The best and most frugal Tomato Sauce

I seem to make this tomato sauce every other week.  I started doing this just because I thought the jarred version was ridiculously expensive~that is a good variety the didn’t have things that are simply not supposed to be in a tomato sauce.  Has anyone else noticed how grocery prices have gone up again!?  So one batch of this homemade goodness creates about 3 quarts~ enough for 3 different dinners for our family.  However, this sauce can be as unique as the person creating it, I am merely providing a guideline here.

2 6oz cans tomato paste

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 finely chopped onion

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

basil (fresh, frozen or dried)

2 tbs sugar

So here is my wonderful ‘secret’ to it tasting so divine, I put all the ingredients in my croc pot.  Yep, that’s it!  Something about simmering for hours does the trick.  AND for an average of $2.17 it hard to beat!  Low for 6 hours, high for 3 hours.

It is possible to kick up the flavor dimensions by adding more of an ingredient or a different one altogether.  Some of my favorites to add: a little lot more garlic, or more basil, making a ‘veggie’ sauce by adding shredded zucchini, carrots and spinach.  And my current kick is to add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar after it is finished simmering- oh so good.

I would always love to hear of more suggestions!

After it is done I package the sauce up in quart freezer bags and freeze.  Or if i am using it later in the week I place the sauce in a sealed container in my refrigerator.  This type of sauce works so well as a base for sooooo many dishes not just over pasta.

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Delicious Banana Bread

It’s been a while…I know.  Pregnancy and working at 4 am most mornings kept me busy and so tired.  Now that that phase is over I am planning on resuming!

This recipe is a sure winner!  It’s light, flavorful, and low fat.  And best of all it’s gluten and dairy free!  I like to keep quick breads on hand for a fast breakfast or a not too sweet snack.

1 cup mashed bananas (about 2)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup oil

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup Better Batter Flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 8×4 inch loaf pan.

In a small bowl combine banana, baking soda, and applesauce.  Set aside.

Next combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  In another bowl, use your mixer to beat the egg, brown sugar and vanilla until fluffy.  Add in the banana mixture and mix until well combined.  Lastly dump the flour mixture in and stir just until moistened.

Scoop into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

I covered the bread with foil for the last 10 minutes or so of baking so that it would not get overly browned on top.

This is a great recipe to use your toaster oven with!  Since you might not want to heat up your entire kitchen.

If you want to make this extra special add in some chocolate chips or chopped nuts.

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My Absolute Favorite Bread Recipe

This morning I woke up early, and with fresh bread on my mind.  So before little Lu even got out of bed I whipped up a gluten free and dairy free version of my favorite bread.  I had previously only made it with butter…however, now even though my taste buds delighted in this wonderful and soft bread my tummy was left unsettled.  So I set out this morning just to make a simple substitution with hopes of an amazing result.

To my delight I do love the dairy free version!  This bread is soft, flexible and no need for toasting!  And to top it off it is soooo easy to make!

1 packet of quick rise yeast

3/4 c. warm water

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar (agave may be substituted here)

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil or 1/2 stick butter, melted

1 1/2 c. Better Batter Gluten Free Flour

3 large eggs

Proof the yeast in the warm water with 1 tsp of the sugar.  Let sit about 5 minutes.

Beat the rest of the sugar, salt, oil, and eggs until mixed.  Add in the yeast water.  Then add the flour and mix on high speed for 3 minutes.

While the mixer is twirling, grease a 8×4 in. loaf pan.  At this point I have found the best ‘warm place’ for my dough is in my microwave.  So I heat 1 cup of water in my glass measuring cup for 2 minutes.  This makes my microwave warm and draft free.

Once I have done these activites the 3 minutes of beating is up and I use my rubber scraper to get the dough out of the bowl.  After a quick smooth I pop it in the microwave with the hot water and close the door.  Next I set my timer to 45 minutes.  This works perfectly every time!  And this morning I even pulled it out twice to heat something up, with no problems.

When there is about 15 minutes left on my rising timer I turn my oven on to 375 degrees.  This way my oven is hot and ready when my bread is done rising!  Then bake for 35-40 minutes until you have a golden brown crust.

Set on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.  Cool completely before slicing.

My next goal is to try a egg free version.  But that will have to be after our move on Saturday.

Today Little Lu and I were meeting our play group at Bates Nut Farm.  I packed fresh peanut butter sandwiches for our snack with this delicious bread.  At the little store I found on-site- made Apple Butter– a true sign of fall for me.

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Peach n’ Blueberry Cobbler

My recent habit is to consume before I manage to snap a picture, like with the banana bread.  To my defense, I used the camera battery up on my darling little girl and promptly forgot to charge it.

Yesterday it felt more like fall around here since it rained and stayed in the low 70s.  I joyfully made a large pot of chili (my first of the season), corn bread muffins, and a light side salad.  And for dessert…this wonderful cobbler for me and my love.  Something about the change in the seasons gives us a fresh start and zest for life.  No matter where I am I always cherish the delights a new season brings, and fall happens to be my favorite!

Nothing is cozier than smelling the wonderful fragrances of baking fruit and sweet cinnamon!

Peach n’ Blueberry Cobbler

2 ripe peaches peeled and sliced

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 tbs Better Batter Flour

2 tbs brown sugar (or more if your fruit is tart)

Topping:

1/3 cup Better Batter GF flour

1/3 cup GF quick cooking oats (I use McCann’s)

couple dashes cinnamon

3 tbs butter flavored crisco

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 tbs sugar

Combine the fruit and sprinkle the flour and sugar over the fruit.  Stir gently to coat.

Next, in another bowl  combine flour and oats along with cinnamon, sugar and baking powder.  Mix and cut in Crisco until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Now for this next step I assembled the cobbler in two 4 in sized ramekins.  (Since it makes a lovely to servings for you and a friend!).  I just divided the fruit up and sprinkled the topping on top.  Voila!  You are done!

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until nice and golden on top!

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Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse

I know that it’s been a while…lots has been going on, including sickness.  Now that all is well with the family I am able to divide my attention a little more.

I came upon this recipe from a fellow blogger.  Since going dairy free I have missed the creamy goodness of chocolate ice cream or mousse.  This recipe has satisfied this craving amazingly!!  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

This recipe comes from the blog Book of Yum.  Here is the original recipe.  I modified it slightly to fit my personal preferences.

1 ripe avocado

1-2 tbsp water

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1/4 c. agave

Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary.  You can make this in the blender but you will probably will have to stop and scrape down the sides to ensure an even puree.

I have made this recipe by adding hazelnut liquor and reduce the water.  Very tasty!  I also have made this using confectioner’s sugar when I ran out of agave, just add enough water to get the consistency you want.  Once I added coffee flavor by adding half a package of Starbucks Via instant coffee.  It gave the mousse a lovely mocha flavor.  I have also successfully used half agave and half honey.  Find your favorite combination and let me know in the comment section.

You can see the sun glistening of this delightful treat!  It’s so creamy and good no one will ever be able to guess what it is made from!

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Mediterranean Inspired

Lately I have found myself reaching for the simple and the same recipes, without noticing it really.  Until my darling husband pointed out that we have been eating the same things the last month.  I suppose our new schedule adjustments have affected my meal planning.  I got into a rut and almost forgot the joy that I take in coming up with a variety of nutritional meals.  Thankfully my love reminded me of the simplicity of creativity and planning ahead.

It was a challenge for me to come up with a Mediterranean menu and not use feta and other dairy products!  I think I succeeded!  We didn’t miss the salty and tart texture of feta or the smoothness of a yogurt sauce since I didn’t skip the flavor in the first place.  Instead I choose to concentrate the flavor with garlic, citrus juices, herbs and salty capers!

Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

Citrus Quinoa Pilaf

Baked Falafels

This menu was a hit, and perfect for the summer heat!  My little one even loved it, she ate 2 falafels herself!

Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

2 tomatoes hollowed out, save the insides

1 can chunk light tuna

1 tsp olive oil

fresh or dried parsley

pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

dash ground garlic

juice of half a lime

Chop up the tomatoes insides and place in a small bowl.  Add rest of ingredients and stir until combined.  Scoop out spoonfuls into the tomato cups.  Serve immediately or chill till serving time.

Citrus Quinoa Pilaf

1 1/2 c. cooked quinoa

1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced

3-4 florets of broccoli, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1 tangerine

sea salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c. dried berries or just cranberries

Par cook broccoli for 1 minute in the microwave in a small bowl.  Add diced red pepper and quinoa.  Return to microwave and cook 1 1/2 minutes longer.  Add rest of ingredients and stir well.  Return to microwave and heat until hot.  Can be served hot, chilled or at room temperature at preference.

Baked Falafels

I have always wanted to make these, but never have until now.  I decided that I didn’t want to fry them as they are done traditionally, so I baked them in my toaster oven.  This recipe made 12 walnut sized falafels.

1 can low sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tbs Better Batter flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbs capers or pitted green olives

1-2 tbs olive oil

juice of half a lime and zest

dash of sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place a baking sheet in the oven.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and whirl until coarsely ground.

Remove pan from oven and spray with non stick cooking spray.  Using a cookie dough drop scoop spoon out mixture onto pan.  Or, using cold hands dipped in water, shape into walnut sized balls.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking, to brown on both sides.

Serve hot with yogurt sauce if desired.  We didn’t since they were so moist and flavorful by themselves.

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Hot Cross Buns

It’s official…I got tested…and I am lactose intolerant.  My first reaction was: good now I have an answer to all of my ‘issues’.  It only later hits you of all the things that you will be missing.  Well, I am not going to whine about it!  Nothing is better than feeling well…not even ice cream.

This also gives me a chance to be even more creative when it comes to cooking.  I surely don’t want to feel like I am ‘missing out’.  So over the next few months you might find recipes like non-dairy cheese sauce, ice cream, chocolate mousse… and my mind is already racing with the possibilities.  I am also not really a fan of soy, so if you feel like I do about this chemically altered man made substance, rest assured that it will be few and far between here.

For today I leave you with a wonderful fluffy and delicious gf/cf bun.  Sadly they all disappeared too quickly around here.  I was unable to snap a photo of them.  But let me tell you, they are soooo good!!

1 packet of yeast

1 ½ cups warm water

1 tsp sugar

3 eggs

2 cups Better Batter flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice

½ cup each raisins and cranberries

Combine yeast, water and 1 tsp sugar, set aside for 5 minutes.  Combine the rest of the ingredients, except for the dried fruit, and pour in the yeast water.  Mix on high speed for 7-10 minutes with an electric beater.  The consistency will be that of butter cream icing, it will look very fluffy.  Stir in the dried fruit.

It’s important for the oven to be hot when the buns go in.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a dozen and a half standard muffin tins with cooking spray.  Using a ½ cup measuring cup, scoop out dough into muffin tins.  You will want to have the dough even with the top of the pan because they will rise as they bake.

Bake until golden, 10-12 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before unmolding.  Cool completely before frosting.  Make a simple drizzle icing by combining confectioner’s sugar and water to desired consistency.

Enjoy!

Enjoying some lunch!

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