Homemade Pizza Sauce


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Right now I'm reading a book, American Pie, by Peter Reinhart.  It's a cookbook that gives recipes after giving the story of Reinhart's search for the perfect pizza.  To say he went on a meticulous and extensive search is like saying the Sistine Chapel's ceiling is a meticulously crafted large piece of art.  The description doesn't do it justice.  Reinhart searched Italy and the US over for pizza perfection.  In the beginning of the book, he recounts a time when he ate from his childhood favorite pizza place after not having eaten their pizza for years, and the pizza fell short of his memory.  He mainly attributes this to his own culinary scope having expanded over the years. 

Now after that introduction, I don't know if Reinhart would approve or not of the following recipe, and maybe as I develop I'll change my mind, but I think I've found the perfect pizza sauce.  It has a nice balance of acidity and sweetness, and the tomato flavor is fresh, though from canned tomatoes.  It's easy to make and fairly quick to bring together, and it makes enough for 2-3 pizzas. 

The recipe was part of a pizza feature from the May 2010 issue of Cooking Light, and I just this summer have gotten around to making it.  We tried it with the veggie grilled pizza, which would have been great but got way burned.  I still hope to make that for you some day. 

Basic Pizza Sauce
from May 2010 Cooking Light

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove tomatoes from can using a slotted spoon, reserving juices. Crush tomatoes. Stir tomatoes, juices, salt, and oregano into garlic mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • San Marzano tomatoes are not only difficult to find around here, but they're expensive.  I used whole peeled tomatoes- I may (can't entirely remember) have used Italian plums.  Just find the closest substitute if you can't do the San Marzanos. 

Peach Crumble Pie


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I suppose I need to apologize before even starting this post because I have made something like 3 recipes lately without taking a picture of the final dish- I apologize for my absent mindedness! 

The good news is that the people at marthastewart.com have a much prettier picture of the pie than I could ever take, so I'll let you visit their page to view it. 

This pie is, admittedly, not the best peach pie I've ever tasted, but it is the only peach pie I've ever made.  The pie is good- don't get me wrong.  I think, though, that the streusel crust was a bit too buttery.  I am no Paula Deen.  I also didn't make my crust.  I took the cheater's way out and bought a crust.  Sorry, Martha.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I didn't follow all the rules, so I encourage you to make it as a departure from the normal double crusted peach pie.  The pie easily and quickly comes together and is beautiful when baked.  DO NOT skip the step about placing a baking sheet under your pie plate.  I'd even recommend lining that sheet with foil.

Peach Crumble Pie
from Everyday Food, July/Aug 2011 issue

1 pie crust (visit link above for the recipe included with the pie)

For the pie filling:
3 lb peaches, washed, pitted, and cut into 1/2 inch slices (about 8 cups)
2 Tb. light brown sugar
2 Tb. all purpose flour

For the crumble:
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly flour a rolling pin and work surface and roll out dough to a 12-inch round. Place in a 9-inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp edges. Make filling: In a large bowl, toss together peaches, brown sugar, and flour until combined. Make crumble: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, and oats; using your hands, work in butter until large clumps form.

Transfer peach filling to pie shell, then sprinkle crumble evenly over top. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until juices are bubbling and topping is golden, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 1 1/2 hours before serving.

    Tomato-Peach Salsa


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    Peach salsa is nostalgic for me.  It's a food that reminds me of family.  I can remember the first time I tried peach salsa, but I cannot remember how old I was.  I was at my grandmother's, and she had bought a jar somewhere and the whole family tried it, curious but with some trepidation.  To us, salsa was tomato based, and contained a jalapeño at the most, in terms of creative ingredients.  To our delight, the peach salsa was like opening a new world.  It wasn't syrupy sweet; it had a slight sweetness that balanced out the spice.  It was a unique flavor but  not so strange that you didn't want to finish off the whole jar, which I believe we did.  After that first time, the peach salsa found its way to our family get togethers for several years. 

    I am subscribed to three food based magazines, and I try to utilize recipes from each one, lest they become relics I keep around to later smell musty when I'm old.  I found this recipe for salmon with this tomato-peach salsa, and in one recipe used it for both steak and fish.  I had intended it for fish all along, but the first time didn't so much work out, so the steak had to sit in. 

    The salsa did justice to both the steak and the fish, but I definitely recommend making it with fish.  There's just something about the lightness of the whole meal that works with fish.  This salsa is also great with tortilla chips, just as a snack. 

    Tomato Peach Salsa
    from July 2011 Cooking Light

    1 cup chopped peeled peach
    3/4 cup quartered cherry tomatoes (or 1 medium tomato, diced)
    1/4 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
    3 tablespoons small fresh mint leaves
    3 tablespoons small fresh basil leaves
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

    Combine all ingredients in a bowl; add jalapeño, if desired. Toss gently to combine. 


    Mediterranean Pepper Salad


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    I have had this recipe in my "to make" file for two years now, and I am glad the wait is finally over.  Only now I am kicking myself for not making it sooner.  This is quite possibly my favorite salad.  I discovered it when Deb of Smitten Kitchen posted it on her blog, and it came at a time when I was thinking exactly what she wrote; green salads are just not doing it for me anymore.  I was also newer to techniques, such as pickling onions, so it was a sort of educational post with a delicious recipe.  It also helps that I am a complete fanatic for a good colored bell pepper. 

    This salad, while ideal when made with good, colored bell peppers in their peak, is also good with mediocre bell peppers, which is, sad to say, what I used.  I can't figure out why the peppers I'm growing in my own garden aren't the most awesome peppers I've ever tasted, but we'll just chalk it up to our gardening inexperience.  So back to the salad- it's well dressed and keeps for days in the fridge, and while great the first day, gets even better the second.  It's colorful and makes use of summer vegetables, so it's good that way.  If you have bell peppers in your garden or you find discounted colored ones, or you don't mind paying $2 a pepper, make this ASAP, like yesterday.

    *One note- I don't like olives so I put in capers.  I am posting the recipe as I made it; if you like olives, click the recipe title below to be taken to Deb's website, where the original recipe is written.

    Mediterranean Pepper Salad
    from smitten kitchen

    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    1/4 cup cold water
    1 tablespoon kosher salt
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1/2 a red onion, cut into a 1/2-inch dice (use less if your onion is huge)
    3 bell peppers, your choice of colors (I used one red, orange and yellow)
    1 kirby or pickling cucumber
    1/4-pound firm feta cheese or 4 oz crumbled, if your grocery store is lacking
    2 tb- 1/4 cup capers, drained
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 small tomato, diced or a handful of grape tomatoes, quartered
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Swish together the red wine vinegar, water, kosher salt and sugar in a small bowl until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the red onion and set it aside.

    Meanwhile, time to practice your knife skills. Core and seed your bell peppers and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. Chop the cucumber and feta into similarly-sized chunks. Put your peppers, cucumber, feta, tomatoes and capers in a large bowl.

    By now, your onions will have lightly pickled, both sweetening and softening their blow. Drain them and add them to the other vegetables in the large bowl, but reserve the vinegar mixture. Pour a quarter cup of the vinegar mixture over the salad, then drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste. Toss evenly and serve at once, or let the flavors muddle together in the fridge for a few hours.

    Zucchini Bread


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    If you're from this area, I am sure zucchini bread is almost as well known to you as banana bread.  I grew up with my mom making it every so often, especially in summer when people with big gardens would give us zucchini or around Christmas to give as gifts.  I actually like zucchini bread better than banana bread but have to chuckle at the fact that you're taking a benign vegetable and putting it into a quick bread batter, which will bake into a treat that is sure to expand your waistline should you eat too much of it. 

    I did, however, want to get this recipe out to you in the case that you've found yourself wondering what you will do with all the zucchini that you've either grown or been given.  This is a great tasting, destructive use of a vegetable.  I say destructive, of course, because once the zucchini becomes the ingredient for this quick bread, I am sure all health properties are gone.  Insert apology for only posting indulgent foods lately here. 

    As with any quick bread that has been around a long time, there are a myriad of variations on zucchini bread, but this particular recipe not only gets better after it's been frozen, it stays moist for longer than a lot of other baked goods, if it sticks around that long. 

    Zucchini Bread
    from the South View Baptist Church Cookbook, circa 1996. 

    3 cups all purpose flour
    2 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    ½ tsp baking powder
    2 tsp cinnamon
    ¾ c pecans
    3 eggs
    2 cups sugar
    1 cup oil
    2 tbsp shredded unpeeled zucchini
    1 (8oz) can crushed pineapple, drained. 

    In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon).  Beat eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla together.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just incorporated.  Stir in zucchini and pineapple.  Grease 2 loaf pans or 1 Bundt pan.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until middle springs back when pressed.

    • This recipe originally only called for 2 loaf pans, but I used a Bundt pan since I didn't have two loaf pans, and it worked just fine.  You may want to pay special attention to the time or temperature if you go this route.  You could probably also use muffin tins.
    • I reduced the sugar a bit- probably more like 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups.

    Doubletree-esque Cookies


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    If you've ever stayed in a Doubletree Hotel, you are handed upon check in a couple delicious, warm cookies that have gooey chocolate and just the right amount of nuts.  They're quite the treat, and a cut above most chocolate chip cookies.  A couple years ago I decided that I had to develop or find a copy cat recipe for these Doubletree cookies.  I can't just go book a hotel every time I decide I want a cookie, so I figure I have to make the cookies myself.  I found this recipe somewhere on the world wide web, and apologize that I cannot give you its original source.  I wasn't so good about tracking that sort of thing back then. 

    This particular recipe uses all the ingredients the bag in which the original cookies came list, but I'd probably argue that some tweaking needs to be done if you want them exactly like the Doubletree cookies.  The Doubletree cookies are more cake like, with little spread and a more pillowy appearance.  The dough in the copy cat recipe flattens out more, making it like a Toll House cookie.  I'm actually good with that and consider it an improvement because I love a thin, moist cookie.  Maybe one day I'll experiment with using cake flour or more leaveners, but for now I'm enjoying what this particular recipe gives me. 

    Doubletree-esque Cookies
    from a forgotten online source

    ½ cup rolled oats
    2 ¼ c AP flour
    1 ½ tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    ¼ tsp cinnamon
    1 cup butter, softened
    ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
    ¾ cup granulated sugar
    1 ½ tsp vanilla
    ½ tsp lemon juice
    2 eggs
    3 c semisweet choc chips
    1 ½ cup chopped walnuts

    Grind oats until fine.  Combine with flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. 

    Cream the butter, sugars, vanilla, and lemon juice.  Add eggs and mix until smooth.  Stir in flour mixture.  Add nuts and chocolate by hand.

    For best results, refrigerate dough overnight.

    Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes. 



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    I'm so glad to be blogging again!  Between illness, family visits, and internet issues, I've spent very little time online the last couple weeks.  That's been nice but there are some things you miss.  You somehow feel out of touch, which is silly, because it's the people around you who matter most. 

    None of that has anything to do with museli- at least nothing I know of.  Museli is a Swiss cereal recipe, and it is uncooked or unbaked, so it's a snap to throw together.  It looks like granola.  Eat it with yogurt, kefir, or milk, like you would a breakfast cereal or granola.  My friend Jordana, who now lives in Sweden, first introduced me to museli.  Kram, Jordana!  (was that right?) 

    I sometimes prefer making museli to granola because of the speed with which it can be thrown together.  On a hot summer day, it's perfect paired with Greek yogurt and honey as breakfast or a snack...or second breakfast.  It's healthy and hearty. 

    inspired by the Martha Stewart recipe

    1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
    1/4 cup wheat germ
    1/3 to 1/2 cup dried fruit
    1/3 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts because it's what I had on hand)
    1/3 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds

    Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week.  One serving size is 1/4 cup museli.  Pour over plain yogurt and drizzle with honey for a treat!  If desired, thinly slice a granny smith or other tart apple and include with your museli.