Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce – Recipe Swap!

I belong to several food bloggers groups on Facebook. One of the groups is doing a recipe swap! The basic idea is to pick a recipe from another blog and try it! Simple, yes?

Recently, the lovely Bernadette from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen, tried my Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers. Read her blog post about them… HERE!

I tried Bernadette’s Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce! I did tweak it just a bit. The first thing was to cut the recipe in half. There are just two of us for dinner most nights now and we don’t need that much. Thankfully this recipe also freezes beautifully, so the leftovers went straight into a container for another dinner next month! I also used a bit more tomato paste for some added depth! In the summer when we have fresh tomatoes, I will be using this recipe again. It’s simple, easy and I love the tangy garlicky tomato aroma it gives off as it simmers on the stove! Delicious!

Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce

1 TBLS olive oil
1  14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1  14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 TBLS tomato paste
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/3 cup garlic, diced
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 TBLS chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté just until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients except parsley and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the parsley. Cover again and finish simmering!

What did I do with this fabulous sauce? I made Pizza-dillas!

Pizzadilla with Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce!

Who knows what I’ll do with it next month, but I see pasta in our future! Thanks Bernadette for a great new recipe!


Onion Rings for My Hero!

My husband is my hero! He takes out the trash. He kills spiders. He changes the oil in my car. He’s a great father and my very best friend. When he said last week that he had a craving for a bacon cheeseburger and a pile of onion rings, I knew I had to make that happen!

The problem was – and it was a delicious problem to have – I’ve never made onion rings! Let’s face it, a good onion ring has to have a great batter. The crunch is important. The seasonings are important. An onion ring can go from delicious to disgusting in the smallest of details. Thankfully, I consulted some of my favorite deep fry experts (Emeril, Paula and Guy) and came up with my own recipe! I think they turned out pretty well!
Onion Rings!

These do take a bit of planning. The rings soak for at least an hour, then you assemble them and they have to set before you can fry them, but they are worth it! They’re crisp and delicious. A little different from the usual beer-battered onion rings and perfect for a spider-killing hero!

My Hero’s Onion Rings

1 large yellow onion, sliced into thick rings
2 cups Buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 TBLS McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 egg
1 TBLS water
2 cups Panko bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying


Place the onion rings in a bowl and cover with buttermilk, making sure the onions are completely submerged. Cover and let soak in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
While the onions are soaking, get the ingredients together for your batter. In a shallow dish, combine the flour and Steak Seasoning. In another dish, combine the egg and water, whisking together until well combined. In a third shallow dish, place the bread crumbs.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and place a rack over the foil. Set aside.
Take the onion rings out of the refrigerator and line your dishes up on the counter in this order: Onions, flour, egg, bread crumbs, cookie sheet.
To assemble the onion rings, take a ring from the buttermilk and coat it in the seasoned flour. Shake it off slightly so the flour is just lightly covering all of the onion. Dredge the flour coated onion in the egg wash. From there, place the onion in the Panko. Press the crumbs carefully onto the onion ring so they stick. Place on the finished onion ring on the rack in the cookie sheet. They should look like this:
Onion rings
Once the onion rings are assembled, put them back in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes so they can set.
While the onion rings are setting up, heat your oil to 375 F.
Take the onions out of the refrigerator and fry them in small batches, until they are golden brown. Mine took about 3-4 minutes. The time will depending on the thickness of your onion slices, so keep an eye on them. When they are done, drain on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve warm!

Finished Onion Rings

One thing I loved most about creating this recipe, is the seasonings are completely customizable. I went with steak seasoning because it was a great match for a classic bacon cheeseburger. If we were doing south-western burgers I’d replace the steak seasoning with some oregano and chili powder to give the onions a spicy kick. Be creative! Add spices to the flour that compliment the flavors of your meal. The Panko adds a light crispy crust and paired with a great beer, you might not even need the burger! You can let your hero decide. 🙂


Boeuf Bourguignon!

Boeuf Bourguignon. It’s the classic french dish. Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms. Julia Child made this famous and since I received her cookbook for Christmas this year, how could I not try it myself?

Julia says “Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man…”

I’d have to say, I agree with her.

At first, I was intimidated by all the steps involved in creating this dish. I mean, simmering, sautéing, browning, baking, braising, more simmering, basting, draining, and reducing! Not to mention the crazy amount of pans you use, plus the time. Start to finish, it took me about five hours to make. FIVE HOURS! I can understand why you would make this for a special occasion. It’s not a typical weekday meal. All that aside, it has the most incredible depth of flavor of anything I’ve ever made before. Simply fantastic! I would make it again in a heartbeat. A five-hour long heartbeat, but still, you get the point. 🙂

You want to see some pictures now, don’t you? I don’t blame you!

It starts with bacon… How can you go wrong with a dish that starts with bacon?

Slice the bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer the bacon in water for 10 minutes, drain and dry. Saute the bacon in oil to brown it slightly.
Remove and drain.

Brown lean stew meat in the bacon fat.

Don’t crowd the pan – take your time so you get a rich brown crust on each piece!

When that’s finished, you brown some veggies in the bacony-beefy fat.

Put the beef and bacon in an oven proof casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour and bake in a 450 degree oven for four minutes. Remove from the oven. Stir. Return to the oven for another four minutes to create a nice crust on the meat. Remove from the oven, reduce the heat to 325.

Stir in red wine and enough beef stock to cover the meat. Add some lovely garlic, herbs, the sautéed veggies and a bacon rind. Bring it to a simmer on the stove-top. Cover and set back in the oven, regulating the heat so the liquid continues to simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Don’t think you’re off the hook for the next 2 1/2 hours! There will be no checking your Facebook page, catching up on the latest novel or painting your toe nails. You still have work to do!

While the meat is cooking, you need to create “Oignons Glaces A Brun” or brown-braised onions.

Use peeled boiler onions and sauté them in butter and oil over moderate heat for about 10 minutes so they get nice and brown.

Pour brown beef stock and red wine over the onions, again adding lovely herbs in a herb bouquet tied in cheesecloth. Simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are tender and the liquid has evaporated. These onions taste amazing! You can do these as a side dish. They are incredible! Plus the syrupy goodness at the bottom of the saucepan… you may want to save that to add to the sauce at the end. It tastes so good!

Still no Facebook! You have “Champignons Sautes Au Beurre” to make! Yep, time to sauté the mushrooms.

Of course, more butter and oil is required!

Now you have about 10 minutes to go tell your friends how amazing your kitchen smells! That’s what I did! 🙂

When the meat is tender, you’re going to pour everything through a sieve set over a saucepan. Wipe out the dish and return the beef and bacon to it. Put the cooked whole onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Simmer the sauce for a few minutes, skimming off the fat as it rises. At this point, if you saved that delicious syrup from the onions, stir it in. You’re going to simmer the sauce until you have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Try not to slurp it all down, dinner still isn’t ready.
Adjust seasonings and then pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

Cover and simmer for an additional few minutes, basting the meat and veggies several times. I served this with steamed white rice, but Julia recommends serving it with boiled potatoes. So add that to your list of things to do while the meat is cooking and you are simmering onions and sautéing mushrooms. 🙂

This is what it looked like on the table!

I would highly recommend you try this dish. Invest the time. Learn and experience the different techniques and layers of flavors that go into making it. It’s a phenomenal experience!

Italian Sub Soup!

Hands down, this is our FAVORITE soup of all time! It comes complete with homemade croutons and plenty of meaty/garlic goodness.

Looks good, right? Oh, trust me! It is! This photo is “pre-croutons” so it gets even better! This recipe is an adaptation of Rachel Ray’s Italian Sub Stoup with Garlic Toast Floaters. We’ve changed a few things and omitted a few things to fit our family. That’s the great thing about cooking! You can take a basic recipe and make it completely your own!

So how do you make my version of this incredible pot of soupy delicious-ness? Start by chopping everything in advance! It’s a huge time saver. You’ll need to chop sausage, pepperoni, ham, onions, bell peppers and garlic.

After all that chopping is done, heat a bit of olive oil at the bottom of a large stock pot.

When the oil is hot, crumble Italian Sausage and cook until brown. Add pepperoni and chunks of ham. Continue to brown for a few more minutes. Can I tell you a secret? I know it’s terrible, but I don’t drain the fat after I brown the meat. There usually isn’t that much and it’s a great flavor enhancer!

Add the onions and bell peppers and continue to cook for a few minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.

After a few minutes, add the garlic!

Now we’re ready for tomatoes! Use the liquid from the tomatoes to scrape up those lovely brown bits on the bottom of the pan. These are great flavor bites too! Season the tomato mix with plenty of salt, pepper, basil, oregano! Add the broth and bring the pot to a simmer. Once everything is bubbly, add half a box of Gemelli pasta. You can also use penne rigatoni, elbow or orecchiette. The pasta takes about 15 minutes to cook in the broth. It will be fairly thick.

While the pasta is cooking in the soup, chop up sourdough bread for the croutons.

In a separate pan, add oil, garlic and crushed red chile peppers.

Then when everything is brown and toasty, you put them on top of the soup!


Here you go!

Italian Sub Soup

2 TBLS olive oil
One pkg (about 5 links) Italian Sausage, with casings removed. You can use either Sweet or Hot sausage. (I usually buy one pkg Hot and one pkg Sweet, then I use a combination of the two and freeze the others to use for soup next time!)
1 1/4 lb piece of pepperoni, cut into small dice
1 ham steak, 1/2 to 3/4 lb, diced (Left over ham works well too – you’ll need about 1 1/2 cups)
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, quartered and then diced to match the ham cubes.
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 boxes chicken broth (32 oz each)
1/2 of a 16 oz box of Gemelli pasta, uncooked. (Save the other half for next time you make soup!)
1 tsp of each: dried basil, dried oregano and dried thyme.
Salt and Pepper to taste


1/4 cup of Olive Oil
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
5 cups crusty bread, cubed (Our favorite is Sourdough, but French or Italian Bread works well too!)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat a large soup pot to medium high. Drizzle the olive oil around the bottom of the pan and toss in the sausage. Brown and crumble the sausage. When it’s brown, add pepperoni and ham. Cook for a few minutes, then add your veggies. Cook until the veggies just start to get soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for about a minute longer. Add the tomatoes and use the juices to scrape up the browned meaty bits on the bottom of the pot. Season the tomato/veggie/meat mix with seasonings and salt and pepper. Stir well, then add chicken broth. Bring the soup to a boil. Stir in the pasta and cook for 10 minutes.

While the pasta cooks in the soup, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook for one minute. Regulate the heat carefully so the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the bread cubes, toss to coat and continue stirring and toasting them for about five minutes. Season the croutons with grated parmesan.

Ladle soup into big bowls and top with seasoned croutons! This recipe makes a lot, so serve it with friends and a great bottle of wine!

The soup tastes even better the next day, but the pasta will swell, so you might need to add additional broth to thin it out a little.


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