How to use Marinara Sauce

I was just at one of our favorite restaurants celebrating the wonderful Art Exhibit for our oldest daughter. Anyway, this restaurant has these VERY addictive garlic rolls – almost should be illegal. They are delicious with Marinara Sauce, so here some ideas on how to use this delicious sauce:

How to use Marinara Sauce

How to use Marinara Sauce

From MunchOnMe:

We all have something we particulary love:

One of my friend’s guilty pleasures is Korean BBQ.  Whenever he and some of his friends have some free time during the school quarter, they’ll run off and indulge in some Korean short ribs and bulgogi.  I think he likes rubbing it in my face that I can’t go because he likes inviting my friends to go and not me because he knows I’m a vegetarian.  Luckily it doesn’t bother me much because I find grilling onion rings and other vegetables at a place known for grilling plates of meats is kind of silly.

My dad has slowly grown a fondness of nice dishware.  Recently, he found dishware used by Palm Restaurant that he really likes.  I think it causes a chain reaction of some sort because when he buys new dishes, he cooks better (even though his food is already good to start with), and when he cooks better he cooks more often which means our dinner table is filled with a variety of new dishes to try.

My best friend and I love looking at food blogs.  The only difference is that she loves looking at pictures other people take at restaurants and I love looking at pictures that come with recipes.  When we use to dorm together, we would literally sit at our desks, backs facing each other, and just look at food blogs.  Occasionally she would poke me and point at a picture she found and tell me to make it for her.  Then I’d point to a recipe I found and tell her to make it herself.

When I think of a guilty pleasure food specifically, I think of marinara sauce.  Sometimes, because I like it so much, I’ll try to use it as a sauce for everything – from french fries to string cheese to celery sticks.  Some obviously taste better than others.  When I order pizzas, my favorite part of a pizza slice is the pockets of pizza sauce tucked under a thin layer of cheese just waiting to ooze out.  When I go to my friend’s house for dinner, the ones I remember most is spaghetti with their special batch of sauce simmering away in a pot big enough to boil a whole turkey.  And at school, it is the only food I’ll try over and over again (even though every time is somewhat disappointing) because I am convinced the spaghetti sauce will taste better the next day.

So, because it is my favorite food, I decided to find some of my favorite ways to use a simple tomato sauce.

1. For tomato sauce purists, Marcela Hazan has a very simple and rustic tomato sauce made up of canned whole peeled tomatoes, butter, and an onion.  I’ve tried it and I think the trick is having enough fat in the sauce.  Tomato-y based recipes will retain an acidic tomato flavor (I think it’s the reason why a lot of us might not like tomatoes) unless balanced out with any sort of fat like olive oil, bacon grease, or butter.  I’m not sure why and don’t think it’s the only way to counteract acidic tomatoes, but as I’m sure you have heard before: Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

2. Soup bases.  And why not?  If you think about it, a marinara sauce is made up of the same ingredients as a tomato based soup.  For some reason, this never occurred to me until I watched an episode of Giada De Laurentiis where she made a quick tomato soup out of canned marinara sauce.

3. Half and half.  That’s what we call it at school when we would like pasta topped with half marinara and half alfredo.  I am not a fan of pasta topped with only alfredo because when it cools, it congeals into a thick topping.  Mixing marinara and alfredo together makes the sauce less rich and thick and more sauce-like while still having a nice balance between cheesy white sauce and savory tomato sauce.

4. Lastly my sister likes to use marinara sauce when she makes her one-pot-meal of steamed mussels.  She cooks the the mussels in marinara sauce (which thins out when the mussels create their own salty broth) and adds some milk, herbs, garlic, and onions.  Add some crusty sliced baguette and a very french-inspired dinner is ready to serve.

DIY: Starbucks’ Seasonal Drinks

Wow! Gotta love Starbucks Holiday Drinks! How about in the comfort of your own home and for a lot less??!! Try these as well as my previous tips of making your own Starbucks-type:

From FoxNews:

On average, Americans consume 3.1 cups of coffee a day and if Starbucks is your brewery of choice, that’s $33 per work week for a grande-sized pick-me-up.

And now the coffee company is offering their seasonal holiday drinks, but at roughly $5.00 a cup, those sugary lattes will quickly burn a hole in your pocket.

 So why not make them at home? With the right recipe you can enjoy your favorite Starbucks drink without putting a dent in your wallet.


Gingerbread Latte

Starbucks’ Price: $4.75 for grande

First prepare the Gingerbread Syrup
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients into a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce hit and allow for syrup to simmer. Leave uncovered for 15 minutes and then remove from fire.

1/2 cup fresh espresso
8 ounces milk, steamed

Prepare a double shot of espresso and steam 8 ounces of milk. Pour 1/2 cup of espresso into mug, add 1/4 cup of gingerbread syrup followed by the milk. Stir and serve hot.

Caramel Brulée Latte

Starbucks’ Price: $4.75 for grande

2 oz. espresso or strong coffee
8 oz. steamed milk
1 oz. vanilla bean syrup
2 tbsp. caramel ice cream topping

Brew coffee or espresso. Line mug with caramel topping, add syrup and then espresso. Steam milk and pour into cup.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Starbucks’ Price: $4.75 for grande

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-2 shots espresso (about 1/4 cup of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee)

Combine milk, pumpkin and sugar in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until steamed. Remove from hit and stir in vanilla and pumpkin spice. Transfer the mixture into a blender and process for 10 seconds or until foamy. Or you can simply whisk the mixture until foam appears.

Pour into mug, add espresso and enjoy.

Peppermint Mocha

Starbucks’ Price: $4.75 for grande

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 tablespoons powdered cocoa
3 tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup hot espresso
1 1/2 cups hot milk

Stir the water and sugar in a saucepan until sugar dissolves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add peppermint extract. Allow mixture to simmer for 20 minutes.

Mix cocoa and water in a mag until paste forms. Add espresso and 1 1/2 teaspoon of the peppermint syrup. Finally, add the milk and serve hot.

Eggnog Latte

Starbucks’ price: $4.75 for grande

1/2 cup eggnog
1/4 cup whole milk
1-2 shots espresso
Sprinkle of nutmeg for garnish

Combine cold eggnog with cold milk and steam. Add espresso shots to steamed eggnog mixture and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Chai Tea Latte

Starbucks’ Price: $4.10 for grande

3 cups water
3 cups milk
6-8 black tea bags
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Bring water and milk to a boil. Add remaining ingredients, return to boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove tea bags then filter. Serve hot or iced.

Six (make that five) Things Los Angeles – Breakfast Spots

LA does know how to do breakfast! RedMaps is an awesome accessory for any travels. We have used their maps and they are fun and easy. Take a look:

From RedMaps:

Red Maps has been working on our 2011 Los Angeles map and we now have 134 hot and classic restaurants listed on the next edition.  LA enjoys the art of breakfast and here’s 6 standard bearers of that art that you should try:

And then there were five, as of late 2011, as we worked on the next edition of LA, we learned that Jinky’s, previously listed, has closed.

1014 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica

Kings Road Cafe
8361 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood

151 East Walnut Street, Pasadena

Quality Food & Beverage
8030 West 3rd Street, West Hollywood

Toast Bakery Cafe
8221 West 3rd Street, West Hollywood

Bite Hunter Collects Daily Deals from Around the Web, Filters to Find the Best Bargains Near You

I love deals – don’t most people? This is a cool idea and might help me to find local deals (and way easier than sifting through dozens of emails!)

From Gizmodo:

Web service Bite Hunter aggregates daily deals, lunch specials, coupons, and other discounts from sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, FourSquare, and more, and displays them all on a Google Map so you can see what’s available in your area, or filter based on what you’re interested in and where you’d like to go.

There are so many local and daily deal sites out there that it’s difficult to keep track of them all without being overwhelmed. If you subscribe primarily because you like dining out, Bite Hunter can help. Just give the service your zip code and you can browse a top-down Google Map of restaurants with active deals in your area, regardless of where the deal originated. You can also see the results in a list, where you can filter based on type of eatery, price range, and more. Bite Hunter can help you unsubscribe from a half-dozen daily deal email lists and just check one page every day instead.

Bite Hunter

100% Off Ice Cream Sandwich from Diddy Riese Cookies

Have you heard of Munch on Me? Cool newer coupon site, but almost more of a new food exploration site 🙂 Yum! Munch on Me is coming to more and more cities.
Well Diddy Riese isn’t new to my family, but it sure is yummy! For those of you in SoCalif – you gotta try em out if you never have! And check this out:


(click on the picture below to go to this deal at Munch on Me)


Most Unusual Restaurant Map

Wow! This is very comprehensive AND impressive! From the creators of this map:

years of work have been put into finding unusual restaurants from all imaginable sources, even local news and forums in various languages of many countries, sorting out non-materialized gimmicks, places that had limited runs or have been closed, and finding websites, addresses, telephones, and GPS coordinates“.

Do you have cool places to add? This is on their list and we had a wonderful experience: Restaurant en Kwekerij De Kas – Amsterdam

From Gigabiting:
(click on the map to find all their suggestions)


 You ate what?! You ate where?!

You know the feeling. Chinese—been there; pizza—done that. The taste buds are feeling a little jaded, the neighborhood spots are old hat. If only there was a restaurant where you could be served by monkey waiters. Or nuns. Or a restaurant with an all-blueberry menu, or one with straw-hatted donkeys wandering between tables waiting for leftovers.

The Google Map of The Most Unusual Restaurants in the World is here to rescue you from the same old, same old. The map, assembled by an eccentric Russian foodie, is marked with hundreds of little map pins, each with the promise of a unique dining experience. There are rare delicacies, exotic settings, quirky service, and wacky themes.

Restaurants with unusual settings.
You can dine in a quarry or a tree house, underground, or under the sea. There are working prisons, churches, cemeteries, and sewage treatment plants with restaurants open to the public. You can dine at the rim of an active volcano, in a Mediterranean fishing hut, or feast on cabbage soup and pelmeni in Stalin’s bunker.

Restaurants with unusual service.
Yes, there really are monkey waiters at Japan’s Kayabukiya Tavern; they prefer their tips in edamame. At Rome’s L’eau Vive, the serving nuns (who favor the title  ‘Missionary Workers of the Immaculate,’ or  ‘Daughters of the 44th Psalm’) dish up a fine plat du jour—today’s is steak served with an eggplant mousse and potato croquettes—or you can always order from the John Paul II Beatification Menu.

You can find meals delivered by robots, model trains, and catapult (at Bangkok’s Ka-tron Flying Chicken). Child labor laws are skirted at Holland’s Kinderkook Kafé, and good taste goes out the window at Hobbit House and Dwarfs Island (yes, little people do the serving).

Restaurants with unusual food.
There’s plenty of exotica; the bats, snakes, and sheep heads of foreign menus, but the map also points you to the prosaic. In addition to blueberries, you can find menus with nothing but potato dishes, grilled cheese sandwiches, apples, eggs, cheese, or breakfast cereal. For the truly undecided, one Thai restaurants checks your blood type and personality traits and then brings what it thinks is best; or you could try a restaurant where the customers choose each others meals.

There are restaurants where you catch your own fish or cook your own meal; others lend lonely diners a cat or bunny for company. You can eat in a recreated Jewish ghetto, Alice’s Wonderland, a vampire’s lair, or  a hospital room.

The Google Map of The Most Unusual Restaurants in the World  links to websites, menus, and directions. It’s a work in progress that welcomes your suggestions.

How Chipotle Made This Amazing Stop Motion Film

Chipolte is really a pretty good “fast-food” place – my kids all love it!  This is a pretty cute stop-action ad – and a very good message!

From Good:

The ad is impressive enough — and a real tearjerker! — but designer Johnny Kelly now reveals how he did it.

Even the most anti-fast foodies will admit that Mexi-chain Chipotle’s been making strides in supporting responsible food production, using local purveyors, and championing a new sustainable store design. A campaign to reintroduce itself to its eaters features a gorgeous new stop-motion ad by London-based Johnny Kelly that shows how Chipotle eschews the icky practices of factory farming. Michael Pollan would surely approve.

Featuring a Willie Nelson cover of the Coldplay song “The Scientist,” the ad opens on an idyllic pastoral scene, where a farmer cares for his family alongside pigs and cows. As business grows, his practices industrialize, and as the camera pans right, it follows an assembly line where pigs pass by vats of chemicals, are unnaturally fattened and finally processed into tiny pink cubes (not so much of a metaphor). As the trucks of pork squares roar over a desolate landscape, the farmer realizes the error of his ways and regains control of his farm, going — sing it Willie — “back to the start.”

The ad itself is a cinematic marvel — I admit, I teared up! — but now there’s an even more impressive component. Kelly has released a behind-the-scenes video shot by Max Halstead showing how he and the team at Clapham Road Studios did it.

This stop-motion video of a stop-motion video gives incredible insight into Kelly’s process. The entire piece was shot practically, on a table top which is cleared off halfway through the video to make way for building the factory (that says a lot right there). Even more amazing is the level of improvisation. Looking at production stills you can see how everything is built, painted, and styled by hand, and many pieces are made on the fly. UPDATE: The video has been temporarily marked private, but Kelly’s team says it will be made public again soon. Sorry about that.

Originally trained as a graphic designer, Kelly is an impressive creative force, whose work for clients ranging from YouTube to Vitra is worth checking out as well. And just for fun? Compare this with the making-of videos from OK Go’s genre-redefining “This Too Shall Pass.”