One of my hands down favorite make ahead “Go To” meals is red sauce. I love to watch the big red and meaty pan of sauce bubbling away on my stove. There are just so many things you can do with red sauce The sauce is be made with ingredients that are usually in your garden, refrigerator and pantry.
Red and Meaty Sauce
To a large pot add:
2 tablespoons oil
1 pound ground meat, such as beef, preferably organic
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Brown the beef and add:
1 diced onion
1 peeled and diced carrot
2 diced celery stalks.
Let all these ingredients become friendly in the pan. (Make sure you’re adding salt and pepper and red pepper flakes as you go.) After about 5-7 minutes add:
1-1 1/2 cups red or white wine
When the wine is evaporated add:
1-11/2 cups whole milk which will help tenderize the meat.
When the milk is gone add:
2, 28 to 32 ounce cans of whole tomatoes that have gone for a ride in a food processor or you’ve broken up with your hands.
2 to 3 tablespoons of brown sugar to balance the acidity of the tomato and more salt and pepper to taste.
Bring this yummy mixture to a low boil and then lower the heat and give it a stir every so often over the course of the next couple of hours. When it’s nice and thick add:
chopped fresh herbs to taste such as parsley, oregano, basil and even a little thyme if you have some.
A little more tasting, a little more adjusting then, allow it to cool. Cover the sauce and store it in the fridge.
I use this sauce as a base for casserole dishes such as lasagna or manicotti or simply serve it over vegetables or of course, pasta. Often times I make several casserole dishes with this big pot of sauce and freeze them for when I need emergency dinners. Just know that freezing can cause tomato sauce to separate so there’s nothing you’ve done wrong, that’s just something that happens to tomato products when they’ve been frozen.
I haven’t been eating as I should and my joints and ego are feeling it- big time. What to do? What to do? One thing. Make better choices. Dah. Right? Right. Again I ask, what to do? The short and simple answer of ‘make better choices’ is obvious but easy to do, even though we know we should. I thought I would review some healthy choices that satisfy yet are not too fattening and are enjoyable to eat. A sort of slim pick’ns list to help us get on track.
1. For something salty? Air popped, lightly salted, organic popcorn. Mix it up by using different kinds of corn kernels.
2. Dried fruit and dark chocolate for something sweet.
3. Graham crackers with peanut butter and jam.
4. Popsicles for something cold and refreshing.
5. Breakfast? How about whole grain toast with nut butter and fresh fruit on top instead of jam?
6. Toss together crispy salad greens with lemon juice, smoked salt, feta cheese and top it with a fried egg.
7. Use one piece of bread to make an open face sandwich and skip the top piece.
8. Eat red sauce over vegetables and squash curls and skip the pasta.
9. Swap ground chicken for beef and make spicy tacos.
10. Exchange ice cream for sorbet or sherbet.
My husband Russell and I took a sunset stroll around the grounds of a local park with our dog Lollipop this evening. The sky sparkled with glowing colors of orange and burnt yellow. The birds chirped and sang and all manner of joy was in the air. I quickly snapped this photo to try to capture the fairy garden colors to share with you. I hope you enjoy.
Everyone’s plants are exploding here in the east. Wisteria are wandering and blooming, roses are forming buds, fruits are growing in tree limbs and my ginormous rhododendron is a rambling riot of blooms. I have never really given much thought to the plant that does what it wants and has adorned most the
of the side of the house for years and years. It was here when we moved in almost 10 years ago and from the looks of it it was there 10 or 20 years before we ever got here. So I started thinking, as I often do, what to do? What to do? Turn to the experts of course. So I got on the Internet, as I often do, and what I did when I got there what has went straight to the Farmer’s Almanac website. https://www.almanac.com/plant/rhododendrons
It turns out, rhodies (as gardening geeks like my parents) call them love warm and moist (title of your sexy tape) summers. I’m sure glad something’s benefiting from weather like that... goodness knows it’s not my favorite. Anyway, the vivacious pinks the plant offers in late spring are happening just in time for prom pictures, even if the moist part of the rhododendron- growing equation is also here. Oh well, take the blooms with the boom of thundershowers and smile for the camera.
This past week I’ve been to both a meeting and a conference, so far. Besides the subject matter, the commonality between the two events has been wraps. Wraps are fun because they can be made with most anything from a gluten-free tortilla to a lavash or even bread that’s been rolled flat. A wrap can be filled with sliced cold cuts or veggies. The bread elements can be spread with butter, cream cheese or even salad dressing. The great thing about wraps is they are wonderful for when you do not have much to eat in the house and you need a last minute meal.
Sometimes, I make them with just feta cheese. (This was a favorite lunch of our oldest daughter, Alyssa.)
Don’t exclude the obvious meal elements you have on hand like cheeses or vegetables or even fresh or fried fruits. Hard boil or scramble up some eggs and add those to the sandwich for a hit of inexpensive protein. How about a dash of hot sauce or a dollop of salsa and sour cream? In other words, whatever you have on hand, put it under wraps.
What is better than creamy comfort food? Mac and cheese, chocolate, soup or buttery treats like scones or warm cereal like grits? Not much. Creamy food hits the spot. I say, treat yo self, Dear Readers. Give yourself what you need when you’ve had a tiring or stressful day. What’s wrong with a little treat now and then anyway? Nothing. Life is fleeting and part of enjoying comfort food to the fullest is not stirring judging into the mix. I say, “Hell to the YUM!”
The school year is coming to a close and that means one thing, potluck parties. Potluck after potluck like a bad parade. In order to be ever-ready for the unending potluck parade, I like to have things on hand to mix up or bake off at the last minute for ‘I forgot I was supposed to send something in to school’ days. (Not that I ever do this of course! No judging!) Anyway, today was NOT one of those of days, course I didn’t forget to send my child into school with snacks and treats to share. I’m hurt you think it was, Dear Reader. I thought we were friends? It was an, ‘of course I remembered to bake cookies for the potluck, I just wanted them to freshly baked so I dropped them off’ kind of days.
Now, if you’re like me and you never, ever, ever forget a potluck is happening, you don’t these tips, but, and I mean but, you know someone who occasionally is a human being and forgets about the potluck because they have a life-type of person, then the following tips might help them get through the potluck parade season.
Tips and tricks for surviving the potluck parade season:
1. Make and portion cookie dough ;then, freeze it for whenever you need a last minute treat.
2. Have things like dip mixes ready like taco seasoning and soup mix on hand so you can mix them with sour cream for quick snack.
3. Have cream cheese on hand to top with salsa or spread onto cucumbers, radishes or crackers. Top it with a fresh spring of herbs and Bob’s your uncle.
4. Have munchies like corn chips and other gluten-free snacks available because everyone seems to be intolerant of the demon gluten these days and goodness forbid someone feels excluded.
5. Have your “can do” attitude locked and loaded.
To all the lovely mommas, Happy Mother’s Day! May your day be filled with delights and deliciousness!
Mother’s Day is tomorrow, Dear Readers. You know what that means? It means millions of people will be out skittering and scuttling about looking for (what they think is) the perfect gift for Mom. What they don’t know is that they already have the guide to the perfect gift, love. Love can and will guide all the skitter-ers and scuttle-ers to explore their hearts and let that exploration be their guide. In other words, let love guide the way to the perfect for Mom on Mother’s Day.
Okay. Okay. I will offer some ideas too!
1. Make her her favorite breakfast and serve it to her. Oh yeah, clean up. (Our tradition)
2. Get her some lovely plants and/or seeds and gardening equipment.
3. Weed (without being asked)
4. Clean (without being asked)
5. Make her a basket of retro treats, like Cracker Jacks and transport her to a time when she was a carefree 7-year-old.
6. Learn about something new together, like birdwatching.
7. Read to her.
8. Brush her hair.
9. Watch a movie she likes, without complaining.
10. Draw her a picture.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor