Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tip Tuesday

Here it is Tuesday again. We had a wonderful day off to celebrate Memorial Day. We live on the parade route so we had a few friends over to watch the parade. It seems I've always lived on the parade route. When we were kids we did too! Maybe my life is a parade, the question is am I marching in it or sitting on the side lines watching it go by. Hum...deep. Moving on.

The tip for today. I am a scheduler. I have a big calendar that I write everything on. I won't even make plans unless I can look at my calendar first. I love the More Time for Moms Calendar and part of their proceeds are given to charity.

But I digress, my tip, yes that's what I was talking about. As a scheduler, I should say beginning scheduler, I schedule what we are having for dinner. So Monday is pasta night, Friday is pizza night, etc. Now if you are trying to be frugal having pasta once a week sounds pretty good, but have you seen the price of pasta sauce? Now granted I only buy the good stuff. The stuff that only has a handful of ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oil. If you look at most of the cheap and even some expensive jars of sauce at the store most have these two ingredients in them. And for me and my family those are big no nos! So instead I make my own sauce. Yes, that's right I make my own sauce and it is so good and so easy! And as an added bonus is is tons cheaper!!

So you ask, how do you do it. I know you want a recipe. So I'll give you one. But after a couple of times you'll wonder why you ever needed a recipe. Mostly, I put in the basics, simmer and serve. You can add anything you want.

Pasta Sauce

Olive Oil
I small onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 28 oz can of plum tomatoes, whole or diced
fresh basil
dash of oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in sauce pan and simmer the garlic and onion. Throw in tomatoes & raise heat until it starts to bubble. add basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Break up the tomatoes with a fork and stir the sauce occasionally. Cook for about 20 minutes.

That's what the recipe says. This is how I do it. I drizzle oil onto the bottom of my sauce pan to cover and heat. I skip the onion, because it gives us gas. I do sometimes substitute leeks for the onion. It gives a similar flavor but no gas! And saute the garlic (and leek) until the garlic begin to turn golden brown. Watch the garlic it burns fast! Throw in my tomatoes and raise the heat. sprinkle in some Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper. I usually turn down the heat and simmer. I then use my immersion blender to puree the sauce. Tada fresh pasta sauce done in minutes!! It takes about as long to make it as it does to boil the water.

In the summer when we had tons of fresh basil I used that and it was heavenly!! An even easier way to make sauce and the way I am doing it now is like this. But first I must give a little explanation. Last year we bought into a CSA. Since we have such a small back yard, it just made sense for us to do that. During the summer we'd go and pick up our fresh vegetables from our farmer. We'll along it come and with it comes basil. So what do you do with basil? Well, you cook with it, but we were getting a lot...every week! So I started making basic pesto. I can't make pesto like you would buy in the story due to Sweet Girl's allergies to dairy (at the time) and nuts. Plus pine nuts are expensive. So I made basic pesto (recipe to follow) and froze it in ice cube trays. Popped them out and have had them storing in the freezer since last summer. I probably have a gallon freezer bag full of pesto. I use it occasionally on pizza, but that seems to be the extent of it.

Since summer is coming on and we just bought into another CSA this year, I was looking in the freezer wondering how to use the pesto since I'm sure there will be more basil coming. I was pulling out frozen diced tomatoes (I get them in the #10 cans which holds about 6+ lbs and freeze them in 2 cup servings which is the serving size for 1 can of tomatoes) and noticed the pesto. Now when you think about it, it makes sense. What is in tomato sauce, what is in pesto. Put them together and you're done. I heat my pan, throw in 1-2 cubes pesto and thaw. Add my tomatoes and a little salt and pepper. Simmer. Blend. Done! It's so good. You'd think it was summer again! And it's totally fast.

Minimalist Pesto

2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, big stems discarded
salt to taste
1/2 -1 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
warm water for thinning

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
Process, stopping to scrap down the sides and process more.
Add warm water as needed.

I use my hand held immersion blender for this too. Put the ingredients into a high sided bowl. Put on an apron and blend. Works great. Freeze and use as needed or wanted!

Enjoy your yummy, frugal pasta sauce!


Jenny said...

I can't wait to try this pasta sauce! But I don't have an immersion blender -- any suggestions?

Sarah said...

You can do one of 2 things. You can use your blender, assuming you have one of those. I puree it in 2 batches and at a low speed so it doesn't explode all over the place.

Or you can just cook it at a bit higher heat. The tomatoes will begin to break down and you can help them along with a fork. It will be a little chunkier but still really good.

eldonmars said...

Don't forget you can also make a double batch and freeze half for next time. thanks for inspiring me to make my own sauce.