Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Simple Marinara Sauce

I am pretty impressed with the way this sauce came out, generally I am a little timid to try recipes for tomato sauce because some of them come out way to acidic for my taste, but this one was very mild but very good. I used the San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes becuase the flavor is way better and less acidic.  Use a spoon to break up the canned tomatoes. Or, for a smoother sauce, crush the tomatoes in your hands, holding them low in the pot to avoid spattering. 
To make a hearty meat sauce, add 1/2 lb browned ground beef or cooked Italian sausage to the sauce after adding the tomatoes. 

Serve 6       Prep: 15 min     Cook: 1 hr 15 min


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes.
  • Or, 2 (28 oz.) cans whole peeled tomatoes plus 1 (8 oz.) can crushed tomato
  • 4 to 6 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

  1. In a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium low heat. Add onion; saute, stirring frequently about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium; add garlic to the pot. Continue to cook, stirring, until onion is soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.
  2. Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.
  3. If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

* Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions *

Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking
Serves 4 as a main course; 
makes enough sauce to lightly coat most of a pound of spaghetti

  • 28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano, if you can find them)*
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • Salt to taste

  1. Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (3 qt) over medium heat.
  2. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes.
  3. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.
  4. remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste ( you might find, as I did, that your tomatoes came salted and that you didn't need to add more) and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.
  5. Serve with spaghetti, with or without grated parmesan cheese.
If you don't like the chunky sauce, it is ok to puree it in a blender after its been made.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Simple Tomato and Onion Salad

Don't be deceived by this salad's simplicity: the lemon dressing and fresh herbs bring out the complex flavors of the tomatoes and onions, and if the ingredients are good, the results are practically miraculous.  This is a perfect salad to accompany grilled meats and poultry.   Also you can make this salad an hour ahead of time, refrigerate, and toss again before serving.

Servings: 6


  • 6 medium vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1 medium sweet red onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, season to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon  juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro leaves (or to taste)
  • Basil leaves, torned


  1. Core the tomatoes and cut them in eighths. Place them in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Peel and core the onion. Slice it in half vertically. Slice the onion into strips as thin as you can cut them. Add them to the tomatoes.
  3. Chop the cilantro and place them in the bowl as well.
  4. Whisk together garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and cumin. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Toss tomatoes, onion, and cilantro with dressing - adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. Sprinkle with basil leaves on top.

You can use any balsamic vinaigrette to dress this salad.

  • 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c., or to taste, balsamic vinegar

Monday, July 4, 2011

Veggie Spirals Pasta Salad

Serve 8   Prep 20 mins



  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

  • 1/2 lbs veggie spirals pasta, cooked and rinsed (about 4 cups cooked pasta)
  • 1Tbsp roughly chopped fresh dill
  • 2 large stalks celery, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  1. For the dressing: Whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, vinegar and sugar together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. For the pasta: In a large mixing bowl, combine the macaroni, dill,celery, bell pepper and red onion. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or keep up to 2 days in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Grilled Chili Burgers

Chimichurri is a condiment that's used in Argentina in much the same way as burger lovers in the U.S. use ketchup. The Chimichurri Topping for these burgers features cilantro instead of the more traditional oregano.

  • 1 recipe Chimichurri Topping ( see recipe below)
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 8 oz ground pork
  • 1Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground xumin
  • 3 whole wheat pita bread rounds, quartered and toasted
  • 3/4 cup bottled roasted red pepper, drained and cut into strips
1. Prepare Chimichurri Topping. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, chili powder, onion powder, cumin, and salt. Mix well. Shape into six 1/2-inch-thick patties.
2. For a charcoal grill, grill patties on the rack of an uncovered grill for 10 to 13 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into side of each patty registers 160°F, turning once halfway through grilling. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place patties on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.)
3. Place each grilled patty on top of two of the pita quarters. Top with roasted peppers and Chimichurri Topping.

Chimichurri Topping: 
In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup finely snipped fresh flat-leaf parsley; 1/2 cup finely snipped fresh cilantro; 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar; 1 tablespoon olive oil; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper; and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper.imichurri Topping for these burgers features cilantro instead of the more traditional oregano.

BLT Sandwich

Get your bacon fix (guilt-free!) with this remake of a lunchtime classic.

Serving: 4   Prep:  10 min   Cook: 3 min

  • 4 split-top whole-wheat hot dog buns or sandwich breads
  • 1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 large romaine lettuce leaves, washed and chopped
  • 2 medium red tomatoes, diced
  • 1 Haas avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup real bacon bits, such as Hormel or turkey bacon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a toaster oven, toast both sides of buns.
  2. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise and red wine vinegar with a whisk. Fold in lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and bacon.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  3. Divide the mixture among the buns: serve immediately.
Nutrition facts per roll: 245 calories, 13g protein, 29g carbohydrate, 10g fat (2g saturated), 5g fiber

Mini Mascarpone Fruit Tarts

Mini Mascarpone Fruit Tarts

These individual fruit tarts couldn't be any easier to prepare. Mascarpone cheese and heavy cream combine to create a filling with a rich, creamy quality that's similar to pastry cream, but with none of the work. The recipe is from the premier issue of ZEST, our very own, free online magazine focused on casual entertaining. Get more info on how to download it in the recipe notes below.

Ingredients ~

8 frozen puff pastry shells
1 8-oz container of mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon triple sec
Fresh raspberries
1 kiwi, peeled & sliced

Preparation ~

Prepare the frozen puff pastry shells according to the package directions. After they have baked, set them aside to cool on a wire rack.
In a medium bowl, beat the mascarpone, cream, sugar and triple sec until smooth.
Fill each cooled pastry shell with the mascarpone mixture - you can use a pastry bag or a spoon.
To top the pastry shells, take a kiwi slice and cut it into quarters. Arrange the pieces in a pinwheel pattern and place a fresh raspberry in the center.
Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately or chill slightly in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes ~
This recipe is just one of the ones featured in the premier issue of ZEST.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Take oatmeal cookies to a whole new level by adding chocolate chips and creamy peanut butter. They won't last long after you bake them.
Make 5 dozen cookies 
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl with a hand or stand mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add peanut butter and mix until combined; then add eggs and vanilla, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  • 2. In another medium bowl, whisk together oats, flour, and baking soda. Add to butter mixture and mix on low until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
  • 3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons 1 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, switching position of pans halfway through baking, or until lightly browned but still soft in the center. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.
  • The Twist: Ice Cream Sandwiches. Turn these great cookies into superb ice cream sandwiches: Soften the ice cream of your choice, 10 minutes. Spread 1/4 cup onto flat side of 1 cookie and top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing lightly. Chill sandwiches in freezer about 10 minutes, just long enough to chill ice cream but not enough to harden cookies. Eat immediately.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Recipe

Serving 12-14   Prep: 20Min  Bake: 70 Min + chilling


  • 2 cups chocolate chip cookie crumbs (about 28 cookies)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted


  • 5 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel


  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate chip cookie crumbs


  1. In a large bowl, combine cookie crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom and 2 in. up the sides of a greased 9-in. springform pan; set aside.
  2. In another large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour until smooth. Add eggs and egg yolks; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips and orange peel. Pour into crust. Place pan on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 325° for 65-75 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from the oven; let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, sugar and vanilla; spread over filling. Return to the oven for 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  5. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen. Cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with cookie crumbs. Yield: 12-14 servings.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake published in Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook Annual 2001, p87