting!

Hope you all had a great weekend as well. Until next time.... Cheers!

Best Brown Rice
2-1/2 cups water
1 Tbl butter
1-1/2 cups brown rice (the slow cooking kind)
1 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring the water and butter to a boil on the stovetop. Place the rice and salt in a heat-proof 2.5 Qt casserole.
2. Pour the water/butter over the rice and stir briefly. Cover tightly, and bake for 50 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes.
4. Fluff with a fork and serve!

Ham Fried Brown Rice
1 Tbl butter
2 Tbl soy sauce
2 stalks celery
4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
8 oz. lean ham, cubed
1 small can bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
4-5 cups cooked brown rice
3 scallions, chopped
2 eggs, scrambled and chopped up
Sesame oil (optional)
Soy Sauce (optional)

1. Heat butter and soy sauce in a LARGE skillet over medium heat. I used my deep 12-inch skillet. Add the celery and mushrooms. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Add ham and cook until the ham is very warm. Add the rice and bamboo shoots, cook another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Fold in the scallions and eggs. Cook another 5 minutes or until heated through. I stirred in another couple Tbl of soy sauce and a couple Tbl of sesame oil at the end. Serve with soy sauce on the side.

Home-Made Marinara

5 lbs tomatoes, washed
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
4oz. can tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill one half of your sink with cold water and some ice cubes.
2. Cut a shallow 'x' in the bottom of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the pot of boiling water and let it cook for about 1 minute. Remove the tomatoes and immediately immerse them in the cold water bath. This should make the skins very easy to peel off. I did half my tomatoes at a time. When they are in the cold water bath, they should look like this:

Peel the skins off. They should come off very easily and the tomatoes should look like this:

3. Cut each tomato horizontally in half (be careful because they are slippery) and de-seed them over a 'garbage bowl' or over the sink. This is what you should be left with:

4. Chop the seeded tomatoes up.
5. In a large pot, heat a few Tbl of good olive oil. Add in the onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are soft and the garlic is fragrant.
6. Add the salt, sugar, basil and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for about an hour. After an hour, it should look like this:

7. Use a stick blender to blend the veggies up to the desired consistency. I like mine pretty smooth. Add the tomato paste and stir until completely dissolved. Cook another 10 minutes or so. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Trust me-- you will need to add salt.
8. It's ready! Use it as a sauce over pasta with some meatballs (that was dinner tonight).

I have a lot of sauce left over-- about 5-1/2 cups. I'm going to freeze a pint, give a pint away, and use the rest as pizza sauce later on in the week. If you're in the mood for a really good soup, take a pint of sauce and add a can (14.5 oz.) of chicken or vegetable broth. Stir in some Parmesan cheese and a Tbl or two of cream and serve with garlic bread. Yum!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

Finally feeling better after having a 2-day stomach flu. Yuck! Yesterday, I made some chicken noodle soup. The soup was warm and comforting-- just what I needed. When I was little, Grandma Rapp would fix me chicken broth with a pinch of cayenne in it when I was sick. The cayenne wasn't overly hot, but gave the broth a warming sensation that immediately made you feel better-- especially if you had a sore throat. I made my soup the quick way but it was still really good. Here's the recipe:

Chicken Noodle Soup:

1 large carrot, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1/4 onion, chopped

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 quart chicken stock (low sodium)

1 cup Home style Egg Noodles

1 can chicken meat (the larger one, I think its 8 oz or so)

1. Saute vegetables, thyme and black pepper in a couple tsp of oil until onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes over medium heat.

2. Pour in the chicken stock and add the cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, then add the noodles. Cook according to the directions on the noodle package (mine took 18 minutes).

3. Add the can of chicken during the last 5 minutes of cooking the noodles. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Leftover chicken could be used here, but I didn't have any so I used the can!

4. Once the cooking time is up, taste for seasoning to see if you needed any salt. There was enough in the stock and canned chicken for me.

5. Ladle into a big bowl and eat. Here's to a happy and healthy Fall!!