Share Your Best Post of 2008!

Did you write a post or an article for your blog during 2008 that you're particularly proud of? Why not share it with the rest of us?  

Paste a link to that post in the comments section below (along with an explanatory sentence or two on what the post is about), so all the readers here can enjoy it too.

Here's mine:  it's a longer essay I wrote that contained what I felt was some original thinking about food price inflation.  I consider it the best thing I wrote all year:

Stacked Costs and Second-Order Foods:  A New Way to Think About Rising Food Costs

What would you like to share?  It doesn't necessarily have to be about food or cooking--it can be a longer article or essay, some great humor writing, a post with exceptional photos, or your most popular recipe post from the past year.  Anything you'd like to share with a wider audience.

Here's to still more great blog writing in 2009! 

PS:  If you don't have a blog of your own, or if you're that one-in-a-million blogger who's too shy to promote yourself, why not nominate a "best article" from someone else's blog?

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by linking to me, subscribing to my RSS feed, or submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon.

My 2009 Cooking, Food and Diet Goals

There's no better way to prod yourself to reach your goals than to state them in a public forum, so today I'm going to share my 2009 food-related goals with you.

There are only five goals on this list: enough to be a challenge, but not enough to overwhelm. With any luck, pursuing these goals will generate even more of the insights, cooking tips and easy, low-cost recipes I try to bring to you here at Casual Kitchen. And that, I hope, will improve Casual Kitchen's value to you.

Readers--what cooking, eating and blogging goals have you set for yourself for 2009?
Casual Kitchen's 2009 Food Goals:

1) Learn to Bake Bread:
I've been talking about this for long enough--now is the time for action. My goal is to get competent at making at least a few different types of yeast-based breads over the course of 2009. Perhaps 2009 will be my year in bread.

2) Tackle Indian Cuisine:
Laura and I have already dipped our collective toe into Indian cooking, and I've already posted a mini-blogroll of easy Indian cooking sites (which has since grown into a much larger blogroll that I hope to share in a separate post in the coming weeks). But 2009 is going to be the year we dive into this cuisine in earnest.

3) Learn Hawaiian Cuisine:
We're going to be in Hawaii for a total of about four months in 2009 (it's kind of an extended vacation/sabbatical for both of us), and hopefully this will give me the opportunity to learn as much as I can about the cuisine of the USA's 50th state.

4) Increase Exploration of Partial Vegetarianism:
I love to focus on vegetarian meals here at Casual Kitchen because so many of the best recipes are both cheaper and healthier than meat-based meals. I intend to find, cook and post many more recipes of this sort in 2009.

5) Explore Raw Foodism:
I'm extremely curious about the raw foods movement, its potential health implications, and to what extent raw food can be a fundamental part of a diet for those of us who might be cooking on a budget. I don't see myself converting to raw foods entirely, but I plan to increase the percentage of raw foods in my diet in 2009. If my efforts yield any interesting blog posts, you'll be the second to know!

Related Posts:
Six Secrets to Save You from Cooking Burnout
The Pros and Cons of a High-Carb/Low-Fat Diet
Three Strategies to Create Space in Your Kitchen
Top Ten Most Popular Posts of Casual Kitchen

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by linking to me, subscribing to my RSS feed, or submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon.

Blog Improvement 101: CK Food Links--Friday December 19, 2008

Today's links post is ten of the best articles on blogging that I've found over the past year. I find myself referring to many of these articles repeatedly in my efforts to improve Casual Kitchen.

Hey, New Year's is only a couple of weeks away--what are your plans and goals for making your blog even better in 2009?

1) 50 Ways to Take Your Blog to the Next Level from
2) 20 Types of Pages that Every Blogger Should Consider from Problogger (I particularly liked the "sneeze page")
3) Eight Steps to a More Professional Blogspot Blog from Downloadsquad
4) SEO: Metrics that Matter from Practical eCommerce
5) 10 Mistakes that Could be Killing Your Blog from Write to Done
6) Seven Ways to Help Your Blogging Friends from The Simple Dollar
7) How to Build a High-Traffic Blog from
8) How to Create Real Value from
9) Nine Ways to Jumpstart Your Writing Goal from Dumb Little Man
10) Seven Can't-Miss Ways to Kick-Start the Writing Habit from Freelance Folder

Readers, are there any other articles that I've missed that you think are worth sharing?

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by linking to me, subscribing to my RSS feed, or submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon.

15 Creative Tips to Avoid Holiday Overeating

I have a long and storied history of overeating during the holidays, so much so that I know exactly where the Tums are in every home of practically every single member of my entire extended family. But a few years ago, I started to build my own personal list of tips and techniques that I use to survive a time of year when, for me, overeating is all too easy.

Today's list of tips will give you plenty of ways to resist holiday snacks and food, whether you're staying with family or in-laws, hosting the holidays at your own home, or even if you're at a holiday dinner out at a restaurant.

This list comes in two parts: Part I contains tips you can apply to prevent subversive overeating--the kind of overeating that occurs gradually, with you hardly even noticing, over the course of an entire day. Part II contains tips designed to help you once you sit down to a specific meal where you think you might be at risk of overeating.

Part I: Managing Food Intake Over the Course of the Day

1) Start The Day With Exercise

One of the best ways to set the right tone when you know you're going to be surrounded by food all day is to get in some exercise the very first thing in the morning. Any sort of physical activity will do: treat yourself to a brisk walk with family, go for a run, or play some tennis with your nephew.

Why at the beginning of the day? Three reasons: First, when you exercise first thing in the morning, not only do you start the day having burned a few hundred extra calories, but the exercise also helps suppress your appetite. Second, once you get started with the day's eating, you'll have less and less inclination to exercise as the day goes on. Third, the extra exercise will put you in a healthy frame of mind and help you resist the high-calorie food you'll be surrounded by all day long.

2) Make Your First Meal Mostly Fiber
Breakfast is often an informal meal at most homes, which means you'll be able to choose more carefully what you eat for this meal without offending your hosts. So take a pass on rich, energy-dense foods like eggs, sausage or pancakes, and have a small bowl of high-fiber/low-sucrose cereal and two or three pieces of fruit instead. Rather than starting the day off 1,000 calories in the hole, you'll fill yourself up with healthful antioxidants. And if you followed tip #1, you'll likely find that this is exactly the kind of food your body craves after healthy morning exercise.

3) Allow Yourself Some Treats....
Nobody likes a Grinch. I don't want to force you, especially during the holiday season, to gnaw on rice cakes all day and abstain from all cookies or goodies. So go ahead and indulge yourself a little, and enjoy a cookie or two, in moderation, every so often over the course of the day. However, when you do indulge, be sure to...

4) ...Alternate with Fruits and Veggies

Ah, there's always a catch, isn't there? After you've enjoyed your occasional cookie or other fiendishly energy-dense snack, make your next snack a piece of fruit or some raw vegetables. Alternate the good with the bad and you'll be able to have some holiday fun and still save yourself hundreds of calories over the course of a day. Try the alternating snack method this holiday season and see if it works for you.

5) Skip Lunch
Another idea to save yourself a few hundred calories is to skip lunch entirely. Normally, I wouldn't recommend skipping meals, but these are the holidays--you're surrounded by food all day long, and you're likely to end the day with an enormous dinner. You certainly aren't going to starve. If there's any meal you won't miss on days like today, it's lunch.

6) Brush Your Teeth
Would you like a powerful, foolproof and easy strategy that will prevent you from eating anything for a minimum of one hour? Just give your teeth a good brushing. There's no better temporary protection from snacking. Who wants to eat anything when you have a minty-clean mouth?

On any big eating holiday, you can use this technique a couple of times over the course of the day and you'll be shocked at how much less food you will consume.

7) Keep Track
Another powerful and foolproof strategy (although admittedly one that's not quite as easy to implement as brushing your teeth), is to keep track of the food you eat in written form. And when I say keep track, I mean literally writing down absolutely everything you eat over the course of the day.

This doesn't mean you have to show up to Christmas dinner with a pen and notepad like detective Harry Bosch. There are ways to do this with various degrees of discretion. For example, you can quietly retire to your room every hour or so to record the things you've eaten over that time.

But the basic concept at work here is this: what gets measured gets controlled. Just the simple act of writing down (and therefore observing) what you've eaten over the course of a day will cause you to eat less. This strategy is probably the most labor-intensive on today's list, but it is also the most powerful and effective.

Part II: Once You're Seated for Dinner:

8) The Two Glasses of Water Method
Everyone knows the old trick to drink a large glass of water before a meal. Water takes up extra room in your stomach and it contains no calories (actually, cold water contains negative calories, if you want to get all technical-like).

Think of this tip as the water method on steroids. By drinking two glasses of water instead of just one, you will have significantly less room in your stomach for food. You will likely eat much more sparingly. Interestingly, I find that I enjoy my food even more when I apply this tip, despite the fact that I end up eating quite a bit less.

9) Eat Half Portions
I always go back for seconds. There's something about that second plate of food that adds extra satisfaction to a big holiday meal. But let me tell you about one year when I did something really stupid: thinking I had discovered a way to eat more efficiently, I piled a double portion of food onto my plate, thinking I'd save myself a trip back for seconds.

Well, guess what? I outwitted myself and I still had seconds. And I had to lie totally still the rest of the evening to avoid doing a Mr. Creosote.

What I thought would be a quantum leap in eating efficiency actually taught me a valuable (if counterintuitive) lesson: the truth is it didn't matter how much I ate on that first trip: my meal wasn't going to seem complete until I made that second trip for more.

The next time you sit down to a huge holiday meal, use this counterintuitive logic to your advantage. For your first plate of food, eat a half portion of everything. If somehow you manage to avoid making a second trip for more, congratulations! But even if you still serve yourself that seemingly inevitable second plate, you've still only eaten two half-portions of food, which is just another way of saying one regular portion. At holiday mealtime, that's still a big victory.

10) Wait to Go Back For Seconds
Most people know that our stomachs tell our brains "I'm full!" with about a 20-25 minute lag. The reason it's so easy to overeat is simply because Mr. Brain doesn't think to tell Mr. Hand to stop ramming food into Mr. Mouth until it's much too late.

But we can turn this staggeringly unhelpful evolutionary trait to our advantage by combining the half portion method (tip #9) with a 15 minute delay. At your next holiday dinner, try eating a half portion for your first plate of food, and then wait 15 minutes before you go back for more. That oh-so-brief 15 minute lag, combined with the time you spent eating your first plate of food, should get your brain on the same page as your stomach. Result? You'll probably take much smaller portions for your second plate of food. Oh, and you'll score a rare victory over human evolution too.

11) Alternate Bites of Food with Drinks Water
Remember our tip #4 above, which recommended you alternate treats with healthy fruits and veggies over the course of the day? This tip is similar, but it's designed for the dinner table. It's easy to do: alternate every bite of food (and I mean every bite) with a swallow of water. Just put your fork in one hand and your glass of water in your other hand and take turns.

This technique aids in digestion, and it causes you to eat much more slowly. Your brain will catch up to your stomach and get the "I'm full!" signal before you've eaten too much, yet you won't really experience any feelings of deprivation or hunger. You'll be amazed at how much less you will eat over the course of a full meal using this strategy.

12) Don't Clear Your Plate

One of the less-than-helpful traditions dating from the Great Depression is the maxim, usually told to us by our parents, to clean your plate. Well, guess what? The rules have changed. You don't have to obey your parents, and it's not the Depression anymore (although, now that I think about it, what if history repeats itself and it is the Depression again?).

Uh, in any event, I give you permission to leave food on your plate this holiday season. This tip works particularly well with holiday dinners out, since you can take that extra food home and save yourself from cooking another meal later in the week.

13) Cut Back on Your Alcohol Intake
"You can't seriously want to ban alcohol. It tastes great, makes woman appear more attractive, and makes a person virtually invulnerable to criticism."
--Mayor Quimby

Alcohol may be the cause of, and the solution to, many of life's problems, but it can present particular difficulties at your holiday dinner table. Few foods are more disturbingly efficient at delivering excess calories into your body. And because alcohol is absorbed through your stomach, it only fills you up temporarily, thus letting you continue to drink and thereby ingest still more calories. So at your next holiday dinner, drink extra water instead of extra glasses of wine, and take a pass on the before-dinner cocktail or the after-dinner liqueur. Note: Do not follow this rule when staying with annoying relatives or in-laws.

14) Talk
Here's a radical tip for the next time you're sitting down at a big family dinner. Instead of concentrating on your food, why not ignore your food and concentrate on the family and friends around you? Have a few bites, but then put down your knife and fork and just talk. Ask a few questions of the relatives sitting closest to you, and get them talking too.

If you ask the right questions and get a really good conversation going, 20 minutes can go by in a flash. And of course another wonderful thing happens during those 20 minutes: your brain "catches up" to your stomach and figures out that you're full! Voila, you've just avoided overeating at dinner, and you've had an enjoyable time conversing with your family. I can't think of a better way to spend the holidays.

15) Save Room For Dessert
If you've successfully implemented some or all of the tips in this post, congratulations! You deserve to indulge yourself. This last tip is a rule-breaker of sorts that takes advantage of that curious breach of the laws of physics that happens at the end of every big dinner: no matter how much you eat, no matter how full you are, there is always room for dessert.

Well, help yourself to dessert then! And enjoy it, because you deserve a pat on the back for eating a lot less over this holiday season than in prior years.

But save that second piece of pie for tomorrow's breakfast.


Readers, what did I miss? Which of these tips did you find most effective? Which were the least effective? And what other tips have you found helpful that you'd like to share?

Related Posts:
The Dinner Party: 10 Tips to Make Cooking for Company Fun and Easy
The Pros and Cons of a High-Carb/Low-Fat Diet
When High-Fat Food Can Actually Be Healthy For You
Brown Rice: Dietary Penance

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by linking to me, subscribing to my RSS feed, or submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon.

How to Make Pernil: Puerto Rican-Style Roast Pork Shoulder

Today's recipe, pernil, or roast pork shoulder, is one of those ideal recipes that 1) seems a lot harder to make than it really is, and 2) will seriously impress your guests.

And it's a particularly fitting recipe for this time of year, as many Latin American families serve pernil for Christmas dinner. There is nothing like the aroma of a delicious roast like this filling your home on a cold December day.

This recipe also illustrates one of the key central themes I hope to convey to my readers here at Casual Kitchen: it is both easier than you think and less expensive than you think to make surprisingly fancy dishes in your own kitchen.

Even if you don't have much experience or confidence in the kitchen, you can cook fascinating, delicious and amazing recipes at home. You already have the skills inside of you--they just need a little nurturing. All you need is a little push and a little bit of encouragement (perhaps from a food blog like this one!), and you'll amaze yourself with what you can do.

And at the risk of being a little too didactic, let me share one more lesson that I learned from making this recipe: always keep your eyes open for cooking opportunities. The initial catalyst for this dish was finding a huge sale on pork shoulder in my grocery store at the preposterous price of $0.49 a pound. Thus a 4.5 pound pork shoulder, which pretty much fed the two of us for an entire week, cost only $2.27.

I thought that was a great deal, but it was nothing compared to the rush of amazement and gratitude I had when I pulled this roast out of the oven.

If you're in the grocery store, your local farmer's market, thumbing through an old cookbook, or even surfing some new food site in cyberspace, you never know when some amazing example of good fortune (or luck, or synchronicity, or whatever term you'd like to use here) might happen. If you can try to be in a frame of mind to notice and receive gifts like this, you'll be shocked at how cooking ideas and opportunities seem to rear up right in front of you.

And they are out there, like lucky pennies lying there on the ground, just waiting for you to pick them up.
Puerto Rican Style Roast Pork Shoulder
(adapted from Daisy Cooks)

A 4lb to 4.5lb pork shoulder, with skin on
Wet Spice Rub

Wet spice rub recipe:
12 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons vinegar

Up to three days ahead of the date you serve the roast, do steps 1 and 2. On the day you cook the roast you'll do steps 3 through 5.

1) To make the wet spice rub, grind the garlic and salt into a paste using a mortar and pestle (you can save yourself buying the extra kitchen items; we used the back of a heavy spoon in a smallish Tupperware bowl and it worked just fine). Add pepper and oregano, grinding and mashing to incorporate the spices into the paste. Stir in the olive oil and vinegar, mix well.
2) Once you've made the rub, use a very sharp paring knife to cut several slits in the pork shoulder, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Make the cuts as deep as you can, through the skin and well into the shoulder meat. Wiggle a finger into the slits to widen them, and then fill each cut with wet rub, using a small spoon. Do this on all sides of the pork shoulder. If you have any leftover wet rub, just smear it all over the outside of the roast. Refrigerate the roast, covered, for at least one full day (but preferably two to three days) before cooking.

To cook the roast:
3) Preheat the oven to 450F.
4) Set the roast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 1 hour, turn the heat down to 400F, and then cook the roast for another one and a half hours, or until a meat thermometer reads the meat in the center of the roast at 160F.
5) Let the roast "rest" for 15-20 minutes after you've taken it out of the oven. Then, pull off the skin (it should come off fairly easily in big pieces) and then carve the meat parallel to the bone with a large and very sharp knife. Pile the meat on a platter and enjoy!

Serves 5-6.

A few recipe notes:
1) Be sure to prepare the spice rub and do steps 1 through 3 a minimum of 24 hours ahead of time. However, if you can do these steps two to three days ahead and give the spices extra time to do their magic inside the meat, your roast will taste even more amazing.

2) The rule of thumb for cooking time for a pork roast (this applies for shoulders as well as other cuts like pork butt) is 30 minutes for every pound. Note that in this recipe the first hour is at a higher temperature.

3) There's a bit of an art to cutting the meat off of a pork shoulder, and I'll be the first to admit that I don't have a knack for doing it artfully. But it doesn't really matter--this meal is still going to taste absolutely amazing no matter the aesthetics. Just do your best, try not to waste any of the meat, and don't sweat it if it doesn't come out looking perfect.

4) You can consider using the leftover meat in sandwiches or in homemade fajitas or wraps for later in the week.

This post is part of Regional Recipes, Joanne Bruno's brilliant group blogging idea of traveling the world from our very own home kitchens! If you'd like to learn more, visit Joanne's blog Eats Well With Others.

Related Posts:
How to Make a Mole Sauce: Intense, Exotic and Surprisingly Easy to Make
Ten Tips to Save Money on Spices and Seasonings
Braised Pork in Guajillo Chile Sauce
When High-Fat Food ... Can Actually Be Healthy For You
How to Make Burritos

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by linking to me, subscribing to my RSS feed, or submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon.

Mint Melts: Teaching Kids to Cook With an Easy Cookie Recipe

Cookie recipes aren't something you'll typically find here at Casual Kitchen. But after having an absolute blast assisting my 14-year-old niece in making today's Mint Melts recipe, I realized a fundamental truth: yes, cookies might not be all that healthy for you, but they are a perfect teaching tool to get your kids interested in cooking.

Think about it--cookie recipes are easy. Kids of almost any age can participate. Very young kids can do basic tasks, like measuring flour or getting eggs and butter out of the fridge. Older kids, say nine- or ten-year-olds who have already had some practice baking, can do most of a basic cookie recipe by themselves under adult supervision. And of course, people of all ages love to play with--and eat--delicious, squishy cookie dough.

Some of my most vivid childhood memories involve working with my mom in a kitchen filled with the aroma of baking cookies. And these early experiences ultimately led to my lifelong curiosity and interest in cooking.

If you have kids, try making a batch of Mint Melts with them and see how much they enjoy it. The recipe has an interesting and unusual process step that kids will love, and of course the end product is absolutely delectable. And you never know, you might inspire a future cooking genius!
Mint Melts

3/4 cup margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water

1 12-ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 6-ounce package of Andes Candies

1) Heat butter, sugar and water over low heat until the butter is fully melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until uniformly melted. Cool 10 minutes, then pour into a mixing bowl and beat in the eggs.
2) Sift together dry ingredients (except Andes Candies), then mix with the liquid ingredients. Refrigerate dough for one hour. While the dough is being refrigerated, take the Andes Candies and cut each one in half with a sharp knife.
3) Roll teaspoon-sized balls of dough and place on a greased (or foil covered) cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes at 350F.
4) Remove from oven and immediately top each cookie with half of an Andes mint candy. When the candy has melted on top of the cookie, swirl the mint over the top of the cookie to complete the mint frosting.

Makes 40-60 cookies, depending on size.

A couple of brief recipe notes:
1) The unique and interesting part of this recipe comes when you put the mint Andes Candies on each cookie. I'll include a few quick photos to demonstrate. And make sure you have all of the Andes Candies cut in half and ready to go ahead of time; you don't want to be scrambling to prep them after the cookies come out of the oven.

As soon as you take the cookies come out of the oven, place half an Andes candies on each cookie. Then, wait just a couple of minutes...

...and as the Andes Candies melt, take your finger and smush it around on top of the cookie:

Make sure everyone licks their fingers repeatedly during this part of the recipe--it will help your family's collective immune system.

2) I'd ruin Casual Kitchen's entire reputation as a healthy food-related blog if I didn't include a brief warning on the health detriments of cookies. So here goes: Cookies are horribly energy-dense and they should not be eaten to excess. Just a half-dozen cookies from a typical cookie recipe can add up to 400-500 calories--which means that just a few inattentive moments of mindless eating, and all of a sudden you need to do a four mile run to get back to even! These little buggers can be dangerous.

Ah, but who says you have to eat them all? Enjoy a few, but then bring the rest of 'em to the office. Let your coworkers do the four mile runs.

Related Posts:
Seven Ways to Get Faster at Cooking
How to Team Up in the Kitchen
The Favorite Cookbooks of My Favorite Bloggers
The Greatest Chocolate Mousse in the World

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by linking to me, subscribing to my RSS feed, or submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon.

A Sincere Thank You to Casual Kitchen Readers

Today is Casual Kitchen's second anniversary, and I'd like to take this occasion to give all of my readers a sincere thank you for your comments, emails, insights and positive vibes. And to the many bloggers out there who have linked to me, I'm deeply grateful for your support.

Most importantly, I'd like to thank my readers for your attention. Your attention is your most valuable resource, and I will always do my very best not to waste it. I'm honored that so many of you spend time here.

Finally, let me leave with one piece of unsolicited advice for those of you who are thinking of starting a blog of your own: go for it! Choose a subject that interests you and start posting. And if you're worried that you don't know enough to start a blog, start one anyway. It's one of the best ways to learn.

Thank you for another great year.


Daniel Koontz

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by linking to me, subscribing to my RSS feed, or submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon.

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Here's an easy-to-make pasta sauce that's healthier, cheaper and better-tasting than anything you can buy in the grocery store.

It's low in sodium, it's vegetarian, and the roasted red peppers give the sauce an interesting depth of flavor you won't find in regular old tomato sauce.

Best of all, you can make this recipe in 25 minutes flat, and you'll have enough sauce to equal three jars of the store-bought stuff. I love recipes like this. It's almost unfair that a sauce this good can be this easy to make.

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

4-5 Tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon black pepper (more or less to taste)

2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, chopped coarsely
12-14 ounce can roasted red peppers, chopped
2 cups water

1) Heat oil in a large non-stick pan, then add onions, garlic and spices. Saute on medium heat for about five minutes. Add tomatoes, roasted red peppers and water. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to medium low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

2) Puree roughly 3/4 of the sauce in a blender or a food processor. Add back to the pan and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve over the pasta of your choice.

Makes about 2 1/2 quarts of sauce (about 80 ounces by volume).

Related Posts:
How to Make Risotto
Pasta Puttanesca
The Dinner Party: 10 Tips to Make Cooking for Company Fun and Easy
How to Modify a Recipe: The Six Rules

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by linking to me, subscribing to my RSS feed, or submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon.

Casual Kitchen's Top Five of the Month: November 2008

In my efforts to make Casual Kitchen more user-friendly, I'm going to roll out a new feature, the Top Five of the Month. This once-a-month post is for those readers who may not get a chance to read everything here at CK, but who still want to keep up with the best and most widely read articles. With one glance, you'll be able to see what your fellow readers have been focusing on over the past month.

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and feedback, either in the comments below or by emailing me at dan1529[at]yahoo[dot]com.
Top Five of the Month for November 2008:

1) Ten Tips on How to Cut Your Food Budget Using the 80/20 Rule
How to Make an Apple Pie with a Perfect Flaky Crust
Ten Tips to Save Money on Spices and Seasonings
How Are You Adjusting to the Economic Crisis? A Question for CK Readers
The Macchinetta: Stovetop Espresso Coffee

Top Ten Most Read Posts, All Time:

1) Ten Strategies to Stop Mindless Eating
Seven Ways to Get Faster at Cooking
Ten Tips to Save Money on Spices and Seasonings
The Granola Blogroll: The Ultimate Authority on Great Granola Recipes
How to Tell if a Recipe is Worth Cooking With Five Easy Questions
Why Spices Are a Complete Rip-Off and What You Can Do About It: The Spice Series Part 1
Eight Tips to Make Cooking At Home Laughably Cheap
Three Easy, Delicious and Inexpensive Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes
The Dinner Party: 10 Tips to Make Cooking for Company Fun and Easy
Stacked Costs and Second-Order Foods: A New Way to Think About Rising Food Costs

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by linking to me, subscribing to my RSS feed, or submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like, digg or stumbleupon.