Thursday, May 27, 2010

pizza sauce

OK, this is it...I promised pizza sauce that would change your life and here it is. Now, just don't look at the picture.

Ack! I said don't look! What are you doing? Ick! Ick ick!

Ok, ok, let's ignore the fact that I have NO idea how to take pictures, and also ignore the fact that I couldn't even be bothered to at least wipe down the sides of my tupperware so it looked presentable, and ALSO ignore the fact that when I realized that last fact I was also too lazy to go re-do it and I uploaded it anyway...and let's just focus on the consistency of that sauce. It. Is. Chunky. Period. So if that's not your style, then maybe this isn't the pizza sauce for you. Actually, I take that back. You'd just have to add another step at the end and stick it in a food processor to blend up all the chunks. But I, for one, LOVE the chunks so I'm leaving them in. I figure as long as I have teeth I may as well enjoy chunks in my food. My teeth are so bad I probably won't have them for long. Sigh...
But that's another post for another day. Today, there is pizza sauce to make. And here are the ingredients:

  • onion
  • fresh garlic
  • vegetable broth
  • tomato paste
  • Italian seasoning (you can also use basil, rosemary, oregano, etc. I used a mix)
  • black pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • crushed tomatoes
  • sugar (opt)
  • balsamic vinegar
Now, I need to be honest, I mostly followed a recipe from an old copy of Cooking Light that was a special pizza issue. But I'll also be version is way better! Take that, Cooking Light. So here's what you do.
Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan at medium-high heat, add 1/4 cup finely chopped onion and saute for a few minutes. Add garlic (I'm usually pretty liberal--you can never have too much garlic--so I added a couple cloves, minced) and saute 30 seconds. Stir in 1/4 cup vegetable broth, cook another minute. Add 2 Tbsp. tomato paste, 1-2 tsp. dried seasoning (pick your favorite!), black pepper & crushed red pepper (again, to taste...I'm a wimp so I used more black pepper and only a few violent shakes of the my kids had to eat this), and one 14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, undrained. Make sure they're crushed! Don't try to use diced and squish them up yourselves (ok, that's something I would totally do) but it will ruin the consistency of this glorious stuff. Then you'll reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then, I'd suggest tasting it. If it seems too acidic, add 1-2 tsp. of sugar. This usually depends on the type of tomatoes you use. I think mine needed it. Keep simmering for another 15 minutes or until it reaches your desired consistency. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp. balsamic.

Be still my beating heart. I dipped my finger in this bad boy and almost fell down in the kitchen. The best part was that, unbelievably, it was BETTER the next day. So if you made this the day before and put it on a pizza the following day, or, dare I say, after TWO days!!! Whoa, I'm having a hard time keeping my heart rate down just thinking about it.

I have a standard pizza dough recipe that I generally use, but just to mix it up I made Pioneer Woman's basic pizza dough from her cookbook and then made half the pizza with the drool-worthy red sauce and pepperoni, and half with pesto and Roma tomatoes. It looked like this:

Ack! Wait, didn't I say no looking at the pictures?!! Ew, now you'll never want to make this pizza. Honestly, what was I thinking? (After looking at the picture again I also remembered that I put some leftover jicama/black bean/avocado chunky salsa up in the top right corner, cause I figured anything would be good with this sauce...aaaand I was right.) But trust me. It was so good, I made the exact pizza 2 days later (minus the weird leftovers). And I had no complaints.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go drizzle the rest of that pizza sauce over some ice cream. Oh, did I just say that out loud?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Saturday

This has been the best day. Ever.
The kids let us stay in bed until 7am and then Michael got up with them and played "big boy" games (translation: first-player shooter/airplane flying computer games) while I slept another half hour. I finally got up at 7:30 to feed David after he'd slept 10 HOURS last night. FOR THE SECOND TIME THIS WEEK. Yes, it's true, I have the best baby on the entire planet. No offense to anybody else with babies, but it's true.

Then, my awesome hubby took the two older goobers for an outing so I could stay home and relax and play with the baby some more. They got back for lunch and we danced to our favorite "Chuck" soundtrack while I made grilled cheese sandwiches. Seriously, there are few things that are quite as awesome as dancing with my family. Some current favorites include:
  • Step in Time (Mary Poppins)
  • Old Bamboo (Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang)
  • various Sesame street songs/videos on youtube
  • Sesame Street alphabet songs
  • basically any Pop songs on the radio
  • Bee-Gees' Stayin Alive (thanks Apryl!)
  • my "rock" station on Pandora (includes Eagles, Journey, U2 & Keane)
  • our favorite songs from the TV show "Chuck"
  • oh, and Fisher Price versions of "Row Your Boat" & "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"
Can you spot the ones that might have been influenced by the adults in the house? I like a good old fashioned Disney musical as much as the next gal, but sometimes you just have to mix it up a little.

Now I'm working on some desserts for our family gathering tomorrow (we're finally doing the baby blessing...he's only 4 months old, I guess better late than never) and dessert-making is probably on my top 10 list of favorite things to do. I routinely scour foodie blogs for dessert ideas, although for this one I fell back to an old favorite that my mom used to make that's a chocolate pudding/whipped topping/layer deal. With nuts. Yum. And I'm just getting started--that's just dessert #1. How many do you think is too many? With 12 adults and 13 kids (ages 2-tween) I'm thinking there's no such thing as too much dessert. Maybe we'll throw some fruit in there, just to keep the sugar level from rising too high. Honestly, we have NO room in this house to host that many people (it's supposed to rain tomorrow, but maybe we could boot the kids outside to go play in the rain! Kids like rain, right?) but I love my familia and think any excuse to see them all is a good excuse, even if we are jammed in like sardines.

So besides the pudding goodness I'm thinking Better Than Sex Cake, which I haven't had in ages and, although I think it's inaptly named, it's still pretty darn good. Hmm. Maybe Pretty Darn Good Cake would make a nice name alternative. Anyway, after that I'm open to ideas. If you could pick anything for dessert what would it be? Some type of cookie? Or do you prefer cupcakes? Maybe something rich and creamy, like cheesecake? Cold--ice creams, shakes, frozen pies? I need at least one more idea and I have until tonight to get any necessary ingredients. Better yet, if you have links to sites with good dessert recipes I will be your friend for life!

(And since my life has been consumed by food lately, I plan on posting a pizza sauce recipe later that is to die for. Seriously, I wanted to marry it. Or eat the whole thing with a spoon, whichever would have been more feasible. Either way, you MUST make the pizza sauce, and soon. Your life will never be the same. Which, strangely enough, is what I told my husband about my cheese slicer. Actually, I think my words were something along the lines of "my life being devoid of meaning" before I got my cheese slicer. But now it is complete. I have a cheese slicer AND the perfect pizza sauce recipe. And two of my children are asleep. Aaaaaannnd...I'm going to take a nap. Best. Day. Ever.)

Monday, May 03, 2010

dream a little dream

I've been inwardly lamenting lately the fact that I have fallen victim to the "I'm too busy to blog" monster. I have loads of pictures (I think still on the camera), I have stories every day that range from infuriating to fall-down hilarious, and I usually find it is a great stress reliever. But here are the usual thoughts that fill my day that I can only assume are less-than-interesting to anyone who might read this blog and that therefore prevent me from writing it down:

  • Just how much dealing with bodily fluids can a person handle before they go postal?
  • How can a little girl love the potty so much and want to use it at exhaustingly regular intervals throughout the day, but poop in her pants for 2 weeks straight? (Again with the bodily fluids. Oy.)
  • When is Mary Poppins going to show up and snap her fingers to clean my house and fold my laundry?
  • And how can such little people produce such grotesque amounts of laundry anyway?
  • With the amount of complaining that goes on during meals ("that's disgusting" or "i don't want to eat this") I sometimes wonder if it would be better for my sanity to invest in a lifetime supply of frozen meals? There would still be the same amount of complaining but at least I wouldn't have wasted any time on it.
  • And speaking of making meals for a family, why can't we live off of cookies, brownies, cupcakes or anything containing a main ingredient of chocolate? At least then we'd all enjoy eating dinner. And the leftovers.
  • How do other full-time moms exercise? Honestly, it is a mystery of epic proportions to me. Someone please enlighten me. I'm desperate to figure out some kind of work-out schedule.
  • I would really appreciate it if the person who is letting their dog take a dump on the grass outside the back of our house would pick it up afterward. It's a common area so let's just be respectful of us common folk who use it, k?
  • Wow, that's a lot of complaining. Don't I think about anything positive?
  • Well, probably not at this time of night, which is the only time I get for myself.
  • Maybe I should just go to bed so I can relax and feel refreshed in the morning.
  • I would also probably do better during the day if, besides exercise, I could have a nice, relaxing shower without it being interrupted by screaming, waking up the baby, fighting, breaking things, etc.
  • Speaking of which, I have a funny story...

I was telling my friend Lisa about a dream I had last night and realized it was too priceless not to share. In this dream I was driving around in my minivan with all of my kids. I kept driving to different houses, even some hotels, not sure what I was looking for but I would stop and try to get out but these obnoxious sheep were following us everywhere. They kept trying to squeeze their way into the car, or into the houses/hotels I was visiting. Finally, I drove into a neighborhood with a house that was some sort of B&B. And then it also finally clicked what I had been looking for...a shower! A quiet, relaxing shower with no noise, no interruptions or disturbances of any kind. So, of course, to achieve this sort of nirvana I had to leave the kids in the car (which apparently I was more than happy to do) and I made my way into this house. But there were those darn sheep following me. So I distracted them by throwing a ball one direction and running in the opposite direction for the door to my room. I made it in with only one sheep slipping in behind me but I wasn't finished yet. I jumped over that persistent sheep with tunnel vision for that bathroom door. Everything else blurred and I could see a sort of glow emanating from the room that was my goal. I nearly slammed my own hair in the door but that stubborn sheep bumped its nose on the outside of the door as I locked it shut and shouted in victory! I turned in triumph to my prize...a gleaming shower, nearly glowing with glory. I swear I could hear angels heralding the coming joy. A shower! A shower! It is all yours!!! Immediately I turned the faucets as hot as I could handle, filling the wonderful room with glorious, relaxing steam. I was ready to step into my new-found wonderland when, in the distance I heard... Bang! Bang! Bang! I wanted to cry. Someone was banging on the outside door to my room. Even though I couldn't see who it was, I knew that someone had found my kids unattended and they were coming to demand that I resume my parental duties. And right outside the bathroom that obnoxious sheep was pawing at the door like a puppy...

Of course what puts the icing on the cake is that I'd been asleep for less than an hour when I was woken from this very telling dream by, 1) my husband snoring, and 2) my baby crying. My analysis? Momma needs some "me" time. Or a vacation. Or a live-in nanny.

Or a sound-proof shower.

Preferably with lots of steam.