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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Split Pea and Andouille Soup

We have had so much snow here in Kansas the past few weeks, and that makes me just want to curl up with a cup of coffee and a pot of soup on the stove. And living here in Kansas means that I’m in the mood for soup way more than I ever was in the south.

Which led me to this experiment. My mother-in-law makes split pea soup every Christmas time with the leftover Christmas ham, and it’s really good. But I’m all about twists. And I like to make things a little spicier for me. Hence the Andouille added to the soup.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. 1 medium onion, minced
  2. 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  3. 1 rib of celery, minced
  4. 1/2 cup shredded carrot (about 1/2 a large carrot)
  5. 2 boxes (32 oz.) beef stock
  6. 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  7. 1 can tomato sauce
  8. 2 cups dried split peas
  9. 1 large link of Andouille sausage, sliced in half
  10. Garlic Powder
  11. Chili Powder
  12. Creole Seasoning
  13. Salt and Pepper
  • cook onion, garlic, celery, and carrot in a deep pot with an inch of oil, until the vegetables get soft. add the remaining ingredients, including the seasonings, to taste. i would totally recommend you start out with a little bit, and then add more as you go. it’ll get deeper as you let it cook down, plus, overusing the creole seasoning is always a bad idea. it’s too spicy and just tastes funny if you use too much.
  • let it simmer until it’s all cooked down together, and sear and cut the sausage before adding it back to the soup.
  • i served it with fresh bread and fried okra.
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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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Ravioli Soup

So this is going to be another pictureless post, because I’m an idiot who likes to forget how to take pictures. Also because my camera is out of batteries at the moment and I’ve been too lazy to put new ones in. Anyway, around here, it’s been rainy and cold and, well, perfect soup weather! This is the time of year I love the most. It’s just starting to get cold, and I’m starting to dream about all the soups I’ll get to eat through the fall and winter. It never really happens the way I plan it, but it’s always nice to dream about. And the first seriously rainy, cold day is usually the day I make my first soup.

That day just happened to be yesterday. And as it happened, I already had a soup in mind to create, so I jumped on it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Spicy Italian Sausage (I used three links, which I pulled out of their casings, but you could use a pound that was never cased in the first place)
  2. A medium sized onion, roughly chopped
  3. About three cloves of garlic, peeled and minced (you can add more or less depending on your tastes, or leave it out if you don’t keep fresh garlic around [but seriously, who does that?])
  4. A (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes (not the fire roasted kind…and the ones I used were canned in sauce, so I didn’t drain them)
  5. A (8 oz) can of tomato sauce (to give an extra kick of tomatoey goodness)
  6. Two boxes of beef stock (I don’t know what size…sorry, but use the boxes, not the cans because they’re bigger. If you go with cans, you might need, like, four or so…maybe)
  7. Onion powder
  8. Garlic Powder
  9. Italian Seasoning
  10. A bag of Mini Raviolis (I used cheese, but you can use any variety…but seriously, the cheese was good)
  11. (Optional) I also added about a tablespoon of tomato paste, because I have a tube that needs to be used and I’ve been adding it to everything…it’s not strictly necessary, though

So once you’ve chopped up your onion and garlic, you’re going to put them in your pot with a little olive oil and get them going until they start to get soft. (If you’re me, you’ll add some salt and pepper at every stage, just to make sure all the flavors are coming out the way they best can, but that’s just me.) Once they’re starting to soften, you can add the Sausage and brown it, breaking it up as it cooks. (Again, I add some salt and pepper here.) Once you’ve got the sausage cooked through, you can add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste (if you have it) and the beef stock. I recommend adding them in that order, because if you add the stock  first, things tend to splash (call it experience). To that you’re going to add that onion powder, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. I didn’t measure, but it was probably a little less than a tablespoon of each, and you’ll want to definitely add salt and pepper at this point, to your taste.

Here’s the thing about adding salt and pepper to taste with a soup: I find that with any soup (or long-simmering sauce for that matter) you’ll want to let the whole thing come to a boil and then cool slightly before you get aggressive with the seasoning. This lets everyone get happy in the pot and figure out their balance. then you can add the salt and pepper a little at a time, stirring and (most important) tasting between each addition, until the flavors are balanced. This is the difference between an alright cook and a great one.

Once you have everything balanced, you’re going to want to let it simmer at least half an hour. Just remember that the longer you let it go, the richer and deeper the flavors are going to get. I started mine at 9:30 in the morning, and we ate at 6:30 that night. I just kept the stove on low all day and gave it a rest when it was looking a little low. I also ended up adding some water because of how low the soup was looking, since we had guest coming and I didn’t want to not have enough. Adding water, though, is completely up to you. Just like the salt and pepper, it’s all about taste.

When you’re ready to eat it, you simply cook the ravioli according to package instructions (not in the pot,but separately) until they start to float (that’s how my mom taught me to tell if they’re done.) Then simply strain them, ladle a few into the bottom of your bowl, and ladle the soup on top. Then top with Parmesan cheese, because cheese makes soup delicious.

This pot fed four people, and most of us got seconds, so it would probably feed up to eight people without seconds. Just trust me, though, they’ll probably want seconds, cuz this is an awesome soup.

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Gazpacho

This is a post with no pictures…I meant to take them, but I didn’t, and it’s a complete original, too. I actually wrote down what I was putting in it and how much, just for y’all. I started at the grocery store, knowing that I wanted to make a gazpacho to go with a dinner, so I picked up a few tomatoes and a cucumber and left it at that. Without further ado, my gazpacho recipe:

3 large tomatoes (about 1.5 lbs)

1 cucumber, peeled

8 oz of tomato sauce

8 oz water

3 cloves garlic

dash of cayenne pepper

salt & pepper to taste

red wine vinegar to taste

about 10 drops of lime juice

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Roughly chop the tomato and cucumber and blend with olive oil until smooth, in batches if necessary (if you want a chunky soup, reserve some of the tomato and cucumber and chop them smaller)
  2. Add garlic, tomato sauce and water and blend until mixed
  3. This is where I ran out of room in my blender, so I poured it all into a serving bowl and added everything else, to taste.
  4. Let chill in the fridge at least an hour before serving.

I made the mistake of over-seasoning a little bit, though, so I would recommend stopping just before you feel like it’s seasoned enough. Especially with the vinegar. I like things a little more of the sour/salty side, but take my advice, stop before you think it’s done. Once you put it in the fridge, the flavors will build on themselves and get stronger. After it’s been in the fridge for a while, taste it and adjust the seasoning to be more exact for you.

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