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A few of my favorite recipes

I was recently a guest on The Incredible Podcast of Amazing Awesomeness and Mike asked me about some of the things I enjoy cooking. Now while I don’t profess to be an excellent chef, I do have a few standard recipes I’ve learned over the years that have made my husband very happy. I also realized I can’t find them anywhere online. So here is my blog post writing out 4 (technically 5) of my favorites: New Jersey Tomato Pie, My Favorite Red Sauce, Meatballs and finally for dessert, Baklava!

New Jersey Tomato Pie

Ingredients for pizza dough (you will need to make your own dough since the pie will need to be very thin)
1 package of quick dry yeast
1 cup of lukewarm water
pinch of sugar
1 tsp salt
3-3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

Method for dough
Step 1. Warm a medium mixing bowl (I prefer glass since I speed up the rising by putting the bowl in a warmed oven) by swirling some hot water in it. Drain. Place the yeast in the bowl and pour on the warm water. Stir in sugar, mix with a fork and allow to stand until yeast has dissolved and starts to foam (5-10 min)
Step 2. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the salt and about one third of the flour. Mix in another third of the flour, stirring with the spoon until the dough forms a mass and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Step 3. Sprinkle some of the remaining flour onto a smooth work surface. Remove the dough from the bowl and begin to knead it, working int the remaining flour a little at a time. Knead for 8-10 min. By the end the dough should be elastic and smooth. Form it into a ball.
Step 4. Lightly oil the mixing bowl (assuming you’ve cleaned it already). Place the dough in the bowl. Stretch a moistened and wrung-out dish towel across the top of the bowl and leave it to stand in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume (if you do not have a oven that does proofing, turn the oven on to medium heat for 10 minutes before you need the dough. Turn the oven off and place the bowl with the dough in it in the turned off oven with the door closed and let it rise there) To test whether the dough has risen enough, poke 2 fingers into the dough. If the indention remain the dough is ready.
Step 5. Punch the dough down with your fist to release the air. Knead for 2 minutes.
Step 6. If you want to make 2 medium pies divide the dough into 2 balls. This recipe will freeze nicely if you don’t want to use all of the dough at one time. Just wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.
Step 7. When you roll out the dough, lightly oil the pan

Ingredients for Tomato Pie
1 16-20 oz can of diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp of fresh minced garlic (the kind you can get in the jar & have to refrigerate)
2 cups of mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes, not shredded
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for the top of the pie)
1-2 tbsp olive oil

Method for Pie
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 470 degrees for at least 20 min before baking. In a blender or food processor add the whole can of tomatoes (and minced garlic if you like). Blend for about 5-10 seconds (you will still see chucks of tomato)
Step 2. Roll out dough onto your pizza pan as thin as you can and the add tomato sauce onto the dough with a spoon.
Step 3. Sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella. Dot with basil if you like. Sprinkle with Parmesan and finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil.
Step 4. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese melted and bubbling

My favorite Red Sauce

1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion chopped (I just put it in my food processor)
1 clove of chopped garlic (I just use a half spoonful of the minced garlic in the jar…this stuff is a time saver!)
1 can (14oz) of diced tomatoes (don’t drain)
2 tbsp of chopped parsley (dried or fresh…dried of course is faster)
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp of tomato paste (I usually do half a can and put the other half in a small container for another batch later)
1 tsp sugar
1 can of HUNTS traditional sauce (yes it does matter that it’s hunts…it’s about a dollar at walmart)

Step 1. heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan and fry the onion for 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and fry for 1 min
Step 2. Stir in diced tomatoes, parsley, oregano, tomatoe paste, sugar and (salt and pepper to taste if you want)
Step 3. Bring the sauce to a boil, then simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Pour HUNTS tomatoe sauce in and bring to boil

In the last step if I’m in a rush, I will just add the Hunts sauce after I bring my base to a boil. But the idea is to reduce the base and then add the hunts sauce

Just my standard meatball recipe that I use for meatball subs and spaghetti & meatballs

Serves 8
Prep Time 15
Cooking Time 15
1 small can of drained chopped mushrooms (food processor works great)
1 lb of ground beef
2 cloves garlic (again the jar of minced garlic works great. this would be a full spoonful for 2 cloves)
4 tbsp dried parsley
3 tbsp dried basil
1 egg
6 tbsp plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp of grated parmigiana cheese (I get mine from Costco and freeze it. And use as needed)
salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion chopped (love that food processor!)

Step 1. take mushrooms and chop them up (the finer the better). Combine the meat with the mushrooms, garlic and herbs. Stire in the egg. Add the breadcrumbs and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper if you like (I usually don’t). Form the mixture into small balls 1 to 1 1/2 inches
Step 2. In large heavy frying pan, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook over low heat until soft (I actually like to add a half spoonful of minced garlic too). Raise the heat to medium and add the meatballs. Roll them often to brown evenly. Typically takes around 10-15 minutes for them to be done.

Greek dessert

Cooking Time 1.5 hours
1 lb. Phyllo dough.
4 to 5 cups walnuts, chopped in food processor. You can also use pistachios
½ cup sugar.
¼ tsp. ground cloves.
1 tsp. cinnamon.
¾ lb. sweet butter. (3 sticks)

The filling
Step 1. Combine nuts, cinnamon, cloves, and sugar.
Step 2. Melt butter in a saucepan.
Step 3. Use pastry brush to brush inside of a 14 X 10 ½ inch pan with melted butter.
Step 4. Line bottom of pan with one piece of Phyllo dough. Fold under excess Phyllo.
Step 5. Alternate sides with each piece of Phyllo, brushing the top of each layer with melted butter.
Step 6. Repeat six (6) times, making six layers.
Step 7. On the 6th sheet, sprinkle evenly with nut mixture.
Step 8. Continue layering butter sheets until all nut mixture is used and use 6-10 more buttered sheets of Phyllo to form top crust.
Step 9. Use a sharp knife to cut into diamond shapes. (basically you’ll cut it like you would brownies but then divide them in half to form a diamond)
Step 10. Bake at 300° F for about 1 ½ hours or until lightly brown.

The Syrup: I eyeball how much of the syrup to pore so not to flood the baklava. The syrup will be liquid (not very thick) after it is done boiling.
1 1/4 cups of water.
1 1/2 cups sugar.
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice.
1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Step 1. Combine syrup ingredients. Boil syrup for about 5-7 minutes and then allow to cool. (the syrup can be warm just not boiling)
Step 2. Pour cooled syrup over hot pastry.
Step 3. Each individual Baklava slice can be served on a bake paper cup (cup cake cups).

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3 thoughts on “A few of my favorite recipes

  1. Cliff says:

    Awesome recipes! That baklava is Amazing.


  2. LeAnn says:

    I have a question for you Nicole-
    A few weeks ago, I started watching the WoodWhisperer, and loved it. Then I downloaded Every Day How To- The Podcast That Never Was. You and Mark made Crunchy French Toast. My mom and I would like to make this one day, but I can’t find the recipe.

    Anyway, my question is this- Could you send me the recipe?


    Nicole Reply:

    Hey LeAnn, It’s actually on this blog just a bit further down in the posts. Here is the direct link http://nicolespag.com/everyday-how-to-the-podcast-that-never-was/ hope you enjoy!


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