Shirley’s Pizza Sauce (canning or freezing)

I grew up on this pizza sauce and I love it more than any other I have tried.  I know it may be too late for some of you to get good, ripe tomatoes right now, but this recipe will be around if you want to try it next year.

Please note:  We’re not Italian and I may not be telling you the proper way that you feel things should be done when one is making pizza sauce (like when to add spices, which spices to use, etc.). I’m just telling you the way we make it.  And yes, that is the word margarine that you see in the ingredient list.  I actually buy it special just for this recipe.


First, you put a pot of water on the stove and wait for it to boil (yeah, that sure is fun). Normal people blanch (shout-out to my favorite slutty Golden Girl) their tomatoes by waiting for the water to boil and putting the tomatoes in the water one at a time.  I have no idea if my mother did this or not.  I was busy doing something else.  Ahem.


When the skin on the tomato starts to split you take them out of the water with a slotted spoon. Please note Shirley’s blurry slotted spoon at the top of this picture.


And then you put (omg, plunge!) them in cold water. And seriously, you can add ice to the water to make this process work better for you, but my mother has no patience. She plops them in the water and immediately starts peeling the skin off of them. While they’re still fucking hot. And then she gets bitchy and yells at me when I’m taking too long trying to get a semi-decent picture.  Which I didn’t get because she makes me nervous with the bitching.  Vicious cycle.  I am abused.  Heh.


Remove the core/stem/whatever you want to call it part of the tomato and peel off the skin. My mom tosses them in a colander as soon as she does this.

Note: If you need more serious instruction on blanching tomatoes, you might want to try this site.


Put all of the skinned tomatoes back into a large pot and let it simmer on medium heat until they cook down. You can help them along by smashing/smooshing them with a spoon.


This is what it looks like at the beginning of cooking them down.


Cauldron.  Hair of dog.  Eye of newt.  Make this shit go KaPOOT!


I start adding the ingredients/seasonings after it’s cooked down a bit. And then we let it cook a while longer until we get the sauce as thick as we like it. Your kitchen will smell great.


We do half-pint and pint jars (we average about 10 pint jars). Or we put it in Ziploc bags and freeze it flat.

Shirley's Pizza Sauce (canning or freezing recipe)
This recipe is for pizza sauce that you can in pint size jars and let sit on your shelf - think Ragu® Pizza sauce only 150% better.
Original Source/Author:
: Pizza Sauce
  • ½ bushel tomatoes (steamed skins off/cooked open kettle until mushy)
  • Add:
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 3 cans tomato paste (6 ounce)
  • 1 stick of margarine
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 large (or 3 small) onions, chopped
  • ⅔ medium green peppers, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped basil leaves
  1. Steam skins off off tomatoes. Cook in open kettle until mushy.
  2. Add all other ingredients.
  3. Cook 2 hours or until sauce starts to thicken.
  4. Put into pint cars and process forty-five minutes in boiling water bath.


Caprese Salad – (Nance & Robyn make the same recipe)

Every week we’ll post a recipe that we both made. This week’s recipe was Caprese Salad, found over at Tasty Kitchen. Printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.

Robyn’s Take:

This week’s recipe was Nance’s choice, and I was TOTALLY on board. We’re getting tons of really great-looking tomatoes coming in from the garden (this is the first year I can honestly say that – we haven’t had much luck with tomatoes in the past), and so I was looking forward to using some of them for this recipe.

The ingredients are simple:

CapreseSalad (2)

Tomatoes, basil (I didn’t grow my own basil this year, unfortunately), mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar.

First, take two cups of balsamic vinegar and put it in a small pot over medium-low heat.

CapreseSalad (3)

How amazed was I that the entire bottle of balsamic vinegar was exactly two cups? SO amazed. And then I looked at the label where it said that the contents were 16 fluid ounces, and I was like “Oh. Duh.” When I bought it at the store, instead of even looking at the label I just glanced at the bottle and said “That looks like more than two cups. I’m sure it’ll be enough.”

I didn’t get a picture of the vinegar in the pot. You’re going to just have to use your imagination.

While the vinegar sat over the heat, I sliced my tomatoes in thick slices.

CapreseSalad (4)

Then sliced the mozzarella in thick slices, and arranged the tomatoes and cheese on a plate.

CapreseSalad (5)

And THEN tucked leaves of basil on top of the slices of mozzarella.

CapreseSalad (6)

When that was done, I stood over the pot of balsamic vinegar. It took several minutes to come to anything approaching a boil, and that only happened after I got annoyed and turned the heat up to medium. Patience is not my strong suit.

Hey, quick question: did you know that boiling balsamic vinegar steam kind of feels like mustard gas in your lungs? Did you? Because it totally does, and now I’m typing to you from life support because my lungs were destroyed by balsamic vinegar gas. THANKS NANCE. I went back and reread the recipe for the part where it says “Have your windows open and all the fans going, and don’t BREATHE IN the balsamic vinegar steam, you fucking idiot”, but they seem to have left that part out.


That shit boiled for what felt like three hours. I stirred and looked and pondered and thought, and I was like “This is NOT getting thicker. What the hell?” Finally, when it had been 20 minutes, I decided to take it off the heat because I was afraid it would all just boil away, and I was not going to the store to buy another bottle. I poured it into the measuring cup and found that it had reduced to just over 1/2 cup.

That’s right, y’all. I had MADE A REDUCTION all by myself!

WHO’s the fancy bitch with 73 cats who can make a fancypants balsamic reduction? WHO?

CapreseSalad (10)
Cap’n Floofypants was terribly impressed, as you can see.

After the reduction cooled off (and it got thicker as it cooled, by the way), I drizzled a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes and mozzarella, and then I drizzled the reduction over that. The original recipe offers that you can “make designs if you want.” But, um, no. I don’t want. But thanks anyway. Sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and it was time to eat!

CapreseSalad (11)

The verdict? It was surprisingly good! I mean, I knew we’d like the tomatoes and mozzarella because that’s how we eat tomatoes all the time, but I liked the balsamic reduction far more than I expected. Two thumbs up from me.

Fred declared it good, but “too basil-y.” I think that next time I’ll use a lot less basil.

I also refrigerated the leftover balsamic reduction, and used it for the next several days as a dip for my cherry tomatoes (we’re eating a lot of tomatoes these days). ‘Twas really really good. I’m definitely going to make this again – though I’ll be sure to wear my gas mask next time.


Nance’s Take:


This recipe starts out easy enough.  You cook the hell out of balsamic vinegar until it reduces into a syrupy sauce (reduction) that you think will be good once you pour it over tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  If you told me a few years ago that I would ever be using balsamic vinegar to cook with, I would have not known what you were talking about because balsamic vinegar was not a part of my world.  I was this close to being one of those plain folk.  THIS CLOSE, PEOPLE.  Thank God for the Internet!

The really sad part is that most of you think I’m just bullshitting up there and it’s the truth.  My world was small.  Very small.


This is me trying to be like that goody-two-shoes Robyn.  There is one very important ingredient that is missing from this picture and there is a reason.  A horrifying reason that you will find out soon enough.


Rumor has it that this smells like hell while it’s cooking.  I wouldn’t know because I put my husband in charge of it.  If it takes more than 5 minutes of my attention, I bail.  I honestly cannot help it.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:  This is the perfect time to invest in an iPod and start downloading podcasts.  I follow quite a few podcasts and they have saved many a meal from destruction.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on what kind of mood I am in) my family likes to be around me.  If they’re around me while I’m cooking and I can’t listen to podcasts (due to their constant talking and/or the fact that it would be rude to ignore them), then I just put their asses to work.

For those that skimmed:  I just took the long way to explain that I wasn’t the one that made the actual reduction.  Moving on.


When it was done (although we really were not sure what done meant because no one bothered to time it) we put it in a measuring cup and set it to the side.


It’s amazing how wasteful it feels when you see the amount that two cups “reduced” really is.  Just remind yourself that the taste is incredible so it’s worth it.


My “log” of mozzarella cheese.  I sent my youngest son to the store for it and I really wasn’t sure what I was going to end up with.  Most 18-year-old males only know that mozzarella is the cheese that is used on pizza.  And most 18-year-old males pretty much assume that it ends up there by magic.  I was truly surprised when he brought home the right thing.


True Confession (s):  I cannot cut a tomato.  I cannot cut (or do) anything that requires using both hands.  My left hand is completely useless and nobody (including myself) can figure out how it is that I can type.  I am completely screwed if I have a freak accident and lose the use of my right limb.  There, now you know my kryptonite.


The husband is doing an excellent job slicing my tomatoes.  But I absolutely loathe the cutting board he’s using.  Unfortunately, we have tried others and we always go back to this cheap plastic one.  Tack. Ass.


All done and ready to go.  We only had three ripe tomatoes so we were totally making do with this recipe.


We had basil plants outside that we completely neglected.  This was the ingredient that was missing in the earlier picture.  Rick managed to pluck the very few leaves that looked “edible” and we placed them strategically (we also had to unroll them which makes me think that they could have used some life support).  I had planned to crop the picture so that no one would ever know, but then I realized that I do not live at Crooked Acres (™ The Anderson’s).  And I have more important things to do (hello, Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes/Suri/Scientology!) than worry about tending to a garden.


Please note that I am trying to show you how I pour olive oil on the tomato/mozzarella/basil (shut-up) mess, but I’m sure you can figure out that I was no where near the actual plate.  It’s HARD to take pictures and pour at the same time.


glug, glug, glug.  I poured that shit all over the place.


Once again, did not actually pour until the picture was already taken.


I had the audacity to attempt a design.  As you can tell, that went to hell pretty quick.  Check out that Zombie basil hanging in there, man.  It totally needed a bullet to the brain.


I salt and peppered the shit out of this thing.  And then we pulled the zombie basil out and ate the entire thing.  And it was fabulous.  Although Shirley (my mom) didn’t care for it because of the whole white cheese thing.  White cheese chokes people, remember?  Now forget I even wrote that because it’s just a bullshit thing that HER PARTICULAR BRAND OF CRAZY BELIEVES.  White cheese is not a cold-hearted killer.  I promise.


Caprese Salad - (Nance & Robyn make the same recipe)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Original Source/Author:
: appetizer, salad, side dish
Serves: 8
  • 2 cups Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 (or more) whole Ripe Tomatoes, Sliced Thick
  • 12 ounces Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced Thick
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Olive Oil, For Drizzling
  • Kosher Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  1. In a small pot, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium-low heat (or get annoyed and turn the heat up to medium.)
  3. Cook for 10 - 20 minutes or until balsamic vinegar has reduced to a thicker glaze (or until it has clearly reduced by a lot and you're worried it will boil away to nothing.)
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool (it'll get thicker as it cools, especially if you stick it in the fridge.)
  5. Arrange tomato and mozzarella slices on a platter. Arrange basil leaves between the slices.
  6. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the salad, getting a little bit on each slice. Do the same with the balsamic reduction.
  7. Store extra balsamic reduction in fridge for a later use.
  8. End with a sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper.


Saks Fifth Avenue Tomato-Basil Bisque

Every week we’ll post a recipe that we both made. This week’s recipe was Tomato Bisque,  found over at cdkitchen.  The printable version of the recipe is at the bottom of the page.

Robyn’s take:  

Nance chose this week’s recipe. Well, first she sent me a recipe for stuffed green pepper soup, and I was all “PASS!” and then she suggested tomato bisque and I was like “Well, I’ve never had it before. I’ll give it a try!” I even said something about expanding my horizons, which makes me a big ol’ dork.

I looked at the recipe and thought “Well, it just sounds a lot like a thick tomato soup!” and somewhere in my brain, I had the knowledge that Fred likes tomato soup, and so I thought “Well, this will be a good one.”

AU CONTRAIRE. Apparently His Majesty does not care for tomato soup, and so I could sense his resistance from the very beginning of this venture. But I forged ahead, gathered my ingredients, and made the damn stuff.

It’s fairly simple, the only difficult part was the chopping of veggies, and god knows I like me a simple recipe.


TomatoBisque (1)

Butter, onion, celery, flour, garlic, diced tomatoes, fresh basil, tomato puree, beef stock, heavy whipping cream, and a bay leaf.

Heat the butter in a large stockpot, toss in your diced celery and onion.

TomatoBisque (2)

Saute it ’til the onion is transparent. Five minutes or so, I think? One tablespoon at a time, sprinkle flour over the onion and celery, then stir in until it’s all paste-like. Add the rest of your ingredients. The recipe has annoying instructions like “stir in beef stock and tomato puree slowly”, but I just put everything in there at once, then stirred it all together. Because I am a renegade. The soup should be a rose color, says the recipe, and it was!

TomatoBisque (3)

Then you toss in your bay leaf and put the temp on low and simmer for about an hour. You might be tempted to cook on a temperature other than low. I advise against this. With the wisdom I have gained in a lifetime of “GOD, why won’t this stuff COOK, I’m going to just crank it up on high!”, let me inform you that there’s nothing tomato-based stuff loves more than to burn to the bottom of the pot. If you cook this stuff on a too-high temp, you’ll end up with a bunch of it burned to the bottom of the pot, I guarantee it. Keep it on low!

After an hour of simmering and occasional stirring, the bisque was done. I made grilled cheese sandwiches to eat with it, and I dished up bowls of the bisque for each of us.

TomatoBisque (4)

And the verdict? I liked that it was creamy and tasty, and I actually think it might be good served over a bed of rice. But I am sad to inform you that neither of us much cared for it. I wouldn’t say we hated it – if we were served it at someone else’s home, we’d eat it and we’d like it. But we wouldn’t go out of our way to make it at home, and it won’t be going into the recipe box.



Nance’s take:

Fucking Robyn refused my suggestion of Stuffed Pepper Soup for this week so I had to look up Tomato Bisque recipes.  I had never heard of tomato bisque until I went to a restaurant in Ohio and tried it (shout out to Rockne’s in Ohio).  The whole situation is weird because I don’t normally order soups and stuff like that when I’m in a restaurant (too messy – I’m extremely uncoordinated).  I thought it was so good that I wanted to try to make some at home, but I promptly forgot about it until Robyn put the kabosh on my Stuffed Pepper Soup idea.  For the record:  I hate stuffed peppers so I have no idea why I wanted to try the soup – I will be trying it one of these days, just not with the killjoy named Robyn, and I promise to record the experience.

So yeah.  I have to admit to a couple of things first.  On the day I decided to make this soup I was very unprepared.  All I know is that it was cold outside and I thought a good bowl of hot soup was the way to go.  Unfortunately, I had not been to the store and did not have the exact ingredients at hand.  A normal person would have waited.  But this is when I decided to give you the make-do experience.  What?  Everybody has to learn how to make-do with what they have in this world.  If you don’t know how to do that, you’re pathetic.  Yes, I said it.  Yes, I judged.  As my tube-top, sweatpant wearing mother would say, “You gotta make-do with what you got.”  And you sit there and wonder why my writing is so atrocious.  Table for one, Captain Obvious?


The first thing that I didn’t have was a 16 oz can of beef broth. I had to make-do with these little beef stock cups from Knorr. I remember thinking that they were ridiculously expensive and the only reason I bought them was because I had a coupon. I also remember thinking that I will not be buying them again because even with a coupon they were still too expensive. In my world, beef broth should not be expensive. But in all fairness, I suppose these little cups would be perfect if you lived in an RV (camper) and space was at a premium. So yeah, I’m technically not bashing these little cups of stock. If you have money for an RV and traveling all over the country, you would probably not cringe at the price of this stock. OHMYGAWD, can I go on any more about the goddamn stock? Shut the hell up, Nance.

I had to do some math to figure out that 2 Knorr containers equals 2 cups and 2 cups equals 16 ounces of beef broth. MATH, bitches! It makes the world go ’round. And God, please let me be right because how embarrassing would that be?

Moving on…


I had no half rib of celery (and no fresh onions), but I did have that stuff in my freezer. Interesting fact (maybe): I never knew you could freeze onions until I read a blog entry that Robyn’s husband (Fred) wrote in which he bought frozen onions one time at Publix. I had a lightbulb over my head moment and that was the end of my money wasting on onions ways.  Go, Fred!


Blah, blah, blah. All you’re doing is making a roux. Don’t know what a roux is? Google it. This is how you learn. You’ll thank me later. Fine, I’ll do it for you. Learn how to make a good roux and you can do just about anything.


Go to your grocery produce section and look for this. Because this has seriously saved my ass plenty of times. I’m in a rural area that takes for goddamn ever to get to a decent grocery store. With this in my refrigerator, I’m gold.


When one does not have the correct ingredients you make-do.


See what I mean?


And then I strained them into my pot. But I’ll do full-disclosure here by telling you that the minute I dumped some of those goddamn tomatoes out, it started to take forever to strain and I said, “FUCKTHIS!” and just put the blended tomatoes into the pot, seeds and all. It’s NOT that big of a deal. And I figure that most people reading this are just not that precious. We’re a practical bunch (I hope). Except Robyn. She’s too precious for stuffed peppers. Hee!

More full-disclosure: I used half and half instead of heavy whipping cream and I skipped the bay leaf business because I didn’t have any.


When it was all said and done I had a beautiful, delicious bowl of soup bisque that I loaded with homemade croutons because I am a total fatty.  I’m going to go ahead and say that I liked this recipe even with making the changes because I don’t think I mixed it up too much.  And from reading Robyn’s entry above we should probably say that your mileage may vary.  Different strokes, man.  Different strokes. Heh.

Saks Fifth Avenue Tomato-Basil Bisque
Original Source/Author:
: Soup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • ½ rib celery
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cans (16 ounce size) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cans (16 ounce size) tomato puree
  • 1 can (16 ounce size) beef stock
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat butter in a large stockpot. Dice onion and celery and add to pot. Saute until the onion is transparent. Sprinkle flour over onions one tablespoon at a time, stirring in each one thoroughly with a large spoon until paste forms. Add garlic, diced tomatoes and basil, and stir. Stir in tomato puree and beef stock slowly, then whipping cream. The soup should be a rose color. Add bay leaf and simmer on low for about an hour. Remove bay leaf before serving.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
A commenter on the cdkitchen site said that the recipe can sizes varied from what she was able to buy in the store. She just used what she had (which is only a few ounces difference) and it worked out fine.