Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Jalapeño Marinara Sauce

It's a rainy night in Florida.  Okay... maybe I have the state wrong, but we've had our share of summer storms lately. 

Now, I am lucky in that I get to work from home most days for my day job.  On days like this around 3 pm when I'm starting to think about what to make for dinner, I realize that outdoor grilling is probably out of the option - that is if I don't want to become a lightning rod and/or get some mosquito-borne disease that I cannot pronounce. 

By the way, remind me to pick up the pepper plant on my patio that got knocked over from the torrential downpour a few hours ago. 

I'll tell you what you make - you make a nice pot of marinara sauce which can simmer away and get all delicious while you continue to get your work done.  I did just that.  But this isn't any marinara sauce.  My sauce has a nice hint of Jalapeño pepper.  It's great over pasta, or you can make up a nice Tex-Mex style Chicken Parm.  And it freezes great, too.

Tonight I'm making a special lasagna roll up.  I am debating if I will give you that recipe or if I'm saving it for a contest. If you're really nice, I might post it here.  ;.)  You all are ALWAYS nice...

With no further adieu -  I give you Jalapeño Marinara Sauce!


1 tbs. good quality olive oil or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
1 medium Jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt free Italian seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash)
1 tbs. salt free tomato, basil and garlic seasoning (Mrs. Dash again)
1 tbs. coarse sea salt 
1 can (14-15 ounces) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano (with juice from can)
1 can (28 ounces) organic fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 packet reduced sodium concentrated chicken broth
4 or 5 large fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine or non alcoholic wine*
2 tbs. sweet red wine or sweet red vermouth (optional but recommended)
2 tbs. organic tomato paste
1 1/2 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese


Add olive oil, onion, Jalapeño pepper, and garlic to a medium (but deep) sauté pan.  Add in the salt free seasoning(s) and the salt.   Cook over medium heat for about three minutes until the onions and pepper soften (but do not brown).

Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and the concentrated chicken broth.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, covered, for at least thirty minutes. 

Remove the pan from heat and let cool slightly.

Add the mixture to a food processor along with the basil leaves.  Carefully pulse the mixture until very lightly chunky but more on the smooth side.  You should still have a good bit of texture to the sauce.

Transfer to a sauce pan.  Bring back to a light boil; add in the wine(s), the tomato paste and the Parmesan cheese.  Stir and cover.  Reduce heat to low and cook for about an hour, longer if you have the time

*You can substitute low sodium chicken broth for the wine, but eliminate the concentrated chicken broth if you do.  The touch of sweet red wine adds a hint of sweetness to the sauce without adding any sugar.

Let cool before freezing.

Helpful tip:  Sauce not thickening fast enough for you?  Up the heat slightly and crack the lid to let steam and moisture escape.  This will help to reduce and thicken the sauce. 

Enjoy this recipe, and I'll see you soon!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Chipotle Teriyaki London Boil

Can you believe this London Broil is medium rare, and it's been cooked twice?
Check out my grilling technique!
These are the kinds of recipes that I love to bring to you -  here you are getting not one, but two meal ideas using the same cut of meat, as well as a simple side dish.

Grilling is one of my favorite things to do in the summer.  A couple of years ago, we had a gift certificate for a hardware store and we decided to go get ourselves one of those double grills; one side is gas, the other is charcoal.  I've been having all kinds of fun with it.

Living in Florida, we can grill all year round.  In the summer, I don't like heating up the house with the oven if I can help it.  So I fire up the grill.  Today I'm am bringing you a great (easy) recipe for London Broil. 

Let's talk about London broil:

London broil isn't a cut of meat; it's a style of cooking.  Most often it's thick cut flank steak or tri-tip, but you might just find it's any cut of meat that is less tender.  Check with your butcher to see what cut they market as "London Broil" in your store.  You might be surprised that it is actually sirloin or round.
What I love about this recipe is that you can actually get two meals out of it.  You can marinate it and grill it up one day, leaving the center kind of rare.  In fact, what I am showing you here is the re-do (day two) - yes, leftovers.  I wanted you to see how nicely the meal grilled up the second day (even if you like it medium rare like we do).

I first grilled this up on Saturday night.  On Monday, I used it to make this fabulous dinner.  Talk about a time saver on a busy weeknight!
I'm showing off my London broil recipe over leftover smashed potato salad mixed with fresh spinach and Dijon mustard (I also added a little spring onion to the leftover potato salad) and I served it with grilled Vidalia onion packs - yum, yum and more yum! 

Got to love this time of year when the Vidalia onions are for sale. 
This recipe is also great on top of a fresh Caesar salad.  In a future post, I'll share a great Caesar dressing with you. 

But the bottom line is, this is an excellent meal to prepare with any type of summer veggies. 
So fire up the grill!  Here we go:
2 – 2 1/4 lb. London broil (thick cut flank steak or tri tip)

For the Marinade: 
1 tsp. Teriyaki sauce
1/8 tsp. grated ginger
1/2 tsp. salt free Chipotle seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
Dash of rice vinegar
1 tbs. canola oil, plus extra for bushing  

Grill seasoning for steak
Cooking spray for the grill
Freshly squeezed lime juice for seasoning after grilling (optional)


Add the meat to a container.  Combine the Teriyaki sauce, ginger, Chipotle seasoning, garlic, rice vinegar and canola oil.  Marinate under refrigeration for at least 2 -3 hours; longer if you have the time.

When you are ready to grill, bring the meat to room temperature for about 20 minutes.  Pat the excess marinade off with a paper towel.

Bush the meat with extra canola oil or vegetable oil can be substituted.  Rub London Broil with the steak seasoning.  

Note:  Even though there is some salt in the Teriyaki seasoning, I like to add the steak seasoning (which adding salt right to the meat) right before I cook it.  Remember that salt draws the moisture out of the meat - and you don't want your meat to be dry. 

Preheat gas or charcoal grill treated with cooking spray to 400 degrees. 

Rub both sides of the London broil with the steak seasoning.

Grill on one side for about 5 without moving until the sear on the one side.  Turn and continue to grill for about six minutes over direct heat. 

Move the London broil to indirect heat and continue to cook for about 15 minutes each side until internal temperature comes to 145 degrees for medium rare.  The center should still be more on the rare side.    Adjust cooking time accordingly for your grill.

Let meat rest for about 20 minutes before slicing. 

Season with lime juice before serving. 

To reheat leftover London Broil, bring to room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Rub a little extra canola oil over both sides of the meat (you can also add additional steak seasoning or Chipotle seasoning, or a combination of both is you like).

Grill for about four minutes first side, and three on the second until warmed for medium rare (pictured).  Adjust cooking time for your liking.   Note that in this case, you will still have a bit of a cold center.  If you like your meat warmed through, then do your thing and prepare it how you like to eat it. 

There are no definite rules with grilling.  Just like with wine; it's what YOU like that counts!

Okay, so what about the onion?   That is simple - 

I like to quarter small Vidalia onions, leaving the bottom intact so that they form a flower.  Don't cut them all the way through. I spray tin foil with cooking spray.   In the middle I add for each onion -

1/2 tbs. butter
A few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 packet of concentrated beef broth

Form a foil packets (if not using heavy duty foil, you might need to double wrap like I did here).  I like to grill for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes over medium heat.  I also close the lid to create steam.  You are going to love these!  Try them.

Enjoy, and I'll see you again soon!