Nifty Trick: Tomato Paste

16 03 2010

I”m going to start featuring some nifty tricks that I’ve learned in the kitchen to save money and time.

One of the things with cooking is a lot of recipes call for a little bit of this, when the smallest can isn’t so little. I feel horrible wasting food, so I try to save food, even if it’s, in this case, a few ounces of tomato paste.

I know there are tubes of tomato paste out there, but why spend $3 on a small tube when you can buy a small can for less than 50 cents!

A recipe I made for crawfish pie called for 1 tbsp. of tomato paste, so I had a lot of paste leftover, which I know I would eventually use for other recipes.

So, I took the rest of the can, and scooped out tablespoon portions on top of an inside-out freezer bag.

After you do that, pop the bag in the freezer for a couple of hours so the tablespoon shapes set, and then flip the bag inside out again (so it is able to zip) and freeze until you need them! Nifty, right?

If you have some nifty tricks to share, please feel free to comment and share! I might even feature your nifty trick!! 🙂





Roasted Tomato Salsa

8 02 2010

My husband and I planned on doing a Superbowl Mexican feast (for 2), so I was searching for salsa recipes. I happened to come across this recipe on Delish Blog, and was intrigued. Roasted vegetables are always awesome, so roasted salsa had to be all sorts of amazing.

Roasting all of the vegetables made the house smell so yummy, and I just couldn’t wait to dig into this! It had amazing flavor, but my husband and I agreed that our tomatoes probably weren’t ripe enough. We were craving a more rich tomato flavor in the salsa. I can’t wait to try this again in the summer with fresh local tomatoes!

Roasted Tomato Salsa
Source: Delish Blog

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 large white onion
  • 4-6 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2-3 large jalapenos, deseeded & deveined, cut in half lengthwise
  • freshly ground black pepper & kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400°F . Gently toss the tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapenos with the olive oil in a large bowl. Alternatively, use spray oil to gently coat the veggies (You just don’t want it to burn). Season with a little freshly ground black pepper. After they are nicely coated arrange in a single layer, tomatoes cut-side facing up, across a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet, roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes, (depending upon the size of your tomatoes). You’ll know they’re ready to come out when they start to get a nice color and the tomatoes start to collapse. Remove from the oven and cool.
  2. Puree cooled tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapenos. Alternatively, puree half of the veggies and hand chop the remainder and combine. Season with salt and stir in the cilantro. Refrigerate.




Our Thanksgiving!

29 11 2009

Top row: Cajun Smoked Turkey, Cornbread dressing, Honey-baked Ham
Second row: Green Bean Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Cauliflower Au Gratin
Bottom Row: Homemade Yeast Rolls, Rice Dressing

After much planning and excitement, Thanksgiving with our families was absolutely wonderful. It was great to spend time with everyone, and to see the responses to the food we cooked. I’m going to share a couple of recipes with you, since our families insisted on bringing dishes as well. 🙂

I hope you also had a great Thanksgiving! I can’t believe it’s time to plan for Christmas now!

 





Crash Hot Potatoes

24 11 2009

This is one of those recipes that I starred in my Google Reader a while ago, and until recently, just revisited. I was planning on roasting chicken breasts for the hubs and I, so I thought these potatoes from The Pioneer Woman’s website would be the perfect side to go with it. These were so easy and an absolute hit in the house. The hubs requested them immediately afterwards for the next evening’s dinner, and that never happens with a dish I make! I guess my skills in the kitchen are improving!

Crash Hot Potatoes
Source: The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

  • 12 whole New Potatoes (or Other Small Round Potatoes)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Black Pepper To Taste
  • Rosemary (or Other Herbs Of Choice) To Taste

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the potatoes and cook them until they are fork-tender.
  2. On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. (For me, I used a pastry brush to paint on 1 tbsp. of olive oil.) Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.
  3. With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)
  5. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

 





Pot Roast, Again!

28 10 2009

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The temperatures dipped into the 40s out here. It’s absolutely nuts that the week before, we were experiencing nasty, summer weather. However, this new weather was a welcomed change. I told my husband I had to make pot roast for us. It just screams cold weather food!

So, I made pot roast using the same recipe as last time. Diet friendly pot roast, in fact.  I highly recommend this simple, delicious recipe to anyone looking to make their first pot roast!





Lighter General Tso’s Chicken

30 09 2009

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My husband’s favorite chinese dish is General Tso’s chicken. Unfortunately, the restaurant near our house makes the most unhealthy version possibly available, so it’s an indulgence for him to have it. A few months ago, however, I starred a recipe from Proceed with Caution, but like every recipe I star, I forget about it rather quickly.

I have been in a chicken slump, looking for new ideas, so I went through my starred entries, and I was so glad to find this recipe all over again. I decided to make it last night, and wow! This was very flavorful and good. It’s not exactly the General Tso’s chicken that I’ve tasted, but it’s still good!

I also made some “fried” rice with this to add more veggies to the meal, rather than just plain rice. This fried rice is really simple to make, and I used less sodium soy sauce to flavor the dish.

Lighter General Tso’s Chicken
Source: Proceed with Caution, originally from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
Directions:  
  1. Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and red-pepper flakes; toss to combine, and set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).
  4. Add snow-pea mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice.
The Skinny – per serving, Serves 4
Calories 179.6
Fat 7.1 g
Fiber 1.2 g  

Fried Rice
Source: Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups enriched white rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2/3 cup chopped baby carrots (used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • soy sauce to taste  (I used 1/2 cup, less sodium)
  • sesame oil, to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, combine rice and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan, boil carrots in water about 3 to 5 minutes. Drop peas into boiling water, and drain.
  3. Heat wok over high heat. Pour in oil, then stir in carrots and peas; cook about 30 seconds. Crack in eggs, stirring quickly to scramble eggs with vegetables. Stir in cooked rice. Shake in soy sauce, and toss rice to coat. Drizzle with sesame oil, and toss again.

The Skinny – per serving, Serves 8
Calories – 170.9
Fat – 4.9 g
Fiber – 1.1 g

Note: You can add more vegetables to your rice, which is what I did, to fill your plate more!





Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

12 09 2009

jelly6

Last year, my husband surprised me with a full canning set that he found for 75% off at our local Target. I have been curious about canning, but very afraid of messing up and getting someone sick.

However, after reading through the Blue Book of Preserving that was included in the kit, I felt much more confident about the safety of canning.

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I found this recipe for Jalapeno Pepper Jelly on Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen website. I instantly thought that I could FINALLY use all those jalapenos growing in my garden for this.

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This will also make a great, unique gift for family and friends come Christmas season. 🙂

I learned that canning jelly can be very sticky so have damp towels ready, and you also have to work pretty fast when canning the preserves. The preserves will gel up quickly and you want those in the jars before they do or they’ll be a pain to pour.

That being said, I do recommend canning to foodies. It’s pretty tedious but the result is super cool. You get to say you MADE that jelly! 🙂

I’m submitting this recipe to What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen’s “So You Grew a Garden” blogging event.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
Source: Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Jalapeno, Seeds And Membranes Removed, Finely Diced
  • 2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ½ cups Red Or Orange Bell Pepper, Seeds & Membranes Removed, Finely Diced
  • 6 cups Sugar
  • 2 envelopes Liquid Pectin, 3 Oz Each
  • ½ teaspoons Unsalted Butter

Directions

  1. Prepare canning jars and lids as directed by manufacturer’s directions. This recipe makes 6 8-oz 1/2 pint jars…so have at least 8 jars ready, just in case.jelly3
  2. Do not use seeds in your jelly (if you’d like it hotter then put seeds into a piece of cheesecloth or muslin packet and put into the sugar mixture, but remove before you put the pectin in!). You can mix up the peppers if you’d like…habaneros, jalapenos, bell peppers.
  3. In a large stainless-steel pan combine the vinegar, peppers and sugar. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. (add the unsalted butter here if you want to use it…it helps to keep the foam down to a minimum)jelly4
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a full boil, at this point stir constantly. Once a rolling boil has been reached, pour in the pectin. Return to a full boil and stir constantly for 1 full minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Immediately ladle the jelly into your jars leaving about 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rims off and screw on bands.
  6. 4 to 8 oz jars need to be processed for 10 minutes. 1 pint jars for 15 minutes. Adjust for elevation. (I live at sea level, so 10 minutes was fine for me.)
  7. Remove from canner and place on paper or cloth towel.
  8. Wait about 15-30 minutes and then carefully twist or tilt jars to distribute the pepper pieces throughout the jelly while cooling. (I did not do this since the preserving book said NOT to move the jelly for 12-24 hours, thus interrupting the sealing process. The pepper pieces were dispersed well anyway.)

I wrote myself a little reminder so I’m not tempted to move these as I clean the kitchen.

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