Onion Tomato Sauce

You go ahead and try to tell me that doesn’t look delicious

One of the things I hate most in the world is tomato sauce.  I think it’s grimy, thick, heavy, gross, and worst of all, tastes a little like vomit.  This is highly unfortunate as a love spaghetti, and what better to go along with spaghetti than tomato sauce?

One day I got this feeling that it wasn’t that I inherently hated tomato sauce, it was more that I just disliked the jarred/canned kind.  Determined to test my theory, I decided to make my own sauce using local, organic produce.  I scoured the internet for an easy recipe, and found one that looked simple and delicious by The Naptime Chef.

As you might have noticed from my other posts, onions are probably my favorite veggie ever. So of course, even though the recipe did not call for them, I felt the need to add onions as the sauce was cooking in on the stove.  Unfortunately, I added too many and had to improvise as I was cooking to thin out the sauce and dilute the abundance of onions.  Here is the recipe for the sauce I ended up making, which is absolutely delicious.  The first part is adapted from The Naptime Chef’s recipe, the rest is all mine.

Ingredients:
8-10 plum tomatoes, halved and cored
6 unpeeled garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small can (6oz) tomato paste
1/4 cup cilantro
1 – 1 1/2 cups onion (depending on how much you like onion)
1 – 1 1/2 cups water (depending on how thick/thin you want it to be)

Preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Place halved tomatoes in a medium sized bowl and toss with olive oil.  Spread tomatoes face-up evenly across a jelly roll pan (cover the pan with aluminum foil to avoid a mess).

3.  Arrange the garlic cloves around the pan.  Place pan in oven and roast for 45 minutes.

4.  Place tomatoes and leftover liquid into food processor or blender.  Squeeze roasted garlic into processor as well.  Puree until smooth.

5. Pour puree mixture into medium saucepan.  Add tomato paste, onions, and cilantro.  Stir until mixed completely, then slowly add water until you reach the desired consistency (it will thicken a more as it cooks, so make it a little thinner to start).

6. Bring to a boil, stirring often until sauce is thickened.

7.  Enjoy!

One great thing about making homemade tomato sauce is that you can freeze it in a Tupperware container until you are ready to use it.  I don’t like a whole lot of sauce on my spaghetti, so the yield for me was upwards of six servings (about the same number of servings I get out of a box of spaghetti), but it might be different for you if you are a heavy-on-the-sauce type of person.

Of course, here’s a breakdown of cost for the broke college student:

8 plum tomatoes: $2 at the local farmers market
1 onion: $0.50 at the farmers market
Fresh cilantro: <$0.50
Garlic: $0.50
Tomato paste: $1
Box of spaghetti: $1
Total Cost: $5.50
Cost Per Meal: <$1

When you think about how much they charge for a plate of spaghetti at a nice Italian restaurant, it kind of makes you mad, doesn’t it?

 

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Chicken Veggie Wraps

My chicken veggie wrap before I wrapped it up

Lately, I have been super into The Laughing Cow Cream Cheese Wedges.  I never really liked the regular cheese wedges (my Mom swears by them though), but I love, love, love the Garden Vegetable cream cheese flavor.  The other night, I used it to enhance the frozen taquitos I cooked for dinner, and they tasted great!  Today, I used one for my dinner.  I love that you know exactly how much you’re getting and that they have great flavor with less fat than regular cream cheese.

Image from thelaughingcow.com

 

So now you’re dying to know how I made these deliciously simple chicken veggie wraps, right?  They were so easy and easily one of the best wraps I’ve ever had!

Ingredients:

8-10 bite sized pieces of chicken, uncooked – I like to use the Tyson grilled strips that come already cut and cooked, but you can use cut up pieces of frozen chicken breast
1/2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1 wedge Laughing Cow Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese Spread
2 tortillas
Seasonings for chicken – I used onion powder, garlic powder, and basil

Preparation:

1. Coat bottom of small fry pan with a very thin layer of oil.  Cook chicken mostly through and season as desired.
2.  Add veggies and cook until chicken is completely cooked through (mine took about 3 more minutes after I added the veggies)
3.  Heat tortillas in microwave for about 20 seconds, until soft and warm
4.  Divide 1 wedge of Laughing Cow cheese in half and spread down the middle of each tortilla
5.  Add chicken and veggies, wrap up, and enjoy!

This was the perfect quick dinner after a long day of work and provided a healthy serving of dairy, veggies, and protein without a heavy carb load.  I would even try it with a whole wheat tortilla or pita next time!

Hope you enjoy!  Happy Eating!

 

Going Out: Soho Pizza

Chicken Parm Pizza from Soho Pizza

My friend Bri is currently visiting from Atlanta, GA, and she has commented on how it seems we New Jerseyans are consumed with eating two things: hoagies and pizza.

The more I think about it, the more I think she’s right.  Everyone around here has their favorite, hoagie place, cheesesteak place, chicken cheesesteak place, pizza place, thin-crust pizza place, their favorite chain pizza place, their favorite deep-dish pizza place, and so on.

When my family wants to order takeout, we don’t have many options.  Well, we do have many options, but we only ever really have to choose between two: pizza or hoagies.  From there, we either have to decide where to order pizza, or we call up Lee’s (we only order hoagies and cheesesteaks from one place in the world).

When it comes to eating out, we often run into the same problem… although, eating at amazing pizza places is not necessarily TOO big of a problem.  One of my favorite pizza places outside of my suburban bubble is in Philadelphia, and it’s called Soho Pizza.

Soho Pizza is on Market between Bank and Strawberry, just a block away from the bridge to Penn’s Landing.  They make amazing pizza, and they serve huge slices with delicious toppings.  My personal favorite is the Chicken Parm Pizza, which has perfectly cooked chicken parm atop a slice of cheesy pizza with marinara sauce.   It is absolutely mouthwatering and I highly recommend it!  They also make great cheesesteaks – Bri had a buffalo chicken cheesesteak when we went yesterday and it was oozing with cheese, sauce, and tasty chicken.

Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, just a block away from Soho Pizza!

Soho Pizza is within walking distance from the historic district, so if you are looking for a place to cool down and grab a slice after seeing the Liberty Bell, I suggest you take a walk down Market Street and make a stop at Soho Pizza (it’s on the right side of the street if you are walking towards the water).  Plus, if you walk just a few more blocks, The Franklin Fountain will be on your right and you can grab a dish of delicious homemade ice cream or a freshly made root beer float!

Happy Eating!

When You Just Have to “Wing it”

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Our favorite Pasta Roni variety!

I have two very, very picky little brothers.  Well, little is relative: one is fifteen and taller than me, the other is eight and almost as tall as me.  Picky is no exaggeration, though; these boys will not eat ANYTHING, especially the older one (the kid won’t eat pizza or hamburgers, for starters).

We are home alone a lot in the summer, since my parents work, so we often have to fend for ourselves for lunch.  When I don’t feel like trying very hard, or paying to take them out to lunch, there’s one trick I’ve found to be a popular favorite and it only takes about five minutes to make.  It comes in very handy when all you can hear is a whiny chorus of “I’m hungryyyyyy.”

Ever heard of Pasta Roni?  My brothers absolutely love the stuff, and it comes in really handy when we don’t have the time or ingredients for homemade creamy pasta.  It doesn’t taste half bad, and the Angel Hair varieties only take 4-5 minutes to cook.  We like the Pasta with Herbs and Parmesan Cheese varieties, and all you have to do is follow the directions right on the box – just add butter, milk, and water.

For those quick lunches, I like to cook 2 boxes of Pasta Roni and grill up some Tyson frozen chicken (not the breaded strips kind, the grilled chicken breast kind).  I cook both, spicing the chicken with a bit of garlic powder, salt, pepper, and whatever else is sitting in the front of the spice cabinet.  When they’re done cooking, I just cut the chicken up into bite size pieces and mix it into the pasta.

This isn’t a truly homemade lunch, but the boys love it and it is super quick to make.  And since you can get boxes of Pasta Roni on sale for $1 each or less, it’s a pretty good bang for your buck.

I prefer to make my own homemade creamy pasta sauce, but this works well for two picky boys who look at anything unfamiliar like it’s alive and going to crawl off of the plate at any moment.

No Fuss Pudding Pie

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Me on my seventh birthday with my mom’s homemade Pudding Pie. It was my special request!

Everyone in my family has a sweet tooth, and we have been experimenting with different desserts since as far back as I can remember.  There is one dessert, however, that we continue to make for every occasion.  It is a family classic and crowd favorite, and it is so incredibly easy (aside from a bit of math involved) and absolutely delicious.

Ingredients:
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust (we like the Keebler brand)
1 8oz container of Cool Whip
2 packages Jell-o Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
2 cups of milk

Preparation:

1. Combine milk and pudding mix in medium bowl powder disappears completely.  The resulting mixture will be thicker than regular pudding.

2. Divide in thirds and layer 2/3 of the mixture into the graham cracker crust.

3. Divide Cool Whip in thirds and add 1/3 of Cool Whip to remaining 1/3 of chocolate pudding.  Mix until combined completely; this mixture should be light brown and somewhat fluffy.

4.  Add Cool Whip/Pudding mixture as the second layer in the pie crust.

5.  Spread remaining Cool Whip as the third layer of the crust.  Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.  The longer it sits, the more the crust will absorb some of the moisture and be less likely to crumble when serving.

6. Bring to parties and hear your friends and family admire the delicious chocolate pie that you *slaved over* for years to come 😉