Baked Zucchini and Summer Squash

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Baked Zucchini and Summer Squash on the menu tonight.

Slice and layer squashes, cover in sauce, top with grated mozzarella. We like onions on ours too but you can use anything you like (mushrooms, peppers, ground beef, shredded chicken and so on).

Comfort food minus the carbs!!

Bake at 425 until squash has softened, cheese has melted and onions have browned.

Creamy Basil Tomato Sauce

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Creamy Basil Tomato Sauce

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2014 and 2015 First Place winners spoons

Saturday was the Annual Pasta-Sauce Off Competition hosted by the Cooking for Cancer Club in our area.  This club was created by two young girls in my daughter’s class to raise funds for children with cancer.  It benefits Carly’s Club of Roswell Park.

The event consists of volunteers making a pasta sauce and entering a competition.  Visitors purchase sample tickets and can sample all of the sauces and vote for their favorite sauce.  There is a huge basket raffle (94 baskets), a silent auction with some very unique treasures, a bake sale, 50/50 raffle, and all of the proceeds raised are donated to help make sick children’s lives a little bit better!  This event raised $5,000.00!!!!  Such a huge accomplishment for these girls!

Now on to the Creamy Basil Tomato Sauce—-last year I entered the event with a Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce and won 1st place!! (Recipe here: Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce)

This year I wanted to make a different sauce and decided on a Creamy Basil Tomato Sauce.  And guess what…I won again!!

Back to back victories 🙂

It is a lot of fun but even more so knowing you are doing something that will hopefully brighten someones day who may so desperately need it.

Here is the link to my Facebook page which has the recipe for you to try and a few pictures from the event!  The sauce is delicious and helped me top 13 other entries 🙂

CREAMY BASIL TOMATO SAUCE RECIPE

The Italians

grandparents giambra wedding

Charles Giambra, Carmella Oddi Giambra, Josephine Giambra, Gerald (last name unknown)

This was my father’s parents (paternal grandparents) wedding day in the late 1930’s.  I have written about my grandfather in a past post.  They were Sicilians through and through.  I had many wonderful years with them and am thankful to this day for the blessings they were in my life and the many traditions they shared with me to carry on their legacy with my own family!!

Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

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In February I was asked to enter a Cancer cookoff.  It was called Cooking for Cancer Pasta Sauce Off.  The idea was to make a sauce and have people come to the event buy tickets to sample the sauces on pasta, basket raffles, 50/50 and silent auctions to raise money for Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY.  This was hosted by two 11 year old girls in my daughters class who created a club called “Cooking for Cancer”.  How could I refuse!!

So I went on a mission to find/create the best sauce I could to compete against 18 other entries and came up with my Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce.  Over 400 people attended the event and voted.  I am happy to say I won!!!  MORE IMPORTANTLY these two girls raised over $4,600.00 for cancer research!!

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I must have collected 70 emails from people who attended asking for my recipe.  I made it tonight as a side dish so thought I would share it as it is SIMPLE!!!  Your friends will be impressed trust me!!  Recipe at bottom

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This is all you need!!  Very inexpensive to make

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Chop the onion and garlic and soften in butter in a sauce pan.  Next chop the sundried tomatoes very fine (I use my very small chopper which I love!!) but you can chop by hand if you want.

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After the onion and garlic have sauteed in the butter for about 4 minutes add the finely chopped sundried tomatoes, tomato sauce, heavy cream and basil

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Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes while pasta cooks and serve on the pasta

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When I make this as a meal I add cooked chicken into the simmering process and serve it over pasta.  It’s a full meal!!

CREAMY SUN-DRIED TOMATO SAUCE

1 small onion, diced small

3 cloves garlic, minced (I use fresh as it holds the flavor better but you can use jarred)

15 oz can tomato sauce (I use Contadina with Italian Herbs)

1 jar sun dried tomatoes, chopped very fine (I use about ¾ of the jar or adjust to more or less per your taste)

1 pint heavy cream

Basil, chopped fine (about 4 nice size leaves)

Olive or grapeseed oil roasted garlic flavored (you only need about 2 tablesoons)

3 Tablespoons butter

 

Saute the garlic and onion in the butter and olive oil until just soft (approx.. 4 minutes) in a regular sauce pan, when soft add the tomato sauce, cream, sun dried tomatoes, and basil. Simmer about 20 minutes very lightly so the flavors all combine.

 **I usually cut up some cooked chicken and throw it into the simmering sauce and then serve it over penne or ziti pasta.

 You can also add parmesan cheese to the sauce or sprinkle on after and for a zing toss in some red pepper flakes

Now next time you need to impress some friends…remember this sauce.  I’d love to hear from you if you try it!!!

 

Thursday Braciola (Braciole)

I know most Italian families had Sunday “gravy” nights with pasta and sauce.  For some reason my Sicilian grandmother always had the macaroni, gravy and braciola on Thursdays.  In our house it’s any time I have the ingredients.  This morning, after feeding our animals on the farm, packing the kids lunches and in between getting myself ready for work and taking the kids to school, I quickly threw together a perfect dish to slow cook while we are gone.  That is our Braciola.

Braciole is a thin slice of meat that is rolled with various stuffings.  In our house it is always beef.  I prefer the thin flank steak but will use thin top round when needed which is what I had today.

The picture below is from the last time I made it (ummm I admit it was last week but we LOVE it so it’s ok we are having it again) plus I forgot to freeze the second package I bought!!

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You can tell just by looking at that picture how wonderfully tender the meat gets and the stuffing is thin, garlicky (is that a word??) and just enough so you only need a vegetable to go with your meal.

This is such an easy throw together and forget it until after work meal that it fits into most busy schedules (like mine tonight with hockey and softball practice).  And my 71 year old mother is coming home from her road trip (living like a gypsy with her 71 year old long time friend who is also widowed but that’s a WHOLE other story!!) and she is coming for dinner so I wanted to have some “comfort” food for her after her months of travel, relaxation and non home cooked meals.

Here is how I make our Braciole

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mix Italian seasoned bread crumbs, salt/pepper, minced garlic, one egg and a splash of milk and spread it thin on the meat as it makes stuffing as it’s cooking. I cover with tomato sauce and slow bake about 6 hours on 220 (you can reduce it to 185 and cook longer if needed).  I have my own tomato sauce I make and can but you can use store bought.

I know the measurements are not on here as it depends on the size of the meat I purchased but I will list the ingredients and you can easily make it eyeballing it to what you will need for the cuts of your braciole

Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Salt/Pepper

Minced garlic

one egg

splash of milk

Mix it all together to a consistency of a regular “stuffing”.  Add bread crumbs/milk as needed to make it thicker or to thin it if you added to many bread crumbs

Lay the meat out and spread a thin layer of the stuffing mixture on top.  Roll the meat and tie it or you can use toothpicks if you don’t have meat string.  Toss in a pan with a little garlic flavored oil or regular olive oil and brown it all around.

Lay it in a backing pan and cover with sauce.  Put it in the oven at 200 degrees for 6 hours or 185 for longer.

Come in the door after a long day, smell the wonderful aroma, get a salad made or any other type of vegetable, macaroni if you want and get ready for dinner!!!