Marinara Sauce de la Jenni| Suburban Foodie Original

Why make your own marinara sauce? Why not?

I’ve been cooking long enough so I decided to create my own recipe for marinara. I’ve made it a few times and made tweaks along the way. I think the final version is pretty tasty (if I do say so myself).

Just FYI. This sauce is better the next day, so the longer it sits and stews, the better.

I’ve used it in many ways ~ as the sauce in my lasagna (added sausage), as a basic sauce over penne pasta (added heavy cream), and as a braising sauce for short ribs.

Marinara Sauce de la Jenni / Suburban Foodie Original

Cook & Prep Time: 20 minutes for prep / 2-3 hours for sauce

 You will need: 

  • a 7-quart stock pot
  • chef’s knife
  • liquid and dry measuring utensils
  • various spoons and spatulas

Ingredients:

1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of sugar

5 garlic cloves, minced

1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

1 tablespoon of dried basil

6 oz of tomato paste

16 oz of Marsala wine

1 medium onion (or 1/2 lg onion), diced

8 oz of beef stock

Salt & pepper

olive oil

1 lb of Italian Sausage (optional)

1/2 cup of heavy cream (optional)

Directions: 

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once heated, add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the following: garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil. Saute for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the Marsala wine to deglaze the pan and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add the beef stock, balsamic vinegar, sugar, crushed tomatoes and the tomato paste. Add salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil to taste. Stir until well combined. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 2 hours. The longer it simmers the better it is.

Optional items ~

Sausage: When I made the lasagna, I added 1 pound of Italian sausage. I cooked the sausage first, then added the onions and other ingredients in order as listed above.

Heavy cream: I added this ingredient last to make the sauce a little creamier!

 I will post the lasagna and the braised short ribs recipes in posts to follow.

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Marmalade Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Pork, Mommy taters, broccoli final

Okay. This may seem stalker-ish to you, but here’s another yummy recipe from Rufus’ Food and Spirit Guide food blog. While I was looking for recipes and discovered the lemon chicken and Brussels sprouts recipes mentioned in my last post, I also came across this recipe for pork – Marmalade Marinated Pork Roast.

Instead of using a pork roast, I used two pork tenderloins (about the same weight). I also marinated the meat a little differently than the recipe stated. I covered the pork with the marinade and let the tenderloins sit at room temperature for an hour.

Marinating Pork

Cook the pork tenderloin in the oven set at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. It will be tender and juicy.

Marmalade Pork Final

With the pork, I served “Mommy Taters” (for recipe, click here) and steamed broccoli.Mommy Taters ready for oven

 

Lemon Chicken & Brussels Sprouts

Lemon Chicken & Brussel sprouts

I was looking for meal inspiration on my some of my favorite food blogs and saw a recipe post on Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide food blog and this recipe looked easy and yummy. Right up my alley.

Check out this post for lemon chicken and brussels sprouts (yes, that is not a type-o). Both of these recipes are very easy and delicious. Even the sprouts, despite what my kids may tell you.

Click here for both recipes and go over there and see what’s cooking!

BTW, I did double the chicken recipe for our family.

Brussels sprouts on stove top

Chicken simmering in sauce

What’s a Frittata?

Frittata FinalLast Sunday morning, as I was folding laundry, I turned on the Food Network and Ina was on making something amazing as usual. Among the feast offerings was a frittata. My interest was piqued because we had recently come into a lot of eggs, I had some ricotta, it was a new thing for me to make and I was hungry.

Egg backstory: At the grocery, the cashier noticed one of our eggs was cracked so we got a new carton per the usual custom. But, when we got home we noticed that she also put the original carton in our bag so we had twenty-three good eggs and only paid for twelve. Booya!

I followed the Ina Garten recipe the best I could. I didn’t have all of the items on hand so I had to improvise a little. Below is the recipe I made. Click here for the Ina Garten | Food Network recipe.

It was surprisingly simple, really delicious and the kids liked it too!

Ina’s Potato-Basil Frittata (made with spinach and not basil) / Ina Garten

Servings:  6-8

Cook & Prep Time: 65 minutes (20 minutes prep / 45-55 minutes cooking)

 You will need: 

  • 10-inch iron skillet
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 2 small bowls
  • whisk
  • chef’s knife
  • rubber spatula
  • measuring utensils (dry and liquid)

Ingredients:

8 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided into 3 Tbsp & 5 Tbsp

2 cups of peeled and 1/2-in diced red potatoes (I didn’t peel mine. Too much work.)

8 extra-large eggs

15 oz of ricotta cheese

3/4 lb of shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I didn’t have Gruyere on hand)

3/4 cup of chopped baby spinach (I didn’t have fresh basil on hand)

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup of flour

3/4 teaspoon of baking powder

Directions: 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the iron skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of butter to medium heat. Then add the potatoes and fry them until cooked through (15-20 minutes). Turn often.

Fried Potatoes

While the potatoes are cooking, make the egg mixture. In the large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together first. In one small microwave safe dish, melt the 5 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. In the other small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.

Add the following to the whisked eggs: ricotta cheese, shredded cheese, dry ingredients and the melted butter (cooled a bit so as not to cook the eggs). Mix thoroughly.

When the potatoes are done, turn the heat down, spread the potatoes into an even layer. When the skillet has cooled a bit, pour the egg mixture over the potatoes.

Frittata Ready for Oven

Place the skillet in the middle of the heated oven. Check the frittata at 45 minutes. If not done, check at 5 minute intervals. It shouldn’t take longer than an hour to cook. You’ll know it’s done when a knife stuck in the middle comes out cleanly (like when baking a cake).

Frittata fresh from Oven

I served this for brunch with a side of fruit. Yummy!

 

I Hear There is Yummy Chicken in Morocco

Morrocan Chicken Final

This one requires some explanation. I have this Dutch Oven cookbook that I like a lot and this recipe title caught my eye, Moroccan Chicken and Pastina Bake. The picture above is from the second time I made this dish (I trashed all of the pics from the first time because they did not look yummy enough).

I hate to say it, but the first time I made it, it was bland and tasteless. And, I always follow the instructions explicitly when it’s a new recipe so you know I’m speaking the truth here. However, when necessary, I will take artistic license on future attempts of a recipe.

Trust me. It was necessary.

I thought it was weird that I wasn’t instructed to brown the chicken first (so, essentially boiled chicken. yuck.) So, on my second attempt, I used a Tweaked Out version of a Bob Greene pork rub to give it some pizzazz. For the original rub, click here.

My family agreed that my zipped up version of this Morrocan dish was waaaayy better than the original. The recipe below is what I’ll be going with from now on.

Moroccan Chicken with a Bob Greene Kick / The Dutch Oven Cookbook

Servings:  6-8

Cook & Prep Time: 90 minutes (30 minutes prep / 60 minutes cooking)

 You will need: 

  • a 7-qt Le Creuset stock pot
  • 1 small mixing bowl
  • a garlic press (unless you want to mince your garlic)
  • chef’s knife
  • tongs
  • zester
  • measuring utensils (dry and liquid)

Ingredients:

Chicken & Rub:

10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 garlic cloves, pressed

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

2 Tablespoons of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 Tablespoon of cinnamon

1/2 Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Everything Else:

1 lb of cherry tomatoes, rinsed and stemmed

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt (and more to taste)

1 large red onion, diced

1 quart of chicken stock

1 lb of penne pasta

2 cinnamon sticks

Zest and juice of 1 orange

Directions: 

Chicken:

Prepare the chicken first. In a small bowl, mix the following ingredients: dark brown sugar, oregano, cinnamon, salt and unsweetened cocoa powder. Mix these well with a fork. Then, add the pressed garlic and olive oil.  Use a fork to mix thoroughly until it is like a paste.

Place your chicken thighs on a cutting board. Dry them with a paper towel and then add the rub to the top of chicken thighs. Then, let the chicken marinate in the rub at room temperature for thirty minutes.

Chicken with Rub

While the chicken is marinating, prepare everything else so you are ready to go. And, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat some olive oil in the stock pot to medium high. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides for about 2 minutes each. Place on a platter until all have been browned.

While the chicken is resting, add the tablespoon of olive oil to the stock pot. Add the cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover the stock pot and put in the oven to bake for 15 minutes.

When the 15 minutes is up, pull the stock pot out of the oven, place on the stove and add the rest of the ingredients. Layer: pasta, chicken thighs, red onion, cinnamon sticks, orange zest, orange juice and chicken stock. Make sure there is enough liquid to just cover everything. (If you need to add a bit more stock, do it.)

Add a little more salt and pepper, put the lid back on the stock pot and put the pot back in the 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.  

The revised version of this dish was very tasty! Try it, you’ll like it.

I promise.

 

Chicken Avgolemono (Huh?)

From Dictonary.com:

av·go·lem·o·no

 Greek  [ahv-goh-lem-uh-noh; Greek ahv-gaw-le-maw-naw] noun Greek Cookery. A  soup or sauce made with beaten eggs, lemon juice, and usually chicken broth.

Lemon Chicken Soup - Greek

This is another recipe from my new soup cookbook, easy soups.

New Cookbook

The hubs called with the usual inquiry, “What’s for dinner?” I didn’t know how to answer because I couldn’t pronounce the name of the soup!

Below is the original recipe. I doubled it for our family of four just so we could have some leftovers.

Here are a couple of observations:

Observation numero uno ~ some of the rice was crunchy. Yes, I know. I obviously did not let it cook long enough. After discussing with the family, we decided that orzo would be a better substitute so the next time I make it, I’m making it with orzo.

Observation numero dos, regarding the homemade croutons, um yeah. Something went awry. I don’t think the oil was hot enough or the bread wasn’t stale enough. After I cooked them in the stockpot in the oil, they got kind of soggy. I had to crisp them up by baking them in the oven. Next, time? I’m using store-bought croutons. Blasphemy, I know.

Chicken Avgolemono / Easy Soups pg 159

Servings:  4

Cook & Prep Time: 55 minutes total – 20 minutes for prep / 30-35 minutes for cooking

 You will need: 

  • a 7-quart stock pot
  • chef’s knife
  • a couple of mixing bowls
  • a ladle
  • measuring utensils
  • various spoons and spatulas

Ingredients:

Soup:

6 cups (or 1.5 quarts) of chicken stock

1 roasted chicken from the deli section of grocery, remove skin and pull all meat from the bones.

1/2 cup of long-grain rice

3 eggs

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Croutons:

6 tablespoons of olive oil

4 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled & smashed

3 slices of stale white bread (3/4 inch thick, cut into 3/4 inch cubes)

Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions: 

 Bread cubes & garlic

Heat the stockpot to super hot, add the olive oil, and garlic cloves. When one cube sizzles and turns brown in 4 seconds, it’s time to add the bread cubes. Cook (stirring constantly) over medium heat for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Discard the garlic and drain the bread cubes on a paper towel.

Croutons

In the same stockpot, keep heat on medium and add the chicken stock. Next add the rice and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Add the chicken until completely warmed through. I let it cook for about 15 minutes.

While the chicken is warming in the soup, whisk the eggs and the lemon juice together in a mixing bowl. Next, whisk a ladle of warm chicken stock into the egg/lemon mixture to thin and temper the eggs.

Bring the heat down to low and pour the egg/lemon/stock mixture into the stockpot while vigorously whisking (you don’t want to scramble the eggs). This will thicken the soup. Remove from heat. 

Your soup is ready!

Serve in soup bowels and garnish with the croutons.

Avgolemono is a hearty, easy soup and I highly recommend giving it a try!

My First Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup Final2013 was definitely a challenging year for me and didn’t allow me to tend to my food blog. I really missed blogging and missed cooking. However, we did not starve! Our supremely generous friends and family made meals for us during my radiation treatments and during my surgery recovery.

It was so wonderful – we had some delicious meals that were new to us. I’m still waiting on some recipes, hint. hint.

While waiting on the recipes from my friends and family, the first new meal of the new year was found in my new cookbook that I received as a Christmas present. I highly recommend it for easy, yummy soup recipes. (Our family loves soup).

New Cookbook

Minestrone with Parmesan / easy soups (pg 20)

Servings: 4 (I actually doubled this recipe for us)

Cook & Prep Time:  25 minutes for prepping / 35-40 minutes for cooking

You will need:

  • 5 to 7-qt stock pot
  • Tongs
  • Wooden spoon
  • Chef’s knife
  • measuring utensils – dry and liquid

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 Carrots, chopped

4 Celery stalks, chopped 

1 Red Onion, chopped

6 Garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons of Flatleaf Parsley, freshly chopped

3 Teaspoons of Tomato Paste

14 oz can of plum tomatoes, chopped (I bought can of crushed tomatoes)

4 cups of Chicken or Vegetable stock

14 oz can of Borlotti Beans (what? I used navy beans – they are a good substitute)

Parmesan rind (optional)

5 oz of spring greens, shredded (I used baby spinach)

3 1/2 oz of spaghetti, broken up

Salt and black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

Veggies for soup

Chop the vegetables and put them in a bowl: Red Onion, Carrots, Garlic and Celery.

veggies ready for the pot

In the soup pot over low to medium low heat, heat the olive oil and add the vegetables. Saute the vegetables, covered for about 10-15 minutes (or until thoroughly softened).

Carrots, onions, celery & garlic sauteeing

Add the parsley, tomato paste and tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Next, add the stock and beans (whatever the variety) and bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. If you have the parm rind, add it here.

Add the pasta and cook for as long as the directions call for (about 7-8 minutes). Can we talk about the spaghetti? Against my gut, I used the broken spaghetti, but it just doesn’t work well in a soup. It was frustrating to eat for everyone. I would recommend a short pasta: rotini, penne, or farfalle. That was the only critique of the soup – everyone loved the flavor.

When the pasta is almost done, add the greens so they can wilt into the soup. Also, this is where to add the salt and pepper to taste.

Pile the Spinach on!Spinach Wilting

To serve, dish into pasta bowls and garnish with a small dollop of sour cream and freshly shaved parmesan cheese. I also served some awesome fresh bread. 

Dinner Table

This recipe received a thumbs up from everyone despite the spaghetti. It also reheats really well and tastes better the next day.