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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Recipe: Spaghetti with Homemade Tomato Basil Sauce and Ham Bits

This makes a Perfect Sunday Merienda.

As a working mom, I am always on the lookout for easy to prepare recipes. I feel happier if I come across easy to prepare and delicious recipes.

We have a helper at home who is tasked to cook for our little family of 3. But most days, I really prefer to cook our meals by myself. Cooking is a great therapy for me, a respite from all the typing and reading and all-that-boring-stuff-office-people-do kind of thing.

I am a pasta fanatic. Although I have been desperately trying to cut down on carbs recently, I would often choose a pasta meal on my cheat days. A pasta recipe is always easy to whip out. Actually, it was after learning to cook pasta al-dente that I fell in love with cooking. The rest is history, as the cliche goes.

In my side of the family, we've always preferred to prepare homemade tomato sauce for tomato-based dishes. Through the years, we've finally learned how to make the perfectly easy yet tasty homemade tomato sauce. So if you like tomato-based pasta, let me share with you my version which was a recent hit with my co-workers. Their admiration of my home cooking inspired me (and gave me the confidence as well) to share the recipe in this blog.

Fast and Easy Tomato-Basil Sauce

You will need:

1.5 kilos of fresh tomatoes
¼ cup of olive oil
1 medium size red onion (1 large if white)
1 head garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
A pinch of pepper
1 small pouch of tomato paste
1 cup fresh basil or
1 teaspoon dried basil
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Procedure:
Simmering Tomato Sauce
  • Wash the ripe tomatoes properly.
  • Make a small cross on the bottom of your tomatoes (this trick is just to make it easy for you to peel off the skin later)
  • Blanch the tomatoes, drain and put in ice bath or run through cold water. Peel the skin off.
  • Chop the tomatoes. Make sure to save the juice as well. You can take out the seeds if you want (but I leave them since seeding takes so much time). Add about a teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper. Mix then leave overnight in the fridge.
  • Saute chopped red onion in olive oil  until translucent . Add minced garlic. Do not brown the garlic to retain taste. 
  • Add Tomato Paste (I used 2/3 of a small pouch on 1.5kilos of fresh tomatoes)
  • Add the chopped tomatoes (including the juice), stir and simmer for 5-10 mins. (I personally like to have tomatoes chunks on my sauce so I just simmer for 5mins). Add a cup of fresh basil or a teaspoon if you’re using dried.
  • Transfer to blender or food processor and puree. Sauce is good for 1 kilo of cooked pasta (best to use is angel hair/spaghetti pasta). Top with sauteed mushroom-ham and Parmesan cheese. 
This recipe can feed 10 hungry adult stomachs.

To make the mushroom-ham/bacon topping:

You will need:

1 big can of button mushroom (pieces and stem), chopped coarsely
1 med white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pack sweet ham/or whatever cold cuts you prefer/bacon bits
1 tsps olive oil or bacon fat if you use bacon instead of cold cuts (if you use bacon, cook it ahead so the fat is rendered)
1 tsp butter

Procedure:


  • SautĂ© onion and garlic till translucent over olive oil and butter. 
  • Add chopped mushroom and cold cuts/bacon bits.  
  • Top over tossed tomato sauce and spaghetti.

It's super easy and you can store the topping and the sauce separately. You can also opt to store the sauce on a sterilized jar for future use. You can probably store it for a week in the fridge or you can opt to freeze it for longer shelf-life and just thaw it in the microwave if you already intend to use it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

33

I just feel obligated to post something to remember this day by. Or just until I'm able to get my thoughts together and get over this blogging drought. 

Birthdays make me emotional. Well, for so long birthdays were just something I'd like to celebrate so I'd have an excuse to shop or treat myself to something extraordinary. But that has long past. Now birthdays are a big reminder to me of how blessed I am.

Yes. I worry like crazy each time the thought of the Big C hits me. But those are now rare. For the last 2 and a half years, I just try to live every waking moment like there's no tomorrow. And somehow, that makes me feel better. That somehow comforts me when I go to sleep at night.

Yes today I am 33. And I just want to mark that literally by sharing with you one of my favorite songs:

"Thirty-Three"

Speak to me in a language I can hear
Humour me before I have to go
Deep in thought I forgive everyone
As the cluttered streets greet me once again
I know I can't be late, supper's waiting on the table
Tomorrow's just an excuse away
So I pull my collar up and face the cold, on my own
The earth laughs beneath my heavy feet
At the blasphemy in my old jangly walk
Steeple guide me to my heart and home
The sun is out and up and down again
I know I'll make it, love can last forever
Graceful swans of never topple to the earth
And you can make it last, forever you
You can make it last, forever you
And for a moment I lose myself
Wrapped up in the pleasures of the world
I've journeyed here and there and back again
But in the same old haunts I still find my friends
Mysteries not ready to reveal
Sympathies I'm ready to return
I'll make the effort, love can last forever
Graceful swans of never topple to the earth
Tomorrow's just an excuse
And you can make it last, forever you
You can make it last, forever you 






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