Tag: food blog

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes

I seem to have found myself on a bit of a tomato kick these past few weeks! I can explain! The tomatoes I have been growing all summer didn’t start producing ripe tomatoes until halfway thru August and have been going strong since! With the 

30 Second Pizza Sauce

30 Second Pizza Sauce

My husband and I both work full time jobs, so sometimes (always) by the end of the week we decisioned out. More than once we have argued about Friday night dinner. Sometime in the past year or so we have started having “Pizza Fridays” to 

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Sometimes you need a few slurps of a comfort food worthy hot soup. Sometimes you need to find something to do with five pounds of tomatoes that have ripened all at once! For years upon years growing up, I was convinced that tomatoes were yucky because tomato soup (from a can) was always so funky. This was of course the peak of my ketchup eating years and I was completely aware that it too was made from tomatoes. Regardless, knowing how to make your own tomato soup will definitely up your grilled cheese game! If my mom had served me this tomato soup, I probably would have been much better at eating my veggies as a kid!

Recently, my parent-in-laws bought a new house that came with quite the surprise come moving day: the garden plot was overrun with what seemed like hundreds of volunteer tomato cherry plants! Naturally foodie me rushed over at the first available moment to help alleviate the ‘problem’  …LOL!

Over the past two weekends between their volunteer tomato plants and the ones I have been lovingly caring for this summer, I was able to successfully harvest (at least) three pounds of tomatoes from their garden and a single tomato from mine.

Roasted Tomato Soup is a great way to use the abundance of tomatoes many of us have when everything in the garden seems to ripen all at once! I was able to use all of the cherry tomatoes from my in-laws garden plus a quart of my homemade chicken stock and the single tomato from my garden along with some basil and onions that I also grew! I also added about two pounds of meatier tomatoes from the farmers market to help thicken the end texture of the soup. In my opinion, you can really use any tomatoes you want.

As always, the first step is gathering all of your ingredients.

Once everything has been washed and cleaned, the tomatoes need to be cut to similar size pieces. For me, that meant halving the cherry tomatoes and dicing the roma and heirloom tomatoes. I am using about two thirds cherry tomatoes. The remaining third is the combination of roma and heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market.

The onions need to be cut also, but into bigger pieces to avoid burning in the oven. I am using half of a white onion leftover from another day of cooking along with three tiny onions that I pulled fresh from my garden.

Next, distribute the onions and tomatoes evenly between two baking sheets (cookie sheets with edges on all sides to prevent liquid spillage). Once distributed, add about a tablespoon of olive oil  along with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt to each pan. I’d be willing to bet your little one would love to help with this since it means getting their hands dirty!

Mix thoroughly, then put both baking sheets in the oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

If your stock is frozen (like mine) you will probably want to get it thawing–I used a 6 qt dutch oven on low heat with a lid while the tomato combo was roasting.

Since the tomato combo will get to roast up for the next 45 minutes, this is a great time to start on any dishes you have already created! You get the double benefit of continuing to be productive in your kitchen, plus you have the awesome opportunity to enjoy all of the great smells as they create themselves!

Really, your kitchen will smell absolutely amazing while the tomatoes roast away and you will want to stick around just because it smells so good! You can tell the tomato combo is ready to pull from the oven when both the tomatoes and onions have softened drastically, begun to shrunk, and have taken on just a bit of color. The combo should slide away from the baking sheet very easily!

This next part is super easy! Add all of the tomato and onion combo to the warmed chicken stock! Make sure to get as much of the juice from the baking pans into the soup mix for the maximum flavor!

You have two options of how you blend this together. You can use an immersion (or stick) blender like me, or use a full size counter top blender. Both devices will get you the the same result–a lovely tomatoey puree. Personally I choose to blend with my immersion blender because it lessens the chance of me spilling hot liquids all over my kitchen and myself. I can be a bit klutzy in the kitchen at times!

Once the roasted combo has been blended (mostly) smooth, You will want to add your basil and blend again. I used one really big handful of fresh leaves from my garden; if using store bought basil, I would estimate you need the four ounce package most stores carry and remove the stems.

I recommended you let the soup rest for at least five minutes once the basil has been incorporated into the mix. The whole combo is a bit chunky now (sorry for lack of a more appealing word) and what I like to do is let the basil infuse itself into the soup. I would liken this to letting a bag of tea infuse the flavor into the water–same concept.

Once the basil is infused and your soup has an even better flavor, we can strain everything so it will be come a much smoother version of its current tasty self! (Note: if the texture of the basil and tomato seeds/skins do not bother you, this is an optional step.) I use a fine mesh strainer and a flexible silicone spatula, but a food mill if you have one would be perfect for this step! Basically I stir with and use the spatula to move whatever is at the bottom of the mesh strainer, and after a few minutes you end up with all of the yummy soup separated from the bits that keep the unstrained soup from having that perfectly smooth velvety mouthfeel we generally expect from a tomato soup. I put the strained bits into my compost bin.

I always add just a bit of half and half to this recipe. It really adds that extra something and keeps the tomato from being too bright and acidic. You don’t need much at all to accomplish this–about half of a cup will be plenty! Of course, heavy whipping cream can be a more indulgent addition, or 2% milk can add the flavor while keeping it on the lighter end! And if you are intolerant to dairy, you can omit it completely and still have a yummy soup!

And lastly, as with all of my favorite soup recipes, they freeze well! Today’s batch made about two and a half quarts total. I am freezing two quarts (each bag is about two servings) and keeping a 2-cup pyrex bowl for lunch!

Happy soup making!

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

  • 4-5 Pounds of Ripe Tomatoes, rough chop
  • 1 Medium Onion, rough chop
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste if needed
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Quart of Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup/big handful of fresh basil (or 4 oz store package with stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup of Half and Half (optional)
  1. Gather and wash all of your ingredients
  2. Dice tomatoes to relatively even sizes
  3. Chop onions to even sizes (but bigger pieces than tomatoes to prevent burning)
  4. Distribute tomatoes and onions onto 2 baking sheets, drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt, and mix well
  5. Roast combo in oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees
  6. Add tomato onion combo to warmed chicken stock
  7. Blend well (immersion or traditional blender both work)
  8. Add basil and blend again, let sit for minimum five minutes to allow basil to infuse flavor into warm soup
  9. Strain chunks away (fine mesh strainer + silicon spatula OR use a food mill)
  10. Add half and half (optional)
  11. Enjoy now, or freeze and enjoy later!


  • I think any type of tomatoes will work in this recipe, so use what is available and in season!
  • Straining the chunks of basil leaves and tomato skin and seeds out is optional. I prefer a really smooth tomato soup.
  • Also optional-the half and half. You can make your soup richer by using sour cream or heavy whipping cream, or lighter by using 2% milk or no dairy at all.
  • I do not need dairy alternatives so I do not typically keep them at my house regularly, so I have never tried any alternative options in place of dairy. I imagine some could work, but a vanilla flavored almond milk would probably be a bad place to start!

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Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock

I am pretty sure Rachael Ray has told her audiences time and time again, buying a whole chicken can help your dollar go further at the grocery store. Today I want to show you a super delicious, budget friendly, incredibly easy Chicken Stock recipe using 

Four Ingredient Flaky Pie Dough

Four Ingredient Flaky Pie Dough

Pie is an American favorite food! It is incredibly rare that I meet someone that honestly does not like some type of pie. We all have a favorite, and many of us (myself included!!!) love the rich flakey pie crust just as much as what 

Can you make Butter in an Ice Cream Maker?

Can you make Butter in an Ice Cream Maker?

I was making my Cinnamon Ice Cream a few days ago and started to wonder as I did my write-up, is it possible to Make Butter in an Ice Cream Maker?

Naturally, I wanted to find out if it was possible! I use some of my favorite kitchen gadgets to show you how Heavy Whipping Cream becomes Whipped Cream, then Butter! It is really easy! Let me know what you think

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Cinnamon Ice Cream

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Happy (Belated) National Ice Cream Day! A few weeks ago I was hanging out with my husband and about 1,000 of our newest friends at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon–an event hosted annually by Chris Guillebeau. WDS is essentially a huge and inspiring 

Zucchini Lasagna-Like Casserole

Zucchini Lasagna-Like Casserole

I have been busy planting my back yard herb and vegetable gardens and I am not so patiently waiting for all of the plants to grow! One summer favorite veggie I am looking forward to are my zucchini plants–I have five in my garden right 

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Is there a more universally goes-with-everyuthing side dish than mashed potatoes? I don’t think so. This is why you can find mashed potatoes from your favorite diner all the way up to Michelin star restaurants. Mashed potatoes can be dressed up so easily with ingredients such as garlic, cheese, or a variety of herbs. The only think making them so heavy and filling is the actual potato! Today I present a lighter take, by replacing about 80-90% of the potatoes with cauliflower! I promise you will love the substitution!

As always, start this recipe by getting out all of the ingredients you need, as well as your cooking pot, strainer, large mixing bowl, and your immersion blender. I prefer the immersion blender when I am working with cauliflower because it does the best job of pulverizing the cauliflower bits into a smooth puree. This is not a job for you hand masher or a stand mixer. If you choose a full size blender you will likely end up with either a too-thin puree or a strange gummy paste.

Psst…This is the best time to start heating your water filled cooking pot to a boil. Let’s multitask!

Always wash your produce! Cauliflower is often sold in plastic, but that doesn’t mean it is completely clean! And the garlic needs to be only peeled for this recipe. We will be boiling it with the cauliflower and potatoes, so we want it to be the full clove today. The garlic is optional, but I highly recommend this addition. Cauliflower does not have a very distinctive flavor on its own, and adding garlic into this cauliflower-potato mixture really just brings the flavor up to the next level!

I like to peel my potatoes, but this step is completely optional. Today I am using Yukon Gold potatoes, because that is what I happen to have in my pantry today. I very much recommend Idaho Russet Potatoes too, as the extra starchiness helps you achieve a great potato-ey texture (even with the mix being cauliflower heavy)!

When I first started making mashed cauliflower, most of the recipes I found skipped the potato completely. I personally am not following any specific no carb or low carb lifestyle, and so one day I added the last lonely potato from my pantry to my mashed cauliflower. The difference of adding even just that one potato was astounding. Texturally this combo becomes so much more realistic when comparing this mostly cauliflower mixture to straight up mashed potatoes. I will never go back to a straight cauliflower mash!

To summarize, all of the cauliflower and potatoes should be roughly chopped into similar size pieces and the garlic should have the paper skin removed but kept whole. Keeping as uniform size cut as you can will assist in even cooking for all of the pieces.

By now (I hope) your water is boiling. I know some cooks like to start with cold water with potatoes, but I have yet to find a texture difference with starting with cold vs boiling water for cauliflower. I personally prefer boiling water because it can start heating as I start cutting. #multitasking

Your potatoes and cauliflower are ready when you can easily pierce a fork into the biggest pieces with little to no resistance. This was about 15-20 minutes of the veggies boiling uncovered.

Now that the veggies are tender, we can strain them. Because the water is so hot, I like to use a slotted spoon to move the big pieces into my mixing bowl. Then I use a handheld strainer to catch the little pieces.

I don’t know about you, but this picture makes my mouth water. Here we have added butter, salt, white pepper and your preference of milk/cream/half & half. I think the butter and salt are non-negotiables when it comes to mashed potatoes. The white pepper simply looks nicer to me in light color foods, so if you have white pepper in your cabinet–please use black instead! Actual potatoes and the oh-so-traditional heavy cream are completely negotiable and easily substitutable ingredients to me, especially in this dish. You can totally be as indulgent as you want here.

Now for the immersion blender! This is one device that I did not understand the first time I saw one. Now I see it as one of the handiest tools in my kitchen, especially when it comes to working with hot ingredients! I love using it with puree soups, and it works so well with helping make the cauliflower/potato chunks into a smoothly blended mixture! The longer you blend, the fewer chunks your mixture will have. If you prefer a chunks mashed potato, then I would encourage you to hold a few pieces of potato out when you start mixing so you can add it back once the cauliflower is super smooth.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

1 Large head of Cauliflower

2 Large or 3 Small Potatoes (Idaho Russett or Yukon Gold are what I usually use)

3-4 Whole Garlic Cloves (optional)

4 Tablespoons Butter (Unsalted)

1/4 Cup Milk/Cream/Half & Half (choose one)

1.5 Teaspoons Salt

1/4 Teaspoon ground White Pepper

  1. Assemble ingredients and cooking supplies
  2. Set Pot of water to boil
  3. Prepare Cauliflower/Potatoes by washing and cutting into uniform pieces
  4. Prepare Garlic by peeling (keep whole)
  5. Add Cauliflower/Potatoes/Garlic to boiling water. Allow to boil until fork-tender (15-20 minutes)
  6. Drain water however you prefer and put the Cauliflower/Potatoes/Garlic pieces into a large mixing bowl
  7. Add Butter, salt, pepper, and milk/cream/half & half. Use Immersion blender until your desired consistency is met
  8. Enjoy!


Note: For an even more robust garlicky flavor you can substitute the garlic as directed in this recipe for several cloves worth of roasted garlic to be added when you are ready to use the immersion blender! Yum!

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Five Ingredient Basil Walnut Pesto

Five Ingredient Basil Walnut Pesto

Basil is hands down my favorite herb on the planet. I can hardly begin to describe my foodie passion for the herbaceous richness it brings to some of my favorite foods or the lingering smell fresh cut basil leaves on my hands. Ask my husband,