Rustic (And Decadent) Apple Sauce

Be sure to check out the Diva’s Easy (Pink!) Applesauce for a tasty recipe that takes only 20 minutes.  Try our recommendation for this rustic (and maybe a little decadent) applesauce if you’re looking for a sweeter treat. Ingredients:

  • 8 cups cubed apples, try a variety of sweet varieties (Braeburn, Pink Lady) and tart varieties (Granny Smith)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice (optional – adds a nice zing!)
  • 2 tbsp. crème fraîche (optional – adds a smooth, rich finish)

Preparation: Combine first 6 ingredients (through the lemon juice but leave out the crème fraîche) in a saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook 25 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat; mash to desired consistency with a fork or potato masher. It desired, stir in crème fraîche. Serve warm or chilled.

*Adapted from a 2002 Cooking Light recipe

Diva’s Easy (Pink!) Applesauce

This applesauce takes 20 minutes to make, and finished with a lovely pink hue.  The secret?  Leave the skins on.  Why not?  The skins are good for you anyway.Ingredients:

  • 3-5 pounds apples, washed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • maple syrup, to taste
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, to taste

Preparation: Remove apple flesh from cores in four large chunks.  Place chunks in a food processor (half to 3/4 full at a time) and spin for 30 seconds to 1 minute per batch.  Place all pureed apples and salt in a large, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove and simmer, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes.  Taste.  If  you desire additional sweetness, add maple syrup to taste.  Finish with your favorite spices.

Jill’s Winter Squash Soup

This winter squash soup can be made with any type of winter squash.  The cooking time, start to finish, is longer than that of the Diva’s Winter Squash Soup due to the baking time – making this a great recipe for the weekend or a day you get home from work early, so you can do other things while the squash bakes.  Since I almost always use knobby-textured buttercup, kachoba, or red kuri squash for this recipe, baking the squash prevents me from having to peel it!




  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 lbs squash (butternut, buttercup, kabocha, red kuri, or blue hubbard are good varieties to use)
  • 3+ cups of water
  • ½ cup cream or half and half
  • 1 tbs maple syrup or dark brown sugar
  • pinch of nutmeg


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Poke several fork holes in the skins of each side of the squash, and place face down in a baking dish with ½ inch of water.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until skin is browned and collapsed in a couple of places.  Remove from oven, and when cool enough, scoop squash out of skins into a bowl.  Set aside.  (This can be done up to a day ahead.)  In a heavy–bottomed stockpot or dutch oven, melt butter until foaming, and then sauté shallot or onion until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add squash and 3 cups of water to the pot and bring to a simmer, stirring often.  (Optional:  Once combined, turn off heat, and ladel into a food processor or blender to puree.  Pour pureed soup back into pot.)  Add cream and maple syrup and stir to combine over low heat.  Note:  Do not boil the soup once the cream has been added.  Serve and enjoy.

Diva’s Winter Squash Soup

Yielding a similar taste to Jill’s Winter Squash Soup, this recipe omits the baking time in favor of peeling and sautéing the winter squash with the onions.  Perfect for a weeknight and for butternut squash, which is very easy to peel with a standard peeler. Ingredients:

  • 1 lg onion, diced
  • 1 lg butternut, or two smaller winter squash, halved, seeds removed, and diced
  • 2 or 3 apples, peeled, cored, and rough chopped
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup cream or half and half (optional)
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, to taste

Preparation: Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add winter squash and apple and a dash of salt, and stir frequently until coated with oil and beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add water (to just cover mixture) and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until ingredients are soft and cooked through.  Using the puréeing hot soups safety tips, carefully ladel the mixture into a blender or food processor (REMEMBER:  Do not fill more than half way!), cover the blender or processor with a towel, and spin for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Repeat until entire mixture is puréed.  Place puréed mixture back in original pot and add cream, maple syrup, and spices to taste.

Roasting Tips

Here are some Everyday Chef tips for roasting just right!

  1. Cut veggies into similarly-sized chunks.  That way the veggies will be ready at the same time.
  2. Toss veggies with olive oil in a medium or large bowl to coat evenly before spreading out on your roasting pan.
  3. Place veggies in a single layer on the roasting pan so that the heat can cook each piece evenly–go ahead and use two pans if your too crowded on one.
  4. Use a heavy-bottomed cookie sheet or a roasting pan without the rack–either will do!
  5. Stir veggies at least once, approximately half way through the cooking time.

Time-saver tip from the Domestic Diva:  Microwave your veggies, tossed in olive oil (in a glass, microwave safe bowl) for 5-8 minutes, or until half tender.  Then, spread on your pan and roast for 20 to 30 minutes.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables

Vegetables to roast (choose any combination of the following):

  • potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • sweet potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • beets, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • parsnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • fennel bulbs, cored, cut into half-inch pieces


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • salt and pepper


  • herbs, like thyme, marjoram, or rosemary
  • vinegar, like balsamic


Preheat to 400°F. Combine all remaining ingredients except garlic in very large bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture between heavy baking sheets, if necessary. Roast 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic cloves to baking sheet(s).  Continue to roast until all vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 45 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Let stand on baking sheets at room temperature. Rewarm in 450°F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes.)  Transfer roasted vegetables to large bowl and then serve.

The Topping On The Pizza

Thanks to the Domestic Diva for sharing her favorite pizza topping combinations with us!

Goat Cheese & Seasonal Greens Pizza

Seasoned oil

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Salt, to taste


  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or blistered tomatoes.
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 8 oz. whole-milk mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
  • 4 oz. soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)


Pear, Cheese and Walnut Pizza

  • 12 oz. bleu or gorganzola cheese (manchego or brinata work well too)
  • 2 pears (about), halved, cored, very thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces, coarsely broken
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil


Pizza Margherita

2 cloves garlic- crushed into ¼ cup olive oil.  Drizzle on and spread olive oil over crust.  Reserve left over.

Cover with:

  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
  • 2  large tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • ½ bunch basil, chiffonade

Pesto For Your Pizza

Though marinara is fabulous on pizza, it’s not the only way to go.  Try a pesto base, and you won’t be disappointed.  Not familiar with pesto?  Pesto is to basil what chocolate is to cacao–a perfect combination to enhance a dynamic ingredient.  Though it may be a little late in the season to whip up a huge batch for your freezer, you can likely still find some good looking basil in smaller quantities at our local farmers’ market. Classic Pesto

This recipe makes a small batch perfect for a pizza.  Feel free to double, quadruple, etc. for larger batches for your freezer.


  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (can be substituted with walnuts, though pine nuts are preferred)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • kosher salt, to taste


Combine first 4 ingredients in blender. Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil. Add both cheeses and salt; blend until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Top with 1/2 inch olive oil and chill.)

Three Basil Pesto

This recipe makes a batch large enough for a couple of pizzas and some leftovers.


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (1/4 pound)
  • 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 cup packed Italian basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed bush basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh lemon basil leaves
  • 3/4 cups packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Pulse garlic in a food processor until finely chopped, then add nuts, cheeses, a large handful of herbs, and 1 teaspoon pepper and process until chopped. Add remaining herbs one handful at a time, pulsing after each addition, until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil and blend until incorporated.

Simple Marinara Sauce

After pizza dough, the next consideration for your pizza is the base.  Marinara sauce is the traditional way to go for a reason:  it’s simple, versatile, and tastes great.  As the Domestic Diva points out, you can make a big batch of this and freeze leftovers for future pizza or pasta dinners. Thanks Diva, for sharing this great recipe with us! Marinara Sauce



  • 1 lg onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1 ½ cups red wine (can be replaced by vegetable or meat broth)
  • 3 ½ pounds of fresh or previously frozen tomatoes. Cut into chunks reserving juices and using additional tomato juice if needed, OR 2 cans of whole or diced tomatoes
  • ½ lg bunch of basil
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 sprigs of oregano
  • 1 lg pinch kosher salt
  • 1 lg pinch sugar
  • 3-6 tbsp olive oil (to taste)


Sautè onions in vegetable oil until translucent.  Add garlic, cook until fragrant.

Deglaze with wine.  (What is deglazing?) Add tomatoes, herbs, salt and sugar.  Cook until the mixture simmers.  Add olive oil, to taste.  Puree with blender, immersion blender, magic bullet or food processor.

This is a large batch of sauce, so there will be plenty left over for freezing! Just place in large zip lock bag and place in freezer placed flat on its side.

Simple Pizza Dough

Let’s start at the bottom and work up.  Here’s the Diva’s recommended recipe for pizza dough–it’s my personal favorite too!  I’ve included directions for making dough by hand and making dough using a stand mixer with a dough hook.

Note:  Dough can be made up to one day ahead and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  


  • 3/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 cups (or more) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or sugar)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


By Hand

Proof (proofing is just testing to make sure it’s still alive–if it doesn’t bubble in the warm water, it’s no longer good) yeast by adding packet of yeast to ½ cup warm water.  It will bubble and appear frothy.

Place half of the flour, honey, salt and olive oil in a large bowl.

Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is moist.  Add remaining flour gradually, and stir after each addition.  You MAY need to add additional water if the dough is too dry. (You can tell it’s too dry if it doesn’t stick together.)

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead for 5 to 7 minutes, adding extra flour if needed to make dough pliant.  The dough should be relatively smooth and elastic.

Place dough in bowl coated with olive oil. Roll and coat with oil. Cover with a moist towel and place in a warm spot for one hour (or, until the dough doubles in volume).

Punch (punch means use your fist to deflate the dough, starting in the center and then working around the sides of the ball) dough down, and roll onto the floured work surface.

Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Form dough into one large, two medium, or three small (personal pizza size) balls.

Pick it up and begin rotating it through your hands, pulling from the center of the dough out.

When dough becomes relaxed, place on work surface and using rolling pin to roll out the crust. Thinner crust makes a crispier pizza; thicker crust is chewier.

With a Stand Mixer

Measure the flour and the salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine on very low speed with the paddle attachment.

Slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry, and increase the speed of the mixer slightly to incorporate the mass.

Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with a dough hook if you have one. Knead with dough hook until the dough becomes smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, about 4 minutes.

Place the dough on a floured board and knead the doughby hand for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour to dust as needed to prevent sticking.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a very lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel, let stand until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Punch (punch means use your fist to deflate the dough, starting in the center and then working around the sides of the ball) dough down, and roll onto the floured work surface.

Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Form dough into one large, two medium, or three small (personal pizza size) balls.

Begin rotating it through your hands, pulling from the center of the dough out.

When dough becomes relaxed, place on work surface and using rolling pin to roll out the crust. Thinner crust makes a crispier pizza; thicker crust is chewier.

1 21 22 23 24