an army wife's guide to life

food and homemaking goodness

Garlicky Tomato Candy :)

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Ok, so first of all, I’m sorry about the quality of the pics…my camera is sans batteries right now and I’ve been too lazy/forgetful to buy more. So here’s an instagram pic instead.

Second, this isn’t really candy, but it’s as delicious as candy for those of us who love savory a little more than sweet. And I’m firmly one of those people. Savory wins about 99% of the time. You can ask my mother, I ate spaghetti for dessert once.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. This is a super simple recipe, the biggest thing you really need is time. And patience. And the self control to resist the smells coming from your kitchen.

Ingredients are as follows:

  1. Tomatoes. I used cherry tomatoes. You can use any quantity, I’m not even gonna tell you how much to make. You can use any size, anything, you just need tomatoes, as much as you think you’ll need.
  2. Garlic. I used about 5 cloves. You can use less, or more, or whatever.
  3. Olive oil (or, you know, pam or something to keep everything from sticking).
  4. Balsamic vinegar.
  5. Onion Powder.
  6. Salt and Pepper (cuz, duh.).

First, you’re gonna preheat your oven to 250°. The aim of this game in nice and slow and easy.

Second, cut up your tomatoes. I sliced mine in half cuz they were tiny, but you can do slices if they’re bigger. Put them on a baking sheet, preferably lined with tin foil, cuz, you know, less cleanup.

Then mince your garlic. Make it as fine as possible, and toss it over your tomatoes. Season with Salt and Pepper and Onion Powder, not a lot, just a sprinkle of each. Next comes the olive oil, just sprinkle it over the top, so the tomatoes have something to cook in. Lastly, add the balsamic vinegar, just a bit, splash it over the top until you’ve got a modest amount of coverage.

Bake for 1 hour and check on the progress. Mine took about 1 hour 15 minutes, but yours could take longer…or shorter depending on how done you want them.

They’re delicious by themselves, but I added them to Alfredo sauce. If you are adding them to a sauce, reserve the oil and chop it all up really finely. It’s freaking delicious!

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Roasted Balsamic Broccoli with Onions, Garlic and Bacon

This is one of those recipes that can either be a side dish or a main course for one person. For me, it was that main course option, because cooking for one person is kind of miserable for me. But this was a dish that was worth the effort I put into it and I ended up enjoying eating more than I usually would. This was originally going to be a side for Bruschetta Chicken, but since it was just me, I nixed the chicken (at least for today).

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This recipe is ridiculously simple, here’s what you’ll need:

→ 3 small heads of fresh broccoli, cut into florets

→ 1 medium onion, halved and sliced

→ 3 cloves of garlic, minced

→ 1/2 package of bacon

→ about 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

→ salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder

 

Step 1

Do Not preheat your oven. I’m serious, don’t do it. Do not skip ahead to see where the oven will be heated to, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Go directly to jail if you peek. Seriously. Don’t do it. Instead, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and put a roasting rack (or a cookie rack) over it. Line that rack with bacon. Then put the bacon in the cold oven. I’m serious. Put the oven on 400º and set the timer for 20-25 mintues (25-30 for thick bacon). You will thank me for this when you realize you now have bacon jerky that’s perfectly cooked.

Step 2

While the bacon is becoming perfect, chop your veggies. Then wait, because you’ll have time left before the bacon comes out and you probably don’t want to stand in the kitchen smelling the perfection while you wait for dinner. Go browse Pinterest, or better yet, pin this just for fun.

Step 3

When the bacon has reached perfection, remove it to your cutting board with tongs, and remove the rack from the pan. Don’t get ride of the lovely bacon drippings, don’t touch any of that. Instead, line the bottom of the pan with the onions and garlic, and then layer the broccoli over that. This is also where I added the balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkling of salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. The vinegar will smell a little strong, even while it’s cooking, but it come out so, so sweet, so use a little more than you think you’d like.

Step 4

Slice the bacon. Try not to eat all of it before it you add it back to the pan. Sprinkle it over the mixture, if you have any left.

Step 5

Bake for another 15-20 minutes in your now-preheated oven. The broccoli should be a really deep greed with slightly brown edges and there shouldn’t be anything slightly burnt smelling, like mine was (I put it in for 25 minutes, oops).

Easy, right? There might be a bit of chopping involved  and a lot of self control, but this is a side dish (or main dish) that pretty much puts itself together. Now, if you wanted to cut down a bit on the fattiness of this dish (or you’re just not into bacon), you can omit it and drizzle olive oil along with the vinegar. It would still be really good, but the fat in it really was good. It wasn’t overly greasy, the broccoli does a good job of soaking it up, and the bacon was just a really delicious addition to it.

 

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Tomato-Alfredo Tortellini

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Or as my husband called it: something you could get at the Olive Garden. Which is high, high praise in his book, since the Olive Garden is the have all and be all of Italian cooking.

This is a super easy dish to throw together, and really, it doesn’t have to be tortellini if you don’t want, it’s just way more filling and that’s what counts here since I have an active husband (he ate all of his and finished my bowl after I was full). My original plan was to use bowtie pasta, and that would work just as well. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 jar of Alfredo Sauce (or make your own, which I did not)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, in sauce
  • Fresh or frozen tortellini (portioned for your family’s needs)
  • Garlic powder
  • Crushed Red Peppers
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper

Cook the tortellini according to the package directions.

In a medium saucepan, pour half a jar of alfredo sauce (I use Bertolli’s Garlic Alfredo), your can of diced tomatoes, and the seasonings (to taste) and heat over medium heat. I would taste the sauce before adding any seasoning, to see if you prefer it that way, but I find the the sweetness of the tomatoes is a little overwhelming for me (I don’t like sweet meals much). I went moderate on the spices with this one, only adding a little bit of each, to get the sauce to what I wanted it. If you don’t like spice, completely omit the crushed Red Peppers, but I didn’t really taste the spice too much, and my husband didn’t comment on it if he tasted any real spice, either.

To serve, just put the tortellini in a bowl and ladle the sauce over top. I wanted to add fresh basil as well as a garnish, but since it’s the dead of winter in Kansas, it’s not really something I can easily find for a reasonable price. You could also use parsley as a fresh garnish if you’d like.

This meal took less than 30 minutes to put together, from the time I put the water on to boil until it was on the table. To make this a non-vegetarian meal, I’d add a single link of spicy Italian sausage, freed from its casing and crumbled.

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Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet

This might not be a totally original idea, I’m sure there are many recipes out there on how to make something like this, but I did not go find them. This is just something I put together to solve my ice cream craving. It’s not the same as ice cream, but still, it’s cold and delicious and that is what I’m looking for while the weather is hot (feels like 107° today!). It’s also something I made with things that I already had. OK, not entirely, I bought the strawberries with this in mind, but I didn’t really know what, exactly, I was going to do with it. And then it hit me. Use the giant jug of lemonade I’ve been drinking this week. It’s sweet and tart and perfect and delicious. So here it goes: homemade strawberry lemonade sorbet:

First, I washed, hulled and halved a pound of strawberries, and put them immediately into a blender, like so:

 Add to that 1 cup of lemonade:

And blend those suckers until everything is smooth.

Now, this is where I tasted it to see if it was sweet enough. And it definitely wasn’t. It still had that mouth-puckering lemonade taste (which I love by the way, and wouldn’t have changed, but hubby doesn’t like that nearly as much as I do), so I needed to add sweetener to it. You can make a simple syrup, if you only have sugar, which is just one cup water one  cup sugar, boil until dissolved (and you can make more or less than that, just keep things in equal parts), or honey, but I have agave nectar around, so I used that.

Now, I don’t know about most people, but I’m notoriously bad about measuring. I did it with the lemonade, but not the agave nectar, but I would estimate about a tablespoon went in. What I would recommend is that you just add it a little at a time until you get the right sweetness. If it’s too sweet, just add more lemonade, or a little bit of water to dilute it.

Next, it went into the ice cream machine, where I just followed the direction on how to work the dang thing and let it go.

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Salted Caramel Sauce

There are times to twist things, and times to leave well enough alone. This was one of those times. I knew that this was one of those recipes that I had no idea what to do with in the first place, so I left well enough alone. Now that I made it, I think I’ll add less salt next time. It was good, but a little too salty for me (and almost nothing is too salty for me).

 

There are so few ingredients that there’s really nothing to tweak. Butter, sugar, cream and salt. I love simple recipes with easy ingredients. This kind of thing makes me really happy. When you get too many ingredients, you really start to lose me, because I want things done as simply as possible. Super-complicated recipes just make me want to modify them really badly. This one, as simple as it was, needed no tweaks.

 

Because this is one of those recipes where you have to constantly stir, I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I wanted to, but this is just the melted sugar as it cooks to the right color. It smelled wonderful, let me tell you that. When you add the sugar and the butter, the recipe told me that it would “bubble up.” What it didn’t mention was that when it bubbles, it’s also steaming, and steam is dangerous when you don’t expect it. So if you decide to try this, expect the steam and keep your hands as out of the way as possible.

This is the loveliest part. Letitng it cool to transfer it to its container. All I wanted to do was try it, but, obviously, it was too hot for that. Knowing that I needed to let it cool was pretty much torture, because caramel is pretty much my favorite thing ever.

The finished product. And it is as good as it smelled. I’ve been using it on ice cream lately, because it it definitely ice cream season around here. I’m definitely thinking I won’t be buying caramel sauce again!

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