Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 10.31.2014

Five Things New

Five Awesome Links

Abby Norman with When You are Scared and Doing It Anyway.

Eleven Reasons People who Followed All the Rules as Teenagers Have the Most Fun as Adults, from Bustle.com.

Tanya Marlow for SheLoves with What’s Her Name?  — On Disability and the Church.

How Do You Know if You’re Wasting Your Life? by Jennifer Gresham for Everyday Bright.

New Poll finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies, from Christianity Today.

 

Five Awesome Links for your Kitchen

First of all, squash is everywhere this week.  Squash Toasts with Ricotta and Cider Vinegar from the Smitten Kitchen; Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas and Kale from Love and Lemons; Curry Roasted Acorn Squash from Joy the Baker.

Soft-Batch Pumpkin Spice Cookies (vegan + gf), from Edible Perspective.

Iconic Movies and their Food Pairings, cupcakes and cashmere.

The Antioxidant (a cocktail), from Love & Olive Oil.

Buttermilk Apple Cake from Brooklyn Supper (I love one-layer cakes!)

 

This post is number 31 (yes the very end!!) of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

Leftovers Frittata

It’s almost the end of our 31 Days in the Kitchen, and I’m having a hard time narrowing down post topics: there is so much more I wanted to squeeze into this month!  I still haven’t touched on cocktails, I’ve barely grazed my favorite desserts with a (completely unplanned) emergency pie, and I wanted to talk about pantry basics and keeping a well stocked kitchen and make you a Holiday 2014 Gift List for the foodies in your life.  We may be running out of out of days in October, but I don’t think we’ve reached the end of talking about cooking and eating here at Pink-Briefcase.

Today, let’s talk about my favorite way to rejuvenate leftovers: the frittata.

A frittata is like a quiche without a crust.  You cook it in a skillet instead of a pie plate, and you begin cooking on the stove top and transfer into the oven to finish.  The edges and the entire bottom of the frittata get brown and crispy.  (I think that real Italians flip their frittatas so that both the top and the bottom get brown and crispy, but I do not have those skills and I am comfortable with that.)

My favorite frittatas are made from leftover roasted veggies.  So, if you want a slammin’ frittata for Sunday brunch, roast some veggies for dinner one night this week and save back some extras.

Roasted Vegetables

Chop red onion, red bell pepper, sweet potato, carrots, and any other veggies you particularly like into chunks.

Place veggies in a bowl, drizzle with oil, and salt, pepper, maybe some red pepper flakes, and roast at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until fork-tender.

If you don’t have leftover roasted vegetables, how about leftover asparagus?  broccoli?  potatoes?  steak and peppers?  (yum) Just see what is in your fridge and get creative.

Leftovers Frittata

233

In this frittata I added chopped baby spinach in with my goat cheese. It’s good to hide vegetables whenever you can.

Here’s what you need:

5-6 eggs

Splash of milk

Goat cheese (or cheese of choice — but goat cheese is the best cheese)

Leftovers (or other fillings of choice)

Here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 425 and grab a nonstick skillet that can go into the oven (most can).

Chop your veggies into smaller bits.

Heat a little oil in your skillet and warm it over medium heat.

Throw in your leftover veggies to warm, approximately 1-2 minutes.

In a separate bowl, break your eggs, pour in your milk, and stir together.  You can use a whisk if you want to but I use a fork.

Shake in the same amount of salt and pepper you would use for 6 scrambled eggs.  I shake twice per egg and count in my head — so 10-12 shakes for a 6-egg frittata.  (Is this a completely obsessive thing to share, or is this accurate blogging?  You can decide.)

Pour the eggs over the veggies and let it cook for a few minutes on the stove top.  After 2-3 minutes, you’ll begin to see the edges forming a shape.  At this point, sprinkle on your goat cheese.

Pop your frittata skillet into the oven and bake until firm and golden, about 12 minutes.  I usually set the timer for 12 minutes and sometimes let it go up to 15.  If your skillet is larger, your frittata will cook faster so be aware and watch your time the first time.

Want to make a frittata but not out of leftovers?  Here’s a few other frittata recipes you can try:

Are you a frittata lover?  Any favorite flavor combinations?

This post is number 30 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

An Ode to Goat Cheese (Or, a Guest Post by Suzanne Terry)

When I found out with one week remaining in my kitchen-blogging month that I was not permitted to eat gluten or dairy or steak or a lot of other yummy things, my friend Suzanne from the blog CoffeeSnob318 stepped up to talk to you about cheese.  I simultaneously LOVE her for really connecting to this month’s series — I mean, if this wasn’t so well linked and didn’t include a Pinterest board (I am so terrible with Pinterest) it could be me talking! — and HATE her because I can’t eat goat cheese right now and this totally reminds me how much I love it.  And that’s what real friends do, right?  They meet you right where you are and share your overwhelming passion for delicious things.   To Suzanne — thank you.  And to the rest of you?  Enjoy! 

An Ode to Goat Cheese

When you ask normal people what their favorite food is, you will usually get answers like “pizza” or “steak and potatoes.” You might get answers like “Italian” or “Mexican.”

When you ask me what my favorite food is, the answer you get is “goat cheese.” I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to it.

I love goat cheese. Whatever one puts with it, I will eat it. Goat cheese with pasta? Great. Goat cheese with fruit? Awesome. Goat cheese smeared on a piece of toast? Breakfast of champions.

It’s so versatile. I generally like a food to pick a category – sweet or savory – and stick with it. Goat cheese, however, can do both. It can add a nice tang and some creaminess to a main course, making the dish tastier and a little bit fancier. Or you can top slices of fruit with it, drizzle it with a little honey, and you have a simple yet elegant dessert.

Here are some of my favorite things to do with goat cheese, organized by category.

Appetizers

  • One of the simplest appetizers in the world is grilled or toasted bread, spread with something delicious and topped with something else delicious (and ideally, pretty).

Observe:

Rye Radish Goat Cheese Toast

This is just rye toast with goat cheese and radishes. It took me ten minutes to put together a whole plate of them, and people LOVED it. You can top it with anything. I also am a big fan of roasted peppers, olives, roasted stone fruits (apples, pears, peaches, etc.), and caramelized onions.

Meals

  • Adding goat cheese to pasta, as in this Meyer lemon spaghetti, makes whatever else you’re doing with the pasta ten times better.
  • Use it as your cheese of choice on pizza.
  • Crumble it into a salad.
  • Spread it onto bread, top it with another slice of bread, and pan fry it for the best grilled cheese sandwich you will ever eat in your life. Sundried tomatoes, various peppers, or spinach make a nice addition to this sandwich as well.

Breakfast

  • Goat cheese in an omelet, frittata, or quiche. Do it.
  • Put it in your biscuit batter (or squish it into the canned ones and pretend you made them from scratch, because they’re going to taste like it).
  • Or, as I mentioned before, use it as your toast topping. Maybe add some jam. Maybe you want to invite me over. I’ll bring the coffee.

Dessert

  • Goat cheese makes a great tart topping.
  • You can also wrap goat cheese in phyllo dough, bake it, and then drizzle it with something sweet (or dust it with powdered sugar), for a real crowd pleaser. And you can call them something adorable like goat cheese cigars.
  • One of the simplest (and thus, one of my favorite) desserts is grilled fruit topped with a dollop of goat cheese.

 

As you can see, goat cheese is versatile and awesome. What are some of your favorite things to do with goat cheese?

This guest post by Suzanne Terry is number 29 of the #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

Suzanne Terry is a fiction writer, public speaking teacher, and unapologetic coffee snob. She lives in Denton, Texas, where she is happy to be surrounded by college students, coffee shops, and farmers’ markets. She blogs sporadically at http://coffeesnob318.wordpress.com/.

Spaghetti Magic

Some nights, even when you love cooking the way I love cooking, the thought of making dinner makes you want to die.  Or give up on eating altogether.  Or order a pizza from papa johns.  (Which is totally okay to do.  We do it all the time)

But when your life is crazy and your body is exhausted, the last thing you really need is pizza for dinner.  Again.  If you can muster the energy to cook for 12 minutes, a box of spaghetti noodles and a tiny bit of creativity can get you through some pretty dire kitchen moments.  Whole wheat pasta will also work — although to be honest I hate whole wheat pasta, it tastes gross to me and I’d rather have half as much regular delicious pasta — or you can try another alternative like a gluten free pasta or my love the spaghetti squash if you just don’t eat regular dried pasta anymore.

I’ve already shared my favorite tomato sauce and meatball recipes, which I try to keep stashed in the freezer for emergencies like this.  A half-dozen meatballs and a quart of leftover tomato sauce can make a bit of boxed spaghetti sing.

spaghetti and meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs Glamour Shot

You can also make a quick and easy carbonara if you have eggs in the fridge, a hunk of Parmesan cheese, and bacon and green peas in the freezer.  (I keep bacon and green peas in the freezer for this very purpose, and also because chicken pot pie requires about 2/3 a bag of frozen green peas, and what are you supposed to do with the rest?)  Here’s the recipe I use.

carbonara

Carbonara Glamour Shot

But when there are no meatballs in the freezer and you don’t want to go into a food coma after eating (that carbonara is delicious but it is maybe a little too delicious.), there’s this perfect bite of summer:

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Basil (also known as Spaghetti Caprese)

caprese pasta

Caprese Close-up (here you’ll see that I added roasted shrimp for protein)

This is the easiest dinner to cook but it tastes fresh and fabulous.

Here’s what you need:

Spaghetti (or substitute)

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 package (or 4 sprigs) fresh basil, chiffonade style (roll it up and slice it into skinny strips like this)

1 container mozzarella pearls, or larger mozzarella balls that you can slice up

2 cloves garlic, minced

olive oil, salt, and pepper

Here’s what you do:

The magic of this meal is that you do everything in the amount of time it takes to cook your pasta.  Get a head start by chopping your garlic and slicing your cherry tomatoes in half while you wait on the water.

Boil a pot of salted water for your pasta.

Warm 2 -3 Tbsp. of olive oil into a large skillet to medium heat.

Put your pasta in the water — you now have 8-10 minutes until dinner is served.

When the oil is warm, throw the garlic into the oil and let it brown for 1-2 minutes.  Watch for burning.

Throw your chopped cherry tomatoes into the hot oil, stir well, shake salt over the entire pan and turn off the heat.  The tomatoes will soften in the hot pan.

About two minutes before the pasta is ready, put half of your basil into the pan to flavor the oil and tomatoes.

When the pasta is done, drain well and then drop it all right into your skillet full of tomatoes and garlic.  You may want to add extra oil if it looks like it needs it.

Stir in the remaining basil and the mozzarella pearls.

Salt well and you are ready to eat!

 

While it has a bit of a bad rap these days, pasta is still my go-to ingredient when I want a fast, easy dinner.  What about you — are you a pasta eater?

This post is number 28 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

Dreaming of Brunch: Three Steps to the Perfect Brunch Menu

What better day to talk about brunch than a Monday?  Mondays are the worst, and this Monday is a little worse than normal because I had to wake up at 4 a.m. to get to O’Hare by 6:15 so I could fly to DC for work.  I’ll only be gone for three days, but grabbing a banana at the airport is a rough way to start the week.

It may be true that going to brunch is the old person’s version of going out, but I’m pretty comfortable with that.  I have a lot of grandmotherly habits that I also enjoy without shame.  Like falling asleep after one drink.  Always wanting to be home by 10 p.m.  Getting aches in my bones when the weather changes.  Spending my clothing budget on cardigans.  BUT anyway — I LOVE BRUNCH.  And I think you probably do too.  What’s not to love?

There’s really nothing better than an unscheduled morning and a delicious brunch.  If you invite me to brunch at your favorite restaurant, I will always say yes.  I just don’t say no to brunch.  But here’s the thing:  I would so rather cook for you than go out.  The best brunch places have lines a mile long, and sometimes you feel a lot of pressure to eat quickly and leave as soon as you can because of all the hungry brunch-wanting zombies staring at you from the waiting areas.  It’s never as relaxing as I imagine it to be.

But here’s the real reason I’d rather eat brunch at home:  I do not want an entire plate of pancakes.  I do not want three slices of french toast.  I want a few bites of sweet, a few bites of savory, a little saltiness, and something healthy.  And I don’t want to wait for coffee refills.  My ideal brunch menu is perfectly balanced and full of interesting bites.  I don’t want to feel stuffed when I leave, but I want to be full and happy.

The Formula for a Perfect At-Home Brunch

You may have to do the dishes, but making brunch in your own kitchen is the best way to relax.  If you need more coffee, just make a fresh pot!  You don’t even have to wear shoes!  Just choose three items from different categories:  1 sweet + 1 savory + 1 meat + 1 fruit.  Bonus points if you combine the categories, like a savory breakfast casserole that includes your breakfast meat or a warm fruit crisp that combines your sweet item and your fruit.

Here are some sample menus, which all sound delicious and provide me with that perfect balance of sweet, savory, salty (and give me enough fruit and protein to actually make it through the day):

  • Cranberry scones with peppered bacon (meat and savory) and mixed berries.
  • Pumpkin loaf (or banana bread or really any kind of loaf) with  baked apples, scrambled goat cheese eggs and turkey sausages.
  • Homemade biscuits with fancy jam, sausage patties, and fruit salad.
  • Homemade biscuits with sausage gravy and warm spiced peaches.
  • Blueberry crisp (fruit and sweet) with honey-vanilla Greek yogurt and turkey bacon.
  • Lemon-blueberry pancakes and turkey bacon.
  • And, our current personal favorite:  a dutch-baby pancake with goat-cheese frittata and sliced strawberries.

Are you a brunch maker or do you love going out for a weekend treat?  Or both?  There’s no shame in both!  If you have a favorite breakfast/brunch item to make at home, share in the comments!

 

This post is number 27 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

Sunday Food Traditions

Growing up in a church staff family, Sundays were work days.  Our schedules varied from week to week, but on average they looked something like this:

9:15 Sunday School

10:45 Church

12:00 to 1:30 Lunch Invitations, Pot Luck Luncheons, Youth Group trips to CiCi’s, etc.

4:00 Choir

5:00 Discipleship Training

6:00 Church

7:00 to 8:30 Ice Cream Socials, Pot Luck Dinners, Youth Group Socials, etc.

Whew!  That’s a lot.  As a kid it felt totally normal but looking back I feel exhausted just thinking about it.  I have no idea how my parents did it for so many years.  When we did get home after these long days, we had a few traditional Sunday treats.  I remember watching Star Trek with my dad or one of those Sunday Night Movies they played on ABC and eating cheese toast.

I know what you are thinking: is this blog post really going to be about cheese toast?  And yes, yes it is. You’re welcome.

Cheese toast is warm and delicious and it fills you up!  My parents would make something called tomato and bacon sandwiches, but I have no idea what they are because this kid would NEVER eat something called a tomato sandwich.  On Sunday nights I ate cheese toast and chicken noodle soup and I LOVED IT.  Seriously, it’s a winner.  You can make it fancy if you want to, but I think this quick and easy method will please your heart, your wallet, and your stomach.

Kid-Friendly Cheese Toast

photo

Here’s what you need:

Bread

Cheese (A block of cheddar or colby-jack will be great here)

Here’s what you do:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Put two slices of bread per person on a cookie sheet and top with sliced cheese.  Go as thick as you’d like but I recommend about twice as thick as you’d slice for a sandwich.

Put the cheese on top of the bread slices.

Toast the bread and cheese in the oven until the cheese is bubbly and it looks beautiful.  Probably 3-5 minutes.  You may like it lighter or darker, so just follow your heart here.

Take it out, let it cool for a minute so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth, and enjoy!

My grown-up life does not require the hectic Sunday schedule of my childhood, but I still make cheese toast when I’m feeling lazy and want something warm and delicious to snack on.  I’ve also learned that my family isn’t the only one that had easy, relaxing food traditions on Sunday evenings.  My friend Abby makes popcorn for dinner on Sunday evenings, and other friends get Take-and-Bake pizzas from the neighborhood store or head to Whole Foods to graze the buffets.  Just like Birthday Cakes, Thanksgiving Turkeys, and Christmas Hams, low-maintenance food traditions make great memories too.

What about you?  What are your Sunday evening traditions? 

This post is number 26 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

Minor Kitchen Woes: Living with and Loving Those on Restricted Diets

Not to be dramatic, but life in this kitchen has been a little rough the last few days. I am fine and everything is fine but I’ve had to eat a restricted diet since a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday afternoon while I’m having some routine tests done. And with my love of cooking and my plans for blogging from my kitchen every day this month, eating a banana and an egg for breakfast (I’m not actually sure that egg is allowed) and eating plain rice, baked chicken, and steamed veggies for lunch and dinner for three days straight is starting to break my foodie heart.

Meal of Champions.  Sometimes I even change out the broccoli for green beans.

Meal of Champions. Sometimes I even change out the broccoli for green beans.

I’ve always known that it was hard for gluten-free or dairy-free or nut-free families to adjust, but this week I have developed mad respect for the people in my life who have to abstain from fun things like cupcakes and cookies and ice cream and – oh my – cheese. And while my restricted diet should only be a temporary thing, it’s actually really hard to be out running errands and not be able to purchase a snack. And I’m, like, 28 and ¾ years old, not 7. I can’t imagine being a mom constantly telling a 7-year-old why everyone gets a snickers bar EXCEPT FOR YOU.

Our weekends usually include trying a fun new restaurant or grabbing tacos at a new-to-us taco place (we really love tacos), so this first weekend where new or exotic food can’t be one of our activities is a pretty big shock. We went to the movies last night, but ate our own meals individually first.

I think it must get easier with time. (Any restricted dieters out there who can confirm?) I’m trying to think ahead to handle my restricted diet while I’m on work travel next week, which will be challenging but is really just a minor inconvenience in the scope of real problems.

I still have lots of fun kitchen –themed content coming your way, so do not despair! This is just a tiny, hopefully temporary change-up.

 

If you or someone you love lives life with a restricted diet, would you post any good resources or tips for coping that keep life fun? I’m suddenly remembering a lot of tips I’ve read on gluten-free or vegan-friendly food blogs and even some lifestyle-blogs, which I’ll add on below as I find them. I’m sure there are a lot of us who would appreciate them.

  • Jamie Oliver has a “Special Diets” recipe library with a library of recipes for Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Vegetarian dishes.
  • Tips for Gluten-Free Birthday Parties from Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery.
  • I also enjoyed this essay from a Kitchn Contributor about her transition into a restricted diet.
  • Oh, and PINTEREST is a huge resource here.  I found this blog and tons of awesome resources there.  (Frankly I’m not sure why I didn’t just start on Pinterest…)

 

This post is number 25 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 10.24.2014

Five Things New

Five Awesome Links

Before the Law.  A boy was accused of taking a backpack.  The courts took the next three years of his life.   Jennifer Gonnerman for the New York Times.  Must Read.

5 Reasons We Need to Stop Thinking of Skinny-Shaming as ‘Reverse Discrimination.’  A great discussion of why reverse discrimination is not the same as discrimination.

When I Go Out, I Want to Go Out Like Elijah, by D.L. Mayfield.  I absolutely loved this.  It made me feel sentimental (which is kind of rare, just being honest).

On Not Firepitting Our Marriage, by Kristen Howerton.  I needed to read this.  And I absolutely agree with the sentiment.  (And I share the love of the fire pit.)

I’ve also been loving the WE ARE THE OTHER synchroblog at SheLovesMagazine.  This post by my friend Esther is my favorite so far.

 

Five Awesome Links for your Kitchen

Super Simple Brownie Tart with Salted Caramel from The Sugar Hit.  My takeaway from this recipe?  I should try baking a brownie mix in my tart pan.

On-the-Go Breakfast: an Entire Week of Oatmeal in your Freezer!  A post by Edible Perspective blogger Ashley over on Craftsy.com.

Learn how to make your own Healthy Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte.  This recipe is AWESOME and created by Brittany Mullins of Eating Bird Food.  (I think I’ll add a milk frother to my Christmas List!)

Breakfast Cereal Popcorn Balls from ABM.  This maybe seems like a lame recipe to you guys, but to me?  THIS IS AWESOME.  I love rice krispy treats and I LOVE breakfast cereal and I LOVE popcorn.  This practically mixes these all together.

Breakfast Cookies sound like a great idea — Check out these Flourless Thumbprint Breakfast Cookies from Oh She Glows.

 

This post is number 24 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.

Emergency Pie

Sometimes you just need pie.

Well, let me rephrase that: there are moments in my life where I have a sudden and uncontrollable urge for pie. I’m not sure it happens to other people quite like that, but it absolutely happens to me.

Last Sunday, after the guys ran the marathon, and while we were entertaining my inlaws, it happened. I needed a pie.

I didn’t exactly have time to go to the grocery store, and I didn’t exactly have the energy to make a pie, but I did it anyway, because it was an E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y.

The requirements for this pie were A) not too hard and B) made from ingredients I had in the pantry.

Emergency Chocolate Pie

emergency pie2

Here’s what I did:

You have to make the crust first, and I know it sounds hard but it isn’t – IF you have a food processor. (If you don’t have a food processor I have no idea how to make pie crust and I’m very sorry.)

PIE DOUGH. Grab your food processor and throw in 1 and ½ cups flour, ¼ tsp. salt, and 1/3 c. shortening. Pulse until pea-sized balls form. Grab a small cup of ice water and your tablespoon, and get ready to move fast. Press “ON” and quickly drizzle (sorry that’s an oxymoron I know) 4-5 Tablespoons of ice water in until it turns into dough. Press “OFF” as soon as it is dough. It takes about 45 seconds and yes, it is seriously that easy.

PREP CRUST. The way you prepare your crust depends on what type of filling you will use: hot or cold. If you choose a filing that requires baking, your crust is ready. If you choose a filling that does not require baking, you need to bake your crust. I chose a pudding base so I had to bake:

(a) poke fork-holes all along the bottom of the pie crust with (you guessed it) a fork,

(b) line the crust with two sheets of aluminum foil,

(c) fill that foil up with dry beans,

(d) bake at 450 for 8 minutes,

(e) remove foil and beans and bake for another 6 minutes.

Let it cool before you fill it with pudding, but the dough is currently ready for consumption.

PREP FILLING. Because emergency pie requires that you have all ingredients on hand, I recommend this pie recipe from the Pioneer Woman. I used skim milk and it was fine. Two tips for making this recipe:

  • It is probably more delicious if you use whole milk but I used skim anyway. I’d personally rather save the calories and eat two slices of skim milk pie.
  • Add cinnamon and cocoa powder to the pudding at the end. It makes it rich and slightly spicy.

FOUR HOURS?!?! This is emergency pie. Four hours of chill time is unacceptable. Once I stirred in the extra flavorings (see up there^^) I put the entire pot of chocolate pie pudding into an ice bath. In my huge, deep skillet I put two handfuls of ice cubes, about two inches of water, and set my hot pudding pot in the middle. I poured in a bit more water so that the ice water came up along the sides of the pudding pot without getting inside the pot. Then I spent 10 minutes stirring my pudding while it was in the ice bath. It chilled it very quickly, so when I poured it into the crust it was pretty well cooled. We sliced and ate after only two hours of refrigeration and it was delicious.

Is this pie beautiful? No. Is this pie something I would typically photograph and instagram and brag about? No. Well, probably – I mean, I did make this pie from scratch. While my inlaws were visiting. After waking up at 6:00 AM and biking six miles and dealing with crazy marathon crowds. That’s pretty impressive.

(Confession — we ordered pizza for dinner because after surviving that crazy day and making this pie? I was exhausted.)

Lazy Tomato Sauce (Part 2 of the Spaghetti and Meatballs Series)

I like to read a lot of recipes and then make my own version that is as lazy easy as possible. I LOVE Deb at the Smitten Kitchen, and I love Jessica at How Sweet Eats, and so many other incredible food bloggers. I love reading their intricate recipes and seeing how they add little flavors and special touches to take their food up a level. I can imagine a world where I have the time and money and ingredients and dishes to make the kind of food they make regularly, and it is a good life.

But I don’t live in that world.   For my life right now, the fancy-pants cooking required by a lot of recipes I read online isn’t worth an extra trip to the store or any additional dishes to wash. So I modify.

Below is a lazified version of a fantastic recipe that Deb from the Smitten Kitchen posted a few years back. The recipe was for homemade lasagna made from homemade pasta and homemade sauce. And holy cow – I would love to try making pasta and maybe one weekend it would be fun to try making the whole thing. But what I learned from this wonderful recipe was that you can make your own tomato sauce from regular old canned tomatoes. So we gave just that piece a try.

When we first made the recipe, my husband liked the flavor but hated the texture. He is usually open for most anything but couldn’t stand the lumps in the sauce and basically refused to eat it. To problem solve, I ended up putting half of the entire original recipe in the blender, then pouring it back in the pan and cooking the whole thing down until it looked right. Even then it was delicious, but it created a huge mess and there was no way I was doing that again.

Here’s my shortcut method for getting the consistency and flavor our family likes using the ingredients we keep on hand.

Lazy Tomato Sauce (best served with yesterday’s Turkey Meatballs)

spaghetti and meatballs

If you can’t tell from the photo, this sauce is fantastic.

Here’s what you need:

Butter

½ white or yellow onion

Red pepper flakes

Salt

28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

15 oz. can of diced tomatoes

Red wine (I always use leftover drinking wine so it’s usually a cab sav or something Tuscan)

Here’s what you do:

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a big pan over medium heat.

Chop up about ¼ of a white onion (more if you love onion!) and throw it in the melted butter to soften. Add in ½ tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes and 1 tsp. of salt.

Once the onions are soft and smelling awesome, pour in some red wine. The original recipe called for a couple of glugs, but I think I use more like 4-5 glugs. In my medium-sized pot I pour in about an eighth of an inch of wine. It sizzles and smells divine. Let it cook until the wine is bubbling and beginning to cook down.

Open up two cans of tomatoes: One 28-oz. can of CRUSHED tomatoes and one 15-oz. can of DICED tomatoes. (For the diced, I often get yummy fire-roasted or even the basil and oregano flavored tomatoes.) Pour in the tomatoes and stir.

The sauce looks a bit soupy right now. I usually have a heart attack every single time (OH NO! I PUT TOO MUCH WINE!), but it’s always fine. So don’t worry. There’s no such thing as too much wine.

Turn the heat up pretty high. You want popping bubbles but you don’t want to clean tomato sauce off the side of the refrigerator so find a good balance and stir every now and again until you like the consistency. I’d say 30 minutes on average. You aren’t really “cooking” any of the ingredients at this stage, you’re taking it from good to great and you can’t do that wrong. Take your time with it and let it go until you know it is ready.

I prefer to serve this with yesterday’s meatballs over spaghetti. And, I usually freeze a quart-sized freezer bag full of sauce so that I can grab it and thaw for dinner emergencies.

This sauce is easy to make and it is delicious. Give it a try.

 

This recipe is modified from Deb Perelman’s Fresh Pasta + Basic Tomato Sauce recipe available at:  http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2007/01/baklasagne/.

This post is number 22 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen. You can follow along with the series each day in October. An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar.