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.

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.

Orzo with Feta & Roasted Veggies

Veggie Orzo & SalmonSurprise, surprise! My going-to-be-college-sophomore cooked dinner for us the other night, and it was really, really good. She is always surprising me which is a good thing:)

One of her college roommates is a vegetarian and Rachel learned this easy, delicious recipe from her. Her roomie eats this as a main dish, but Rachel prepared it as a side dish with baked salmon. (Even my 13-year-old son had seconds!)

Orzo with Feta and Roasted Vegetables

Servings:  5-6

Cook & Prep Time: 35 minutes tops (10 minutes for prepping and 25 minutes for cooking).

 You will need: 

  • rimmed baking dish lined with foil
  • mixing bowl
  • chef’s knife
  • pot for cooking pasta
  • serving bowl
  • various spoons and spatulas
  • liquid measuring tools

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of orzo pasta

12 oz of crumbled feta cheese

3 medium-sized zucchinis (or one large eggplant), diced

2 red peppers, diced

2 yellow peppers, diced

1 red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for coating the veggies)

salt and pepper

 Directions: 

In a mixing bowl, add the diced zucchini, red peppers, yellow peppers, red onion, and minced garlic. Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the veggie mixture on your lined baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

With about 10 minutes left on the veggies, cook the orzo pasta.

Also, mix the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and olive oil to make the dressing.

When everything is done, mix the veggies, orzo, feta cheese and coat with the dressing while everything is still warm so the feta melts a bit.

You are ready to serve it!

IMG_9590

Try this recipe. You will not be disappointed!

Bawdy, Flattened Chicken (aka Chicken Paillard)

IMG_8205 FinalDid you know that paillard in French means bawdy? I looked it up online and that’s what I found. Hmmm… Obviously, in culinary terms, it means flattened. How did meaning get from bawdy to flattened?

If anyone out there really knows French and determines that the research I did was faulty, please feel free to correct me.

I’ve made this dish three times and the third time was the best. Below is my modified recipe. The original recipe can be found in my Rachael Ray Classic 30-Minute Meals cookbook.

Chicken Paillard on Baby Greens / Classic 30-Minute Meals

Servings:  4 (depends on how many chicken breast you want to buy)

Cook & Prep Time: 35 minutes (15 minutes for prepping and 20 minutes for cooking).

You will need: 

  • a large skillet
  • large plate & foil
  • dish for flour
  • tongs
  • whisk
  • chef’s knife
  • measuring utensils (dry and liquid)

Chicken Ingredients:

8 chicken cutlets

Olive oil

4 tablespoons of butter, cut into pieces (let it set out and get to room temperature)

4 tablespoons of flour, then additional flour for coating chicken

Fresh tarragon, chopped

1 lemon, need both zest and juice

1/4 cup of white wine

2 cups of chicken stock

salt and pepper

1 bag of baby greens

Directions: 

Lay out the chicken breast cutlets on a cutting board, pat dry with a paper towel. Then dredge each piece in flour and season both sides with salt and pepper.

In the large skillet, heat the oil on medium to medium-high heat. Cook the chicken cutlets for 3 minutes per side.  Put the chicken in pan, sprinkle with some tarragon and lemon zest. Flip the chicken, squeeze a bit of lemon juice on the second side and also sprinkle with some tarragon. When done remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil.

While the chicken is cooking, mix the 4 tablespoons of flour and the room-temperature butter until it looks like a paste. You will use this to thicken your sauce.

Once the chicken is done cooking, use the same pan and turn the heat down to low and give it a minute. Add the white wine to the pan to deglaze. Next add the flour-butter paste and whisk quickly – this is your rue. Turn the heat up to medium. While whisking, add the chicken stock and keeping stirring until the butter, flour and chicken stock are thoroughly incorporated. Your sauce is done when it can coat a spoon.

If you have left over tarragon, add it to your sauce. Also, squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the sauce as well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The Greens:  You are supposed to just use some lemon juice and olive oil. I did this the first time and it was too lemon-y. The last time I made it, I bought some Henri’s® Sweet & Tangy Blend Tas-tee Homestyle Dressing for the greens. I just used a light coating for baby greens. It was a nice complement to the chicken.

To Serve, cover the bottom of the plate with the warm sauce. Top with a small pile of the baby greens, 2 chicken cutlets and then drizzle more sauce over the tops of the cutlets.

Sides: I’ve made pasta as a side as you can see in the picture (use the brown sauce on the pasta). I’ve also made roasted asparagus – 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, asparagus, olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

It’s been well-received every time I’ve made it. It’s a quick, but elegant meal if you need to impress someone and don’t have a lot of time!

Crock Pot ~ Creamy Braised Chicken Pappardelle

IMG_7488

Pappardelle noodles. I’ve never had them or cooked with them.  You will notice in the picture above that those are not pappardelle noodles. When at the store buying the ingredients for this dish, I was disappointed to find that the three remaining bags of pappardelle noodles were crushed to tiny bits. This just wouldn’t do.

So, I bought a pricier bag of fresh linguine noodles instead. They were a fine substitute.

I will definitely be making this again since everyone licked their bowls clean at the table (I’d never seen anything like it) and I will be using pappardelle noodles. What are they? They are wide ribbon-like linguine noodles and they make your dish look pretty.

Where did I get this creamy and delicious recipe? From my new cookbook that I received as a Christmas present:

IMG_7497

Braised Chicken Pappardelle / The New Slow Cooker (pg 113)

Servings: 6

Cook & Prep Time: 25-30 minutes for prepping / 5 to 6 hours for cooking

You will need:

  • Crock Pot
  • Pasta Pot
  • 7-quart stock pot
  • Iron skillet
  • Tongs
  • Whisk
  • Chef’s knife
  • Resting plate for the chicken
  • 1 gallon storage bag
  • measuring utensils – dry and liquid

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken about 3.5 lbs, cut into 10 pieces (I did not do this. I used 3.5 lbs of skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs – they take the same amount of time to cook and it’s very easy to remove the bones.)

In the gallon storage bag:

1 cup of flour

3/4 teaspoon of salt

pepper

1 Tablespoon of unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

1 stalk of celery, finely chopped

3/4 cup of dry white wine

3/4 cup of chicken stock

3 bay leaves

2/3 cup of heavy cream (I used 1 cup)

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 of the lemon

2 Teaspoons of chopped tarragon (I used 2 Tablespoons and some additional for garnish).

1 lb of pappardelle

Directions:

Pat the chicken dry. Then, one at a time add a chicken piece to the bag to toss and coat. Shake the any loose flour and place on a cutting board.

In the iron skillet over medium high heat, melt the olive oil and the butter. Brown each piece of chicken on both sides. You will have to do this in batches. I placed the pieces skin-side down first for 7 minutes and then flipped for another 3 minutes.

Once all of the pieces are browned, turn the heat down a bit on the iron skillet and remove some of the fat. Leave some for sauteing the veggies. Add the carrots, celery, and onion and saute for about 5 minutes.

Add the wine and chicken stock and simmer for about 10 minutes.

When done simmering, pour this wine/veggie mixture into the crock pot or slow cooker (I grew up with the term crock pot so that’s what I’m used to). Next, place the chicken pieces on top. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. The chicken should be falling off the bone – that’s when you’ll know it’s done.

When the crock pot time is done, remove the chicken from the crock pot and place on a platter. Remove the skin and the bones, place the chicken in a bowl and shred with a fork. Set aside.

At this time, get the pasta pot ready and cook the pasta by following the directions on the package. The fresh pasta I used only took 5 minutes to cook.

Place the 7-quart stock pot on the stove on medium heat. Pour the contents of the crock pot into the stock pot. Simmer for 5 minutes, then whisk in the cream, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some grinds of pepper. Let simmer for another 5 minutes, then add the lemon zest, lemon juice and tarragon. Keep the sauce warm until the pasta is ready.

When the pasta is done, drain and add to the stock pot. Stir to coat and combine thoroughly. Then add the chicken and let warm through – about 3-5 minutes.

It’s ready to eat!

To serve, dish into pasta bowls and garnish with fresh tarragon.

This is not a typical crock pot recipe where you throw every in and forget about it. It takes some prep work, but it is really worth it. Trust me.