Dec 072016
 

One of the things Michael and I kind of miss from our “old life” was how we used to cook together. We’d find a recipe and open a bottle of wine and hang out in the kitchen talking and listening to music while we cooked dinner. I loved that part of our relationship. This year things have changed, obviously.

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These days it’s a lot of tag-team action. When the Witching Hour arrives, I feed Logan and get him to bed while Michael starts cooking dinner for us. It’s worked well so far, for sure, but hasn’t been fun.

So we decided to try and re-create a recipe that my brother made when he visited us in April.

It’s funny. We talked about making Andy’s spaghetti sauce for about a week but something always came up. Then the other day I was out for a walk with Logan and I stopped by the store to get the tomatoes that Andy said were a must for the sauce, and when Michael got home later that day he had also picked up tomatoes!

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So now we have tons of cans of tomatoes for this spaghetti sauce!

Per my brother: “The key is to get San Marzano tomatos, they are pricey but worth it (about $4-5 here in Philly for a 28oz can) (http://www.cento.com/sanmarzano/sanmarzano.html). I have tried a lot of different tomatoes and those Cento ones have the best flavor and texture.” So FYI.

I got Mr. Fussy-Pants-who’s-teething-and-cranky to bed:

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And Michael started on dinner. He doubled Andy’s recipe (and I froze the leftovers for later). It was a lot of garlic to mince and onions to chop!

I poured the wine for us, and for the recipe:

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We put on some music, drank some wine and talked like adults while we waited for the sauce to cook and the spaghetti squash to bake.

Sooo I have a complaint about people who cook–and don’t follow recipes. It’s so HARD to recreate what they did! My aunt Sheila is like that. She’s an amazing cook and the food is always amazing but she’s one of those “throw it all in a pan” chefs and you can never do what she did. She gave me a bunch of her recipes like 15 years ago and they never turn out as good as if she made them. My brother Andy is like that. He just kinds of wings it and it’s always delicious.

Andy's Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • A couple shallots, small dice (sometimes I will go with half a sweet onion if I dont have shallots)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Oregano and Basil (fresh or dried)
  • Crushed Red Pepper (optional, for a little zip)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Red Wine (optional, use a lighter or heavier wine to give it a more delicate or robust character depending on what it is being served with)
  • 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes, pureed (you could slice or dice them if you like chunky sauce)
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a large stock pot (heavy bottomed) over med-high heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan (maybe a 1/4 cup or so). Heat the oil, then add your shallots and cook until softened, then add garlic and cook for about a minute.
  2. If you have Mushrooms, Olives, or other things to add to the sauce, do it now and cook until they soften.
  3. If using DRY herbs, toss them in.
  4. Add the wine and let it reduce.
  5. Add the pureed tomatoes and bring to a soft boil then reduce heat and simmer until you have a consistency you like (30-60 minutes depending on how moist the tomatoes were).
  6. Throw in some S+P at the end and if you use FRESH herbs, add them last.
  7. Serve over pasta and whatever else you like to put red sauce on. Garnish with grated cheese and enjoy!
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=51237

The final product:

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Both Michael and I went to the store to get the special tomatoes for the recipe on the same day without talking to each other, and yet neither of us thought to pick up a loaf of garlic bread. FAIL. So we had the not quite classy gluten-free toast with butter and garlic. 😉

The sauce was decent but not the same as when my brother made it. We followed his recipe and added kalamata olives to it. It was definitely spicy! So that was good. I froze the leftover sauce and when we defrost it we’re going to add some cooked ground beef to the recipe and I think that will make the sauce even more flavorful.

I’m glad Michael doubled the recipe because it takes a long time to make it. So now we’ll have an easy dinner later on. It’s also low in calories–especially if you use spaghetti squash instead of pasta!

QUESTION: What’s your favorite homemade pasta sauce recipe?

Nov 222016
 

Saturday turned out to be a really nice day! I planned on going to the gym but Michael suggested we go for a walk as a family since it was so sunny and kind of warm out. It turned out to be a really lovely walk.

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Not too bad of a calorie burn for a long walk/jog. It was nice to go out as a family, too.

Also over the weekend, it was my cousin Anna’s bridal shower. Her friend Shawna planned a super fun and unique shower for her–a cooking lesson! Her friend Bernadette, who has been a chef in many Portland restaurants and now does some catering on her own, taught a cooking lesson for the shower and it was so much fun!

We were all instructed to bring our favorite recipe for Anna and $10 in one dollar bills…hmmm…what could that be for?? 😉

Turned out there were a few rules for the party. You couldn’t mention the honeymoon, their new house or the fiance by name and if you did you had to put $1 in a jar as a tax. It was a funny idea. The money in the jar was going towards the purchase of a Kitchenaid Mixer for the happy couple. I love that idea!

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There were some snacks out while we mingled. Cheese, fruit, crackers, French bread. Lots of wine, sparkling water and lemon water. It was a big group, too, and my mom drove down and stayed with us overnight so she could go. A bunch of my aunts and cousins were there and it was nice to see everyone.

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We were all told to bring our favorite recipe, too. So we all decorated our recipe cards and put them in a book for Anna. My Grandma sent down her coffee cake recipe (which is the best you’d ever eat) and I put in Michael’s mac n’ cheese recipe in the book.

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The party was at my aunt Sheila’s house and the decorations were adorable.

The cooking instruction started. Dinner was salmon with Asian slaw, zucchini and rice.

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The cooking instruction was really fun and interesting and Bernadette answered questions (some just general cooking questions) and was a good teacher. She walked us through her recipe for the slaw and homemade dressing and recruited Anna to do the mixing:

Then she walked us through making the sauce for the salmon. It was tamari, brown sugar, garlic, red pepper flakes and cornstarch with water.

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We all got to taste the sauce after it thickened up and it was almost like a tangy, tamari caramel sauce. It was SO good!!!

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Here is the finished product:

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The food was absolutely delicious! Shawna is going to email everyone the recipe soon and when I get it I will post it. I definitely want to make that sauce because it was so amazing. I also loved that it was a simple, healthy, low-calorie meal that anyone could make.

After dinner we had dessert. Anna’s mom made a chocolate/whipped cream/walnut dessert and a raspberry cheesecake bar dessert. I had a small piece of both.

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The cooking lesson was a blast and it inspired me to look into some cooking classes in the future. It’s something I’ve done in the past and had fun but never stuck with.

It was such a fun night. I was so glad we all got together and celebrated the upcoming wedding. It’s going to be a blast!

Question: Have you ever had a cooking lesson? What did you learn to cook?