Easy Homemade Cashew-Almond Butter

easy-homemade-cashew-almond-butter

Welcome back to Sunday Scratchups, your source for weekly recipes from scratch around grocery store matchups and sales. Since the Labor Day ads this week are heavy on hot dogs, beer, and chips, but not so great for actual cooking, we’re going to look online for this edition. Props go to Outlander for the suggestion in comments a while back! Over on Amazon, you can as of this writing pick up a 12 pack of 18.25 oz cans of Planters Select almonds, cashews, and pecans for $40.42 shipped with subscribe & save, or just $3.69 per big can for the good nuts. (If you’re on the 20% off tier, that’s $34.04 shipped, or just $2.84 a can.)

not-gelato-cashew-almond-butter

Use whatever clean and empty jar you have handy for your own Cashew-Almond Butter — this is not actually Tahitian Vanilla Bean Talenti gelato, although it might be a good excuse to buy and consume some to get ready first (“I just needed the jar!”).

planters

The Planters already contain salt and oil, so you don’t need to add any of that to your Cashew-Almond Butter. Just grab a new can and pick out the pecans so you’re left with only the cashews and almonds for your nut butter. I put my pecans into an open partially eaten can, but you could also reserve for baking (mmm, pecan brownies). I’d guesstimate there are only about 2 oz pecans in the whole can, so you’ll be left with about 16 oz of almonds and cashews. Think about what a 16 oz jar of almond and/or cashew butter would cost you at the grocery store, and you can see it’s a fantastic deal to make your own with the Amazon sale cans of nuts — not to mention, darn tasty, and you have a couple oz of bonus pecans left over!

Easy Homemade Cashew-Almond Butter

nuts-in-food-processor

Ingredients

16 oz salted almonds and cashews
1/2 tsp honey (optional)

Directions

cashew-almond-butter-in-food-processor

Add nuts and honey to food processor. Blend until your Cashew-Almond butter is at your desired consistency, scraping down the sides as necessary. Refrigerate in tightly covered jar.

  • A good food processor really makes a difference — my new-ish Cuisinart made nut butter out of these in about 1/3 of the time my cheapie old one used to take.

So we’re going to go through 12 cans much more quickly now!

cashew-almond-butter

Seriously: How easy was that? And, the proportion of cashews to almonds here is just right for a creamy and flavorful Cashew-Almond Butter. Nut butters are also a great alternative if your school or lunch room is peanut free, and this homemade version is more affordable than store-bought.

cashew-almond-butter-toast-2

Homeade Cashew-Almond butter is great on toast, waffles, or, if you’re MashupDad, on a spoon right out of the jar. (Just don’t double dip, and we don’t ask, don’t tell.)

Easy Print Version

Easy Homemade Cashew-Almond Butter
 
Author:
Recipe type: condiment
Ingredients
  • 16 oz salted almonds and cashews
  • ½ tsp honey (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add nuts and honey to food processor.
  2. Blend until your Cashew-Almond butter is at your desired consistency, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  3. Refrigerate in tightly covered jar.

Easy Fire Roasted Tomatoes for freezing — Two ways

fire-roasted-tomatoes-for-freezing

And now for our second bonus Sunday Scratchups tomato recipe post of the week — again in honor of these garden tomatoes keep coming and what do I do with them? So for this next episode in our Attack of the Killer Tomatoes series, I was looking at the latest batch of tomatoes and thinking, well, what tomato products do I use the most? In the winter, that would be either tomato paste or fire roasted tomatoes in chili, soup, and more.

basket-of-tomatoes-2

I first poked around looking at tomato paste recipes, but quickly abandoned that quest upon realizing I have neither a food mill nor an infinite supply of patience. The fire roasted tomato recipes, on the other hand, seemed quite doable, so I tried out both this oven fire roasted tomatoes recipe on Mississippi Kitchen and this grill fire roasted tomatoes recipe from Kiss My Smoke, with about identical results and levels of difficulty. I’ll tell you about both, and you can pick your own favorite method.

fire-roasted-tomatoes-for-the-freezer

On the left, fire roasted tomatoes from the oven. On the right, fire roasted tomatoes from the grill. The slight variation in color is actually mostly due to lighting, since I did these batches at different times of the day. Each batch used about 25 small to medium Roma tomatoes, and each filled a quart Ziploc freezer bag nicely. I’m guesstimating each batch is about 2 cans’ worth, maybe a little more — since I’m going to be using these in big batches of soup, chili, etc. I’m not worried about exact proportions, but you could use a measuring cup to more precisely fill your bags if you like.

Easy Fire Roasted Tomatoes, two ways

basket-of-tomatoes

Ingredients

About 25 small to medium Roma tomatoes
Olive oil or cooking spray

Directions

Wash tomatoes. If grilling, leave whole or cut off just the stem ends. If broiling in the oven, cut off stem ends and cut in half.

On the grill

removing-tomatoes-from-grillThat’s MashupDad ably manning the grill — I don’t have man hands ;)

Brush grill with olive oil. Place whole tomatoes directly on rack, and grill covered over medium heat for 8-9 minutes a side. Remove from grill with tongs and place in bowl, cover with foil, and let cool. Remove skins and chop tomatoes, adding a bit of chopped skin back in for the char flavor and blackened bits. Freeze in freezer bag.

In the oven

fire-roasted-tomatoes-on-cookie-sheet

Spray rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place tomatoes cut side down on cookie sheet. Broil on top rack for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through for more even baking. Let cool slightly, remove skins, and chop tomatoes, adding a bit of chopped skin back in for the char flavor and blackened bits. Freeze in freezer bag.

Note

remove-skins-from-tomatoes-on-cookie-sheet

Either way you do this the tomatoes will basically be falling apart, so in most cases you are less chopping than smooshing and will be left with something in between diced fire roasted tomatoes and crushed fire roasted tomatoes, if you’re used to using the canned versions. The skins should slide off super easily, too. Add as much or as little of the chopped skin as you like into your chopped tomatoes for the freezer, and simply freeze in quart freezer bags for later use.

chopped-fire-roasted-tomatoes-from-grill

The end result is also super fresh and tasty — we’ll see how it is out of the freezer later this year, but I’m looking forward to making my next batch of chili with homegrown fire roasted tomatoes! Plus, here you don’t get the salt or extra additives that you generally see in the canned versions.

Easy print version

Easy Fire Roasted Tomatoes for freezing -- Two ways
 
Author:
Recipe type: sauce
Ingredients
  • About 25 small to medium Roma tomatoes
  • Olive oil or cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Wash tomatoes.
  2. If grilling, leave whole or cut off just the stem ends.
  3. If broiling in the oven, cut off stem ends and cut in half.
  4. On the grill:
  5. Brush grill with olive oil.
  6. Place whole tomatoes directly on rack, and grill covered over medium heat for 8-9 minutes a side.
  7. Remove from grill with tongs and place in bowl, cover with foil, and let cool.
  8. Remove skins and chop tomatoes, adding a bit of chopped skin back in for the char flavor and blackened bits.
  9. Freeze in freezer bag.
  10. In the oven:
  11. Spray rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  12. Place tomatoes cut side down on cookie sheet.
  13. Broil on top rack for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through for more even baking.
  14. Let cool slightly, remove skins, and chop tomatoes, adding a bit of chopped skin back in for the char flavor and blackened bits.
  15. Freeze in freezer bag.

Simple Oven Roasted Tomatoes

simple-oven-roasted-tomatoes

Our bonus mid-week Sunday Scratchups recipe is in honor of these tomatoes keep coming and what do I do with them? Well, here’s another option: Simple Oven Roasted Tomatoes are so easy, and slow roasting them in a low oven concentrates their sweetness until they taste almost like candy. Junior High Guy goes nuts for these and insisted on bringing some in his lunch today, while I just like them in small doses (chopped up in salad or pasta, for instance) because there is so. much. flavor. going on!

Simple Oven Roasted Tomatoes

ingredients

Ingredients

15-20 Roma tomatoes
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh herbs of choice (I used basil and thyme from the garden)

Directions

seasoned-tomatoes

Wash tomatoes, cut off and discard stem ends, then slice in half lengthwise. Place on rimmed cookie sheet, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt. Wash and chop herbs, then sprinkle on tomatoes.

oven-roasted-tomatoes-on-pan

Roast in 200 degree oven for 6-8 hours, depending on how large your tomatoes are and how much juiciness you want left in them. Turn pan every hour or two so that tomatoes roast evenly. Here, I took mine out at six hours when they were darkened up and wrinkled but still had a little juiciness left in them, but that’s a personal preference.

So now what do you do with them?

oven-roasted-tomatoes-on-plate

You can eat your Oven Roasted Tomatoes plain as a side or a snack.

roasted-tomato-bruschetta

You can use them on bruschetta, or add a little fresh mozzarella and make a Caprese Bruschetta like I did here. You can chop them and use them in salad or pasta as you would use sun dried tomatoes. You can use them on pizza.

oven-roasted-tomatoes-3

You can add them to an antipasto plate or use them in appetizers. Use your Simple Oven Roasted Tomatoes anywhere you’d like a concentrated and powerful punch of summer tomato flavor! Store tightly covered in your refrigerator — they’d probably also freeze well, although I honestly haven’t tried. Maybe I shall. :)

Easy print version

Simple Oven Roasted Tomatoes
 
Author:
Recipe type: side
Ingredients
  • 15-20 Roma tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh herbs of choice (I used basil and thyme from the garden)
Instructions
  1. Wash tomatoes, cut off and discard stem ends, then slice in half lengthwise.
  2. Place on rimmed cookie sheet, cut side up.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt.
  4. Wash and chop herbs, then sprinkle on tomatoes.
  5. Roast in 200 degree oven for 6-8 hours, depending on how large your tomatoes are and how much juiciness you want left in them.
  6. Turn pan every hour or two so that tomatoes roast evenly.

Easy Roasted Chili Garlic Cauliflower

easy-roasted-chili-garlic-cauliflower

Here’s a bonus Sunday Scratchups recipe for your evening to go along with the earlier Copycat Chili Garlic Sauce recipe. If you’re a spicy food fan like me, there are just so many easy and delicious ways to use chili garlic sauce — lately I’ve even been adding it to those cheap little EVOL burritos a lot of us picked up at Target a while back. Is that fusion cuisine? Hmm…

Since cauliflower has been cheap at the produce stores lately, let’s start using up this batch of Chili Garlic Sauce by scratching up some delightfully spicy Roasted Chili Garlic Cauliflower. Now here’s the thing: I’m not actually a huge fan of cauliflower in general, except when roasted and spiced up. Roasting brings out the hidden sweetness in cauliflower (or really any veggie) and changes the texture to something more… palatable (lol!), while the chili garlic sauce provides the perfect spicy counterpoint.

roasted-chili-garlic-cauliflower-2

Isn’t it so pretty, too? Much more interesting than a plain featureless bowl of steamed cauliflower, or even MashupDad’s old “cauliflower with cheese” standby. I made my Roasted Chili Garlic Cauliflower with an old head of cauliflower that I needed to use up, but since we’re coming up on fall you’ll find cauliflower on sale pretty frequently. Note: I used homemade Chili Garlic Sauce here, which is spicier than store bought. If you like heat, you might want to add a bit more sauce if you’re making your cauliflower with the store bought stuff.

Easy Roasted Chili Garlic Cauliflower

chili-garlic-cauliflower-ingredients

Ingredients

One head of cauliflower, florets only
1/4 cup olive oil
1.5 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
4-5 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Dash of sea salt

Directions

spread-chili-garlic-cauliflower-in-pan

Combine olive oil, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, and sea salt in large bowl. Wash cauliflower and chop into florets. Add cauliflower and garlic cloves to bowl and toss until all the florets are evenly coated with the chili garlic mixture. Spread cauliflower out in a single layer in a metal roasting pan and bake at 425 for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through.

That’s a yummy side dish

roasted-chili-garlic-cauliflower-3

Roasted Chili Garlic Cauliflower is best enjoyed fresh out of the oven — it gets slightly soggy when reheated, though it’s still good! The spicy food contingent in the family all enjoyed it alongside a little turkey roast last week, while Mr. 7 would have nothing to do with it. (He did, however, down a bowl of homemade chili later this weekend, so there’s hope for him yet … ;) )

Easy print version

Easy Roasted Chili Garlic Cauliflower
 
Author:
Recipe type: side dish
Ingredients
  • One head of fresh cauliflower, florets only
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Dash of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Combine olive oil, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, and sea salt in large bowl.
  2. Wash cauliflower and chop into florets.
  3. Add cauliflower and garlic cloves to bowl and toss until all the florets are evenly coated with the chili garlic mixture.
  4. Spread cauliflower out in a single layer in a metal roasting pan and bake at 425 for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Copycat Chili Garlic Sauce — Mine is spicier!

copycat-chili-garlic-sauce-spicy

Welcome back to Sunday Scratchups, weekly recipes from scratch around what’s on sale at the grocery store or ripe in the garden. Today: Copycat Chili Garlic Sauce! So you know how the people near the Sriracha factory were suing to shut it down a while back because of its eye watering odor? Fair warning: The scent of this teeny tiny batch of chili garlic sauce will permeate your house for at least a day. This is not Sriracha, however, but its spicier, thicker cousin: Chili Garlic Sauce. I’ll admit: I have an unholy love for chili garlic sauce, put it on a lot of things, and use it in a lot of things. So I was looking at the little jar of Huy Fong (yes, the Sriracha people…) chili garlic sauce in my fridge, and then I was looking at the cayenne peppers in my garden, and then I was thinking, you know, why not give it a try? I bet I could make this without the preservatives, how hard could it be?

Mine. Is. Spicier. I mean, ow you might burn your tongue off spicier. If this scares you, you might try removing the seeds from half (or all) of your peppers to reduce the heat level before making yours.

Copycat Chili Garlic Sauce

chili-garlic-sauce-ingredients

Ingredients

7 cayenne peppers
4 large garlic cloves
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
2 tsp unseasoned rice vinegar

Directions

garlic-and-chilis-in-food-chopper

Peel garlic and chop finely in small food chopper, then halve peppers and add them. Add salt and rice vinegar, then blend until your chili garlic sauce is at your desired consistency, scraping down the sides as necessary.

chili-garlic-sauce-chopped

Store tightly covered in your refrigerator. Note: I used seven peppers because that’s what was ripe in my garden at the time (5 fully red and 2 starting to turn red, which is why you see some of the darker flecks of green pepper in my version). You can instead make a bigger batch and just adjust the rest of the ingredients proportionally.

Homemade is chunkier and spicier

chili-garlic-sauce-on-spatula

Mine turned out chunkier than the original, since this is about as smooth as my little food chopper makes things. It’s also (let me warn you one more time) definitely spicier!

chili-garlic-sauce-with-lettuce-wrap-2

So what do you use this for? You can use Chili Garlic Sauce as a condiment to jazz up things like these leftover lettuce wraps from PF Chang’s, or you can use it as an ingredient (like when you’re making your own Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps). Earlier this week, I also used this batch of fresh made sauce to scratch up a Chili Garlic Roasted Cauliflower recipe that three out of the four of us quite enjoyed (Mr. 7 not being much for the spicy, lol). This was so easy to make and so awesomely fresh and spicy and delicious that I’ve already made a second batch — and am impatiently waiting for more peppers to ripen so I can continue filling up my little jar here. This is kind of a Sisyphean task as we keep eating it, but I’m up to the challenge!

Easy print version

Copycat Chili Garlic Sauce -- Mine is spicier!
 
Author:
Recipe type: condiment
Ingredients
  • 7 cayenne peppers
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • ¼ tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp unseasoned rice vinegar
Instructions
  1. Peel garlic and chop finely in small food chopper, then halve peppers and add them.
  2. Add salt and rice vinegar, then blend until your chili garlic sauce is at your desired consistency, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  3. Store tightly covered in your refrigerator.

“The Chicken” (a.k.a. oven-fried chicken)

the chicken collage

Welcome to Frugal Homemade! This week, the grocery sales are somewhat uninspiring, at least as it pertains to ingredients we can use to create a meal.

One thing we can almost always count on as a frugal option is bone-in chicken!

This week, split breasts are $1.29/lb at Meijer and $.99 at Hy-Vee and Tony’s. Pete’s Market has chicken drumsticks family pack, $.89/lb and bone-in chicken thighs, $.99/lb. Caputo’s has leg quarters, $.89/lb and pinwheels (thighs and drumsticks arranged like a pinwheel), $.99/lb. At Ultra, Sanderson Farms chicken leg quarters jumbo pack, $.88/lb.

This is barely a recipe. It is more like a general technique that you can adapt to your tastes, needs, and ingredients. When I first made chicken this way, back before my husband and I were married, he observed with great skepticism as I removed the skin from the chicken. He may have even rolled his eyes when I assured him that the chicken would come out with the juiciness that he desired. Now it is one of his favorite dishes, referred to in our house simply as “The Chicken.”

the chicken ingredients

We like dark meat chicken in this house, but you could use any combination of chicken pieces. Bone-in chicken is so flavorful and juicy. Apart from the chicken, you just need mayo, mustard, a bit of oil, and your choice of crumbs and spices.

the chicken crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400°. Grind up what will become your crumbs. Here I am using a 6 ounce bag of plain bagel chips (about 3 cups) and about 2 cups of Crispix cereal. You could use any kind of light, crispy crumb mixture you like. You are going for the consistency of panko crumbs, which are also a fine choice for this. I have also used corn flakes, taco shells, and many types of Chex cereal. If you are using bagel chips, melba toast, crackers or anything else that is sizable, break it up a bit before you process it. Whether you are grinding your own or using something that is already in crumb form, you’ll want a cup to a cup and a quarter for each 4-6 pieces of chicken, so 2-2 ½ cups total. I am writing this recipe for 8-12 pieces and only using half, as the crumbs keep well in a sealed container in the pantry to speed up the process next time I make this.

Line a half-sheet pan with foil and place a rack on the foil. Spray the rack with cooking spray or rub with oil. Tip: Place the sheet pan on the open door of you empty or loaded but dirty dishwasher to to the spraying. Any errant spray will be washed away in the next cycle!

Transfer the crumbs to a container with a lid or a resealable plastic bag and add your spices. That should include 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt and about a teaspoon total of pepper. Here I am using a teaspoon each of Old World Seasoning, sweet paprika, and garlic powder, and a half teaspoon each or cayenne and black pepper. You can use whatever spice blend you like.

oil to crumbs

Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil. Shake to evenly distribute the oil.

If you are not planning to use all of the crumbs, transfer the amount you plan to use to a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, mix a cup of mayo and 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard (or whatever mustard you have or prefer).

Remove the skin from 8-12 pieces of bone-in chicken. Like I said, I am only doing a half-recipe and using drumsticks and thighs, so I have 4 drumsticks and 2 thighs, but you could do 8 breasts, 6 breasts and 4 wings, etc. Whatever combination you like shooting for the same general amount of surface area.

Dip each piece in the mayo mixture, then coat with crumbs and place on the prepared rack. I try to keep one hand for crumbs and keep the other out of the crumbs to prevent my hands from getting too breaded (and wasting the crumbs). Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

the chicken on a plate

What else is bone-in chicken good for?

  • We also love it rubbed with herbs and olive oil and roasted.
  • This Quick Chicken “Paella” is a big favorite around here. I think it is more a take on arroz con pollo, but the name is not as important as the taste.
  • Fried chicken, of course!
  • Roasted Chile-Lime Chicken and Potatoes is just one way the MashupMom household enjoys it.

Now, what are YOUR family’s favorite bone-in chicken dishes?


frugalhomemade-logo

Be sure to check back each week for something new! I will be bringing you how-tos, advice, and articles on everything pertaining to easy frugal living: From DIY, to recipes, to practical tips and tricks. To help balance out the couponing and deal chasing we do a lot of here, I’ll talk about easy ways to incorporate frugality into everyday life and to do more from scratch.

"The Chicken" (a.k.a. oven-fried chicken)
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 8-12 bone-in chicken pieces
  • cooking spray
  • 6 oz bag (3 cups) bagel chips, crushed
  • 2 cups Crispix (or 1 cup each or rice and corn Chex) cereal
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Old World seasoning or other seasoning blend
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Process the bagel chips and cereal until you have coarse crumbs.
  3. Place the crumbs in a recloseable bag or container, add the spices, and shake to combine.
  4. Add the oil to the crumb mixture and shake to evenly distribute.
  5. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a rack on the foil.
  6. Lightly spray the rack with cooking spray.
  7. Remove the skin from the chicken pieces.
  8. Coat the chicken pieces with the mayonnaise mixture, then the crumb mixture and place on the prepared rack.
  9. Bake the chicken in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes.
  10. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving

 

Lazy Cherry Tomato Marinara Sauce

lazy-easy-cherry-tomato-marinara-sauce

Welcome back to Sunday Scratchups, your weekly recipe from scratch around grocery store matchups — or, this week, around garden bounty. Oddly enough, our cherry tomatoes this year seem to be loving the cool wet weather we’ve been having and we’ve been picking (and eating!) them by the handful. So here’s one great way to use up a lot of tomatoes at once in case yours are also going nuts, and I’d love to hear any of your cherry tomato recipe ideas.

cherry-tomatoes

Earlier this week I went out and picked this bowl full of cherry tomatoes, which turned out to be about seven cups. This seemed like a lot of tomatoes to add to what we already had in the house, so I used them up making a batch of this super easy Lazy Cherry Tomato Marinara Sauce to freeze. Note that this is a forgiving recipe! Maybe you picked eight or nine cups today, or maybe you have regular yellow onions instead of sweet, or dried basil instead of fresh. Everything here is to taste, and no batch will come out exactly the same — but it’s all good. That’s the fun of making your own, and it turns out so much fresher and more flavorful than the jarred kind.

Lazy Cherry Tomato Marinara Sauce

ingredients-2

Ingredients

7 cups cherry tomatoes
1 medium sweet onion
1 large head of garlic
Sea salt
Olive oil
Fresh basil
Fresh oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

Directions

tomatoes-in-pan

Wash cherry tomatoes, remove stems, and divide evenly into two 9×13 baking dishes. Peel and chop onion into chunks and add half  to each dish. Peel garlic cloves, adding half to each dish. Sprinkle each pan with sea salt, drizzle with olive oil, and add coarsely chopped fresh basil and oregano leaves to taste.

roasted-tomatoes-600

Roast tomatoes for 40 minutes at 400 degrees, or until they’re nice and wrinkled. Let cool off some, then use a slotted spoon to add the tomatoes and veggies into your food processor. (I have a 7 cup food processor so did mine in two batches; each pan separately.)

in-food-processor

You can also add some of the juice from the pan if you want a smoother marinara, but I was going for a bit chunky here. At this point I also added 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper to each batch to counteract some of the sweetness from the tomatoes and onion — it’s still a sweet sauce, but needed a little more balance.

cherry-tomato-marinara-sauce

Blend until the marinara sauce is at your desired texture, then serve or freeze.

This won’t be bright red

for-dipping

Your Lazy Cherry Tomato Marinara Sauce is likely to be more on the orange side than the bright red you get with jarred sauces. Mr. 7 didn’t care, though — he ran around looking for something “to dip,” settled on this hot dog bun, and put away quite a bit of the fresh made sauce.

freezer-marinara

The rest, I froze for later. Just add to a freezer bag, press out as much air as possible before sealing, and smoosh flat. See? Every step of this process is easy peasy: No boiling, no removing tomato skins and seeds, no standing over a stove and stirring. Let your oven and your food processor do all the work for you!

Easy print version

Lazy Cherry Tomato Marinara Sauce
 
Author:
Recipe type: sauce
Ingredients
  • 7 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1 large head of garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh oregano
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Wash cherry tomatoes, remove stems, and divide evenly into two 9x13 baking dishes.
  2. Peel and chop onion into chunks and add half  to each dish.
  3. Peel garlic cloves, adding half to each dish.
  4. Sprinkle each pan with sea salt, drizzle with olive oil, and add coarsely chopped fresh basil and oregano leaves to taste.
  5. Roast tomatoes for 40 minutes at 400 degrees, or until they're nice and wrinkled.
  6. Let cool off some, then use a slotted spoon to add the tomatoes and veggies into your food processor. (I have a 7 cup food processor so did mine in two batches; each pan separately.)
  7. At this point I also added ¼ tsp crushed red pepper to each batch to counteract some of the sweetness from the tomatoes and onion -- it's still a sweet sauce, but needed a little more balance.
  8. Blend until the marinara sauce is at your desired texture, then serve or freeze.

Cherry tomato avocado grilled cheese — Plus Jewel sales to go with

This post has been sponsored by Jewel-Osco. I was compensated for this post; however, all opinions here are my own.

close-up-sandwich

OK, can I just stop for a minute and tell you how excited I was to see avocados advertised for $.69 each this week during Jewel’s huge anniversary sale? I have been waiting and waiting for a good sale on avocados, since as far as I am concerned they are nature’s perfect fruit, and I could eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here, let me share with you my lunch — although, not really, because I ate it all. Sorry. :) Everything you need to make this gorgeous Cherry Tomato Avocado grilled cheese is on sale at Jewel this week, so wow your family with an easy weeknight dinner that takes advantage of some fresh summer produce.

avocados-tomatoes-cheese-bread

All you need to make these simple yet yummy sandwiches are: Avocados, cherry tomatoes, bread (I recommend a nice sourdough), and a good cheese (I used sharp cheddar), plus some butter for the bread. To feed a family of four, with half a loaf of bread and entire container of tomatoes left over:

  • Two avocados, $1.38.
  • Two containers NatureSweet Cherub cherry tomatoes, BOGO at $2.99.
  • One bar Cabot cheese, $2.00. All month — see the current Big Book of Savings! (There’s a $1.00/2 coupon on Common Kindness, but I haven’t been able to print their coupons for months, how about you?)
  • One Jewel Sourdough round from the bakery, regular price $2.79.

Now you’re at $9.16 for four sandwiches — but you’ll still have bread and a whole thing of tomatoes left over.

grill-marks-on-grill-pan

To get the grill marks, I made my sandwich in a grill pan that I actually earned in a long-ago Jewel promo! But, you can make yours in a regular pan and it will taste just as good. Butter two slices of bread. Place one slice butter side down in pan, then add 2 oz sliced cheese and a few halved cherry tomatoes. Top with other slice of bread, butter side up. Cook over medium heat until sandwich is browned on both sides and cheese is nicely melted.

stick-avocado-in-sandwich

While sandwich is cooking, slice avocados. Remove sandwich to a plate, carefully peel back the top slice of bread, and add in avocado slices.

grilled-cheese-tomato-avocado-sandwich

Reassemble and enjoy!

Easy Garlic Roasted Artichokes

easy-garlic-roasted-artichokes

Welcome back to Sunday Scratchups, your source for recipes from scratch around weekly grocery store matchups. Earlier this week, Caputo’s had artichokes on sale three for $1.00. I rarely buy fresh artichokes, but certainly could not pass that up, right? On the rare occasions I do buy artichokes, I usually just steam them and then we dip the leaves in butter before scraping the artichoke “meat” off the leaves with our handy dandy teeth. This time I wanted to try something a little more flavorful, so found this recipe for roasting whole artichokes on Pinch My Salt and decided to give it a go.

roasted-artichoke-side-view

The verdict? Easy, gorgeous, and delicious! Next time I might try adding some fresh garden herbs for an extra pop of flavor, but these were fantastic as is, sans butter. Plus, this is a really affordable side when your local produce store puts artichokes on sale — the three artichokes cost me $1.00, the garlic was $.19 a while back, and the lemon was from a bag of 6-7 I’d picked up for $1.69 at ALDI, so well under $2.00 to roast all three artichokes. (I see them go on sale at least a couple of times during the summer, so will be keeping an eye out for the next one…)

Easy Garlic Roasted Artichokes

artichokes-ingredients

Ingredients

3 small fresh artichokes
1 small head garlic
1 lemon
Olive oil
Kosher salt

Directions

cut-artichoke

Using a large serrated knife, cut about 1/4-1/3 off the top of each artichoke, then flip them over and cut off the stems. Aren’t they just beautiful inside? You don’t see this when steaming a whole one!

smiling-cut-artichokes

Without the stems, they sit flat nicely. Peel your garlic cloves, then use your fingers to spread out and separate the artichoke leaves slightly. Shove about four garlic cloves in between the leaves of each artichoke, cutting them in half to fit if you have small artichokes and large garlic.

artichokes-in-foil

Now cut yourself three pieces of foil, each big enough to wrap around an artichoke. Drizzle a little olive oil in the center of each sheet, then place  an artichoke stem side down on each sheet. Drizzle each artichoke with fresh lemon juice (I used 1/4 of the lemon on each) and olive oil, then sprinkle with a little Kosher salt. Wrap the foil around each artichoke, place in a baking pan, and bake at 425 for one hour.

foil-roasted-artichoke

Unwrap to reveal your roasted artichoke in all its glory! Eat the garlic first, because it is irresistible, and then enjoy your perfectly roasted artichoke — yes, you still have to scrape the meat off the leaves with your handy dandy teeth, but it’s SO good.

How easy was that?

roasted-artichoke-separated-petals

You’ll know it’s done if the leaves pull out easily and your artichokes are nicely browned. Easy Garlic Roasted Artichokes are almost as easy as steaming, and much more flavorful, not to mention pretty — I vow never to steam them again!

roasted-artichoke-separated-petals-2

(Although Easy Garlic Roasted Artichokes are naturally dairy and gluten free, Junior High Guy wanted nothing to do with them — nor did his brother. All the more for us grown-ups, then…)

Easy print version

Easy Garlic Roasted Artichokes
 
Author:
Recipe type: side
Ingredients
  • 3 small fresh artichokes
  • 1 small head garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Using a serrated knife, cut about ¼-1/3 off the top of each artichoke, then flip them over and cut off the stems.
  2. Peel your garlic cloves, then use your fingers to spread out and separate the artichoke leaves slightly.
  3. Shove about four garlic cloves in between the leaves of each artichoke, cutting them in half to fit if you have small artichokes and large garlic.
  4. Now cut yourself three pieces of foil, each big enough to wrap around an artichoke.
  5. Drizzle a little olive oil in the center of each sheet, then place  an artichoke stem side down on each sheet.
  6. Drizzle each artichoke with fresh lemon juice (I used ¼ of the lemon on each) and olive oil, then sprinkle with a little Kosher salt.
  7. Wrap the foil around each artichoke, place in a baking pan, and bake at 425 for one hour.
  8. Unwrap to reveal your roasted artichoke in all its glory!

Easy Dairy Free Chocolate Covered Strawberries

easy-dairy-free-chocolate-covered-strawberries

Here’s a bonus recipe for your week: If some of you stocked up during the unadvertised $1.00 strawberries sale at Meijer earlier this week and are looking for something to do with them, why not dessert? Easy Dairy Free Chocolate Covered Strawberries are super simple to make, and since there’s fruit involved you can even pretend that they’re healthy. :)

happy-for-chocolate-strawberries

We actually made ours a couple of weeks ago. I normally would pretend my counters were less messy but just had to include this photo, because: Do you think Dairy Free Junior High Guy is just a little bit pleased about the prospect of chocolate covered strawberries?! Oh, and yes, as an aside given the box in the back here, I did replace my broken food processor with this nice Cuisinart that was on sale when I bought it. It’s now out of the box and already been used several times — but not in this recipe, lol.

Easy Dairy Free Chocolate Covered Strawberries

dairy-free-chocolate-covered-strawberries-ingredients

(Yes, I’m aware of the bizarre juxtaposition of organic strawberries and Shopper’s Value shortening, but life is just like that sometimes…)

Ingredients

1 tsp shortening
5 oz Enjoy Life dairy free mini chocolate chips (half a bag)
16 oz container strawberries

Directions

chocolate-covered-strawberries-on-cookie-sheet

Wash strawberries and pat dry. Add chocolate chips and shortening to microwave safe bowl and microwave on high until melted. (To avoid overheating: Heat for a minute, stir, then heat in 30 second intervals until nicely melted.) Stir until smooth. Holding strawberries near their leaves, dip each into melted chocolate and roll around to coat, briefly reheating the chocolate if necessary when it starts to thicken up. Place chocolate covered strawberries on parchment paper covered cookie sheet (or use a silicon baking mat like I did here).

dairy-free-chocolate-covered-strawberries-2

Refrigerate for at least an hour or until chocolate has hardened, and serve.

Mix it up

I used shortening because Mr. 7 flips at the mere mention of coconut, but you could probably substitute virgin coconut oil if shortening is something you prefer to avoid. The addition of a little fat, in whatever form, just helps the chocolate melt and coat more smoothly.

dairy-free-chocolate-covered-strawberries-4

Not dairy free? Substitute regular chocolate chips for the Enjoy Life I used here. So good, and so easy! You can’t really go wrong with chocolate and strawberries…

Easy print version

Easy Dairy Free Chocolate Covered Strawberries
 
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp shortening
  • 5 oz Enjoy Life dairy free mini chocolate chips (half a bag)
  • 16 oz container strawberries
Instructions
  1. Wash strawberries and pat dry.
  2. Add chocolate chips and shortening to microwave safe bowl and microwave on high until melted. (To avoid overheating: Heat for a minute, stir, then heat in 30 second intervals until nicely melted.)
  3. Stir until smooth.
  4. Holding strawberries near their leaves, dip each into melted chocolate and roll around to coat, briefly reheating the chocolate if necessary when it starts to thicken up.
  5. Place chocolate covered strawberries on parchment paper covered cookie sheet (or use a
  6. silicon baking mat like I did here).
  7. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until chocolate has hardened, and serve.