If you’re not in Kansas City right now…I’m a little bit jealous. It is so.freaking.hot right now. The entire last week was like one long, continuous heat advisory with a heat index hovering well over 100 degrees.
The summer is always a tough time for me when it comes to tolerating the heat. Namely, I don’t do it well. And this year is even worse because it’s the first time I’ve committed to training through the summertime. I have my eye set on the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon and it’ll be my first one. I teamed up with dietitian/running coach extraordinaire Heather Caplan and she’s got me all set. At least on paper.
Implementation is proving to be a different story.
Although I got a couple of 90 minute runs under my belt, the next bump in mileage and intensity is gonna be tough, mentally and physically. I keep reminding myself that this heat tolerance (or what little I have) is going to pay off once it cools down. Heather has been great to work with because she always brings her nutrition knowledge along with her coaching. She’ll check in to see if I’m carrying fluids on runs, rehydrating afterwards, or remind me to have a snack before heading out for a long one.
It’s been helpful, no doubt, but still doesn’t get me totally fired up to head out the door into what’s basically a sunshine-filled sauna.
The heat outside has been rough on my appetite, too. I don’t know about you but it seems when it gets this sticky outside my desire for cooking goes straight out the window. That makes it *a little* tough to refuel after tough workouts. So this month’s Recipe ReDux theme was a perfect solution to get past that – I needed to beat the heat somehow and find a way to make an appetizing meal with minimal cooking involved!
Even with is being as hot as it has been, I haven’t been skipping my early morning weekend farmers market runs. My favorite is still the Overland Park Farmers Market, which can’t be beat for me because it’s close to my house and the variety and quality is top-notch. I have my favorite vendors and can usually make a beeline straight for them before it get’s too overrun with strollers and kids.
These tomatoes came from Gieriengers Orchard. They’re a local farm family that not only sells at the market, but also has you-pick options throughout the year for berries, peaches, sweet corn, and more. I also picked up some fresh basil, a couple onions, some greens, and few other staples that I usually get.
I always love making my own sauces but it’s just way too hot and way too busy for that right now. So, crock pot saves the day! I can get a lot done in six or eight hours – it actually helps to stay busy while this is cooking away, otherwise I’m too tempted to peek.
The key is watching for the color to turn to a deeper, roasted red color. This is your sign that the natural sugars in the veggies has started to break down and caramelize, giving it a richer flavor. If you want to let it go a little longer, feel free.
When it’s finally ready, you can allow it to cool and leave it chunky (depending on how small you chunked your tomatoes to begin with) to blend to create a smoother consistency. I personally like my sauce smoother since I typically add tons of other veggies or greens when I make my final recipe anyways. I use my immersion blender for the easy handheld option, but if you don’t have one the food processor or blender works just as well.
You may need to work in small batches and regardless of which one you use, be sure to allow steam to escape so pressure doesn’t build up. Safety first!
Give this sauce a chance to cool before storing. You can refrigerate for a few days or freeze for longer. And if you want to use this up right away, you can always add to a meal. I’ll toss pre-cooked grains, pasta (especially ravioli), beans, or veggies into the crockpot during the last hour or so of cooking to keep it a truly no-heat cooking meal, but if you’re feeling up to it you can always crank on the stove, oven, or grill if you want to.
Don’t forget to check out the full Recipe ReDux collection for July! It’s full of recipe inspiration that won’t overheat your kitchen (or your patience) when the temps outside are climbing into triple digits. You can find them all in the link below the recipe!
What’s your favorite way to avoid heating up the kitchen during the summer? Share any of your favorite no-heat recipes!
Crock Pot Marinara Sauce
Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 to 8 hours, plus time to cool
Yield: about 6 cups
8 medium to large tomatoes
1 small yellow onion
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
4 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and dry the tomatoes and fresh basil. Quarter the tomatoes, then chop into large chunks and place in the crock pot. Add the tomato paste to the top.
Dice the onions and mince the garlic. Add to the crockpot along with all other ingredients except the salt and pepper. Turn the crock pot to LOW and allow to cook for 6 to 8 hours.
After cooking, turn the crockpot off and remove the lid. The color should have darkened to a deep red color. Use an immersion blender or food processor to pulse the ingredients until they are blended to a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to three months.
If using a blender or food processor to combine the sauce ingredients after cooking, blend in batches and allow the steam to escape to avoid a buildup of pressure from the heat.