Make Ahead Christmas: Great Gift Idea + Marinara Sauce Recipe

13 days till Christmas Day

I have a confession to make.  I have been having a love affair!  I am totally smitten!!  I know it is wrong, but I just can’t help it.  No, not that kind of love affair, I am having a love affair with my favourite new cookbook.  Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead & Freeze Cookbook, by Jessica Fisher!  I just can’t put it down!  I even went away on holidays with it!!  I love it so much, that I just had to share it with you.  I think this book would make an awesome Christmas gift for a foodie friend.

Not Your Mothers Make and Freeze Cookbook

The book focuses on my favourite topic, which is recipes that can be made in bulk and frozen.  It is the perfect reference for a beginner (or an expert) to bulk / batch cooking.  The book is clever because it provides several bulk cooking plans, with grocery lists, prep lists, cooking plans and the awesome recipes.  It also has a fantastic chapter on creating your own cooking plans from scratch, with worksheets to assist you with the planning.   This cookbook puts a modern spin on the concept of freezing meals and caters to a wide range of tastes, featuring 200 healthy family friendly recipes.

I have to tell you a little something about the lady who is responsible for this great book – Jessica Fisher.  I have been a fan of her blog Life As Mom for a few years now and am amazed by this woman!  She is a mother of 6 kids (I know – how does she do it???)  + she home schools + writes 2 blogs daily + finds time (some how) to write an awesome recipe book!  My hat is off to her!   You know the book must be family friendly, if the recipes have been taste tested by a family of 8!

You can buy Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead & Freeze cookbook at AmazonFishpond or good book stores.

Want to see more before you buy?  

Well Jessica has kindly agreed to let me feature a recipe on my blog.  This recipe is really nifty as it is a stove-top or slow cooker recipe.  I have included below my photos of when I made the slow cooker version of the recipe.

Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead & Freeze Quick & Spicy Marinara Sauce

Source: Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead & Freeze Cookbook, by Jessica Fisher

Yield:  14 to 16 cups of sauce.

Ingredients     Print Recipe

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups onion chopped
1 tbsp garlic chopped
1 cup carrot finely chopped
1/2 cup red capsicum chopped
1/2 cup celery chopped
3 kg canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups water  
1/3 cup Jamie’s Spice Mix

Jamie’s Spice Mix 
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tbsp sweet paprika
3 tbps basil or 1 tbsp dried
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper ground
1 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp lemon zest grated
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Method 1: Slow Cooker Version (instructions written by Make Ahead Mum):

Chop all vegetables and place in 4.5 litre (or larger) slow cooker.


Mix up Jamie’s Spice Blend and add to the slow cooker.


Add the  tomatoes and additional water (if there is space in the slow cooker).  Stir to combine.   Cook it on high for 4 hours or Low for 6 to 8 hours.

Method 2: Jessica’s Stove-Top Instructions:

In a large stockpot heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 6=5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.  Add the carrot, pepper and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes more. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, spice mix and enough water to achieve the desired consistency. Stir well to blend.  Simmer the sauce on the stove top for 1 hour until the carrots are tender. For a smoother sauce, blend it in batches in a blender or food processor or puree it using an immersion blender.

I used mason jars to freeze my sauce.  There is a line near the top of the jar, which indicates the maximum fill level for freezing.  I find that the mason jars make it super simple to defrost the sauce in the microwave, when preparing dinner.

Make Ahead Notes:

  • Freezer Instructions: Divide the sauce into meal-size portion in containers. Chill in the refrigerator before freezing.
  • To Thaw and serve: Thaw the sauce in the refrigerator. Reheat it in a saucepan over low heat, whisking to recombine.   Add a small amount of water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency.

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Posted on December 12, 2012, in Christmas, Freezer, Main Meals, Slow Cooker, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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