December 12th, 2011

The Only Marinara You’ll Ever Need

Basic marinara sauce, prepped for freezing

Prepped for freezing

Last week I mentioned how our household prefers a lot of flavor to bland food.  Today, I’m going to share with you one of the most plain recipes in my repertoire: plain, boring marinara sauce.  But its simplicity is exactly why it’s so perfect.  This basic marinara is the perfect base for all kinds of tomato sauces.  You can leave it plain if you’re serving it with something else that’s flavor-intensive, or if you’re feeding it to picky palates (like small children and people who complain their throats burn from mild salsa).  And if you’re really pressed for time, the sauce is still good on its own.  It just won’t kick your taste buds in the butt.

This is a Magazine Mondays post since the recipe is adapted from the January 2005 issue of Gourmet Magazine, and is meant for making ahead.  It was used in the magazine article, “Easy Week” for mussels and pasta.  I usually just freeze most of it in 2-cup portions and then thaw them as needed, mix in meat or other seasonings, and toss it with a perfect two-person pasta dish.  I’ll give you some ideas to get you started after the jump.

Basic Marinara

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, January 2005. Makes about 5 cups.

  • 2 med onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Sugar to taste
  1. Cook onions and garlic in oil in a 4-5 quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring until softened, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, including juice, and salt, then simmer gently, uncovered, stirring and mashing tomatoes with a potato masher occasionally until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5 cups, 1 to 1 ¼ hours.
  3. If sauce tastes too acidic, add sugar and cook 5 minutes more.

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June 2nd, 2010

Frugal Cooking: Chicken Stock

Chicken stock ingredients.

Frozen ingredients: chicken bones, vegetable "castoffs," and cold filtered water

Ok, it’s confession time.  I’m sort of a miser.  Although I love to buy gifts for people on the very rare occasion that I can afford to, I can’t stand to spend money on myself.  “Oh crap, I’m almost out of shampoo…how long can I go if I only wash my hair every other day?” or “Hmm, my closet is looking pretty bare…I guess I’ll wear Brian’s shirts more often…”  Yes, I’m really that bad.

As much as I loathe shopping for clothes or anything else I need (did I just hand over my woman card by denying any joy in clothes shopping??), I actually enjoy grocery shopping.  I still insist on spending as little money as possible, and keeping Brian and myself well-fed on a tight budget has become a sort of game to me.  I make a weekly menu & shopping list based on what’s on sale this week and what I already have in my freezer.  And my freezer is usually stocked with ground beef, chicken parts, some sort of fish, vegetables, and stock.  Currently I have duck, vegetable, and chicken stocks in my freezer.

The stock is key, you see.  Making my own stock makes me feel a little smug.  Unlike most recipes that use a whole chicken and a bunch of fresh vegetables, I use only scraps, saving double the money.  Why double? Well I’m saving once by not buying stock in the first place, and saving again by not buying anything to make the stock.  SCORE! I feel like a total domestic badass.  What I do is whenever we eat chicken and have bones leftover, we throw them into a plastic container, and throw that into the back of the freezer.  And we keep adding to it as we have bones until it’s full.  And whenever I use vegetables, I wash them well and peel them, then put the peels in another plastic container which has a VIP spot in the freezer door so I can pull it out quickly and add to it.

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