Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cherry Tomato Steak Sauce

My Cherry Tomato Steak Sauce
Using Nature Sweet Glory ® Cherry Tomatoes

I know I haven't been updating this blog often lately.  I do have a day job as a professional development specialist.  I love my job. I've been with the company for almost 15 years now.  An e-learning project that I am working on is requiring extra time. 

Lots of new"s" here today.  By that I mean a NEW look for my blog, a NEW hairdo for me, and, drumroll, please...

I won my first cook-off event! 

As many of you who have been with me through the "Just for Cooking" blog days know, I was a finalist in the first ever Beringer Great Steak Regional Challenge in 2010.  And the next year, my novice cook-off husband (that's a joke since I'd only done one  ;.) made the FINALS the following year.  

Hubby Dan and I enter quite a few of the amateur cooking contests.  He's had more success than me in that area.  But I guess there aren't as many of the traditional cook-offs as there were years ago.  Neither of us have much experience in "kitchen stadium." 

In Beringer, I crashed and burned.  This time I was cool and confident-- well, as much as a neurotic like me can be.  I am so ready to apply for one of those "Chopped" amateur specials.

Here is my winning photo from the 9/14/2013 Nature Sweet Glory Challenge in Atlanta:

BTW -  I admit my mistakes in life - and one of them was growing out my hair at age 50.  I guess the Jillian Yoga Meltdown I've been doing made me feel like I was 20.    I IMMEDIATELY went to the only salon in my town which was open Sunday (the day after) and got my hair cut back into the short bob-- hence my new profile pic. 

Out of respect for these great sponsors, I will wait to tell you more about my winning recipe - and the play-by-play "color" commentary about the competition until they post the photos in a couple of weeks.  The coordinator said they are in the middle of planning another event right now.  But they should have an update for us shortly. 

But the "battle of the LaBrie's" continues.  

By the way, these Glory cherry tomatoes are awesome!*  They reduce down slowly, and the skins once they do don't have to be filtered away from the sauce. 

I like to layer in the tomatoes so that I get three levels of texture; reduced, sautéed and finally - that pop that you get when you bit into a fresh tomato.  Oh, yeah!  I want to eat this right now!

My only wish is that these tomatoes were a little easier to find around my area.  I'll have to talk to the Nature Sweet rep about that. 

Now, for the recipe:
I started with a whole container of the Nature Sweet Cherry Tomatoes, halved... 
I sautéed 1/3 of the tomatoes in olive oil for about three minutes...

I added EVOO, 2 tbs. butter along with 1/2 cup dry white wine and 1/4 cup chicken broth and freshly squeezed lemon juice;
I simmered this for about five minutes and then added fresh minced garlic;

                            I added in sliced mushrooms, soy sauce and fresh herbs;
                                                  (And a few other things - see recipe)

This is the delicious result! 
It's best on a marinated steak with a smear of goat cheese!
1 container (10 - 11 ounces) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs. cold butter, divided
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup dry chicken broth
1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 tsp. chopped)
2 cups sliced steakhouse style white mushrooms
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. oak smoked sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped basil
Fresh chopped parsley
Add olive oil to pan.  Sauté 1/3 of the halved cherry tomatoes for about three minutes.  Add half of the butter, the chicken broth, the white wine, and lemon juice.  Bring to boil and reduce to a low simmer for about five minutes.
Add the garlic.  Simmer for another two or three minutes until the tomatoes begin to loosen and "reduce." 
Add in another 1/3 of the tomatoes along with the mushrooms and the soy sauce.  Cook for about three minutes and add the remaining butter.  Cook for one or two minutes more. 
Right before you are ready to serve, stir in the remaining tomatoes, the sea salt, pepper and the fresh herbs.  Toss together for less than a minute.  Plate and serve immediately. 
Enjoy!  Please let me know what you think about my new blog format. 
*Not a paid endorsement.  Product was supplied to blogger by way of a free coupon for participating in a regional cook-off.   

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sunset on Summer - Cue the “Comfort Food” - Volume I - Mexican Spaghetti Bake

Sunset over Sand Key Beach, Clearwater, FL

Farewell, summertime.  I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA.  Being a Yankee by birth, we tend to start craving the "comfort foods" right about Labor Day.  This year is no exception. 

I spoke to a few friends, northern and southern, and they all seem to agree.  There is some kind of a "clock" that goes off inside you this time of year.

So for the next three weeks, leading into the fall, I will be presenting simple weeknight comfort foods that don't heat up the house very much -- it is still "technically" summer.   Who wants a 450 degree oven going this time of year?

Because I write my recipes from the perspective of a 50-year-old who  has to jump around her living room to exercise DVD's just because she looks at a dish of pasta, I've lightened the recipe up.  I thought you'd appreciate that, too!

I know you are going to love this series.  Enjoy!

Here we go!


1 lb. country pork ribs
10 ounces spaghetti sauce (from the jar – your favorite brand)
4 ounces mild enchilada sauce
1 tbs. ground cumin
1/8 cup chopped Poblano, seeded
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/8 cup chopped sweet onion
1 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for topping casserole  
4 1/2 ounces cooked thin whole grain spaghetti
1/4 cup 1/3 less fat cream cheese with chives
1/4 reduced fat sour cream
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Other:  Cooking spray


The day before you plan to prepare the casserole, combine the ribs, spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce, ground cumin, Poblano and Jalapeño pepper, sweet onion, and 1 tbs. of the chopped cilantro to a slow cooker.  Cook over low heat for about six hours. 

Pull pork with fork.  Let cool and refrigerate in a covered container over night.*

Preheat oven to 350º F.


Prepare pasta just short of al dente per package directions.  Drain.  Add to mixing bowl along with the cream cheese and sour cream.  Mix pasta well.


Add to small casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Top with cold pork sauce and cheddar cheese.  Bake for approximately 35 minutes. 


Top with fresh cilantro.  Let rest about 10 minutes before serving.