Saturday, June 12, 2010

Basic bright red tomato sauce

This is my go-to tomato sauce for so many reasons. So easy and so delicious, you'll have a tasty, healthy meal put together in no time.  It's a simple recipe with basic ingredients that work really well together to let all the flavors shine through.  Ideal for pastas, thin-crust pizzas, lasagnas, and grilled fish, this light and lively tomato sauce is perfect for a summer meal.
Perfect in its simplicity, this sauce stands strong on its own.  But, if you choose to, you can jazz it up in a million different ways.  For a more sophisticated sauce, add some roasted red peppers and balsamic vinegar.  Toss in some onions, capers, olives, and/or anchovies for a Mediterranean flair.  Add lemon zest for an unexpected boost in flavor or cinnamon and nutmeg for a spiced tomato sauce.  The possibilities are endless, I'd love to hear of any sauce traditions that you have or any new additions that you may come up with.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Orange strawberry sorbet

June is here and what better time to break out the ice cream maker (one purchase that hasn't left me guilt-stricken with buyer's remorse).  It is so rewarding making homemade ice cream--it doesn't take all that much effort and there is none of those added ingredients that you can't pronounce in your frozen dessert.
If you don't have an ice cream maker, I think it's a must purchase.  You can get a decent one for under $50 and you're on your way to homemade frozen deliciousness all summer.  Making sorbet is great too, especially if you nix the sugar and use honey, you're left with a delectable summer treat that is actually healthy! Sorbet, different than sherbet which is made with milk or cream and sometimes eggs, has a light, refreshing taste and a smooth, slightly icy consistency. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Griddle me up some sweet corn pancakes

Corn pancakes are so unassumingly delicious.  Who would think that chunks of corn folded into pancake batter would make such a lovely combination?
My mom would always make a variation of these growing up, usually as a way to use up leftover corn, but these pancakes are reason enough to go cook up some corn on the cob.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Roasted cherry tomatoes and summer on my mind

Summer is just around the corner and I couldn't be happier.   A relaxing day on the beach with a few friends or a good book followed by a Jersey fresh meal and some cocktails on the porch is about as good as it gets.  Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the season in south jersey, where summer brings long beach days, boardwalk bike rides, refreshing drinks, fresh seafood, delicious produce, and loads of tourists or, as they're affectionately called by locals, shoobies (supposedly named for folks who would come down for the day and bring their lunch in shoe boxes).  
It also brings the summer mentality of just needing to be outside on those sunny, cloudless days when you think the sun might never go down--soaking up every possible ray of sunlight because we all know how dark and cold the winter will be.  But when the sun goes down on a hot summer day and you pick up your beach chair, walk off the beach, and head back to your house for some fresh seafood, corn on the cob and stewed tomatoes (yum!), there is no doubt in your mind that life is good.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cucumber salad and a belated ode to momma

It took me until college to realize that not everyone knew the bare-bone basics of cooking.   I realized not everyone had a mom that made them help her in the kitchen--forced them to listen as she explained what she was doing and why, telling them the whole time that they would thank her later.
Well, as predicted, I'm eternally grateful to my mother for forcing me into the kitchen--for teaching me so much of what she has learned without me even realizing it at the time.  But, more than that, I am so thankful for having a one-of-a-kind childhood.  While I was in pre-school, my afterschool program was chopping parsley and peeling potatoes at my mother's restaurant.  Kindergarten came and I was promoted to official napkin folder, at which time I mastered the "Standing Fan."  As hard as I tried, school lunches never meant Gushers, Fruit roll-ups, Sunny-D, or the highly desired peanut butter and jelly on fluffy white bread.  I grew up eating and loving sushi, craving brown rice, and never having a TV dinner.  Despite the occasional and sometimes overwhelming turbulence that rocked our family, I never felt unloved.  At a young age, I was taught to see the world differently and any small struggle that I have experienced has only made me a stronger and more grateful person. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ahh, sweet bliss

I'm a big fan of potatoes in all shapes and sizes.  Whether they're mashed with butter and sour cream, fried to perfection, baked whole, or keeping eggs company, I'll forever be a potato groupie.  But this is one of my absolute favorite ways to cook up some potato delight.  What could be better than red bliss potatoes roasted with rosemary and garlic to tender perfection and served alongside a tangy yogurt-mint dipping sauce? My thoughts exactly.
The best part of this recipe is not the blissfully-roasted potatoes or the tangy yogurt-mint dipping sauce, it's the roasted garlic you're left with in the pan.  I don't know if there is a food that gets me more excited than roasted garlic. Do yourself a favor: peel those garlic cloves and smear the roasted garlic on some good quality toasted bread. Heaven. But, if you don't want to listen to me, you can peel the cloves and toss them with the potatoes, which will also be utterly delicious.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Morning treat: spiced banana bread

While I was produce shopping the other day at the local market, I came across a bin of brown-speckled bananas with a sign on the front-- 3lbs for 75¢!! Immediately, thoughts of banana bread went flashing through my head--think of all the loaves I could make with those unwanted bananas.
But then I was reminded that I never actually end up baking bread.  Whenever my family happened to let bananas ripen past the point of cereal-worthiness, my mom would predictably say something like, "those bananas are perfect for banana bread," and my sister and I would agree, saying how much we loved banana bread, especially in the mornings, toasted with some butter.  But then, the days went by, until the bananas had no trace of yellow and had gained a following of fruit flies, crushing any hope of waking up to the deliciously sweet smell of banana bread baking in the oven.  I made a promise to myself that I would not let these bananas suffer such a fate as the ones before and I would run home and bake banana bread immediately.
Well, good thing I had several pounds of bananas on hand--all those years of not baking bread really showed.  The first loaf I made was from a recipe that left me with overly-moist banana bread.  Plus, it was unnecessarily loaded with white sugar and I'm the kind of girl who prefers her banana bread on the healthier side--that way I can enjoy it with my morning coffee without feeling like I'm eating dessert.  So, I ventured out on making another banana bread with no egg and no sugar and it was too dry (shocking, I know).  I tried again with more maple syrup and a few tablespoons of soy milk--better but still too dry.  Well, turns out the 4th time's a charm in my case... this banana bread has no egg and no sugar and it's absolutely delectable.