Sunday, September 27, 2009

Menu Plan for Week of Sept. 27

We did really well last week following the plan.  Now that we are on a roll, it it onto this week.

Sunday:  Forage in the Fridge (FITF)
Monday:  BBQ Chicken in the crockpot
Tuesday:  Tri-tip, dilled carrots, crashed potatoes, salad, peach or pear crisp (my grandmother and great-aunt are coming over for dinner and to see the house for the first time.
Wednesday:  FITF
Thursday:  Stovetop Taco Pasta
Friday:  FITF
Saturday:  Homemade Pizza

Monday, September 21, 2009

Homemade Marinara Sauce - The Second Part of the Tomato Bounty

After making enough pizza sauce to last until next spring, I had several of my father's tomatoes left.  However, they were not enough to make a big pot of marinara sauce.  So I headed to one of our local farms  (William Bos Greenhouse & Farm) to buy some more tomatoes.  To my delight they had some beautiful, red, ripe Roma tomatoes so I grabbed myself a peck and made plans to spend the day making sauce.

What type of sauce?  Marinara Sauce.  Yum!

I started with this recipe from  However, because I always like to change things up, I made several changes that are reflected in the recipe below.  The number of cups is approximate because I just estimated 3 Roma tomatoes equaled 1 cup.  After seeing how much it filled the pot, I think that estimate may have been a bit high.

With this basic marinara sauce, you can mix it up any way you want later.  Add ground beef or turkey, fresh basil, mushrooms, whatever strikes your fancy. 

Homemade Marinara Sauce
(Note:  This makes a very large pot of sauce, enough to fill 3 quart freezer bags)
9-12 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and run through the food processor to remove chunks
12 oz tomato paste
4 Tbs Italian herb blend
1 Tbs salt
1/2 onion
1 green pepper
1 head garlic
4 Tbs olive oil
3/4 c red wine

In a food processor, mince onion, garlic and green pepper
Add olive oil
Hat a large Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot
Place olive oil, onion, green pepper and garlic mixture into the pot
Saute until soft
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, red wine and Italian herbs.
Mix to combine thoroughly.
Turn down heat to low.
Simmer for at least an hour.
Cool and place in quart freezer bags.
Freeze for future use.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Menu Plan for Week of Sept. 20

I am pleased to report that we followed the menu plan from last week.  So we must officially be getting settled in the new house since we are able to actually stick to a plan.  :-)

Flush from last week's victory, here is this week's plan.
Sunday:  Leftovers (Baked Salmon on a salad, cheesy potatoes, corn on the cob)
Monday:  Crockpot Roast with Herbs, potatoes, corn on the cob, salad
Tuesday:  New York Strip steaks rubbed with Chicago Steak Seasoning, corn on the cob (it is that time of year), salad, potatoes
Wednesday:  Leftovers
Thursday:  Leftovers and pizza (if necessary)
Friday:  Out to dinner and a show
Saturday:  Homemade Pizza with BBQ sauce and chicken

Check out to see what others are planning for their dinners.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Homemade Pizza Sauce - Just One Part of the Tomato Bounty

We have decided that my father is the tomato whisperer.  Why?  Because he was able to grow, in a cold and rainy summer, a tomato bounty.  I was the lucky recipient of some of that bounty. 

With a big bowl of peeled tomatoes at the ready , I decided to make homemade pizza sauce.  Starting from this recipe from RecipeZaar, I created the recipe below. 

Once it had cooled, I used ice cube trays to freeze individual pizza sized servings, enough to last all winter long.  Now I just need to get started on making the pizza dough to go with it.

Homemade Pizza Sauce
Ingredients (Note this is a BIG batch.  You may want to halve the recipe if you don't want a year's worth of pizza sauce)
4 Tbs olive oil (add more if necessary)
3 cups fresh tomatoes, finely chopped (I ran them through the food processor).  Make sure to peel the skins off of the tomatoes to ensure a smooth finished product.
1 jar tomato sauce (24 ounces or more)
1 onion, minced (run through the food processor)
1 head garlic, minced (run through the food processor)
12 oz tomato paste
4 tsp Italian herb blend
4 Tbs sugar
1/3 cup red wine

Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven or other heavy bottom pot
Add onions and garlic, sauteing until soft.
Add tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, sugar and red wine.
Mix to combine completely.
Turn down heat to simmer.
Cook for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Let cool completely.
Spray ice cube trays with Pam.
Pour sauce into ice cube trays, then freeze.
Once frozen, remove and place into a zipper freezer bag. 
Each cube is perfect for a personal pizza.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pantry Love!

Our new house has a pantry! And it is a walk in pantry to boot. It was love at first sight. You see, I am so excited to have an actual pantry. In our old house, the pantry was a bookcase secured to the wall on the landing of the stairs to the unfinished basement. Well, there was a lazy susan in the only under-the-counter cabinet but it was hard to access and didn't hold much.

However, there was a big problem with my new pantry which was threatening my budding love affair. Someone, in what I can only imagine was a caffeine induced frenzy while being snowed in, had covered the walls from floor to ceiling and wrapped most of the shelves in the ugliest contact paper I had ever seen. All I can ask is why on earth you would use a contact paper that has gray and dark green in a tiny closet with a small light? It makes it dark and depressing and you would never know if things are clean.

Here is a close up of the contact paper. Ug and ly are the only things I can come up with.

My solution, strip all the contact paper off. I don't have any actual before pics since I was in a frenzy to get that stuff peeled off. This is the best I can do.

I removed all the contact paper, filling a large garbage bag, and wiped down the walls and the shelves with an adhesive remover, Goo Gone. I love this stuff. It seems to disolve that sticky residue with ease. Once that was done, here is what I was left with. Pretty scary stuff. But I especially love the blue-ish paneling that was used for the walls instead of drywall.

I then used two coats of Kilz primer and two coats of stark white semigloss paint. I resecured several pieces of loose hardware and reinstalled the shelves. Once the interior was complete, I painted the inside of the door with chalkboard paint. What better place for a shopping list than the pantry itself? The only thing I still need is the chalk tray Hubs said he would make me.

Here is pantry filled with all the things that had to live in tubs while waiting for me to get done with the panty.
I am in love all over again. And what a transformation. I am hoping that this is a sign of what great changes we can make to our new home.
Make sure to stop by our home renovation blog Claiming Our Space to check out other changes we are making to our home.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Menu Planning - An Ongoing Process

I will regularly menu plan, I will regularly menu plan, I will regularly menu plan. 

I need to repeat that to myself time and time again since with this move we just haven't gotten back into the swing of things with the planning out what we will be eating.  Part of the problem is that Mr. Gooch works out of town part of every week so I am on my own for dinner.  I tend to not plan for those nights and I need to start.  Going to the pantry and deciding that a jello cup, crackers, a bag of pita chips and bowl of cottage cheese are NOT a healthy dinner.  :-)

So here it goes for this week.

Sunday:  Family Pool Party
Monday:  Rotisserie Chicken in the Crockpot
Tuesday:  Brats on the Grill, corn on the cob, salad
Wednesday:  Stovetop Taco Pasta
Thursday:  Leftovers
Friday:  Out to Dinner
Saturday:  Leftovers

Wish me luck in sticking to the plan.

Check out to see what others are planning for this week's menus.


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