Friday, July 29, 2011

Kitchen Sink Sauce

Between the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and our own garden, we have had a surplus of tomatoes.

So this past week when we were plum full of veggies I decided to make tomato sauce.

What better way to get an assortment of vegetables into your children then through tomato sauce (something that can go on anything from spaghetti, "meatball" subs, to stromboli).

I started out with this

I know that looks like A LOT of produce we ended up using:

3 summer squash
2 patty pan squash
2 vidalia onions
3 bell peppers
5 cloves of garlic
6 carrots
1 jalapeno
20-22 tomatoes
1 bag of spinach

It goes without saying, at least in our house, that the produce was all organic.

After I got everything chopped up (no need for pretty pieces as it will all be blended in the end) I began sauteing everything but the spinach and tomatoes.  For me this gives the vegetables another layer of flavor.

Man does that look good in the pan.  The colors are beautiful and the smell was out of this world.  I didn't use any seasonings just a tablespoon or two of olive oil for the pan.

After about 10 minutes everything had a nice brown caramelized color to it.

I added the vegetables, my vast quantity of tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons of sugar to a stock pot and simmered on low while covered.

After about 20 minutes, although times can very depending on the stove, my veggies had cooked down enough that I could add my spinach.

I let the veggies simmer some more to wilt the spinach and then I let this tomato perfection cool.

It takes a REALLY long time for this to cool off, for me it was overnight.

The next day I blended everything down and canned it

You will notice that I didn't include any spices (not even pepper or salt).  The reasoning for this is that I prefer to season the sauce based upon the meal I am serving.  For example I may want red pepper flakes in one batch for some "meatball" subs (no real meat for me) but for spaghetti I might just want some pepper, salt, and Italian seasoning.
By leaving it plain you can do a variety of things and allows for lots of experimentation.

I have made this sauce once before and had some different veggies (i.e. zucchini which was missing from this batch). 

I encourage you to put anything in that you think will taste good.  This is a great way to make some super powered sauce.

I will feature this sauce next week in my eggplant parmesan...which I promise will delight and have you never thinking chicken was supposed to be in this dish.

For a great Stonyfield "Summer Pack" check out This Mama Cook's
For a great chance to win $100 gift card for Tea Collection check out Akron Ohion Mom

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Peas and Thank You Review

Sheer excitement is what I felt all of yesterday.

I could not wait for my work day to end so that I could rush home and find this:

Can't tell what great package I've received from

It is Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meal the Whole Family Will Love by Sarah Matheny (aka Mama Pea).

Look at the excitement once I FINALLY got the wrapping off

I don't know what was going through my head, as these are some goofy shots.  What can I say, I was giddy with excitement and couldn't wait to sit down and read it. 

Read a cookbook you say?  Why yes I love to read recipes, but I already knew (from keeping up with her blog) that the book was going to be filled with stories.

It was after 8 when I finally got my children to bed and I could delve into the pages. 

The book does not disappoint.

Sarah goes through how she gave up meat and the transformation her family took into a mostly vegan lifestyle (there is a small amount of cheese consumption by the youngest daughter, Lulu).  She has numerous witty stories related to her children and husband.  My favorite story, thus far as I didn't make it completely through the book (I mean a girl has to go to bed sometime), is "fruit skewers with cheesecake dip." 

I don't want to give the story away but I can relate to the anxiety a mother, who feeds her children good food, goes through when it is time for school birthday celebrations.  Fruit skewers gets an A+.

As for the recipes, oh the glorious recipes, there is a picture to go with each one.  I don't know about you but I very much appreciate knowing what the dish SHOULD look like upon completion.  The photography is so well done that the food practically jumps off of the pages and begs to be eaten.

The choices of recipes are ones that will be loved by meat eaters and veggie eaters alike.  Sarah takes meals that are traditionally carnivorous and veganizes them (i.e. jambalaya and reubens).

The best way to describe the format is two books harmoniously and naturally melded into one.  Mama Pea seemlessly moves from Hawaiian vacation story to recipe for a blackberry basil smash smoothie... and never misses a beat.

After reading her blog for so long I could just sit down and read a book dedicated Mama Pea and her daily dealings (similar to sTori Telling by Tori Spelling...just no fake boobs for Mama Pea), maybe that could be her next publication (although we might feel short changed if we didn't get a few delicious recipes from her).

I gush so much about the book and this woman because seriously if I knew her in real life I think I would love her and beg to be friends with her.  I relate to so many aspects of her life (i.e. raising healthy children, dry wit, sarcasm, raunchy humor, and a baseball loving husband who supports the new choices in eating).

I think it goes without saying that I highly recommend this book.  It can be purchased in a number of stores such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Target as well as a few more here.

So let me close by saying...Give Peas a chance :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DEALicious What I Ate Wednesday

Yesterday was DEALicious!

You haven't heard of DEALicious?  It is a day in which there are so many deals you can take advantage of that it is just overwhelming.

I had coupons (Groupon, Pier 1, and News and Record--a local paper)

The Groupon bought my lunch at a local Mexican restaurant (I took the hubby to be nice)

Once we finished our meal we headed over to Pier 1 and picked up these beauties:

Which cost $0.00!  It was a fantastic coupon for $10 off of a $10 can't beat that.

Next we headed over to Toys & Co, a fantastic local toy store, I had a coupon from my local paper to buy $40 worth of merchandise for $20. 

So I purchased my 8 year olds birthday present (sorry no pics I don't want to ruin the surprise) and then for fun I picked up these:

Straws that make chocolate milk, but only as you suck the milk through the straw.  Kind of a fun novelty item I thought the kids would like...and they did!!

The fun didn't end at the toy store. 

My last stop was at Victoria's Secret. 

I had one of these

Which got me this

Sorry I can't reveal the contents.

I thought "Wow today just can't get any better."

I really shouldn't have said that because waiting on my doorstep were two boxes of cookies from Enjoy Life that I won from Leanne at Healthful Pursuit

That pic sums up the excitement I felt when opening these up and giving them a try for the first time.

WHOA!  They are delicious.  Crunchy, filling, and tasty.

Each cookie is only 55 calories a piece and to make it sweeter (you like the double entendre) they are gluten free.

Thank you Leanne for sponsoring the giveaway and I am enjoying these cookies to the max.  I am being generous though, I brought them to work and have been selectively sharing them with co-workers.

Well that concludes my day of deals but it doesn't conclude the fun I had in the kitchen creating this apple pie (see I promised yesterday there would be an apple recipe)

The deviation from normal pie comes in the crust.  I didn't do a typical flaky crust instead I took more of an oat approach.

Crust Ingredients

3/4 C unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 C quick oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C brown sugar
5 Tbsp Earth Balance
4 Tbsp cold water

Combine the flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar with a fork.

Then cut in your Earth Balance (I just couldn't bring myself to use shortening) with a pastry cutter, or two forks will do.  The mixture should resemble peas when blended.

Add your water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and begin incorporating into a dough ball (see below)

I took the ball and pressed it directly into my pie plate instead of rolling it out as the consistency is more of an oatmeal cookie then sturdy pie crust

I baked the crust for 10 minutes on 350 degrees while I prepped the apples

I sliced and diced 3 apples and then covered them with:

3/4 C sugar
2 Tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Pour the mixture over the apples and toss.

Remove your crust from the oven and pour apple mixture on top.

Crank the oven up to 375 degrees and bake for 45-50 minutes.

The result was breakfast for the kids this morning in which half of the pie was consumed. 

Don't judge me though.  The pie is more filling, and healthy, with the oat crust.

I tried to take a picture of a slice, but a certain 2 year olds hand kept sneaking bites.

Day 9 of Operation Declutter My House a frame for school pictures...I just don't like to use these though so it has to go

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just Peachy!


And I am not exaggerating. 

When you wake up at 6:30 and your windows already have dense condensation on them from the humidity you know things will not be pleasant when you go out.

To alleviate some of that pain I made this:

Peach Sorbet

I thought I had died and gone to heaven.


4 C chopped peaches
1 C sugar
pinch of salt
2 C water

I chopped my peaches and left the skins on

Next you will need to combine the water and sugar in a pan over medium to low heat until the sugar completely dissolves.  Then stir in a pinch of salt.  This creates your simple syrup.

Combine your peaches and simple syrup and blend till smooth.

I did leave a few chunks because I like to have a little something to chew when I have sorbet.

The mixture needs to be refridgerated for at least 2-3 hours (but can be as long as overnight), just follow the directions of your ice cream maker for this.

Pour your ingredients into your ice cream maker and wait (mine took 20 minutes to get to the desired consistency.

Waiting can be the hardest part

Finally we are ready for consumption

Man oh Man!

I wish I could share some of this with you. 

It was fresh, delicious, and peachy. 

I highly recommend whipping some up and sharing with others. 

This has been a delightful treat for the kids and a tad bit better for them with the absence of any dairy.

Day 8 of Operation Declutter My House is seeing these little gems go

We had a small collection of these snap together boxes occupying an armoire.  Now they are gone and our board games, which previously shared the space, have a little room to breath.

Just a quick note if you enjoy reading my blog please consider "following" me. :)

I'll see you tomorrow for WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday) and a terrific apple recipe!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

CSA Haul and Updated Banana Split

On Friday's we head over to Faucette Farms to pick up our bounty from their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).


Yet another wonderful week in which I feel we got TONS of food for the money.

That watermelon is bigger then any I have ever seen before at about 2.5 feet long.

We were lucky to still get some peaches (a recipe with them coming tomorrow!!!) and some apples (a recipe with those the day after tomorrow!!).

My favorite item in our bag were these tomatoes

Those tiny ones in the back are the best snack food.  They are about the size of a blueberry and you can just pop them in your mouth and go.

Speaking of snacks my children LOVE snacks, whole meals not so much, but mention "snack" and they are on board for whatever you are serving...hence my new favorite snack.

Aften dinner last night the kids wanted dessert and my husband mentioned banana splits...but we don't have any type of ice cream.

So to avoid going to the grocery story and spending money we didn't need to spend I decided to feed the kids these...

Cut in half and topped with this...


In a sandwich bag I placed a handful of animal crackers and crushed them with a meat mallet

The poor meat mallet hasn't gotten much of a workout since I gave up meat, but it did turn those animal crackers into this

A nice fine crunchy middle for my banana treat.

Put the banana halves back together and serve

My husband preferred to have his topped with peanut butter, animal crackers, and chocolate chips

Both very yummy and healthy alternatives to the traditional banana split.

I didn't blog this weekend, I know "BAD" Rachel, but I did want to share the items that were removed for Operation Declutter My House:

Saturday, Day 5:

Sunday (we decided to go big and to Goodwill), Day 6:

9 coffee mugs (that's alot for two people who don't drink coffee)

model train

bag of clothing and some running shoes that I have always hated

For today I am have removed this toy which provided hours of fun for my boys (Day 7):

My First Leap Pad

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday and come back tomorrow for a delicious and refreshing peach treat.