Fantastico Spaghetti sugo (Fantastic Spaghetti Sauce)

Here is the recipe I used when canning all those jars of spaghetti sauce. (Only I don’t add meat when canning). My mom taught me how to make this recipe for spaghetti sauce. She learned it from an Italian friend of ours. Her name was Jenny (funny name for an Italian) and she was a neighbor of ours when I was growing up. She was always so kind to my brother and me. Unfortunately she died of breast cancer in her 40s’ but her spirit lives on in her sauce. I have never shared this recipe until now so I hope those of you who take the time to make this enjoy it.

3 large cans of tomato sauce (I think they are 26 oz)
1 large can diced tomatoes (same as above)
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup water
1/4 cup red wine
1 med onion sliced
1 pkg sliced mushrooms (optional)
2-4 garlic cloves, crushed
2-4 TLB dried basil
1 TLB oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp marjoram
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp sugar (optional)

Put tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and paste in a big pot and add 1 cup water. Add all the herbs and olive oil and stir in. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer.  In a fry pan, saute onions and mushrooms in a good grade of olive oil.  If you want to add Italian sausage, add these first and then saute the veggies in the same pan after they are done. If I want vegetarian style I will saute some sliced zucchini in big 1 inch chunks with the onions and mushrooms. After tender, add crushed garlic last and saute till soft as it will burn if you add it too soon. Then add to the simmering tomato sauce. Stir often. Add wine after simmering for a couple of hours. Stir often. The key to this sauce is to cook it almost all day on very low-do not cook on too too high of heat or it will burn. If the sauce starts to get too thick too soon, I will add more water. Cook, cook cook! I usually cook up a pot on a Sunday when I can be home while doing other things. Eventually the sauce gets thick (as thick as you’d like) and a rusty red color. Taste and if it seems too acidic add about 1 -2 teaspoons sugar to reduce acidity. You don’t want it sweet, just want to cut the acid and sometimes out of the can it can be a little acidic. Of course I use tomatoes right out of the garden but not everyone has that luxury and it is still wonderful when using canned tomatoes.  Refrigerate or freeze the remainder. It tastes even better the next day.

How to make pickles

From left- bread and butter, cornichons, and dill pickles

Following are the recipes I use for each of them:

BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES II (I modified this from
Makes 8 one quart jars or 16 pints-you can make smaller amounts if you want

25 cucumbers, scrubbed, cleaned, and sliced, blossom end cut off (the pickles will get discolored if left on)
6 onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic. sliced
1/2 cup salt

3 cups white vinegar
5 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon tumeric

1. In a large bowl, mix together cucumbers, onions, garlic and salt. Allow to sit 3 hours.
2. In a large saucepan mix together the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, whole cloves, and turmeric. Bring to a boil.
3. Drain liquid from cucumber mixture. Rinse and drain cucumbers. Stir the cucumbers mixture into the boiling vinegar mixture. Remove from heat just before it returns to a boil.
4. Transfer to sterile containers. Seal and chill in the refrigerator for one month before eating or process in water bath for 10 minutes or 15 minutes for our high altitude. (Add an additional 15 minutes for our 7000′ high altitude) I put some in the refrigerator and process the others. For water bath process, store in a cool dry place and wait one month before eating. Refrigerate after opening.

Be sure to wait one month before eating, whether making refrigerator style or water bath process-the flavors permeate the cucumbers better. Once I couldn’t wait and opened a jar after 2 weeks but it was not as flavorful. It’s worth the wait.

REALLY QUICK DILL PICKLES (from ‘The Joy of Pickling’)
Makes 3 one quart jars or 6 pints-this is a no brine method

-For firmer pickles, add 2-3 grape leaves or 6-8 sour cherry leaves of each qt of pickles but it is not necessary.

You can double or triple this recipe to fit your harvest.

To make a single qt of pickles, you’ll need 1 cup water, 7/8 cup vinegar=3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 peppercorns, 2 garlic cloves, pinch of dried pepper flakes, 1 dill head. Pour boiling liquid mixture over packed cleaned cucumbers in jars. Leave 1/2 inch headroom in jar. Seal and process. See below.

4 lbs of cucumbers, scrubbed and cleaned, blossom end cut off (the pickles will get discolored if left on)
24 peppercorns
1 garlic head, peeled and sliced
dried pepper flakes to taste
fresh dill heads (or dill seeds if fresh dill not available)
2 3/4 cup white vinegar
3 cups water
1/4 cup pickling salt (or non iodized salt)

1. Half or quarter cucumbers lengthwise. Divide the peppercorns,garlic, and hot peppers (if you are using them) among 6 pint or 3 quart mason jars. Pack the cucumbers in tightly into the jars.

2. In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Close the jars with the 2 piece caps. In a boiling water bath, process the jars for 10 minutes, quart jars 15 minutes (Add an additional 15 minutes more for our 7000 ft high altitude).

3. Store in a cool dry place and wait one month before eating. Refrigerate after opening.

Makes 1 quart or 2 pints

10-14 pickling cucumbers, scrubbed and cleaned, blossom end cut off (the pickles will get discolored if left on)
3 sprigs dill
2 cloves
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
cold water

1. Pack sterilized jars with cucumbers, dill, and garlic leaving 1/2 inch headspace
2. pour the lemon juice over the cucumbers
3. Seal and refrigerate. These will keep 6 weeks or more in refrigerator. Wait one -2 weeks for flavors to blend.

SHORT BRINED DILL PICKLES (from ‘The Joy of Pickling’)
Makes about 8 quarts

-This recipe is very flexible as long as you keep the proportions of vinegar, water salt and sugar. You can vary the seasonings as you like.
-For firmer pickles, add 2-3 grape leaves or 6-8 sour cherry leaves of each qt of pickles but it is not necessary.

You may prefer to make your pickles by the quart. For this, drop into each jar 2 sliced garlic cloves, 4 peppercorns, and pinch of hot pepper flakes. Pack the cucumbers into the jars with 2-3 heads of dill and pour over the cucumbers a hot solution of 1 cup each vinegar and water with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. Leave 1/2 inch headroom at top of jar. In a boiling water bath, process the jars for 10 minutes, quart jars 15 minutes (Add an additional 15 minutes more for our 7000 ft high altitude) Store in a cool dry place and wait one month before eating. Refrigerate after opening.

12 lbs 3-5 inch cucumbers, scrubbed and cleaned, blossom end removed
1 1/2 cups pickling salt
2 gallons plus 2 quarts water
7 1/3 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
16 cloves garlic, sliced
32 peppercorns
16-24 heads of dill
dried hot pepper flakes (if desired)

1. Half or quarter cucumbers lengthwise or leave whole. In a very large bowl or soup pot or crock, dissolve 3/4 cup pickling salt in 2 gallons of water. Add the cucumbers and weight them with a heavy plate that just fit the container. Let stand in the brine at room temperature for 8-12 hours.
2. Drain the cucumbers. If you like less salty pickles, rinse well and drain them again.
3. In a non reactive pot, bring to a boil the remaining 3/4 cup pickling salt, the remaining 2 quarts water, the vinegar, and the sugar. While the mixture heats, divide the garlic and peppercorns amount the 8 quarts or 16 pint mason jars. Pack the cucumbers, dill, hot pepper (and grape or sour cherry leaves if you are using them).
4. Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers, leaving 1/2 headspace. Close and in a boiling process pint jars for 10 minutes, quart jars for 15 minutes (Add an additional 15 minutes for out altitude at 7000 ft high) Store in a cool dry place and wait one month before eating. Refrigerate after opening.

CORNICHONS (from ‘The Foodlovers Guide to Paris’) tiny tart pickles
Makes 2 quarts or 4 pints- you can make smaller portion by cutting the recipe in half.

60  two inch small pickling cucumbers
1/4 cup kosher or pickling salt
1 quart water plus
3 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
12 small white pickling onions
4 large sprigs fresh tarragon
6 cloves garlic sliced
dried hot peppercorns
2 bay leaves

1. Trim off stem ends of cucumbers, rinse and drain.
2. In a large bowl combine the salt with one quart water. Stir until the salt is dissolved, add the cucumbers and let stand for 6 hours.
3. Drain the cucumbers, discarding the salted water. I like to rinse them.
4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine the vinegar, 1 1/2 cups water and the sugar and bring to a boil. Layer the jars with the drained cucumbers, onions, herbs and spices. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture into the jars leaving 1/2 headspace. In a boiling water bath, process the jars for 10 minutes, quart jars 15 minutes (Add an additional 15 minutes more for our 7000 ft high altitude) Store in a cool dry place and wait one month before eating. Refrigerate after opening. You can also just refrigerate them but still wait one month before eating.

Different cucumbers for different pickles

Sunday afternoon, my good friend John came over and we made pickles. All different kinds. Last year I researched what kind of cucumber was good for different types of pickles.

'Boothsby Blonde' cucumbers- good for bread and butter pickles

We made bread and butter pickles with my Boothsby Blonde cucumber, a creamy white  flavorful cuke that turns bright yellow.  All stages are edible with no bitterness.  After making my own bread and butter pickles last year, I will never buy store bought again. The flavor is incredible and is at least 100x better than the store bought and I’m not kidding.

'Parade' cucumber makes a good dill pickle

Then we made some dill pickles from my Parade cucumber which is a great cuke for dill as they are also excellent flavor, firm and evenly sized which is great for cutting them into dill spears. We used some fresh dill I grew from my garden.

Lastly we made my favorite- cornichons. I first fell in love with them in a little french cafe in San Diego where the french owners served them with sandwiches. We made the cornichons (which means tiny tart pickle) with Parsian cucumbers.

'Parsian' cucumbers-use for Cornichon pickles

In the picture I show one that grew too large and the rest are good size. I cut the ones that are 4 inches in half and leave the 2 inch cukes whole. I even cut the big one down into smaller spears about 4 inches in length. The Parsian cucumber has small seeds and is never bitter. We try to pick them very early when they are 2-3 inches long as they are meant to be a small pickle but sometimes you’ll find a large one hiding under the leaves. If it is much larger than the one shown, then I compost it or feed it to the chickens. Your main herb for flavor is tarragon instead of dill with cornichons.

Bob’s Garden Pizza on the Grill

Bob rolling the dough on the pizza peel

My good friend Bob made an incredible pizza fixed on the grill this weekend that he learned from his son Ephraim. He used garden veggies for the toppings. Here is the recipe for the pizza dough and the method that Bob uses to make it. Thanks Bob for sharing this great recipe for my blog. What a great way to eat the veggies we’ve been growing this summer! This was so good, I could eat all my veggies this way! It was yummy!

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar


cooking pizza dough on the grill

Pour 1/3 cup

of the warm water into a small bowl. Add the package of dry yeast to the water……stir the mixture until dissolved. Let this sit in a warm place ….it should start to get bubbly…

precooked pizza toppings

Put the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, salt and sugar.

If you are using a food processor with dough blade or heavy duty mixer with dough hook,
start the machine and slowly add the bubbling yeast. Then add the rest of the water until a smooth dough forms…you may need to use less or more water depending on the moisture content of the flour.  The dough should be silky smooth.

If you are mixing the flour by hand, add the water, mix until blended, then turn the dough out onto a floured board or counter and knead for 10 to 15 minutes until silky smooth… add more flour if necessary.

Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly coated with olive oil and turn it over once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour.

Pull off a chunk of the dough and roll it out into a thin layer. This is where a pizza peel comes in handy. This is the wooden paddle that slips the pizza in and out of the oven or grill.

Slide it onto a medium-hot grill, lower the

pizza with toppings ready for grill

lid and bake the pizza for about 5 minutes.
Remove the pizza crust, flip it over and brush it lightly with olive oil

Add your precooked ingredients.

Return the pizza to the grill , lower the lid, and bake for another 5 minutes. The time it takes will depend on the temperature of your grill…. too hot and the crust will burn before the toppings get hot and cheese melts.

It’s important to precook your toppings.
Sliced onions….saute them in oil/butter until they are tender and golden brown
Sauteed peppers and/or other veggies…. spinach, chard, eggplant,  etc.
Sauteed sliced mushrooms

taking finished pizza off grill

Thin sliced tomatoes
basil pesto

tomato (pizza) sauce
pre-cooked meat/sausage/shrimp/chicken….whatever you like
shredded mozzarella
grated parmesan cheese

Calabacitas breakfast

Breakfast Calabacitas With Egg

Here’ a recipe to make a southwest favorite here in Santa Fe. I add an egg on top for a complete breakfast.

(6) 6-8 inch zucchini
1/2 of onion chopped
1-2 ears of corn kernels
1 tsp cumin
Northern New Mexico green chili sauce

Slice zucchini or any summer squash and chop onions. Saute in olive oil till soft and liquid has evaporated. Cut kernels off fresh corn and add to mix. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of cumin (more or less to taste) on top and stir in. Cook a few more minutes till corn is cooked but doesn’t ‘pop’. Cook an egg in another fry pan and put on top of mixture on plate. I add warm green chili on top of each plate to each person’s taste-some like it hotter and some like a little.

Elodie’s basil pesto

basil-cleaned and ready to be made into pesto

Three basil plants needed trimming to keep them bushy. Here is the recipe and some pictures for making basil pesto.

Elodie’s Basil Pesto

About 6-8 cups packed of fresh, clean basil
good quality olive oil
garlic crushed
Parmesan cheese
shelled pinon nuts-1/2 cup

Clean, wash and cut off stems from basil. Crush garlic and add to blender.

add oil to basil

Put about 1/3 of the basil into a blender and start to pour olive oil into the blender (maybe 1/2 cup or a little more). Start to blend on low and add more basil and/or oil as needed to make the mixture  thick (like thick spaghetti sauce) but still pourable.

add Parmesan cheese to basil

Add Parmesan cheese to taste and a little salt if needed but taste it before adding salt as the cheese has lots of salt in it. You can add pinion nuts if you have them but we didn’t here. Put in plastic freezable ziploc baggies and flatten the baggie as pictured. The mixture should be no more than 1/2 inch thick when bag is flattened. Put in freezer and break off chunks as needed. Don’t heat the pesto or the basil will turn dark (it’s ok to eat but not as pretty).

final pesto

Just break off a chunk from your baggy of pesto and put it on your drained but still hot pasta and it will ‘melt’ into the pasta as you mix it up. This amount made about 2 cups of pesto.

Jannine’s Pumpkin Soup

Here is a great recipe for pumpkin or any winter squash soup. I know this is out of season but want it in the recipe section of the blog. Besides I still have many bags of pumpkin puree in my freezer I need to use up from my giant pumpkin, Hercules from last year!


About 10 lbs of pumpkin or winter squash
Chicken broth or vegetable broth or water
1 can Coconut milk (whole or  lite)
fresh grated ginger
honey to taste

Cut, quarter and clean out your squash of seeds and stringy stuff.  Put oil on exposed edges and put face down on foil lined cookie sheet and place foil on top so it doesn’t dry out. Cook at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until soft when pierced by fork. Scoop out and place in a big soup pot and add 8-10 cups of either water, OR chicken broth OR vegetable broth-your preference. Then take a mixer or one of those hand held  blender wands and mix till smooth. Heat and add the can of coconut milk, some fresh grated ginger (peel first) and honey to taste. Do not boil. Yummy!

Soup-Spiked Pumpkin Soup

Here is my other pumpkin soup recipe that I got from my friends Caleb and Genevieve. It’s really yummy too.

½ tsp fresh grated ginger
½ tsp cumin
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup chopped onion
1½ cups apple cider
⅓ cup bourbon
¼ cup maple syrup
2 lbs cooked FRESH pumpkin (this is about 4 lbs before cooking)
1 can chicken broth or 2 cups veggie broth or water
2 cups milk
1 TLB flour
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
sour cream
3TLB chopped parsley or cilantro

Saute onions, ginger, cumin, and garlic 5 minutes or until lightly brown. Stir in apple cider, bourbon, syrup, pumpkin, and broth. Bring to boil and simmer 10 minutes. Take out mixture and puree in blender in batches until all blended or use (“magic wand” to puree right in pot) Return pureed mixture to pot and add milk, flour, salt, and pepper. Cook till just heated (do not boil) stirring occasionally.
Serve with dollop of sour cream and sprinkle parsley if desired. For vegetarians, leave out dairy and replace milk with coconut milk, chicken broth with veggie broth.