Tag Archives: tomatoes

Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and a glorious spring day 

Oh today has been a beautiful day in my world.  First of all, when I woke up, the sun was already out.  That in and of itself is a huge statement for any mom.  I got to sleep past 5:30 a.m. AND the sun was out.  Score one for this girl!!  So the kids and I loaded up and went out to breakfast and did a little shopping.  There were minimal shenanigans or hissy fits.  And the kids were  pretty well behaved too. 

  

 Hahaha!!  But really now…we came home and the kids unearthed last year’s stash of plastic Easter eggs and they had some Easter egg hunts.  We love us a good egg Hunt now and they can get down.  It really felt good for us to spend some time out doors in the bright sunshine beating down on our skin and breathing in the fresh air of Springtime. And then it got really hard core. We broke out the water hose. See Big Daddy is against opening the pool until April but the kids feel that if the sun is shining, the pool should be open. Then I could not find the sprinkler and Big Daddy was off in hot pursuit of that ever elusive Tom (turkey) so we all compromised…Mom could hold the hose while the kiddos pranced through the spray from the hose in their bathing suits. Fair enough. 

simple and pure…sunshine, their shadows and the spray from the hose.

this sums up everything I feel about it finally being Spring

 

Big brother mans the hose

 

So then my little water logged darlings  decided they were hungry and took a vote…burgers for dinner. Get on that mom! But I was not in a burger mood. And here comes the good part.  There has been a recipe for pasta with fresh tomato sauce from http://www.marthstewart.com that I have been wanting to try. I also happened to have some gorgoues tomatoes begging to be used.  I love it when a plan comes together that way. A fresh tomato purée with garlic and basil and olive oil just screams….spring is here and summer is not far at all!  So much to my delight, this pasta sauce was all that I hoped it would be and I slurped up (don’t tell anyone) every last noodle. It truly was so fresh and perfect and full of flavor. It’s not a fussy high maintenance pasta sauce that needs you to coddle her and tell her she’s pretty.  This pasta sauce is  her super cool laid back gal pal who is just a breeze to be around Next time I make this recipe, I hope it will be made with Big Daddy’s home grown tomatoes and fresh basil from my container garden.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we all enjoyed this perfect spring day.  More of those please Mother Nature…if you don’t mind!! 

 

the stars of my show
 


Pasta with fresh tomato sauce 

Stuff you need~

2 1/2 pounds fresh (unrefrigerated) tomatoes 

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (I used the Basil in a tube that you find in the produce section….about 3 tablespoons of it) 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

Kosher salt and black pepper 

1/4 cup olive oil (plus more for drizzling) 

1 pound of cooked angel hair pasta 

1 tablespoon of reserved pasta water 

Fresh grated Parmesan (trust me)

What to do with stuff~

Cook pasta according to package directions. Chop tomatoes until they are very fine or toss all ingredients into your food processor.  

 

   Next give the ingredients a few light pulses….

  

Then I spooned some of that reserved pasta water into the fresh tomato sauce…just a dash. Now grate some Parmesan…

 

And then prepare yourself for your pasta dreams to come true. 

as spectacular as a warm Spring day

Enjoy this pasta sauce and enjoy Spring…it’s a must!!!! 

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Mexican casserole and making it work

I love the man I am married to. Known as Clay, Big Daddy, my man, and other not so nice names somedays. Yikes. Yeah we are very different creatures who coexist quite peacefully most days. Emphasis on most days. We have been up. We have been down. We have been in between and at who really cares. Yeah. We are married sho nuff. I always think of my mom singing a line from a song “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.” That should be the marriage theme song. Because it’s true. Now, I am not going to go on and on about marriage. We have only been doing this whole marriage thing for 13 years. I by no means claim to know what we are doing. But I do know a little about finding a happy medium. And trying to make it work. Trying people. Just trying. Doing little things that make his day that are not that big of a deal to me. Maybe they are a minor inconvenience but they make him happy. Like deer ground meat. Stay with me now. Yes, I am talking about ground meat. Made from deer. I must be honest and say…I am not a fan. I grew up with a daddy who hunted. We ate lots of game. Rather they did. I mostly refused. Maybe some chicken fried deer meat (but after a bad experience when I was pregnant with my Benny Boo, I swore off that stuff) but I didn’t do squirrel, rabbits, and lots of fish. Whether you consider me a Cajun or not, in our Avoyellian culture, it is customary to cook and eat many things that others might consider um…less than palatable. Lol. For instance, turtles. My daddy always went turtling during September. And he would come home and clean the turtle on Sunday when he got home. Our dog, Baby (yes I named her after the character on Dirty Dancing…I was 13…what can I say?) would drag the turtle shells all over the yard. It was so funny. Anyway, when daddy came home from turtling, I knew what that meant. He or my mom were gonna cook a mess of turtle. Yeah. Good times. I can still see those yellow eggs in the gravy and my parents looooved them. They were considered a delicacy. All I could say was “gag me with a major spoon.” No really. Gross. So after all the city boys I dated, I wound up marrying me a man who hunted. Though he has gone turtlin with daddy, turtles are not my problem. It’s deer ground meat people. So yesterday morning he says to me “baby I have got all this deer ground meat in the freezer that needs to be cooked. Can you work that into the menu?” Sigh. I dread those words. I admit that it is likely a mind over matter thing when it comes to eating game, but I just don’t care for it. In my mind, it does not taste the same and frankly I am not that big of a ground meat fan to begin with. So, I told him…take some of it out of the freezer and I will brown it and refreeze it. So, he did and tonight I was trying to think about what to make for supper. And I remembered I needed to brown that ground meat. Now, BD is a real trooper about trying my newfangled recipes and he gladly eats whatever I cook.
So I figured I owed him a meal with deer ground meat. It makes him happy and they all get fed. Score! And I do believe came up with a great recipe using deer ground meat (or regular ground meat) and they all LOVED IT!!! I hope y’all knew I would get around to a recipe at some point. Mexican casserole. Cheesy, filling and easy to pull together. I decided the general direction supper would take at 5:15 and it was ready by 6. All ingredients were in my pantry or fridge. Seriously a convenience recipe. My point in all of this rambling is…somehow day by day we make it work. Somedays are beautiful, somedays are ugly, and most days are just in between. Medium. Nothing fancy. Doing little kindnesses to keep each other happy. He makes my cup of coffee just like I like it or let’s me go over on the grocery budget (more often than not) without fussing because he knows it makes me happy to try these new recipes. I do things like cook (and eat) deer ground meat even though I could do without it. I am just fine with that. It’s called marriage. It’s not a perfect rose garden. It’s like a big patch of wildflowers. It’s all good…including this casserole!~AMB

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he drives me around in the side by side at the camp and I take selfies of us or just take pics and talk. He’s happy and I’m happy. It works for us.

Making it work Mexican Casserole

serves 8

Stuff you need~

10 soft taco size flour tortillas divided
1 can Ranch style beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning
1 pound ground meat
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
*Optional–a small onion, diced
A can of corn, drained

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Brown the ground meat. If you are using the diced onion, put it in as well while browning ground meat. Drain.
Stir in ranch style beans, tomatoes (juice and all), and taco seasoning. Let this mixture simmer for about 10 minutes. *Add can of corn at this point too if you are using it. Tear the tortillas into smaller pieces. It does not have to be perfect. I just gather up a few and tear them in half, then in half again, and so on. Not super tiny pieces, but more bite sized. Layer half of the tortilla pieces on bottom of prepared baking dish. Now spoon half of your ground meat mixture over the tortillas. Now repeat once. Spread the can of cheddar cheese soup over the last layer of ground meat mixture. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over this. Bake until the cheese is all bubbly and delicious looking. Yeah…about 20 minutes. Mmmmm that’s the stuff.

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easy breezy beautiful….cover girl. Dinner is served. And it is good.

Roasted tomato and mozzarella pasta

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Our kitchen table on any given night.

It has been another wild week at camp cajun mama. Obviously as I am a little behind on blogging. I got the cooking bug on Monday and literally spent all day in the kitchen. Yesterday I spent the school day helping out at the kiddos’ school in the library. Their librarian is the sweetest person and it is book fair time so I figured why not. I got to interact with so many of the sweet kiddos and see their little faces. I love it when they say “hey you are so and so’s mom!” And their face lights up. Not sure I have ever seen people that happy to see me so it’s a win win. Anyway, I apologize for once again falling behind, but I am here now and plan on getting several recipes in. Sometimes the mama part of Cajun mama takes over and I have to handle up on my mommy duties. I am writing this sitting in the parking lot at their school waiting for my son’s strings performance to start. A mama’s got to do what a mama’s got to do, right?
So, on to more important things…this pasta. Oh y’all…this pasta is so delicious. Full of flavor and easy to prepare and just so filling, it is a sure fire winner. I loved knowing that it was chock full of cherry tomatoes and all of the vitamins and good stuff they contain. Also, You can add chicken to this dish or you can leave it out making it a great meatless option. I saw this recipe on Pinterest and knew I would love it and had to make it ASAP. My friend came over for a visit and I decided to throw it together. She loved it. I loved it. Big Daddy…loved it. Even 2 of my kiddos gobbled it up. Yummy noises all around my friends. So grab yourself some cherry tomatoes and pasta and get to cookin. You will be so glad and the yummy noises will be yours!!

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Look at those lovely tomatoes ready for roasting…mouth watering

Roasted tomato and mozzarella pasta (adapted from http://www.scalingbackblog.com)

Serves about 6

stuff you need~

2 pints of cherry tomatoes (I used one pint of the cherry and one pint of the sunburst tomatoes…adds color which is pretty and good for you!)
3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of the jarred stuff)
Olive oil
Good ole kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 box of whole wheat or regular pasta (I used angel hair and loved it)
1-8 ounce package of fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil (I used the kind in the tube that most stores carry and it worked fabulously…herbs seem to go bad too quickly in my fridge and it is not as cost effective)
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces (or you can omit this and go meatless…whatever works for you)

What to do with the stuff~
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. We are going to roast us some tomatoes. (See above pic) I covered a baking sheet with foil. Now lay your washed and dried tomatoes all out on the foil. Now sing to them and let them know they are going to be so delicious roasted and they need not worry. What? You don’t talk to your food as you cook it? You are missing out! (Don’t judge me…I am tired a lot of the time and drink too much coffee). Sprinkle the little darlings generously with the Olive oil. Don’t hold back now. Now sprinkle some kosher salt and pepper then using your hands give those little tomatoes a nice rub down. Lol. Add the garlic and basil. Do the same. You just want to make sure all the tomatoes get some of that flavor. your pasta. Pop them in your preheated oven and roast them until they are literally bursting with flavor. The smell alone coming from your oven will have you salivating. About 25 minutes give or take should do you good. While the tomatoes are doing their thing, go ahead and boil your pasta. Reserve the liquid for use in the dish later as it helps to thicken up the saucy sauce. Next, season the chicken with salt and pepper. in a skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until browned on both sides and cooked throughout. Add those beautifully roasted tomatoes to the chicken and cook for 2 minutes. Pour the cooked pasta into the skillet with the tomato chicken mixture and add about 1/4 cup of the reserved water and cook over low heat until sauce is thickened. Stir in more reserved water as necessary to coat all the pasta. Cut the fresh mozzarella into 1/2″ chunks. Stir into the pasta and toss around until the cheese is slightly melted. Season to taste with extra kosher salt, pepper, and extra basil. Serve the pasta up in bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese as desired. Y’all are going to flip!! This is one of my new favorite dishes. Manga!

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Heaven in a pasta bowl. It’s even good cold.

Mammaw’s Spaghetti and Baked Meatballs

Now I am quite certain there are many of you out there who have their own tried and true spaghetti and meatball recipe.  I am also quite certain it is absolutely delicious.  This is not your traditional Italian spaghetti and meatball recipe, I wouldn’t think, as neither Big Daddy or I have any Italian roots in our family….just about everything else…just not Italian.  Growing up, my Momou made spaghetti and meatballs for Sunday lunch when we would go visit and my mama made them pretty regularly too.  It was always a big event and my daddy was always, always so excited.  We had these big ole bowls he would eat spaghetti and meatballs from and he did it just right…twirling his pasta in the spoon with his fork.  He taught me and my sisters how to do it as well.  My mama and Momou could sure enough make up some spaghetti and meatballs.  So when Big Daddy and I started dating, his Pappaw passed on Mammaw’s spaghetti and meatballs recipe to me.  I gave it a try as my Momou could never verbalize exactly how she made hers. Magic, I suppose.  🙂  She did try though and I knew there was sugar in it and I had watched my mama enough to know kind of sort of how to do it.  Remember though, I was in college.  I was 19 and needed a dang recipe.  Lol!  So I got Mammaw’s and I got to it.  Well, turns out, her recipe and Momou’s and my mom’s must have been very similar.  It definitely hit the spot.  So for the most part, when I want to do a big spaghetti and meatball dinner, this is the recipe I always use.  My kids absolutely love it, even my oldest picky child.  He nearly licked the bowl clean the other night.  So I wanted to share this recipe with ya’ll just in case you are at a loss how to recreate your mom’s or grandmother’s spaghetti and meatball recipe.  Or you need a good recipe for this in your recipe box.  I hope you enjoy this.  I have definitely shortened it and simplified it to some extent.  I don’t think Mammaw would mind me taking liberties with her recipe as she was a very sensible woman indeed.  She would be a fan of “ain’t nobody got time for that!” if she were here today.  So make up a big pot of Mammaw’s spaghetti and meatballs and share them with someone special.  Sit around the table and laugh while you twirl your spaghetti in the spoon with your fork and then pile it into your mouth.  Just don’t forget the napkins!!!

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Big Daddy, Mammaw and Pappaw making sweet memories….

Mammaw’s Spaghetti and Baked Meatballs

Ingredients

For sauce you will need…

olive oil

3 cans tomato paste

6 cans of water

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced,

sugar (about 2-3 Tablespoons depending on taste)

salt and pepper (about 2 tsp. of each give or take…I use kosher salt)

2 bay leaves

For meatballs you will need…

1 pound ground chuck

1 pound ground pork

1 tsp. each of  salt and pepper

2 tsp. dried parsley

milk

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove of garlic

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a big wide pot or a deep one (I use my big blue wide pot) over medium heat.  Add finely diced onion and garlic in the olive oil and saute this for about 5 minutes or until onions are tender.  Add in cans of tomato paste one by one, giving a good stir in between each one.  You want to incorporate the onions  and garlic into each can of paste.  Gradually stir in each can of water.  Add bay leave, some salt and pepper and about 1 tablespoon of sugar to start with.   You can taste it and add more if you want at this point or wait.  Now, the sauce should be bubbling a bit at this point, so turn it down to low and let it simmer.  Ok, put the lid on and let this simmer for about 2 hours.  Stir occasionally and adjust heat if needed.  Mammaw made sure to note on her recipe and Pappaw made sure to reiterate to me…”the secret is in long slow cooking!!”…to me that means two hours.  LOL!!

While sauce is simmering, you can go ahead and make your meatballs.  Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Put your meat in a large bowl.  Add in your salt, pepper, parsley, grated Parmesan,  a splash of milk and minced garlic.  Mix it up really well with your (clean) hands.  Really get in there and work that seasoning in ya’ll!  Good times!!  ha ha!!  Ok, once you have your meat well seasoned (feel free to add in more seasoning if you think you need to.  My measurements are approximate). Now, take about 1 heaping tablespoon of meat and roll it gently into a ball.  You want uniformity more than anything so that they will cook evenly.  Put the meatballs on a rack inside of a baking pan (this allows fat to drip away from the meat).  Mammaw called for pan frying the meatballs in her recipe.  I changed it up because baking the meatballs makes them more moist to me, plus it is a healthier way to make them.  Put your baking pan on the middle rack in your preheated oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes.  They don’t have to be completely done as they will cook a little while in the sauce.  You just want most of the pink gone.

Add your meatballs to your sauce one by one.  Give them a good stir and then return lid to pot and let the sauce continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.  Serve over cooked pasta of your choice and you are golden!!  Sunday supper for real!!!

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Big bowl of love!!