Get Off The Couch and Cook

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Spinach & Mushroom Calzone

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After posting the sinfully decadent cheesy stuffed bread a couple of weeks ago, my mind has been ablaze with other things I could do with that.  Then I smacked myself upside the head when it dawned on me: I could make calzones!

I have no idea why, with my pizza loving ways, that this had NOT occurred to me before now.  It uses all the same ingredients as my pizza does and takes about the same length of time as pizza.  And there is just something immensely satisfying to seeing a large doughy slab on your plate and knowing that it is all for you.  *ahem*  If you don’t share, that is.

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See? It’s massive!  You could always make them smaller, which I will probably do another time.  The dough on these ended up to be so fluffy and soft.  Next time, I’m going to brush the edges with melted butter and sprinkle them with garlic powder so it’s like pizza and bread sticks in one!  With the warm homemade pizza sauce on the side, it rivaled ones I’ve had when eating out by a long shot!

Rather than do my usual Italian sausage, I decided to lighten them up a bit for a meatless meal.  There is no real reason, except I didn’t have any Italian sausage on hand *gasp* and I wasn’t in the mood for the pepperoni (without sodium nitrate, of course) I had picked up.  Plus, I’ve been craving leafy greens as of late.

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Because of his heart attack, Mr. O has to limit his vitamin K so I stopped making things with spinach as often as I used to.  With his aversion to eggs, maybe I should just start making myself spinach and onion omelets for breakfast on the weekend while the rest of the household is asleep.  Hmm… I may be onto something there… 🙂

I did not miss the meat in these at all and was a stuffed little tick.  With all those carbs, who wouldn’t be?  Thankfully, I had had very few carbs and starches that day because I knew dinner was going to be a bread overload.

A yummy, yummy bread overload.  Now, don’t get scared by this recipe.  I know it looks long but it’s not difficult and still takes less time than ordering pizza!  I just simplified each step for you to show how you can manage the time to make these as quickly as possible.

Spinach & Mushroom Calzones
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Prep time: 
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Makes: 4 large calzones
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c pizza sauce
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 4½ tsp dry active yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 c hot water from the tap
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 8 oz sliced button mushrooms
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3 c bread flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 c white wheat flour (or all-purpose or bread flour)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 6 oz baby spinach
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Onion powder, to taste
  • ¼ c cornmeal
  • 8 oz mozzarella, shredded
  • Flour, for rolling the dough
Instructions
  1. If you don't already have sauce made, get that started and let it simmer on the stove while making the calzones.
  2. Position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  3. Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over med-high heat.
  4. While the pan is heating, in a large bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar, and hot water until the yeast is dissolved. Let set for roughly 10 minutes (a little longer won't hurt, if needed).
  5. In the heated skilled, add the garlic and stir for about 20-30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and stir until they look wet, about 1-2 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, thyme, salt and pepper and stir. Cook, stirring often until the mushrooms are soft and have started to release their juices, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon to a small bowl. Do not remove any of the leftover liquid.
  6. Add the spinach to the same pan and sprinkle with garlic powder and onion powder. Stir the spinach until it had wilted but is still bright green, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the spinach from the pan with a slotted spoon to another small bowl.
  7. Add the flour, 2 tsp salt and olive oil to the yeast mixture. Stir with a spoon until incorporated then finish mixing with your hands until well mixed. Let rest for roughly 5 minutes.
  8. Spray to large rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle with the cornmeal.
  9. If your cheese is not already shredded, I usually shred mine at this point.
  10. On a large flat surface, sprinkle a little flour and rub it around. This is to keep your dough from sticking. I usually use a large cutting board but a CLEAN counter or tabletop works, too. Take ¼ of the dough and roll it into a ball. If it is sticky, lightly coat it with floured hands. Roll it out to about ¼" thick and into a 8" x 12" rectangle.
  11. Over one half of the dough, sprinkle ¼ of the cheese, leaving a 1" border around the edges.
  12. Drain the mushrooms of any accumulated juice and top the cheese with ¼ of the mushrooms.
  13. Squeeze the moisture out of the spinach and top the mushrooms with ¼ of the spinach.
  14. Fold the untopped half of the dough over the topped half. Roll and pinch the edges together to seal the calzone.
  15. Carefully pick it up (it will stretch a little) and place it on half of one of the baking sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut 3 small slits on the top to allow steam to escape.
  16. Repeat with the rest of the dough, cheese and toppings.
  17. Place 1 baking sheet on the top rack and the other on lower rack. Bake for about 5 minutes then switch the baking sheets to the opposite racks. Bake 5-7 minutes more until golden brown.
  18. Let stand 5 minutes before serving with pizza sauce on the side.

 

 

Honey Garlic Chicken Pizza

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I have literally dreamt of this pizza since I made the honey-garlic fried chicken a couple of weeks ago.  You will like see a stir-fry version of it in the upcoming weeks as well because I am all but obsessed with the sauce.  For this pizza form, I added just a touch of crushed red pepper to the sauce to give it a very mild bite which I enjoyed and thought paired well with the sweetness of everything else.

The raw shredded cabbage and grated carrot got just wilted enough by the hot pizza so it was softened but still a bright coolness in my mouth.  This was definitely a pizza that I did not feel guilty eating!

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The guys weren’t quite as convinced as I was by this concept but they ate until they were full nonetheless. 🙂

This wasn’t difficult by any means.  It was just the pizza crust topped by diced chicken and mushroom in the honey-garlic sauce then topped with shredded veggies right after it was removed from the oven.  I love simplicity when it comes to cooking.

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The cold leftovers were not as good the next day and it didn’t reheat very well but there were only a couple of pieces leftover anyway so it didn’t matter too much.  Since I’m obviously on an Asian-flavor craze right now, having the flavors in pizza form was certainly a nice change of pace nonetheless!

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Honey Garlic Chicken Pizza
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Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 12 slices
 
Ingredients
  • 2¼ tsp active dry yeast (or ¼ oz packet)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 c warm water (hot water directly from tap)
  • 2½ c bread flour or all-purpose flour OR 1½ c bread flour (or AP flour) + 1 c white-wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 oz sliced button mushrooms
  • 1½ lb chicken breast, diced into ½" pieces
  • ½ c honey
  • ¼ c low-sodium soy sauce
  • ⅛ - ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 med carrot, peeled and grated
  • 5 oz shredded cabbage (1/2 a 10oz bag)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the hot water, gently stirring to break up any clumps. Let stand until creamy and almost doubled, about 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Set aside. I also use this time to dice my chicken.
  4. Stir flour, salt and oil into yeast mixture. Use hands to mix well. Let stand and rest 5 minutes.
  5. Press dough to shape on the baking sheet, making it as even as possible. Alternatively, you could also roll it on a floured surface to your desired size and transfer it to the baking sheet.
  6. Poke it several times with a fork and bake until cooked all the way through and golden, approximately 10-12 minutes. Removed from oven and set aside.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper. Set aside.
  8. While the crust is baking, heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are cooked through and softened. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
  9. Add the chicken to the pan and cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is only about half pink. Add the honey-soy mix and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
  10. Stir in the mushrooms and water chestnuts. Spread the chicken mixture evenly over the crust and drizzle with any remaining sauce in the pan.
  11. Place back in the oven and heat through for 3-5 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and top with the grated carrots and shredded cabbage.
  13. Slice and serve!

 

 

Cheesy Bacon Potato Chips

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I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this here or not, but up until I was about 25, I had a problem with binge eating.  The more stressed or depressed I was, the more I ate.  There’s a reason I gained 150 lbs in the first year that I was married to my ex-husband.  As soon as I realized I had a problem, I started taking steps to control it.

Now, I’ve never been a skinny girl and I have always been okay with that.  My weight has never defined me, but I didn’t want my eating habits to define me, either.  That’s not to say I never binge now but when I have that uncontrollable urge to do so, I tell myself that it’s okay!  As long as it’s just that once and I set a limit for myself.  Then that’s it.  It’s not easy to stop sometimes but I found that, for me, it’s easier to give in with limits than try to ignore that feeling and breaking into a horrible food frenzy.

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Another thing I learned in order to control the binging urge is to seek out the occasional comfort foods that are not horrible on the fat and calorie front.  Admittedly, bacon and cheese are high on that list but it doesn’t take much to feel satisfied.  Since I’m never sitting down and eating a whole package of bacon in one sitting or an entire block of cheese, I don’t feel guilty for my occasional indulgences.

Things have been a bit stressful around here lately and a couple of weekends ago, my binge urge was in high gear.  Since I had already given in to it (with yummy, yummy fast food  tacos that made my stomach hurt like a mofo but it was worth it!), I needed to find another outlet.  After trying a few of my non-food options, I decided to turn to the kitchen to find something that would work.

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I remembered seeing something in passing on Pinterest a while that looked like loaded slices of potatoes.  I couldn’t find the picture when I quickly tried to look just now but it was a pretty basic idea that I ran with.

I just used the mandolin to cut 1/4″ slices of potato which I then boiled for 4 minutes.  I rinsed them under cold water then laid them out on a greased baking sheet and seasoned them.  I broiled them for about 5 minutes, flipped and seasoned them again, and broiled them for about 5 more minutes.  After topping them with cheese and bacon, I broiled them again for a couple of minutes then stuffed them into my face.

Okay, not literally but they definitely fit the bill for comfort food that didn’t expand my waistline any more than it already is.  A single serving is under 300 calories and I was not the only one eating them. 🙂

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I think these would be amazing with a touch of sour cream and a sprinkle of green onion but I was quite happy to eat them just the way they were.

Cheesy Bacon Potato Chips
By: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3 med russet potatoes, cut into ¼" thick slices
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked crisp then crumbled
  • 4 oz Cheddar, shredded (1 cup)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Nonstick cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pot of water on high until boiling. Carefully add the potato slices and boil for 4 minutes.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, spray a large baking sheet generously with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Drain the potatoes and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle.
  4. Lay in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with half the salt and half the garlic powder. Broil 5"-6" from the heat on high for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes start to brown.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and flip the potatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and garlic powder and broil 4-5 minutes or until starting to brown.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven again and sprinkle the slices with the shredded cheese followed by the bacon. Broil another 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

 

Pork-Apple Burgers

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Every see a recipe and it’s just weird enough where you actually have to try to it just to see if it tastes as strange as you think it will?  This was one of those recipes.  I had to doctor it up just a little bit, of course, since I rarely make anything exactly as the recipe states, but these were amazingly good!

Even Mr. C said I need to make these again and he was the one I was the most concerned about since I was going to be adding a fruit to meat, not a combination that he typically cares for.  The soy sauce and ginger was a perfect flavor combination with the pork and apple and the chopped mushrooms added the needed texture change.  At the last moment, I decided to add just a bit of sweet chile sauce and shredded cabbage so this became the perfect pork burger with just a hint of Asian flair.

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When cooking these, you do need to be a little careful as they are not firm while still raw.  Make sure the bottom gets a good, strong sear then very carefully flip them to get a good sear on the other side.  Once they become easy to flip, you’ll know they are cooked through.

 

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I can see these being served on lettuce wraps or a bed of shredded cabbage instead of buns for a lower-carb/lower-calorie dinner treat.  Since I actually made these for lunch last weekend, I didn’t really make a side dish. I just ate them with some snow pea pods and cherry tomatoes.

Mr. O suggested making these into mini-meatballs which I think would be divine! I could also see substituting the apple for crushed pineapple for a “Hawaiian” flavor.  Because everyone knows that adding pineapple to something automatically makes it Hawaiian, right?  I’m just kidding, of course, but from a food stand point, it’s hard to deny that it does usually indicate pineapple as an ingredient.

 

Pork-Apple Burgers
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Makes: 6 burgers
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb reduced-fat ground pork (it usually has less sodium as well)
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • ¼ c low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 green apples
  • 6 burger buns
  • 2 Tbsp sweet chile sauce
  • Shredded cabbage
Instructions
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over med-high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, add the pork, chopped mushrooms, soy sauce, and ginger.
  3. Peel the apples then grate them directly into the bowl with the pork and mushrooms.
  4. Use your hands to mix everything together well.
  5. Shape the mixture into 6 even patties slightly larger than your buns.
  6. Place on the hot skillet and let them cook for 7-8 minutes before carefully flipping. Since the mixture is soft, work gently but quickly. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until the burgers are cooked through and register 160° in the center.
  7. Place the patties on the bottoms of each bun. Top each with 1 tsp of the sweet chile sauce and some shredded cabbage. Top with the other half of the bun and serve immediately.
Notes
Adapted from pg 192 "Family Cooking: 1,001 Recipes"

 

Beef & Broccoli (from the slow cooker)

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I love my slow cooker.  In the winter, I can come home to warm, delicious meals with little fuss and in the summer, I can keep my kitchen from getting over heated.  It’s a win-win all year long!  In the summer time, there is a part of me that wishes we had a grill because food off a grill always seems to taste better, whether it be charcoal or propane.

But then I step outside… no, thank you!  I am an indoor Sashi.  I’d rather heat up my air conditioned kitchen than stand outside in 84°F+ weather just to sear food.  A sweaty Sashi is a grumpy Sashi, as Mr. Consumer can attest.

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This beef and broccoli recipe is, in my opinion, good all year long.  Spooned over rice, it is just light enough for lighter summer appetites (though those don’t exist in my house 🙂 ) but warm and comforting enough for winter.  This is nothing like the beef and broccoli you can get from Chinese restaurants so I’m not exactly sure why I chose to add the chopsticks into the pictures.

I even ate this with a fork.  I guess it was just habit since I rarely use my white noodle bowls for anything other than make-at-home Chinese food.

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Of curse, the sauce does have soy sauce in it.  Ah, well.  The “Chinese food” we eat here in America isn’t really Chinese food anyway so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

The beef wasn’t supposed to be shredded but it was so tender and moist that it fell apart while I stirred the broccoli into the slow cooker at the end of the cooking time.  It actually worked out better that way since I was able to stir the leftover rice in with the leftover beef and broccoli for lunch the next day so i actually ate rice 2 days in a row!  Not bad for a non-rice fan. 🙂

Beef & Broccoli (from the slow cooker)
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Total time: 
Makes: 4 large servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2.5 - 3 lb chuck roast, cut into 1" cubes
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • ½ c low-sodium beef broth
  • ¼ c red wine
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ c low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 10 oz broccoli florets (~ 3 cups)
  • 4 cups cooked rice
Instructions
  1. Season the cubes of beef with salt and pepper and place in a 4-5 qt slow cooker.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, wine, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Pour over the beef in the slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on low 8-9 hours or on high 4-4.5 hours.
  4. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, stir in your broccoli and break up the pieces of beef. Cover and let the broccoli cook while you make the rice.
Notes
Adapted from Once A Month Mom

 

Cheese-stuffed Breadsticks with Quick Marinara

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Last night, a few hours after dinner, the guys were trying to convince me that we really needed to go out for tacos.  While I am normally all for tacos (any time, any place, from just about any where) I was not keen on this idea because 1) it was already after 9:30pm and B) I was already in my pajamas and didn’t want to go anywhere.

I really don’t keep a lot of snack foods in the house because, well, then I’d eat them whether I was hungry or not.  So I racked my brain trying to think of something I could make for a filling late night snack that wouldn’t take too long to prepare.  I couldn’t do my stand-by grilled cheese because we had no bread and the only cheese we had was mozzarella.  We had cherry tomatoes, carrots, etc. but let’s face it.  When you have a man-sized hunger, crudites don’t really do much to fill you up.

In the pantry, I spied an unallocated can of tomato sauce so my mind went right away to pizza.  My thought pattern basically went lie this: “I could make a quick cheese piz-OHMYGAWDICOULDMAKECHEESYBREAD!”  Like the kind you can get delivered!

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So, armed with just my recipe for quick pizza crust, I set about the task of making this easy and satisfying garlic bread stuffed with ooey-gooey cheese, topped with more ooey-gooey cheese, and brushed liberally with garlic butter.  Even the marinara sauce I threw together tasted better than anything I’ve ever had delivered.

This was one of those foods I made that left even me amazed that *I* had made it.  I love it when that happens. 🙂

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Just look at that cheese oozing out from the bread after it’d been cut!  Mr. Onion-hater said it was almost too much cheese.  Almost.

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The crunchy cheese on the top came out perfectly, too!  These breadsticks had just about everything: crunchy, chewy, soft, ooey-gooey and just full of YUM!

Was this a healthy snack?  Maybe not, but it was made from scratch in less time than delivery would have taken and didn’t come with all the artificial ingredients that delivery would have had, either.  AND  I was able to make it in my pajamas.  Which is a win in my book.  Granted, it wasn’t tacos but no seemed to complain. 🙂

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Since making this, I have so many other ideas that I could do in the same style!

Cheese-stuffed Breadsticks
By: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 12 breadsticks
 
Ingredients
  • 2¼ tsp active dry yeast (or ¼ oz packet)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 c warm water (hot water directly from tap)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp cornmeal
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese (2 cups shredded)
  • 2½ c bread flour or all-purpose flour (you can also substitute 1 cup white wheat flour for 1 cup of the other flour)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the hot water, gently stirring to break up any clumps. Let stand until creamy and almost doubled, about 10 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Set aside.
  4. If your cheese is not already shredded, shred your cheese while the yeast burps and bubbles.
  5. Stir flour, salt and oil into yeast mixture. Use hands to mix well. Let stand and rest about 5 minutes.
  6. While the dough rests, start your marinara sauce, if using. Also, melt the butter for 30-45 seconds in the microwave in a heatproof cup. Mix in the garlic powder and ½ tsp of salt. Set aside.
  7. On a floured surface, roll the dough in a rectangle that is approximately 10"x 14" with a long edge toward you.
  8. Stir the garlic butter well and brush half of the garlic butter over the dough, leaving about 1" of the dough butter-free around the edges.
  9. Sprinkle all but 1 handful of the shredded cheese over the long bottom half of the dough. Fold the top half of the dough over the bottom half, matching up the edges. Roll and pinch the sides and bottom seams of the dough together. Transfer carefully to the baking sheet and press slightly to flatten.
  10. Stir the remaining garlic butter well again and brush over the top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over that.
  11. Bake 10-15 minute or until the edges are golden brown and the cheese is a dark-but-not-burnt brown. Watch it carefully after 10 minutes!
  12. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into 12 breadsticks.
Notes
If you want garlic butter to dunk your breadsticks into, just double the butter (1 stick or ½ cup), garlic powder (1 Tbsp), and salt (1 tsp). Use ¼ of the mix for brushing the inside of the dough and ¼ for brushing the outside and use the remaining half for dunking.

Quick Marinara Sauce
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Makes: 2 cups
 
Ingredients
  • 15 oz can low-salt tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1½ tsp brown or raw sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • Small dash crushed red pepper flakes (I used a measuring spoon that is literally 1/32 of a teaspoon)
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together in a small saucepan over med-high heat.
  2. As soon as it starts to bubble and boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until it reaches your desired thickness. Let cool slightly before serving.

 

How do you satisfy late night hunger?

 

 

 

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