Posts Tagged 'tomatoes'



Mama’s Spaghetti

I wish I could say this recipe came from a true Italian, but this is the name my girls’ have affectionately given my meaty spaghetti sauce.

It’s really just a simple sauce made from ground beef. But it sure is yummy!

I have been making it for years.  I always keep a portion or two in my freezer for those days when I run out of time, but still want a home-cooked dinner. Serve it over pasta or use it in your next lasagna.

I have experimented with fresh tomatoes, canned whole tomatoes, and canned diced tomatoes, but I have found that canned crushed tomatoes offer the best “saucy” texture. If you like chunks of tomatoes in your spaghetti sauce, then add a small can of diced tomatoes to this basic recipe.  I often add a half a pound of Italian sausage for a little extra “Italian-ness.”

Enjoy!

Mama’s Spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (28-ounce) crushed tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 box (1 pound/16-ounce) spaghetti, cooked per package directions and kept warm

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the meat and cook, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked meat to a colander and drain off the excess fat.

Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, thyme, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the meat to the pot and stir to combine. Over high heat, bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until thickened, about 45 minutes. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve hot over warm pasta.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: Draining the excess fat once the ground beef is cooked makes for a healthier and less greasy finished dish.

Freezes well.

Crock Pot Beef Stew

Do you have a crock pot?  I didn’t think I did. Then one day last year I decided to clean out my pantry.  And low and behold, what did I find tucked at the very back of the top shelf?  A brand-spankin’ new crock pot.

I thought “Now where did this come from?”  As I was scratching my head in puzzlement, I opened the lid and lying inside was a gift card from Goldsmith’s Department Store (which by the way has been a Macy’s for a long, long time). The enclosure read “Best Wishes! Happy Cooking!” It seems this long-forgotten crock pot had been a wedding present.  It had been tucked away waiting patiently to be used for over 11 (Yes…I said 11!) years!

Neither my parents nor my grandparents had a crock pot so I had never used one before.  It was one of those wedding gifts where I appreciated the thought…but I didn’t really have a use for it.  (Now that I have discovered it, I am so glad that I didn’t gift it to Goodwill like I had that huge Japanese rice cooker I had gotten.)

As chance would happen, my sister had recently been telling me about this great beef stew she had made.  So I decided to give it a try in my “new” crock pot.  Before heading off to work that morning, I browned the meat and threw all the ingredients in.  With a bit of skepticism, I turned the pot on and headed out the door.  I thought “This is too easy to be true.  Will this taste good?  Will it be done when I get home?”

When I opened my back door hours later, I was hit by the delicious aroma of wine, tomatoes and garlic.  I rushed over to the pot and lifted the lid.  I was thrilled to discover a simmering pot of juicy and tender beef stew.  The beef literally fell apart at the touch and the tomatoes, wine and beef had rendered a delicious sauce.  I though “Wow!  Paul is going to think I spent all day in the kitchen!”

All that was left for me to do was boil a pot of rice.  (Heck…maybe I should have kept that Japanese rice cooker!) And since I had used a little wine to deglaze my browning pan, I also had almost a full bottle open to enjoy with my “no-effort” gourmet dinner!

So, here is a recipe that will turn even the most skeptical slow cooker skeptic into a crock pot enthusiast!

Enjoy!

P.S.: I am still trying to build up my crock pot recipe repertoire, so feel free to share your favorite slow cooker recipes!

Crock Pot Beef Stew

This is one of my favorite work-day dishes. I place everything in the crock pot before I head off to work…and when I come home, I have a delicious home-cooked meal waiting to be served.

4 pounds chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup good red wine, such as a Merlot or Shiraz
1 can (28-ounce) whole tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
2 bay leaves

Generously season the meat with salt and pepper.

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Working in two batches so as not to over crowd the pan, cook the meat, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Place the meat in a crock pot. Pour the red wine into the skillet, scraping the brown bits off the bottom, to deglaze the pan. Pour the wine mixture into the crock pot.

Add the whole tomatoes to the crock pot, breaking them up with a spoon or fork. Add the garlic, carrots, and the bay leaves. Cover and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours. Adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: If you do not have a crock pot, you can still make this dish. Instead of putting the ingredients into a crock pot, place them in a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot with a lid and bake in a 250 degree oven for 3 hours.

Freezes well

Chili Con Carne

The cowboys of the Old West knew just what they were doing when they concocted chili. Nothing satisfies on a chilly winter night like this spicy one-dish meal.

I am what you may consider a chili “purist”… a simple yet spicy Chili Con Carne being my favorite.  The heat in my recipe comes from chili powder.  But I also add cumin and oregano to give the flavor more depth. 

I don’t normally add beans to mine, but if you like beans in your chili, no problem. Just add a drained can (15-ounce) of red kidney beans. 

This simple, old West dish is also an ideal dinner party option.  Chili is easy to make (the cowboys did it over a simple campfire), can be made ahead of time, and even freezes well.

Set out colorful bowls, encourage guests to serve themselves straight from the pot and then garnish their chili with their favorite toppings from your “chili bar.”  Sour cream, fresh cilantro, jalapenos, minced onion, shredded cheese, diced mild green chilies, and hot sauce all make great garnishes to any bowl of chili.  Plus your guests will have a ball concocting their own signature dish.

Enjoy!

Chili Con Carne

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup small-diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup seeded and small-diced green bell pepper (1 pepper)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 dash paprika
1 bay leaf
1 can (15-ounce) whole tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups water

In a large stockpot over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano, cayenne, paprika, and bay leaf and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the whole tomatoes to the pot, breaking them up with a spoon or fork. Add the tomato paste, sugar, and water to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the chili from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve hot.

Serves 6.

Grilled Herb Chicken with Kalamata Olives, Cherry Tomatoes and Feta Cheese

Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
½ small red onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh mint

Heat a clean grill to medium-high.  Season both sides of the chicken with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Grill until no longer pink in the middle, 6 to 8 minutes per side. 

While the chicken is cooking, place the tomatoes, olives, red onion, oil and vinegar in a medium bowl.  Toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the feta cheese and mint; gently toss.

To serve, place the chicken on the plate and top with a generous spoonful of the tomato mixture.

Share

Tomato Tart

Serves 6 to 8

1 9-inch tart pan lined with pie crust (store-bought is a great shortcut)
3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2 -inch thick slices
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere cheese
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is set, 8 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake until golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and drain in a colander for 10 to 15 minutes.

Turn up the oven to 400°F.

Spread the mustard over the bottom of the pie crust and sprinkle the cheese over it. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese in 1 overlapping layer. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the tomatoes are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the basil, garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the pie with this mixture while hot and spread out gently with the back of a spoon. Serve the pie hot or at room temperature.

Blackened Swordfish with Fresh Corn and Tomato Relish

Serves 4

4 1-inch thick swordfish steaks
4 tbsp. blackening seasoning
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 ears of corn, shucked and kernels removed
2 large tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup minced fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat a clean grill to medium-high.

Season swordfish steaks with blackening seasoning. 

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil until warm.  Add the corn and tomatoes.  Sauté, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.  Keep warm.

Place swordfish on the grill and cook until medium, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. 

Serve warm garnished with the relish.


Jennifer Chandler

Search Recipes by Category

Learn more with the Simply Grilling cookbook

Learn more with the Simply Salads cookbook

Follow me!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 157 other followers

Twitter Updates