Saturday, March 5, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Jenn: Simple Saturday

Cara's post yesterday gave me the chills.  The Wizard of Oz was my favorite movie as a kid - and one of the first movies we had on VHS - I got it as a Christmas gift when I was 15 or 16.  It has so many lessons to teach us - sometimes we don't see them - but Cara put them all out there so eloquently.  My girls have each been Dorothy for Halloween and each year, usually around Easter, we watch Wizard of Oz as a family. I always wished I had a pair of ruby slipper so I could click my way home whenever I felt the need.  I have met a wicked witch of the west a time or two in my life and even run across Glinda.  My children love it too - and still cling to me when the witch appears.  There is something so timeless about that movie.

My son is a meat eater and I am not so much.  I don't make a lot of red meat but he seems to crave it.  The girls don't eat it at all - so if I am cooking a steak, I have to make something else too.   Tonight's menu is London Broil and Penne a la vodka, both by request.  I have only made the penne once before - and it turned out well.  Here is the recipe if you feel like trying something new... enjoy!

Penne a la Vodka


1 quart Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, or store-bought marinara sauce, blended until smooth
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 pound penne


Simmer the tomato sauce and vodka in a heavy large skillet over low heat until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Stir the cream into the tomato and vodka sauce. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and well blended.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan with the sauce, and toss to coat.

Simple Tomato Sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. If sauce tastes too acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to round out the flavor.

Pour half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.
If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and then pour 1 to 2 cup portions into plastic freezer bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Cara's two cents: Whew...thank you for putting up a homemade recipe for sauce..
I got chills when I read jarred hee..yummy I would really like to have Penne a la Vodka but alas the diet continues...have a forkful for me!

Jenn's three cents: Once upon a time I bought a jar of sauce - just once - because I had three hungry kids at home and I was at my wits end.  My husband had one taste and told me to please not ever buy jarred sauce again - if I didn't have the time to make it, I just shouldn't serve it.  I have a few different "sauce" recipes I use - but this is a fairly easy one.  I would love to see your sauce recipe Cara!


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