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Posted by on Aug 21, 2011 in Kitchen Tools, On the Basics, Store-bought Remix | 0 comments

Kitchen Shower Fun

I recently received an invitation to attend a kitchen-themed shower for my friend, Amanda. After giving it lots of thought, I finally decided on my recipe and gift. I spent the week before last putting it together, and I can’t wait to share it.

First of all, please look at the adorable stationery. The invitation card is so cute, and the matching recipe card will certainly give Amanda joy for years to come. The design detail is even on the back of the invitation. I can’t take it!

The starting place with this gift was the recipe. I wondered if I should do a dessert/baking theme…or possibly my favorite Crockpot Lasagna…or or or. Ideas swirled through my head. I wanted to share a easy recipe from my Store Bought Remix file, and I wanted it to be a favorite of mine to make.

I know that when I look around our home, I think about the people behind the gifts that were given to us at the time of our wedding or other special occasions in our lives. Recipes are the same way for me. You just can’t help but to stop and remember the person that shared a delicious recipe.

Without further ado, I decided on Marinara Sauce. I use this recipe all the time as a base for several dishes. I really hope that this will be a cherished recipe in Amanda’s kitchen and that it will be shared with family and friends for many years to come.

Becca’s Marinara Sauce
Serves 4-6
1 – 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
2 T olive oil
1 T brown sugar
1 T Italian seasoning
½ t black pepper
1 t salt
¼ t crushed red pepper flakes
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced

Add all ingredients to a sauce pan and bring to a simmer on medium-low. Heat through, or if you’re patient, simmer for 30 minutes or longer on low.

Variations:
For meat sauce, brown 1 lb. of ground beef or turkey (with green pepper and onions, if desired).
Drain meat and add sauce ingredients.

For more depth of  flavor:
Substitute butter for olive oil
Add ½ t basil, ½ t marjoram, ½ t parsley, ¼ cup of red cooking wine (dry) to the sauce. Additional herbs and wine are delish!

Serving suggestions:

Cook a small container of sliced mushrooms with ½ -1 T butter and ¼ cup red or white cooking wine (dry) on medium low until mushrooms and sauce are cooked down.

Serve on top of pasta, make a pizza, or build a lasagna.
Serve over al dente pasta of choice, build a lasagna, or make a pizza! Any leftover sauce can be frozen for future use.

Now for the gift, Amanda had lots of things that went well with the recipe I picked out. I chose a colander and a nice set of wooden spoons from her registry and threw in one of my favorite tools…a garlic press! I usually like to stick to the registry, but this tool is the pathway to garlic. And garlic is one of my favorite things…of course, it’s an integral part of this recipe. One of the things that I struggled with as a newlywed was stocking up my kitchen, so I wanted to give Amanda some ingredients to start with. My hope is that she’ll be able to make this on the fly whenever she needs a quick meal. I secured the main ingredients on a lunch trip to Whole Foods. Man I love that place! I got the pasta (linguini), canned tomatoes, herbs, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and some cute little bread sticks.

Next comes the the fun part…wrapping the gift. I’m a firm believer in gift wrap. It’s part of the whole gift giving experience. Well-executed gift wrap can make people excited over any small little thing. I won’t get up on a soap box, but gift bags are NOT up to this important job!

I arranged the kitchen gadgetry amongst the ingredients. It felt a little like flower arranging. My vessel was the colander, and it did its duty well. I put the tall things in the back and placed the other things around where they could easily be seen. I added some fun crinkly white filler in between the items to fill in holes and give everything some cushion. Tissue paper works well for this too.

My wrapping of choice was cellophane. Now, you may say that this takes away the element of surprise because you can see everything immediately, but I love this technique. There’s something charming about it…like window shopping or a Barbie you can’t wait to get out of the package.

Bear with me while I try to explain the process.

Before you start on the cellophane , it’s best to have some ribbon on stand by for tying the top. You don’t want to be holding the bunch of cellophane  in one hand while trying to locate and cut a piece of ribbon. (If you do, plan to use your teeth because you’ll need all the help you can get.) A one-foot-long piece should do. I also had my bow prepared and ready to go.

I lay out the cellophane on a flat surface, put the gift in the middle, and measure to make sure I have enough. I orient my gift so that the short sides (the width of the roll) are to the side and then I hold up the end of the roll until I have enough to gather at the top, scooting the gift around if needed. I like to place my gather and bow toward the back so that nothing is blocked. For this, you’ll need a little more length in the front. Once you think you have sufficient length. Cut the piece of cellophane you’ll need.

I start on one of the short sides. I fold the short sides up and cover them by wrapping the longer front and back pieces around it to cover up any holes. This is very similar to how you wrap the ends of a box…just with an irregular shape and a little more dexterity. This is probably a good time to bring in a second set of hands if you have any lying around. I do the same technique on all four quadrants to bring all sides up to the top.

Then, I begin to straighten out any bulky places and move my gather toward the back of the gift. If you have an assistant, he or she can help you hold the gather while you’re working on the unbunching/straightening and while you tie on the ribbon that will secure the whole thing. Tie it securely in a knot, but don’t pull too tight…the ribbon might break. Yes, this has happened, and yes, this is terrible.

Now, you can trim your ends or the poofy part of the cellophane that sticks out the top. I like to make a cut with scissors on the low end in the middle of a long piece and then just pull it up and out and let the cellophane tear where it wants. This gives you a more natural look than just cutting it off like a bad hair cut.

Finally, place your bow and readjust any tucks, folds, or holes that may have appeared in the wrapping. Whatever you do, if you can help it, don’t use tape. I have never seen this look good, but sometimes you have to. At least try to make it discreet.

Here’s the finished product:

Ta da!

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