Marinara Sauce

Growing up, our family ate a lot of pasta, spaghetti in particular. I remember coming home from school, falling asleep on the couch with the Nightly News on, and waking up to the glorious smell of tomato sauce on the stove.  I never grew tired of eating spaghetti. Out on my own, it was one of the few meals I felt like I could make.

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Boil water, stir in the pasta, and warm up the sauce. Done! How hard could it be? Well, lets just say I had plenty of room for improvement. When my husband and I were dating, he came over to my apartment and I made spaghetti one night for dinner. I had bought the absolute cheapest sauce (I think it came in a packet mix!) and dried spaghetti noodles. Needless to say, we did eat that meal, but you can be sure he didn’t marry me for my pasta cooking skills.

As with most (all?) things in life – the devil is in the details as they say. Making a homemade sauce, cooking the noodles to al dente in salted water, finishing the noodles in the sauce, and topping with parmesan; have all made pasta night one that brings everyone running to the table, just like it did growing up.

xoxo,

Rachel

Spaghetti with a Basic Marinara Sauce

I especially like that Deb Perelman’s sauce and have simmered the half onion in the same way that she calls for in her sauce. If you happen to over salt, a pinch of sugar will correct the problem.

Serves 4-6

  • 32 ounce canned, diced tomatoes in their juices
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons dried oregano
  • kosher salt
  • 1 lb of pasta
  • 1/2 cup pasta cooking water

Directions:

Heat oil in large heavy bottomed pot. Saute garlic and spices until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and nestle onion in the pot. Add a pinch of salt. Stir and reduce heat to medium low to simmer. Stir every 5 minutes or so. The sauce will reduce and thicken. You will know it’s done when the flavors meld and the sauce flavor deepens and doesn’t taste as bright. About 30 -40 minutes.

As the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and then add a tablespoon kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain pasta into a colinder. Once sauce is ready, discard onion. Add reserved pasta water and pasta to the sauce. Coat the pasta in the sauce. I find tongs helpful at this point. Simmer to finish the pasta. Plate and serve with shredded parmesan. Enjoy!

On the Menu

Super excited for the last two days of school! With an ice cream party on Monday and an after school party on Tuesday, we plan on crashing them both since I’m a sucker for ice cream (banana splits and ice cream sandwiches!!). For this week I have a couple fun projects that have made their way onto the menu. I did decide to just buy some fruit popsicles though instead of making them this week. My popsicle game has been…..disappointing these last couple summers with more misses than hits. I’m hoping for a different outcome for these next projects though.

What do you have cooking this week?

xoxo,

Rachel

Whole Wheat Pitas and Easing into Summer

The lazy days of summer are almost here and I’ve made myself a promise. This year will be different. I will not put myself into a frenzy trying to schedule every minute and then feel frustrated that I’m the only one that wants to do these things that I’ve planned. Summer is to be enjoyed and not just by the children. I want to embrace the slowness.

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Relish in the sunshine and enjoy the adventures planned on the fly. As a child, I spent the majority of my time swimming at the local pool, reading at the library, and baking. And honestly? That’s pretty much what I want to do this summer (though I’ll take the beach over the pool).

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I want ice cream and fireworks and hikes through the woods. But even with all those adventures, the days can feel very looonnnggg. I know I’m not alone here feeling some pre-summer anxiety. So here is the summary of my list from last summer, my notes to myself for this year. (Are you really that surprised??)

  • Have a daily schedule written on the white board (great for negotiation purposes!)
  • The kids aren’t bored, I am.  Have a variety of home based projects to do
  • Grocery shop on the weekend (sanity!!)

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My favorite projects in the summer, require lots of time. Yeast bubbling, double rises, and the end result being something we can all devour and appreciate. Bread is spectacular. Practical (less trips to the grocery store!) and though it takes some time to let the yeast do its thing, it isn’t fussy. You can let it sit extra long or even pop it in the fridge over night like I did with these pitas.

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I’ve made pitas a couple times but these by far are my favorite. The bread flour adds a nice chewiness and the white whole wheat has an added bonus of whole grains. I found this recipe intriguing because of the extra step of a quick sponge. The end result is a chewy, soft, pocket pita with a complex wheat and yeast flavor.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

xoxo,

Rachel

Whole Wheat Pitas

This recipe is adapted from a recipe from epicurious.com. I used white whole wheat flour and added an extra rise so that I made them over 2 days. I found this easier, but you are welcome to skip the overnight rise and roll the pitas out after shaping them. Just let the pitas rest for a good 30 minutes before popping them into the oven. These made 10 pitas that were around 2 ounces each. I topped mine with hummus, roasted zucchini and red pepper, lettuce, and goat cheese.  You could also cut them in half to stuff the pocket.

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115°F), divided
  • 1  1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1  1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour, plus more for rolling out pitas
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cornmeal for dusting baking sheets (optional)

Directions:

In the warmed bowl of the mixer, combine the yeast,  1/2 cup warm water and honey and let sit for 5 minutes until smooth and frothy. In the meantime, combine the flours in a medium bowl. Once the yeast mixture is smooth, mix in 1/2 cup of the flour mixture and combine until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 45 minutes until doubled and bubbly.

Once mixture is has risen, add the oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and the rest of the flour. Stir together. Using the hook attachment to your stand mixture, knead for 5 minutes. You will need to add additional bread flour during the kneading time. Add more once the dough starts to work its way up the hook, adding 2-3 tablespoons every couple of minutes as needed. The dough will be soft but not sticky. Shape into a ball and place in a large bowl that has been slightly oiled. Let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Scrape dough onto slightly floured surface and cut into 10 equal parts, about 2 ounces each (I like to use a scale for this part). Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Place dough balls into a tupperware container and let sit overnight.

The next day, preheat over to 500 degrees F. Let dough warm to room temperature for 20 minutes or so and then roll out into 5 inch circles. Don’t be shy with the white whole wheat flour for dusting. If the dough is still sticky, add some cornmeal to the baking sheets to prevent sticking. Roll 3 pitas per sheet. Place baking sheet on bottom rack and bake for 2-3 minutes on the first side (watch them puff!) Then flip and cook for another minute or 2.Place finished pitas wrapped in a kitchen towel and let them cool. Once cool, store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Enjoy!

 

Food Projects this Week

As we know already, I’m the type of person who plans ahead when it comes to food. I thought it might be fun to share some of my weekly plan with you, as well as any other interesting tidbits that I’m thinking about.

  • It’s strawberry season and as much as I would love to say that I’m going to can 12 jars of jam, making (and eating!) this roasted strawberry crumble is way more likely. I made this for dessert and oh man, it was tasty.
  • Our family can eat through a mountain of pitas so I’ll be making them again and sharing the recipe with you soon.
  • We’re in a bit of a breakfast rut, so I bought English muffins to make sandwiches with Canadian bacon, egg, and cheese. Is it breakfast yet??
  • We haven’t been ones to make our children try a bite when it comes to food and have always given them the choice to try or not. Yet, I’m feeling impatient in regards to vegetables as it is 98% “no” and am thinking of offering $0.25 per taste to sweeten the pot a bit. Thoughts?

What’s on your plate this week?

xoxo,

Rachel

Curry Spiced Chickpeas

Last week was an exciting week around here. My youngest graduated from preschool, which caused all sorts of mushy feelings within me.  Seeing him in his little graduation hat solidified that we are preparing for a different stage in life: both children in school full time. Since staying home with the kids these last 5 years, I knew that once they both hit school that I wanted to go back to work. As of last week, this idea has become a reality. I officially have a job again! (I know I know- I have done plenty of “work” these last 5 years). Starting in the fall, I will be working as a preschool teacher at the same preschool that Kai just graduated from. I’m so excited, nervous, and a bit shocked at how quickly it all came together.

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In the spirit of change, I thought I would change up my can of chickpeas and try roasting them. I tried it once before with lackluster results, but I thought I would give it another whirl. I saw this recipe in the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook, lent to me by a dear friend. I loved the curry and ginger combination and taking the skin off the chickpeas made them roast crisper in my opinion, but feel free to leave them on if you would like.

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I didn’t realize chickpeas had skins until I recently read it in David Lebovitz’s new book “My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories”. I definitely found my zen moment gently removing the papery skins from each and every legume so I would definitely recommend. I will be making this one again for sure.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Xoxo,

Rachel

Curry Spiced Chickpeas

This recipe is barely adapted from Sara Forte’s cookbook “The Sprouted Kitchen”. Her recipe makes double the amount, but since they are best the same day or so, I felt like 1/2 was sufficient. I loved the warm smell of the chickpeas’ baking and found this snack irresistible when paired with dried cranberries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries – for serving if desired

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Rinse and drain chickpeas. Lay out on a towel and gently dry and remove skins. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, except the dried cranberrries, and mix until smooth. Pour chickpeas in the bowl and gently stir to coat. Transfer chickpeas to the baking sheet and roast for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. chickpeas are done when crunchy all the way through and golden brown.

Cool in pan, mix with dried cranberries, if desired, and store in an air tight container for up to two days.