Saturday, February 19, 2011

Basic Tomato Sauce for Pizzas and Pastas

Broiled Tomato Saucetomato sauced pizza

A basic tomato sauce recipe is essential for any home cook and the cornerstone of a variety of dishes. My version eschews the use of pre-stewed, canned tomatoes (and their canny taste), and ,instead, relies on all fresh ingredients for a more vibrant flavor. roma tomatoes

But don’t fret, friends; this recipe is still very simple. By broiling your tomatoes, you will be able to cook and peel them in one go, and you will be enjoying delicious red sauce on your pizzas and pastas within the hour.
roasted tomatoes

This is an easy recipe that will add depth of flavor to your dishes and can be modified with additional/alternative spices to suit your palate.tomato sauce


6 Roma tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 medium sweet onion - diced

2 cloves of garlic – minced

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon lime juice

(1/2 cup of vegetable stock, for a thinner sauce)


Set your oven to broil, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, put the tomatoes on the cookie sheet, and place them on the middle rack in the oven. Broil for fifteen minutes, until the skin starts to blacken and shrivel. Remove the cookie sheet to a hot-pad, flip each tomato, and place them back in the oven. Broil for another ten minutes, remove, and allow them to cool.

While the tomatoes are cooling, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over the stove on medium-high heat. Add the dried basil and paprika to the oil and fry until fragrant. Add the diced onion and sauté until lightly browned – about ten minutes. Add the garlic, and continue to sauté until it is lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the onions and garlic from heat.

Remove the skins from the tomatoes and place them in the bowl of a food processor, along with the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Puree until smooth. For a thinner sauce, add the 1/2 cup of vegetable stock and puree until smooth.

Eat with a chip?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Soft Sugar Cookies Recipe

soft sugar cookie sprinkles

Soft, frosted supermarket sugar cookies, or Lofthouse style cookies, are always a treat, but I think this recipe for soft, cake cookies is even better! In fact, the homemade versions are fluffy clouds of sugary bliss. Sweet, addictive, habit-forming, cookie clouds. They are so good, that I have started calling them crackies, and have found that an entire batch can easily be consumed in a day or two… by one person.


(Makes around 40 cookies)

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon coconut extract


3.75 cups of powdered sugar

¼ cup butter - melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup evaporated milk

¼ teaspoon salt


Make the cookies

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt – set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar using a stand or hand mixer for around 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and coconut extract, and beat until combined.

Add the flour mixture and mix until you have smooth dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for one hour.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. And line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.

When the dough has chilled, remove it from the bowl, coat it in flour, and roll it out on a lightly floured counter until it is ¼ inch thick.

Using your cookie cutter of choice (I’m partial to round), cut out as many cookies as will fit on your sheets, allowing ½ inch of space between each.

unbaked sugar cookies

Bake the cookies for 6-10 minutes (depending on your oven), until they are just beginning to brown on the edges. Remove and allow them to cool.soft sugar cookies baked

Make the Frosting

While the cookies cool, sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl; add the melted butter, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and salt and beat together with a stand or hand mixture until smooth.

Using a butter knife apply a liberal coating of frosting to each cookie. frosted sugar cookie

Apply sprinkles if you so choose.

soft sugar cookie

Consume ravenously!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cold Italian Pasta Salad and Dressing Recipe

cold Italian pasta salad

There is something comforting and addictive about vinegary pasta salads, and I find myself eating them at least once a week. Cold Italian-style pasta salad is my favorite, and if I see it on a menu, I order it; if I have the ingredients on hand, I make it; if it’s left out unattended on your dining table, I steal it.

Cold Italian pasta salad is an easy and refreshing dish at any time of the year, and it’s also a great recipe for entertaining friends. My version of Italian Pasta Salad can be prepared in advance, and transported and assembled on-site, making it a perfect choice for picnics or potlucks.


The Basics: These are the ingredients I always include in my Italian Pasta Salad recipe

1 cup of grape or cherry tomatoes – halved across the poles

1 hot-house (English) cucumber – halved, seeded and cut into ¼ inch half-moons

1 large red bell pepper – diced into ¼ inch cubes

1 head of romain lettuce – cut into ½ inch squares

1 can of black olives – rinsed, and halved across the poles

2 cups of dried fussili, macaroni, penne, or farfalle pasta – cooked al-dente, according to the package instructions

The Extras: These ingredients are also great as additions or substitutions to the above list

1 cup mozzarella or provolone cheese - diced into 1/4 inch cubes

1 cup sweet potato – boiled until soft, peeled, and diced into ½ inch cubes

1 cup broccoli flourettes

1 cup asparagus – blanched for 2 minutes in boiling water, and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup fresh corn

1 cup sweet onion – diced into 1/8 inch cubes

1 cup celery – diced into 1/8 inch cubes

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes – diced into ¼ inch cubes


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup apple cider vinegar (red wine vinegar is also good)

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion power

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

METHOD – Make the Salad Dressing

Pretty much just combine all of the ingredients in large measuring cup, and whisk or stir with a fork until they have emulsified.

METHOD – Assemble the Salad

After prepping all of the ingredients as indicated above, either combine them all into a large bowl if you are eating the salad immediately, or store individually in plastic bags for later use.

salad to go

Storing all of the ingredients in individual plastic bags or containers prior to assembly ensure the maximum freshness of the salad. If you are transporting the salad to a picnic or potluck, leave the ingredients in their separate containers and assemble at the event.

When you are ready to eat the salad, toss all of the ingredients together and pour the salad dressing on top.

italian salad

Finish by fixing yo’self a big bowl of magic!

italian salad to go

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Slow Roasted Tomatillo Salsa


Slow roasted tomatillos provide a tasty variation to my standard salsa verde recipe. This tomatillo salsa has a deep, rich flavor, a creamy texture and a tangy bite that makes it perfect for dipping salty chips and smothering your favorite burro.


6 Tomatillos – split in half across the poles

1 Poblano chile – seeded and split in half

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of black pepper

1 cup vegetable stock


Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the tomatillos and poblano on the sheet. Carefully drizzle or brush the olive oil over the surface of the tomatillos and chile. Sprinkle the garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper over the tomatillos and chile, and place them in the oven.

tomatillo salsa ingredients

Bake them for two to three hours until they have dried up a bit.roasted tomatillo

Combine all of the tomatillos, chile, and vegetable stock in the bowl of a food processor or blender, and puree until smooth.

Eat your roasted tomatillo salsa with a chip!tomatillo salsa

The slow roasted tomatillos also make great pizza toppings along with slow roasted tomatoes! roasted tomato pizza unbaked