Homemade Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce

This recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce is a family classic that I’ve been preparing for over 10 years.  Growing up, I remember my mother cooking tomato sauce almost every Sunday afternoon.  The whole house would smell of sautéing onions and garlic.  Today, I make this sauce every few weeks.  I find the entire process very comforting.  The chopping, sautéing, stirring, simmering, tasting, etc.  I’ve made a few slight adjustments since my mom first taught me how to make the sauce, but nothing drastic.  Crushed tomatoes are slow-simmered with onions, garlic, oregano and basil.  Flat leaf Italian parsley is stirred in at the last moment before plating.  The finished sauce is hearty, bold and oh, so satisfying.  Continue reading for the recipe plus a video from my recently segment on San Diego Channel 6 – San Diego Living.

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Bacon and Tomato Guacamole

Bacon and Tomato Guacamole

Classic guacamole is really hard to beat.  But I’ll have to say, this Bacon and Tomato Guacamole wins out.  It’s really not that fair though.  Adding bacon to just about anything makes it better.  This recipe starts with curls of creamy, ripe avocado mashed into a coarse mess.  Crispy crumbled bacon, chopped tomato, white onion, vibrant cilantro, lime juice and smoked chipotle chiles are then mixed in to create a festive dip that is nothing short of scrumptious.  With each bite you’ll enjoy a moment of green, grassy richness cut with fresh tomato, cilantro and lime.  Pops of crunchy bacon offer a nice counter in texture and flavor, and a smokey heat, courtesy of the chipotles, is faintly present in the background.  Craveworthy to the max.  You really won’t be able to stop yourself from finishing the entire bowl.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Turkey Chili

Turkey Chili

Evenings here in San Diego have been getting quite cold recently.  Several days ago I found myself craving a warm bowl of spicy chili.  The type of chili one could enjoy while sitting on the couch wrapped in a cable-knit granny blanket watching recorded Cooking Channel shows.  This Turkey chili was my answer to that craving.  Bold and comforting, this Turkey Chili is spiced with a flavorful blend of chili powder, red pepper flake, cumin and black pepper.  My favorite part of this soup is it’s texture.  Stewed tomatoes are used rather than tomato sauce and shredded, whole turkey rather than ground turkey.  The resulting soup is unbelievably satisfying.  Each hearty bite packs a spicy punch that is guaranteed to banish any cold weather doldrums.  PS.  This chili is the perfect use up for leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar

Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar

I love making tomato soup.  Especially roasted tomato soup.  It really is very simple.  Roast tomatoes (and possibly aromatics like onion and garlic), puree, add stock, simmer and season.  That’s it!  Each year I test out various different recipes for roasted tomato soup and try to build upon the basic techniques I learned many years ago.  I’ve roasted all sorts of tomatoes – roma, plum, heirloom, cherry and beefsteak.  I’ve also experimented with the aromatics, substituting in shallots or adding a little jalapeno to the mix.  Seasonings and spices are really only limited to your imagination.  I’ve tried basil, thyme and rosemary to name a few.  And finally… soup toppers.  Crema, crumbles, croutons and chiffonades have adorned my bowls of soup in the past, offering variation in both flavor and texture.

I’ll have to say that throughout my many years of recipe testing, I’ve never come across a tomato soup recipe as delicious as this Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar.  Topped with an open faced grilled cheesed sammich, this spicy tomato soup is just pure heaven.  An island of bubbling cheese, crispy and melty on top and soft and airy on the bottom, floating in a perfectly seasoned sea of comforting tomato soup.  Delish to the max.  I will certainly try new tomato soup recipes as the years go on, but I somehow doubt they will come close to this one.  You really need to try making this at home.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Oven Dried Tomatoes

Oven Dried Tomatoes

So let me start by saying that I will never purchase standard, prepackaged sun-dried tomatoes again.  Ever.  For the past several weeks, I’ve been experimenting with making my own Oven Dried Tomatoes at home.  Results:  Spectacular.  And really, this process is so easy, you could do it in your sleep.  Seriously… season the tomatoes in the evening then let them dry in the oven while you sleep!  When you wake up, you will have a delicious batch of homemade Oven Dried Tomatoes perfect for sammiches, pasta, pizza or just snacking.  Simply spiced with toasted cumin, salt and pepper, these Oven Dried Tomatoes have a moist center, crisp edges and a wonderfully concentrated tomato flavor.  Don’t like cumin?  Try oregano, paprika, basil, rosemary or cinnamon.  I think it would be hard to find an herb or spice that wouldn’t work here.  These tomatoes can be stored in an airtight container for about 2 weeks.  But I can almost guarantee they won’t last that long.  So. Yum.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan

Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan

So I’m really hoping that my Italian relatives do not read this article!  I can almost see them shaking their heads at my brazen deviation from traditional Eggplant Parmesan.  Rarely do I stray from my family’s Italian recipes (I’ve been making my mother’s tomato sauce for 10 years now!); however, when I saw this recipe in the Times, I almost immediately felt compelled to give it a try.  Lighter and healthier than its traditional counterpart, this Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan is made by preparing each individual component separately (eggplant, sauce, bread crumb topping) then combining them into single serving bites that are nothing short of scrumptious.  The rustic sauce, made of sweet cherry tomatoes, garlic, fresh oregano and basil, is so simple to make and comes together in about 15 minutes.  If you are steeped in Italian tradition and looking at this recipe with a skeptical eye, I urge you to take a brief hiatus from the norm and give this dish a try.  So tasty.  You won’t be sorry!  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Romesco Sauce with Crostini

Romesco with Crostini Romesco is bold Spanish sauce typically made of peppers, nuts, tomatoes and garlic.  This is also the third dish served at my recent west elm demonstration.  Mild, sweet ancho chiles are blended with roasted red bell pepper, toasted hazelnuts and almonds, garlic, tomato paste and a smokey-hot blend of spices.  The finished sauce is no joke.  With each rich, savory bite, you will experience the most incredible depth of flavor.  Seriously addicting.  Enjoy Romesco on pork, chicken, seafood or beef.  Or simply spread on a cracker or crostini as an appetizer.  Based on the feedback I received from the event attendees, this dish was definitely the crowd favorite.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Mexican Braised Beef Tacos

Mexican Braised Beef Tacos Earlier in the month, I showed you how to make some delicious Mexican dishes including homemade salsa, chips and slow cooker mole.  Today, I am going to tackle Mexican Braised Beef Tacos.  Seared beef is braised for hours with fire roasted peppers, red wine, tomatoes and caramelized onions.  The finished beef has a deep savory, spicy flavor with melt in your mouth texture.  Topped with Mexican crema, tomatoes and greens, this taco could easily be mistaken for its authentic street style counterpart.   FYI, this is a slow cooker recipe (I just didn’t feel like putting slow cooker in the title).  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Slow Cooker Mole with Grilled Chicken

Slow Cooker Mole with Grilled Chicken, Rice and Chips Yesterday, I showed you how to make homemade Drunken Salsa.  Today, I am going to continue the Mexican theme with this Slow Cooker Mole with Grilled Chicken.  A Mole is a dark Mexican sauce that typically has chile peppers, tomatoes, dried fruit, sesame seeds, chocolate and a wide variety of fragrant spices.  Start to finish, this recipe takes about 9 hours (mainly inactive slow cooking time), so plan accordingly.  This may seem very involved; however, compared to a traditional Mole (which can have 20+ ingredients, take several days to make and require a small army of Mexican grandmothers), this recipe is both quick and easy.  I’ll have to say that the flavors and aromas of this dish are just unreal.  Rich and bold, this sauce has a mouth-watering depth of flavor that is like nothing you’ve ever tasted.  Well worth the effort.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Heirloom Tomato and Peach Caprese Salad

Heirloom Tomato and Peach Caprese Salad I’ll have to admit that I’ve been feeling a little unhealthy over this past week – minimal time spent doing physical activities and maximum time spent consuming large quantities of processed junk.  In an attempt to turn things around, I made this Heirloom Tomato and Peach Caprese Salad last night.  Topped with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, this salad is a fresh mix of heirloom tomatoes, sliced peaches, mozzarella cheese and chopped basil.  Followed by a lengthy walk through Balboa Park, this dinner was just what I needed to go from feeling no good to so good.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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