After my big shopping excursion yesterday, I thought it was probably in my best interest to get ahead on a few meals (which meant my kitchen was my new best friend for the rest of the day).
First up, I wanted to get a head start on my barbecue sauce for my Hawaiian barbecue chicken and barbecue chicken pizza. (As a side note, I totally went shopping thinking there was 1/2 a jar of barbecue sauce in my fridge. I got home to put the groceries away and clean out the fridge, and HAHA – it wasn’t there. Guess I should have checked my fridge before shopping, eh? No matter! I was determined to make it work without going back to the store. So, I looked up a simple recipe for barbecue sauce using ingredients I already had in my kitchen. Miracle of miracles, the first one I found was PERFECT. So the next time you find yourself without something vital in your pantry, give making it yourself a shot and see how it goes! I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.)
The recipe I ended up choosing for the barbecue sauce is the Neely’s Barbecue Sauce Recipe. I chose it for two reasons: 1) I had all the ingredients to make it and 2) these people own a barbecue restaurant, I think they know what they’re doing when it comes to sauce. I thought I might have to jazz it up somehow, but once it all came together I didn’t touch it.
Neely’s Barbecue Sauce
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 5 Tsp light brown sugar
- 5 Tsp regular white sugar
- 1/2 Tsp black pepper
- 1/2 Tsp onion powder
- 1/2 Tsp ground mustard (This is where I substituted. I didn’t have ground, so instead I used about 1 Tsp of regular yellow mustard.)
- 1 Tsp lemon juice (or 1/2 a lemon, juiced)
- 1 Tsp Worcestershire sauce
Throw all of your ingredients into a medium sauce pan.
Whisk them together to get it nice and smooth, then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to simmer (medium-low heat so it still bubbles a little), and let it go for about an hour, stirring occasionally. When it’s done simmering, the mixture will have reduced by about 1/4 and it’ll be slightly thickened.
I was surprised how much sauce I actually got out of this recipe (about 3 cups) and the minimal effort it took! I’ll be using about 1/2 the recipe for my chicken sandwiches and about another 1/2 c. for my pizza – I’ll probably have sauce leftovers. After tasting how yummy and fresh this sauce is, I really don’t want to go back to bottled!
My next saucy menu companion was going to be the marinara sauce for my Eggplant Parmesan. Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of jarred sauces but I can never find one that’s “just right” for my tastes – so I saved myself some money, and made it myself this time. After doing a little research, everyone and their momma has a different recipe for marinara sauce. Most of them share these 3 basic ingredients: garlic, onions, and tomatoes. After that, you can get pretty creative with whatever herbs you like (oregano, basil, parsley, bay leaves, and so on). So feel free to take this recipe and make it your own!
- 2 14-oz cans (or 1 28-oz can) crushed tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup water
- 1 basil stem (just the stem, leaves removed. If you want to do fresh leaves, put them in at the end. Basil is delicate and if you put it in the sauce too early it gets too dark and loses flavor. You could also do about 1 tsp of dried basil and add it in before you simmer to develop the flavor. I did it with just the stem to get all the flavor without bruised leaves.)
- 1/4 c. parsley, chopped
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 Tsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat with olive oil. Once the pan is hot, throw in the chopped onion and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, saute for 1 minute (you don’t want to add it before the onions are soft because the garlic will burn and get bitter. It’s best to throw in the garlic right before your tomatoes so that it doesn’t go too far.) . Add the rest of the ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to medium-low simmer and let it go for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. At the end, the mixture will have reduced by about 1/3. Don’t forget to fish out your basil stem!
I like my marinara sauce to be smooth, not completely pureed but not chunky either. I left my onions, garlic, and parsley roughly chopped at the beginning and after the sauce had simmered and cooled I put it in my food processor to get it a little more smooth. If you like your’s chunky, by all means, leave it chunky.
While these other two sauces were simmering away on the stove, I also made some homemade salsa. I feel the same way about jarred salsas as I do about jarred marinara. I like them, but I can’t find one that fits me and most of them are too chunky and not hot enough for my liking. I’ve made my own for the past two months or so, and I love the freedom of having a salsa that’s made just for me. I don’t always make it the same, because I like to play around with the recipe but it always tastes good. And the real kick – it takes less than 5 minutes! My salsas are good in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a month. That’s the good thing about spicy stuff – it’s harder for mold to grow when there’s heat present. What I made yesterday is a pretty basic, no frills, recipe – I didn’t want to spend extra money on cilantro I was going to use once or anything else I didn’t already have and need. I made this salsa partially for my enchilada night I have planned, but also just because I was hungry and wanted to eat chips and salsa.
Restaurant Style Salsa
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles (Or Rotel if you have it)
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 large or 2-3 small tomatoes, any variety, cut into quarters
- 1 jalapeno, cut in half (this part is YOUR choice for heat level. I cleaned 1 half of the jalapeno and left the seeds and ribs in the other half. All the heat is in the seeds and ribs of the pepper, and you can clean it or leave it however you like for your heat level. Mild – totally seeded and de-ribbed. Medium – seeded, but ribs still intact. Hot – seeds and ribs partially or wholly left.)
- 1 1/2 Tsp lime juice (I had one of those plastic limes in my fridge, so that’s the juice I used. If you do fresh, it’s the juice of 1 lime)
- Roughly 1 Tsp salt (no I didn’t add black pepper, my salsa was spicy enough. Hint – if your salsa is a little too spicy for you, salt helps to balance out the heat.)
This recipe made a TON of salsa! I ended up with about 3 1/2 cups
and I had more but hubs and I got hungry and ate some. As a warning, the salsa as I made it is pretty hot. Not take-a-sip-of-water-after-every-bite-because-my-GOD-my-tongue’s-on-fire hot, but it’s definitely too hot for the kiddies.
To go with my salsa, I had to have chips – but I didn’t buy any at the store, I made those puppies too. I had about half a package of corn tortillas sitting in my pantry doing nothing, so I decided to put them to good use and make chips out of them. You can barely call this a recipe, but I thought I’d share anyway.
Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips
- Tortillas, any variety
- 1 tsp of oil
- Salt to taste
Stack up your tortillas, and cut them however large or small you like.
My chips were on the thicker side because I didn’t feel like separating the layers of the corn tortillas to make thinner chips.
Line them up on a baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle or spray lightly with your oil, and season with salt. Bake for about 10 minutes at 325 degrees. And voila! Tortilla chips. To store, keep them at room temperature in an air-tight container or bag.