Tag Archives: tomato sauce

Deep-Dish Pizza



Food competitions based on geographical area are always entertaining. For starters, we all know Philadelphia is the only place on the planet you can get a real-deal, authentic cheesesteak. Imposters in other cities selling “Philadelphia-style” cheesesteaks are frauds and true Philadelphians know better than to even think of ordering the sandwich outside the area, otherwise you’re up for disappointment. New York claims their bagels are something special and even attempts to participate in the soft pretzel category. Personally, I don’t think that’s even worth arguing; Philly’s perfected soft pretzels, too.

We even have a good shot at the best pizza outside of Italy. Fishtown alone has some of the city’s best spots – from Pizza Brain, to Pizzeria Beddia, to the handful of other small shops the neighborhood has been home to forever –  I would say we are lucky enough to never have trouble finding a place close enough that they’ll deliver a quality pie to your door. Until recently, though, our city was not typically thrown into the mix when it came to the great pizza debate.  Read More…

White Bean & Tomato “Stoup”

Remember when this winter wasn’t supposed to be like last winter? It seems, with the snow we’ve been getting, we were fooled. Since our local bow-tie-wearing weatherman has revised his snow total expectancy for the winter of 2011, I’ve been working hard to make sure we have plenty of “fuel” in the fridge and cabinets since, at this rate, you never know what to expect.

Since it’s difficult to stock the fridge with food that will stay fresh until the next snowpocalypse, I focus on maintaining the stock of dried, canned, and even frozen goods. At this point, there are an infinite number of dishes that would result from a varying combination of canned or frozen vegetables, pasta, rice, beans, and other goodies, all hearty enough to make you forget about shoveling your car out. This one, for sure, is warm, filling and just a tad spicy; the perfect mixture of each to help you brave the cold.  Read More…

Stuffed Cabbage

My 8-year old self would have scoffed at my twenty-something self if she knew I made a dish centered around cabbage. I would then explain, over her laughter, how I actually liked it, and that she’d be amazed at the slew of things she would one day enjoy. The leafy, bitter vegetable falls under the heading of “Things I Would Have Never Eaten as a Child,” with brussel sprouts, kiwi, and seafood. If the 8-year old me thought it was ridiculous that she would one day like the taste of cabbage, she would be speechless at the thought of devouring a sushi roll.

My library of cookbooks includes a giant compilation of Cook’s Illustrated dishes, separated into chapters by the regional cuisine they represent. This has made it especially easy for my recent appreciation for Eastern European dishes, and this section of the book includes a pierogi recipe (similar to the one I just tried), beef goulash, and blintzes. The stuffed cabbage recipe was impossible to pass over: reading the description for Stuffed Cabbage with Sweet and Sour Tomato Sauce made me salivate to the point where I had no choice but to satisfy the craving I had just created. Read More…

Homemade Spaghetti O’s

Spaghetti O’s bring me back to a simpler time, when I was an innocent little girl, chubby, happy and hungry. My grandmom made sure her cupboard was stocked with several cans, and would heat them up on the stove for my cousins and I. The cute smiley face with pasta “O” eyes was always so inviting, maybe even more so than the cartoon pasta “O” that is featured on the can now. Inside, though, has always been the same deliciousness that some may call an “acquired taste.” Spaghetti O’s were my go to in high school, after practices or club meetings, and have certainly nourished my hunger and soul in college. Now though, as a “grown up,” I realize Spaghetti O’s probably aren’t the greatest lunch (or dinner) and certainly won’t feed my hunger.

Though I like to think I shed some baby fat over the past 20 years, and probably lost some innocence along the way, I will forever be happy and hungry. Every now and then I stare down the canned pasta at the grocery store, argue with my inner child, and keep walking. Lately, that inner child has been throwing a crazy temper tantrum, and I can’t help but give in.

Instead of buying this nostalgia-in-a-can, I knew someone, somewhere had a homemade version that I could try, with potential for a healthier meal: Oven Love to the rescue!

Homemade Spaghetti-O’s

From Oven Love

6 cups canned tomato sauce
3-4 cups water
2-3 teaspoons garlic powder (depending on how garlicky you like it)
1 lb bag anelletti (ring shaped pasta- you could use any small pasta- alphabet or stars would be fun!)
1-1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (fresh shredded is best!)
1/4-1/2 cup milk
2 tbs butter
salt, to taste

1. Combine tomato sauce, water and garlic powder in a large pot. Bring to a boil.
2. When the tomato mixture is boiling, add the pasta to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently (the pasta is tiny, so it’s easy to stick to the bottom) for about 20 minutes, or until the pasta is soft.
3. Stir in cheese until melted. Add milk, butter and salt to taste. Taste it, check it out, see how you like the flavors. Then enjoy it!

This is the real deal, people. It looks, smells and tastes exactly like the store bought version! Now, I realize the cheese/butter/milk combo isn’t exactly healthy, but when you consider the control you have when you’re making the recipe, this is probably a better option than canned pasta. Plus…it’s so worth it.

I halved the recipe and had enough for a Sunday lunch for two, dinner for one, and lunch at my desk. My measurements tended to be on the lower side of what was suggested, and though the fresh-from-the-stove serving had the exact same consistency as the original, my leftovers had less sauce (which was still tasty). Also, I used Fiori pasta, which I thought would take longer to cook, but took less than 20 minutes.

Though I’ve eaten them thousands of times, and have clearly seen the label reads “a mild, delicious tomato and cheese sauce…” I could never taste the cheese in the original version. The sharp cheddar in Oven Love’s version shines through slightly, but offers a mellow counterpart to the sharp tomato taste. The noticeable cheese flavor could also be partly due to the fact that you get to stand over a hot bowl of tomato pasta and watch the shredded cheese melt and consume the pot.

Not only will I be making this again, I’ve also considered what additions could dress it up. Like the canned meatball and frankfurter options, I’m thinking of adding a protein. Crumbled bacon would probably be perfect.

This recipe lived up to my expectations, satisfied my craving for Spaghetti O’s and brought me back to a time when nutrition facts and ingredients didn’t matter. All that was missing was that cute smiley face with the pasta “O” eyes.

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