World Series Pizza

I made this pizza on Sunday to eat while watching what my husband and I hoped – and turned out to be – the final game of the World Series. My hubby is a San Francisco Bay Area boy – born and raised in the East Bay – so we were quite happy to see the Giants sweep the Series (although the Tigers made them earn that last win). What better way to enjoy the all-American pastime than with a dish that has become so much a part of American cuisine.

My particular pizza is of the Chicago deep dish variety and baked to decadent perfection in my “Monster” cast iron skillet. This recipe is a little labor-intensive – the homemade dough needs to proof for about an hour – but it scores a grand slam in flavor and heartiness.

If you don’t have a “Monster” skillet, try baking this in a deep dish pizza pan or rectangular baking dish.

Ingredients
Dough:
1 tsp. Sugar
1 package Dry Yeast
1 cup Warm Water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp. Salt

Topping:
3 Sweet Italian Sausages
3/4 lb. Lean Ground Hamburger
1 cup chopped Red Onion
1 (8 oz.) package Sliced Mushrooms
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
Olive Oil
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste or Ketchup
1 tsp. dried Oregano
1/4 tsp. Fennel Seeds, crushed
2 (8 oz.) cans Tomato Sauce
1 Tbsp. Cornmeal
8 oz. shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan Cheese or Pecorino Romano Cheese

To prepare the dough, combine the yeast and sugar in a large bowl

and dissolve in the warm water. Let it stand for 10 minutes.

Add 1 cup of flour and the salt to the yeast mixture.

Whisk together until combined.

Add 1 3/4 cups of flour and combine until a dough forms.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes. Use the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to add to the dough when it sticks to your hands.

A nice elastic ball of dough should form.

Coat a bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, coating its surface with the oil.

Cover the bowl and place it in a warm, draft-free area so the dough may rise to twice its size. This will take between 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare your pizza toppings. Brown the ground beef and onion in a skillet.

Once the beef is browned, remove it and any grease from the skillet.

Next, sear the Italian sausage for about 5 minutes, turning so each side is browned.

Remove the sausage from the skillet once browned. The sausage should not be cooked completely through – it can be fairly pink inside. It will cook through when the pizza bakes. Once the sausage is cool enough to handle, slice into bite-size disks.

Add a few teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet and saute the mushrooms and red pepper for about 5 minutes.

Once the shrooms and peppers are soft, remove from the skillet.

On to the pizza sauce. Add the garlic to the hot skillet and cook for 30 seconds until it begins to brown. Next add the tomato paste or ketchup and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Add the fennel seeds and oregano…

and the tomato sauce.

Simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Time for the seventh inning stretch…let’s put this pizza together! Coat a 12-inch cast iron skillet with oil and sprinkle the cornmeal over the bottom.

Once the pizza dough has risen, punch it down and let it sit for another 5 minutes. Pizza, like baseball, is a game of patience.

Spread the pizza dough over the bottom and up the sides of the skillet.

Combine the two cheeses in a bowl. Cover the dough with half of the cheese mixture. Yes, cheese on the bottom of the pizza.

Next, add the hamburger and onion mixture.

Then the mushrooms and peppers.

The pizza sauce.

The Italian sausage – yes, it is rare in the center and will cook completely while baking in the oven. Trust me!

Finally, sprinkle the remainder of the cheese mixture over the pizza.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 40 minutes until the crust browns and the topping bubbles. Let the pizza stand for 10 minutes before serving. Bases loaded, home run, grand slam pizza. Enjoy!

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The Health Benefits of Cast Iron

So posts this week have been pretty light – quite frankly, non-existent. The reason? I’ve just been super busy (dog trial, agility awards dinner, crazy work deadlines, etcetera, etcetera) and not able to cook much this past week. I’ll be back in the cast iron swing of things soon and I have some fun dishes planned for future posts. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I thought I’d cover some of the health benefits and sustainable reasons for cooking with cast iron.

  1. Because cast iron pots and skillets are so well-seasoned, they have a natural non-stick surface, meaning you don’t need to use as much oil or butter when cooking. And that’s good for the love handles.
  2. Cast iron cookware is free of potentially harmful chemicals that are found in non-stick pans like those with Teflon surfaces. Many non-stick pans are made with perfluorocarbons or PFCs, which are known to be highly toxic and carcinogenic. PFCs are released and inhaled from non-stick pans through fumes when the pans are heated on high heat. They can also be ingested if a non-stick pan is scratched. I’ve had a few scratched up Teflon skillets in my time. I don’t use them any more. I strive for a Teflon-free kitchen.
  3. Cast iron fortifies your food with iron, which is good if you have an iron deficiency or want to avoid taking Geritol. One of my Dutch oven cooking buddies was instructed by his doctor to cook in a cast iron skillet once a week to help avoid becoming anemic. Geez…I’m on my way to becoming Iron Man.
  4. Cast iron is made to last a lifetime, if properly maintained. My mother used her cast iron skillet for decades and many of my friends have skillets and Dutch ovens that belonged to their parents and grandparents. Cast iron is very vintage.
  5. Cast iron cleans easily by using hot water, a stiff brush and a little vinegar. No soap is required. Many dish soaps contain high levels of phosphates which act much like fertilizers, increasing algae and aquatic weed growth in bodies of water. Wastewater containing phosphates can end up in lakes, rivers and streams. Cast iron can be very eco-friendly.
  6. Cast iron is versatile, as I’ve tried to demonstrate through this blog. One cast iron skillet can be used on the stove, in the oven, on the grill, and over the campfire. You can cook multiple dishes in a cast iron skillet, meaning less equipment to purchase for your kitchen. Unless you’re a total addict like me.
  7. Cast iron is affordable. My favorite Lodge skillet cost around $25 and is the most used piece of cookware in my household. And since I intend to be cooking with it when I’m 90, I’d say that’s the best $25 I’ve ever spent.

Sources:

EatingWell Magazine
sustainablebabysteps.com

Turkey, Bacon and Avocado Panini with Chipotle Mayo

Who doesn’t love a grilled sandwich? They are, for me, one of the best comfort foods around. They are quick to make and go well with soup or salad – or are quite tasty just by themselves. The Italian panini takes the grilled sandwich far beyond the American grilled cheese variety. I love them.

I don’t own a panini press, but I am still equipped with a ribbed cast iron griddle and bacon press that enables me to make any ‘ol panini any ‘ol time. If you own a panini press, I hope you use it often.

This particular panini recipe has many of my favorite ingredients – turkey, avocado, bacon (isn’t everything better with bacon), and provolone cheese – and it is smothered in a dynamic spicy chipotle mayo that takes all the ingredients to another level.

Ingredients
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Sour Cream
1 chopped Chipotle Pepper in Adobe Sauce (remove the seeds for a milder flavor)
1 tsp. Lime Juice
Lime Zest from one lime
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Cilantro
2 Tbsps. Butter, softened
4 slices of thick Wheat or Multigrain Bread
4 slices of Provolone Cheese
4 – 6 slices of Deli Turkey
4-5 slices of Bacon, cooked
1 ripe Avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

Fry four to five slices of bacon in a cast iron skillet. Once cooked, remove and drain on a paper towel.

While your bacon is sizzlin’ add the mayo in a bowl.

Next add the sour cream…

and the chipotle pepper. Remove the seeds first if you can’t take the heat in the kitchen.

Next, add the lime zest and lime juice.

Finally, add the cilantro.

Combine all ingredients until a creamy colorful mayo appears.

Butter four slices of bread on one side.

Flip the bread over and smother the other side with that delicious chipotle mayo.

Cover the mayo side of the bread with a slice of provolone cheese.

On two slices of bread, add a couple of slices of the deli turkey.

Tear two slices of bacon in half and place them on top of the turkey.

Place the slice of bread with provolone on top. Place the sandwich on a hot grill.

Place a bacon press on top of the sandwich and grill for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese melts.

Flip it over with a spatula and grill the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. Look at those gorgeous grill marks. A feast for the eyes.

Look at that panini oozing with cheesy goodness.

Remove the panini from the grill and pull it apart. Add the avocado slices and put the sandwich back together.

Slice and serve. Then make another one. By the way, this recipe comes to you “Husband Approved.” My hubby ate his sandwich and half of mine. Hard to keep them on the plate. Enjoy!

Choco-Pumpkin Johnnycakes

Johnnycakes are the cornmeal cousin to pancakes and date back as far as colonial America. Today, they remain popular in New England. Hoecakes are the southern variety. Both are usually cooked on a griddle or in a skillet. I decided to bake mine, making them like a dense muffin. I had a cup of canned pumpkin left over from my Upside-Down Cranberry Rumpkin Skillet Cake and a bag of devilish special dark chocolate chips, so Choco-Pumpkin Johnnycakes were born.

Johnnycakes are not very sweet, which is actually something I like about them. They can be served as a side to a savory dish or doused with warm maple syrup for breakfast with a hot cup of tea.

Ingredients
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsps. Baking Powder
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups Milk
1 cup canned Pumpkin
3/4 cup finely ground Yellow Cornmeal
6 Tbsps. Unsalted Butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped, toasted Walnuts
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips

Toast the walnuts in a small skillet over medium-low heat until they begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt and nutmeg…

until combined.

Warm the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edges. Remove from heat and reserve 1/2 cup of the milk.

Add the cornmeal to the warm milk and stir with a whisk…

until completely combined.

Cover the saucepan with a lid and let sit for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add the eggs

and pumpkin

until combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. If the batter is too thick, add some of the reserved milk. I added about a 1/4 cup to get the consistency I wanted.

Fold in the toasted walnuts

and chocolate chips

to create a yummy batter. Let the batter rest for another 10 minutes. While it’s snoozing, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a cast iron biscuit pan or muffin pan with cooking spray.

Fill each section about 3/4 full.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes until a skewer or toothpick in the center comes clean. Cool on top of a wire rack.

Once cool, remove from the pan and enjoy!

Dutch Ovens 101: The Necessary Accessories

As with any kitchen or wardrobe, accessories make all the difference. It is the same for Dutch oven cooking, especially if you want to cook outside and in some degree of comfort. Following is a gallery of items that I think are necessary for the Dutch oven chef. Be forewarned, Dutch oven cooking can be an expensive hobby, but many of these items are one-time purchases and should last a lifetime. This gallery is in no particular order or priority.

This cooking table, manufactured by Camp Chef, makes Dutch oven cooking easy on the back. No bending over campfires, fire pits or aluminum garbage can lids (yes, many people cook this way with their ovens). It is easy to assemble – the legs and wind guard come off – and can be toted in a durable vinyl grill bag.

The charcoal starter should be familiar to anyone who camps. It is an essential tool in Dutch oven cooking. Coals go in the top cylinder, newspaper is rolled into the bottom and lit. Coals take about 20 minutes to heat through this method.

Charcoal. I think this is an obvious one, but it is important to use a high quality type. Kingsford is the best – it holds the heat the longest and provides an even temperature.

Leather welding gloves – yes, that’s right – welding gloves. Cast iron gets HOT and you will feel the heat through your regular oven mitt. Cooking safely is fundamental and these heavy leather gloves will protect your hands. Welding gloves can be found at hardware stores or through Lodge and are relatively inexpensive.

A lighter, preferably one that is long. I keep four to five of these on hand because I never want be unable to light my fire. You know what I mean.

A metal trivet can be very versatile. I’ve used it as legs for my poultry roaster or a skillet so coals can be slid underneath. I’ve used it as a lid stand. It fits inside my oven in case I need to raise something, like a pizza, from the bottom to avoid burning. It’s my multi-tasker.

A metal lid stand can rest on the ground or on a table and gives you a clean place to rest your lid while cooking.

Lid lifters come in a number of varieties and sizes. They provide stability and safety when lifting a coal-covered lid from a hot Dutch oven.

Here I am, safely using my lid lifter.

An ample supply of newspaper is good to have on hand for lighting your fire. You know what I mean.

An external digital thermometer is a nice perk to have, especially if you are roasting meats that require a few hours or a specific temperature. This thermometer allows you to set your temperature and sounds an alarm when you reach it. You can find it at discount, grocery and department stores for under $20.

A kitchen timer is very helpful to keep you and your dish on track.

An ash bucket is essential when discarding your hot ashes. I purchased this metal bucket from a local Army Navy supply store for $10. I drilled holes into the top to alleviate any suction of the lid when the hot ashes are sealed in the bucket (otherwise you cannot get the lid off until the bucket completely cools). You can also use a heavy plastic paint bucket purchased at a home improvement store and fill it halfway with water, then dump in the ashes. One must be safe when playing with fire.

Wooden utensils are best when cooking with cast iron. They don’t scratch the surface like metal ones, won’t melt like plastic ones, and don’t get too hot to handle.

A variety of plastic scrapers of all shapes and sizes plus a soft-bristled scrub brush make cleaning your cast iron a lot easier and won’t damage the seasoned surface.

Lodge manufactures these nifty silicone hot handle holders which are ideal for cast iron skillets and griddles.

These silicone trivets provide a safe and ample surface to place your hot Dutch oven or skillet.

Plus I really like the pattern.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Dutch Ovens 101: Restoring Rusty Cast Iron.

Upside-Down Cranberry Rumpkin Skillet Cake

So here it is. My absolute favorite cake…period. This luscious cake has everything I love…cranberries, pumpkin, toasted walnuts and, the secret ingredient, rum. It provides an autumnal dance of flavors in every bite – tartness from the cranberries, sweetness from the pumpkin, and a sugary rum topping that puts a big smile on my face. It’s great as a coffee cake, holiday dessert or afternoon snack. I found the recipe years ago in Sunset magazine. During the holiday season, I stock up on bags of cranberries (which I keep in my freezer) and cans of pumpkin so I can have this yummy cake whenever the mood strikes me. (And yes, there is a bottle of Captain Morgan hiding in my pantry…but it’s only for cooking, I swear.)

I bake this in my cast iron skillet, but you can also use a 9-inch cake pan.

Ingredients
1/4 cup Butter, plus more for skillet or pan
1/2 cup firmly packed Light Brown Sugar
1 1/3 cups Cranberries (If using frozen cranberries, measure while frozen, then thaw before using.)
2/3 cup coarsely chopped Toasted Walnuts (To toast walnuts, bake in a 350-degree oven until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes.)
1 Tbsp. Rum
2 large Eggs
1 cup canned Pumpkin
1/3 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt
Lightly sweetened soft Whipped Cream (recipe at end)
Parchment Paper

First, toast the walnuts as directed above. Keep the oven on at 350-degrees and butter your skillet or pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk in brown sugar until blended.

Remove from heat and whisk in rum until a smooth sauce forms. Oooh, you can smell the rummy goodness.

Pour the mixture over the parchment-lined skillet or pan, evenly covering the bottom.

Combine the toasted walnuts and cranberries in a bowl.

Arrange them evenly over the rum sauce.

In a large bowl, add the eggs, pumpkin, oil and sugar.

Beat with a mixer until smooth.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture…

and combine into a thick, smooth batter.

Spread the batter evenly over the cranberries and walnuts…

until completely covered.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35-45 minutes until a skewer or knife in the center comes out clean. Transfer skillet or pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.

Once cool, run a thin-bladed knife around the edges.

Invert cake onto a serving platter or plate. Remove pan and parchment, and let cool for at least 20 minutes. Serve slightly warm with whipped cream.

While your cake is in the oven, make the whipped cream. It is incredibly easy to make homemade whipped cream and you can control its sweetness and flavor. Refrigerate it once made.

Ingredients
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

Pour the whipping cream in a bowl. With a mixer, beat it until it just starts to stiffen.

Add the sugar and vanilla.

Beat at medium speed until peaks form.

Peaky whipped cream goodness.

Spoon a dollop on top of a slice of upside-down cranberry rumpkin cake. Happy Fall! (I dare you to not eat the whole cake in one sitting.)

Tomato and Cheese Skillet Focaccia

Fall puts me in “nesting” mode, bustling around like a little squirrel preparing my humble abode for winter. I spent the weekend being very domestic – cleaning the house, sprucing up the flower beds and trimming overgrown shrubs. Even though I’m fighting a head cold, it just felt good to be outside in the October sun, enjoying what is probably the last few weeks of warm weather before Old Man Winter settles in.

I also find myself craving to bake…a lot. I love to bake, especially in my skillet, and am always amazed at its versatility. I can bake anything in it – from bread to cake to casseroles – and they always turn out beautifully. (Stay tuned for a future post on my absolute favorite fall cake, also baked in my skillet). So, as I was in a cleansing mode, discovering items in my fridge and pantry that need to be used so I can make room for other things, I decided to bake a tomato and cheese focaccia.

If you don’t have a skillet, you can bake this in a 10-inch cake pan, deep dish pizza pan or springform pan.

Ingredients
1 package Active Dry Yeast
3/4 cup warm Water (105 degrees to 115 degrees F)
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 cup Olive Oil, divided
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
6-8 oil-packed, Sun-dried Tomatoes, well-drained and finely chopped
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded Provolone Cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz.) grated Parmesan Cheese

Dissolve the yeast in warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Combine flour and salt in a bowl.

Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients

and three Tbsps. of olive oil.

Combine until a ball of dough forms.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 6 to 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn once to lightly oil the dough.

Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let it sit for 30 minutes in a warm area, like a sunlit countertop or near a warm oven.

Once the dough has risen to twice its size

get out all of your aggressions and punch it down. See, baking can be very therapeutic.

Generously oil all surfaces of a skillet or baking dish.

Press the dough into the skillet and brush with remaining Tbsp. of oil.

Sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the top.

Add the finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, leaving an inch from the edge.

Add the cheeses.

Cover the skillet with a dish towel and let sit for 15 minutes in a warm place. Apparently, focaccia dough likes to hibernate.

Bake in a 425-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Place the skillet on a wire rack to cool.

Once completely cooled, remove from the skillet and serve. Now I can settle down in comfort for the winter.

The Great Pumpkin Bouquet

Looking for something different to do with your pumpkin this season? Why not turn it into a bouquet?

I found this idea on the cover of All You magazine, along with instructions, so I thought I’d give it a try. It is remarkably easy to do and looks beautiful…a great centerpiece for a Halloween party, Thanksgiving dinner or simply as fall decor around the home. And it travels well, in case you are heading over the hills and through the woods to grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. This particular arrangement joined me on a two-hour road trip over the Sierra Nevadas, virtually unscathed (although I suggest placing it in a box or tub so it won’t slide around.)

Items you’ll need
1 Pumpkin
1 Flower Vase (cylindrical or a coffee can works too), 2″ to 3″ smaller in diameter than pumpkin
Carving Knife and Spoon (I used a steak knife and rice spoon)
Flowers of your choice (I used two bunches purchased at the grocery store, which included sunflowers, mums, and foliage)
Scissors
Ribbon, 2′ long

Place your vase atop your pumpkin to trace the circle to cut.

Carve a hole in the top 1/2″ larger in diameter than the vase.

Remove the seeds and pulp from the pumpkin. I used a rice spoon from my rice cooker, because it has a nice wide surface, and this fork-a-spoon from an old camping kit. (It’s amazing what I keep in my kitchen drawers.)

Once your pumpkin is seedless and pulp free, insert the vase and add water to it.

Divide flowers and foliage into 5 bunches. Trim one bunch so they’re twice the height of the pumpkin. Trim the next bunch so it is 1″ shorter. Continue this same pattern with the remaining bunches.

Make a tight arrangement of flowers by placing the tallest in the center, then the next tallest around them, and continue through the various heights of flowers and foliage.

Wrap ribbon around the pumpkin and tie with a bow. Secure with tape, if necessary. I added some sunflower stickers that I found in the scrapbook section of a craft store. Very festive!

Easy Cheesy Spaghetti with Serendipitous Sauce and Herby Garlic Bread

Serendipity = the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for

Amen. I first fell in love with the idea of serendipity as a child when I read the wonderful children’s series by Stephen Cosgrove (remember Leo the Lop?). Serendipity was a pink sea monster who came across fortunate discoveries by accident while learning to cope with life’s everyday mishaps. The moral of Serendipity’s story is “knowing who you really are will bring you happiness.” Today, in my middle age, I still find happy surprises where I didn’t expect them…and call out “Serendipity!” when the moment hits me.

So, when I tried a few weeks ago to make braciole – an Italian steak roulade or filled meat roll – things didn’t go so well. The meat was tender but dry (probably because I used the wrong kind of steak and cooked it too long), the filling was too thick and choppy (because I should have pureed it in my Cuisinart), and I did a horrible job of tying the meat roll with butcher’s string. (The very next day after my beefy disaster, while surfing The Cooking Channel, I found a “Good Eats” episode on exactly the proper way to make braciole. This was not a serendipitous moment at all – rather, as Alanis Morisette so aptly put it – ironic.)

My serendipitous moment came when I made the marinara sauce that smothered the braciole. My little culinary disaster reared a wonderfully light tomato sauce flavored with onions, garlic, herbs, carrots and celery. And it made enough for the braciole plus a large Mason jar (plenty for today’s spaghetti recipe).

I may or may not attempt braciole again (I’ll have to consult Alton Brown on this one), but I now have a tasty marinara sauce that will become a staple in my house – Serendipity!

Marinara Sauce Ingredients
1/2 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 small Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 stalk Celery, chopped
1 Carrot, chopped
2 (32-oz.) cans Crushed Tomatoes
1 Tbsp. dried Basil or 4 to 6 fresh Basil Leaves
2 Bay Leaves
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Unsalted Butter

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent.

Add celery and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Saute veggies until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, basil and bay leaves and reduce heat to low.

Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves and taste sauce. If too acidic, add butter, 1 Tbsp. at a time, to round out the flavor.

Store sauce in a Mason jar or freeze in a freezer bag for future use.

Spaghetti Ingredients
1 jar Serendipitous Sauce
1 lb. lean Ground Beef
4 oz. sliced Mushrooms
Spaghetti Noodles, prepared according to package

Garlic Bread Ingredients
1 loaf French Bread
Unsalted Butter
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. each of dried Basil and Oregano
Grated Cheese (Parmesan or Pecorino Romano)

To finish the sauce, brown the ground beef in a large skillet.

Add the Serendipitous Sauce.

Add the mushrooms, mix into sauce and let simmer over medium-low heat until sauce is hot and mushrooms cook through.

While the sauce is simmering, preheat oven at 375 degrees. Prepare the garlic bread.

Slice a loaf of French bread in half. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum.

Melt 2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter with a crushed garlic clove in a microwave. Takes about a minute.

Add the dried basil and oregano

and combine.

Brush the herby butter onto the French bread.

Bake for 10 minutes until edges become golden brown.

Sprinkle grated cheese (I used pecorino romano) on top of the warm bread.

Spoon the marinara sauce on top of noodles, sprinkle with cheese and serve with garlic bread. A dish a pink sea monster would love!