Easy “El Pato” Style Homemade “Canned” Tomato Sauce


Homemade Mexican-style canned tomato sauce.

Making tomato sauce is a great way to use up excess garden tomatoes; then you can freeze it in ice trays to create cubes for winter use.

I call this recipe easy because it does not involve a food processor. It’ll be on the chunky side, skins, seeds and all, but that works for me.

There are recipes out there that are probably closer to El Pato (a Mexican grocery favorite,) so I should probably call this “El Pato-ish.”

This recipe is tailored to rely on my “usual suspects” in the garden and the pantry, and uses Mexican-American techniques and ingredients (bacon fat!), but with a Continental twist (fresh oregano and white wine!) because I have a lot of oregano in the garden, usually have good dry white wine on hand, and once made, I also use this tomato sauce in Italian dishes.


Homemade El Pato-ish “Canned” Tomato Sauce

In a saucepan:

4-5 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes

leaves snipped from 2 six inch long sprigs of fresh oregano (or 1 heaping T. fresh, 1 tsp. dried)

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp/ black pepper

Later:  1/4 cup white wine (or apple cider vinegar or white vinegar)

In a frying pan:

2 tsp. bacon fat

1 Tsp. olive oil

1/2 cup finely diced onion

2 small jalepenos, finely diced

Later:  1tsp. minced garlic

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Homemade Kale Chips From The Oven – No Dehydrator!

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Everyone loves Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale, but it can be an expensive habit. And since at the moment, I have more kale in my garden than I know what to do with, I thought, there must be a way to make leafy kale chips myself.

MaryJane’s Farm magazine had a comprehensive how-to in the June 2013 issue, but alas, it involved a food dehydrator (dessicator.) The search for an oven method led me to Dreena Burton’s Plant Powered Kitchen, where she gives excellent directions for oven-made crispy kale chips, as well as a nice recipe for a flavor coating based on tahini, tamari and maple syrup. Yum!

No Dehydrator Necessary, Just Use Your Oven

Dreena gives detailed directions for the cooking technique, but the gist of it is:

1. The kale must be spun or blotted very dry.

2. Hand mush the flavoring mixture with the kale leaves to coat them.

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Super Healthy Chicken And Broccoli Casserole

An All-American Favorite Gets A Mediterranean Makeover

Here’s a traditional American comfort food, adjusted to fit the Mediterranean diet. This dish is 100% healthy Mediterranean eating, with a familiar All-American flavor.

I tweaked a recipe I found in the March 2011 issue of Cosmopolitan. With a 20 minute baking time, the broccoli retains a nice, ever-so-slight crunch. You can bake it longer if you like a mushier casserole. The original recipe called for more lemon juice, but I found it over-lemony and reduced it to what you see here.

Mediterranean All-American Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. You’ll need your largest casserole dish, but you won’t need the cover. Gather:

1-1/2 T. butter
1-1/2 T. olive oil Continue reading

Scrumptious Apple Currant Topping

Apple Currant Topping

This stuffs good on almost everything.

Wondering what to do with those slightly bruised and past-their-prime apples? Make this topping with ingredients on hand. This delicious cooked topping partners perfectly with oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, or yogurt. Or try this spectacular dessert: a layer of homemade soft oatmeal cookies, vanilla ice cream, and hot apple topping. Decadent!

Apple Currant Topping

5 small to medium Macintosh apples

1/3 c. sugar

1/2 c. currants (or raisins)

1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)

1/8 c. water Continue reading

Homemade Cold Frappucino Mix

Homemade Cold Frappucino Mix

Can't beat those prices!

If you’re like me, you love Starbucks’ cold mocha frappucinos, the kind you find in the soda pop case at the convenience store. They are a summertime staple for me.

But they are pricey at $1.90 to $2.29 for a 9 oz bottle. Even if you catch a 4-pack on sale at the grocery store, or opt for the grocery store brand, they are about $1.30 each. A pallet of 12 at Costco puts the price at 93 cents each, 80-something if Costco is running a $2 to $3-off coupon, which they do a couple times a year.

I’ve found Aldi’s “Beaumont” brand are quite good, especially the French Vanilla flavor, and at an everyday price of 99c each it’s the best single bottle deal you will find anywhere. If you’re on the road and craving a frappucino, don’t stop at the gas station, stop at an Aldi store! They come chilled and are in the cheese section.

However, even at the lowest prices, it still adds up if you have a habit like I do, and when you see the big pile of glass bottles in the recycle bin, it starts to look pretty wasteful and consumerish as well. Oh, and all that sugar! So I figured there had to be a way to make them myself.

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Great Recipe from the Great Depression

Watch this delightful video of 91 year old Clara chatting about growing up during the Great Depression of the 1930s, while frying up some hot dogs and potatoes, a dish she calls her Poor Man’s Meal.

My mom used to make this dish, too. We called it simply Hot Dogs ‘n’ Potatoes. She cut the potatoes a bit bigger, and left out the onions (probably as a concession to me), and used her electric frying pan. Served with ketchup, salt and pepper.

Making Stock from Vegetable Scraps

Homemade vegetable stock is a great way to use every last bit of the veggies you buy, and it can be frozen for later use to add wonderful flavor to any recipe.

When cooking, save things like the butt ends of carrots and celery (cut out the tough stem part of the carrot, and the hard base of the celery), celery leaves, clean potato peels, and the rubbery outer layers of an onion (do not use the skin; it will make your stock bitter). Keep a covered container in the fridge for collecting these scraps. At the end of the week, use your treasures to make stock. Continue reading