Saturday, May 30, 2015

Marinara Sauce Recipe

Ultimate Marinara Sauce Recipe

This recipe is one of the most requested recipes that I receive.   That is for good reason.   It is fantastic and one of the most often made recipes in my home.   Marinara Sauce is my wife's specialty, so I can't take any credit for this.    I often say that my Grandmother would be proud of her and her Marinara Sauce Recipe.

This Marinara Sauce Recipe is the very best I ever tasted!  It has evolved over time, only to get better just when I thought that it couldn't get any better. One of the things about Marinara Sauce is the quality of the tomatoes and their ripeness makes a difference.   We use Organic Tomatoes exclusively in our Marinara Sauce.

As many of you watch my videos, you have seen my gardens and tomatoes. We use the plum tomatoes, however there are times a few Cherokee Purple tomatoes find their way into the Marina Sauce.    If we have to use tomatoes form a can, we pretty much always use Muir Glen Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes.

Marinara Sauce Recipe Tomatoes

One of the changes we have made over the years is that we cook this Marinara Sauce Recipe in a crock pot.  We used to cook it in a very large pot on the stove, but the Crock Pot does a better job.  After it is complete, we usually end up with 6-8 quarts of some of the best Marinara Sauce ever.   Sometimes we can it in quart mason jars, but most of the time we just keep a quart or two in the Refrigerator and freeze the rest.

Another important note in making this marinara sauce recipe is that we uses peeled whole tomatoes.   We cook the tomatoes whole and it is only at the end of the cooking process that we smash them with a potato masher.    This change greatly improved the quality of the marinara sauce, which went from super amazing to out of this world stellar amazing...   The reasoning for this is smashing the tomatoes early make the sauce too bitter, due to the seeds.

Marinara Sauce Recipe Ingredients

  • 7 - 8 cans of Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes (with the fluid drained off)
  • 1 1/2 cup of a hearty Red Wine, like a burgundy.
  • 1/2 Cup of Fresh Chopped Garlic
  • 1 chopped medium sweet onion
  • 3 Tablespoons Dried Basil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tsp Thyme
  • 1 Pinch of Rosemary
  • Salt to taste ( Most of the time we only use this in the fresh homegrown tomatoes )
  • Optional Sugar ( only a little to taste, but we hardly ever use it as the organic tomatoes are sweet enough )

Marinara Sauce Directions

Saute the onions until they are translucent and then add the garlic in the best olive oil you can find.   Take care not to burn the garlic as if you do...  Throw the whole thing out and start over.   After the garlic and onions are sauteed, add them to the crock pot ( or pot on your stove ). 

Next, add all of your peeled tomatoes to the crock pot.   It is starting to look like Marinara Sauce already!    Pour in the wine.

The next step in making the Marinara Sauce is to put the dried spices on top. Then, simply put the top on your crock pot and turn it on.   After some time, it will start to liquefy and boil.   When that happens, you can gently stir in the spices, taking care not so smash the tomatoes.

After it simmers for a few hours, place the lid ajar, so that steam can escape.   This will produce a thicker marinara sauce.   Now, let the Marinara Sauce simmer for another few hours.

When the Marinara Sauce has simmered for several hours, then it is time to smash the tomatoes.   We like a chunky and rustic marinara sauce.   So, that is when I mash the tomatoes with potato masher.    If you want a smoother sauce, you can probably use an immersion blender, but that would be a crime..   The texture of the marinara sauce with chunks of tomatoes in it by using the potato masher is part of what makes this marinara sauce recipe so wonderful.

Stir the Marinara Sauce and return the top to the crock pot.    You are ready to serve, however, we often add another optional step.   We very often get some fresh Sweet Basil Leaves and rip them apart by hand into pieces.   Then, we stir them into the sauce and let it simmer for another 20 minutes or so...  

Finally, it is time to serve.   My family enjoys this marinara sauce recipe on virtually any Italian dish.    Meatballs, Chicken Cutlets, Manicotti , eggplant and lasagna.

I hope you have enjoyed learning how to make this Marinara Sauce Recipe.   It is my wife's specialty and she deserves all the credit here.   I would highly recommend giving it a try.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Homemade Ice Cream - Yum

I love summertime.   Ever since I was a kid, I loved it.  The endless days, the beach and BBQ.   But I always loved Ice Cream.   The sound of the Good Humor Man... Coming down the street and ringing his bell.   Every kid in the neighborhood would scream, "ICE CREAM!" and probably make each and every one of our parents crazy.

Homemade Ice Cream
Homemade Ice Cream

Now that I am an adult.... well sort of...  I still love ice cream, but I am concerned about the quality of the things I am ingesting.   Dairy today is different then the dairy we had when I was a kid.   And did you know that I read an article which said that Vanilla may not even really be Vanilla?   The article said that there is some sort of bacteria that secretes some sort of thing that tastes similar to Vanilla, so companies can use that flavoring and call it Vanilla and supposedly no one would know the difference!

In fact, they can say All Natural, and it can be Vanilla made in some lab.  Well, that is not my idea of Natural!  It is funny that Breyers used to say all natural, and it doesn't anymore!   Enough of my ranting, back to the point... Ice Cream!

I want Ice Cream that is good and real.  Where Natural means with stuff that is not from a lab.  I want Organic Dairy in my Ice Cream.   No Xanthum Gum. No Polly Wolly Sorbate 8000.   So, in a moment of impulsiveness, I bought an Ice Cream Machine, A Book on how to make Ice Cream and a great stainless steel Ice Cream Scoop!    Since getting it, I have to say it is one of the best purchases I ever made...

Homemade Ice Cream Making Recommendations

Armed with these wonderful things, I made Homemade Ice Cream...  I used organic dairy and I have to say from my very first attempt, it came out amazing!   So, like David Lee Roth says, "I'm Your Ice Cream Man, Stop Me When I'm Passin By!"

My first attempt was to make Black Raspberry Homemade Ice Cream.  You know, with those organic black raspberries that you have been seeing me grow for the past few years on my YouTube channel!   Wow!  It came out amazingly intense and delicious.  The texture and density was similar to Haagen Daz.  Unbelievable for my first attempt.   I thought I just had beginner's luck.

My next Homemade Ice Cream was Mint Chip.   I pretty much followed the recipe in the Ben and Jerry's book, but doubled the mint extract.  I also hand chopped up some Newman's Organic Dark Chocolate bars and added that in place of chocolate chips.  Of course, I used organic cream and milk.  My second Ice Cream attempt was as good, or even better than the first one!   I never imagined that it could be so easy to make Ice Cream that was even better than what is sold at those expensive boutique shops.

Yesterday, I made my third Homemade Ice Cream.   It was Vanilla Malt Chip.   I added Malted Milk to the mix and tiny Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.  My head is spinning.  I don't know which one is the best.   Each of these Ice Creams is off the hook good!   And I am not an expert!

The beauty of making your own Homemade Ice Cream is you can make it with organic ingredients, real Vanilla and Fruit.   In fact, most basic Homemade Ice Cream recipes have only a small handful of ingredients.  For example:

1 Cup Of Organic Milk
2 Cups Of Organic Heavy Cream
3/4 Cups Of Organic Sugar
2 Organic Eggs
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract, Organic of course!

With these five ingredients, you have Vanilla Ice Cream!   Add fruit if you want.  Add Chocolate Chips!  Get creative!

I have to say the Ben and Jerry's book is amazing! If you want to make Homemade Ice Cream, then you must have this book.   Those guys have excellent recipes for just about any Ice Cream you could imagine.  They even have a Pumpkin Ice Cream! Ben and Jerry:  I love you guys!  You are Pioneers!  Thanks for writing such an amazing book!

The recipes in the Ben and Jerry's book say that they make a generous quart of Homemade Ice Cream.  That is really more like a quart and a half.  I would recommend not adding more than that to your Ice Cream machine, if you get the same one that I purchased. In other words, don't double the recipe, even though you have a two quart machine.   There will be more than enough for some, uhhh, quality control tasting as you are making the Ice Cream...

One piece of advice is to freeze the bowl at least a day before making Ice Cream with the machine.   The bowl is sort of like a Freezer Ice Pack in the shape of a bowl, so it freezes the homemade ice cream as it turns it.   If you want to make two flavors in the same day, get the extra bowl insert, so that you can freeze both bowls 24 hrs before.

While the Ice Cream Machine makes some noise, it is not nearly as loud as I thought it would be.  The quality of the machine and the Homemade Ice Cream it makes is outstanding.  The mint chip ice cream I made was a really fun activity to do with kids.   We had a blast!

If you are thinking about getting an Ice Cream Machine, just do it.   You know you want one.   It is so worth it.   At least you can say that you are giving your kids real homemade ice cream with quality ingredients.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Toxic Pesticides We're Eating

Everyone wants to eat better quality food for a healthy lifestyle.   We are bombarded with information on the Internet, the News and from our doctors about what is good to eat and what is bad to eat.  Sometimes the information about what is healthy and not healthy conflicts with one another.  I always do my best to take in the information and make up my own mind as to what makes sense to me.

Fruits That Commonly Have Toxic Pesticide Residue
Fruits That Commonly Have Toxic Pesticide Residue

The general info we hear time and time again is to eat more leafy greens, vegetables and fruit.   Limit fats and fried foods. Yeah, I am sure you have seen all of this stuff, too.   But, what I read this morning, I found shocking and quite disturbing.  

According to the Environmental Working Group, many of the foods we believe to be part of that healthy list are actually quite bad for you if you buy the conventionally grown foods.   The reason for this is the pesticides found in the foods.

One of the examples in their list is Kale.   Kale and Collard Greens have been touted as being some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.   Many consider it a super food, packed with all sorts of goodness.  BUT, did you know that in tests conducted by USDA Scientists, they detected 51 different pesticides on conventionally grown Kale and 41 on Collard Greens?   The study sites many particular pesticides that I can’t pronounce, like DDE, Dieldrin, Chlorpyrifos, Oxydemention, Esfenvalerate and Famoxadone.  Two of these pesticides,  DDE and Dieldrin, have been proven to be so toxic that they were banned a few years back!

This is why I make an effort to buy Organic produce whenever I can or grow as much as I can on my property.  Those of you who have watched my videos can see that I do a lot of growing at home and I do my best to show people how I do it, so that they too can do the same.

So, you may ask what foods have the most pesticides on them?

The number one worst food with the most pesticides was Apples!   Do you remember that saying, an apple a day….  Apples were followed by Strawberries and Grapes.

Celery was in their number four spot.   Who would ever even think about celery having pesticides, right?   Their number 5 on the list of most pesticide residue was peaches.  Number 8 was imported Nectarines, which I thought was interesting.   You would think that peaches and nectarines were so similar, that they would be next to each other.  I always thought that produce that was imported had more pesticides than what was in the US, but the Domestic peaches had MORE pesticides than the imported Nectarines.

Surprisingly, between Peaches and Nectarines was in the number 6 spot.   Spinach!   WOW, a leafy green!  Who would have thought that Spinach would have more pesticides then number 7, which was sweet bell peppers.    Now, for those of you who see my videos, you see how easy it is to grow spinach.   I am growing it, as you can freely see WITHOUT PESTICIDES at all!

Cucumbers held the number 9 spot in this list, followed by Cherry Tomatoes in the number 10 spot.   As you can see, many of these things I grow myself, and you can too!

The list goes on and on, with Snap Peas, Potatoes, Hot Peppers, Blueberries, and yes, Lettuce and Kale.   Now, what can you do about it?   I believe that you can demand better by making your voice heard with your wallet!   For these things, at least, buy Organic if you can or Grow Your Own.   Either way, make sure you wash your produce very well with a quality produce wash.

I think it is important to learn how to grow your own food!   Even if you are living in a City area, you can do amazing things with Hydroponic Systems to grow your own food.    In fact, you can use the Kratky method, like I did and make a lettuce growing station using a rough tote.   All you need is quality hydroponic nutrients.   You can’t use conventional fertilizer in hydroponics. 

If you wanted to grow hydroponically all year long, you could!   You would need a quality grow light, and I would recommend either this LED Grow Light for smaller systems or this UFO LED Grow Light for larger systems.

You can grow in the ground, of course.   I recommend doing a combination of both.   The lettuce comes out so great hydroponically, so that is my preferred method of growing these days for lettuce.   Tomatoes I will continue to do in the ground.

I am looking forward to experimenting with Kale and Spinach using hydroponics.   I want to give that a try.

So, I hope you have found this post informative and helpful.   Please feel free to let me know how you feel about this type of information and what you and your family are doing, so that we can learn from each other. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Whole Wheat Pizza Recipe

Whole Wheat Pizza


So, your on a diet and feeling deprived. You are eating veggie burgers, tofu and salad but feeling like you want pizza.  I have had whole wheat pizzas before and thought that they were ok, but I always kind of knew that there had to be a way to make a whole wheat pizza even better.   So, you will not have to use up too many of those Weight Watcher's points and satisfy that inner pizza lover who wants to be set free.

Whole Wheat Pizza Recipe
My Whole Wheat Pizza - Margareta Style

I have seen Mario, a famous chef make pizzas before and he shares the same opinion that I do.   Most american pizzas have too much cheese.   I agree with him 100 percent!   So in my quest to make a lower calorie whole wheat pizza that is full of flavor and absolutely delicious, I took a few things into account:

  1. I would use less cheese.
  2. I would use Fresh Mozzarella, the fully fatted one, but much less of it.
  3. I would use some part skim shredded Mozzarella to round it out.
  4. I would use the very best quality ingredients I could find.
For one thing, I remember that many whole wheat breads, as they are good for you with all the bran  and other healthful stuff, tasted like I was eating sawdust.  I knew I didn't want that for my whole wheat pizza .

I found this flour at the local supermarket in the natural foods section.
Whole Wheat Flour For The Whole Wheat Pizza Recipe

Bob's Red Mill is a great company that makes excellent products.   I would highly recommend any of his products, as the company has integrity.

Armed with this white whole wheat flour, I decided to craft a whole wheat pizza dough using it.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of the Best Olive Oil you can find
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 2 cups of Bob's Red Mill White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 cups of all purpose white flour
Directions for the whole wheat pizza dough recipe:

  •  Put the water, olive oil, sugar and salt in your mixer and mix it until all the sugar is dissolved. 
  • Add the yeast and gently mix it in to incorporate it.   Wait 10 Minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients.    Slowly pulse the mixer to wet the flour.
  • When the flour is wet, mix on slow using the dough hook on your mixer.
  • If the dough seems dry, add a little water and continue to mix until a dough is formed.
  • Turn up the speed and knead in the mixer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Take out the dough, cut into three equal sizes and bake three whole wheat pizza dough balls.
  • Coat the whole wheat pizza dough balls with a thin layer of olive oil and put into three separate containers or zip-lock bags.
  • Immediately refrigerate over night.

Once you have the whole wheat pizza dough made and aged for at least a day in your refrigerator, then you are ready to make a delicious whole wheat pizza.

Ingredients for Whole Wheat Pizza

  • Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
  • Organic Diced Tomatoes, one can
  • 2 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Romano Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Part Skim or Low Fat Shredded Mozzarella
  • 6 Ozs of Fresh Mozzarella  Cubed into 1/2 inch cubes.
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Sea Salt
 Directions to make Delicious Whole Wheat Pizza Recipe

To make this whole wheat pizza recipe, we are going to use the same techniques described in the New York Style Pizza post.   Please read that post fully before you get started.
  • Take a whole wheat pizza dough out of your refrigerator for at least a 1/2 hour to rest.
  • Preheat your stone as described in the NY Pizza post.
  • Place your Diced Tomatoes in  strainer and drain out the excess moisture.
  • Evenly flour your pizza dough for easy handling.
  • Form your dough by either hand tossing it or using a rolling pin and put it on a pizza screen or pan with holes in it.
  • Sprinkle the top of the whole wheat pizza dough with the garlic.
  • Spread the drained tomatoes across the top of the pizza evenly.
  • Sprinkle the Romano Cheese across the pizza evenly.
  • Now is the time for the cubes of Fresh Mozzarella.    Evenly distribute the cubes.   There will not be a lot of them, so dot them around the whole wheat pizza strategically.
  • Sprinkle the remaining shredded Mozzarella around the rest of the pizza.   There is about a third of the cheese on this whole wheat pizza, so spread it out evenly .
  • Grind some sea salt on top of the pizza.   Isn't it starting to look good?
  • Tear some fresh basil leaves and distribute across the top of the pizza.
  • Drizzle some Olive Oil on top sparingly.
Now that you have assembled your whole wheat pizza, now is the time to change the oven from the broiler, which was preheating your stone, making it extra hot, to bake at 400 F.    Remember that we were pre-heating the stone by using the broiler?  It is important not to forget to switch it to bake or you will have a very burnt pizza.

Place your whole wheat pizza that is on the pan (or screen) directly on the stone pan and all.   Bake it for about 15 minutes or until it looks nice and toasty brown.

Take the whole wheat pizza out of the oven when finished cooking to perfection and let it sit for about 4 minutes before transferring it to a pan without holes for cutting and devouring.

Now, you can enjoy your whole wheat pizza guilt free and with all the calories that you saved, you can enjoy a nice glass of Chianti or Pinot Noir with your delicious pizza.   It will be crisp on the bottom and well browned, but not burned.   It should look like the picture of the whole wheat pizza that I made on the top of this post.

So, I hope you have enjoyed making this awesome whole wheat pizza!   It satisfies the inner wild child in all of us when we are dieting.   It is so tasty, that you will want it even if you are not dieting.   In my opinion, pizza shouldn't have as much cheese on it anyway.   There is enough on this whole wheat pizza to satisfy the melty cravings, but not so much that you feel clogged after eating it.  

You will find that cooking like this is fun, healthy and delicious.   It is hard to believe, but kids even love this pizza!   Just don't tell them that it is whole wheat pizza and they will be more than willing to try it.  Enjoy this Italian Recipe and please give it a try.