CHUsday: Slow Food, Fast Food or Something in Between?

T’is the CHUsday before Christmas, and I don’t have to peek in your windows to see how fast you’re running.  Whether it’s Hanukkah or Christmas, Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice you’ll celebrate this week, you’re rushing and wrapping and decorating to chase away winter’s shadows.

This is the time of year for fast food, for drive-in hamburgers or buckets of chicken.  Even vegetarians can find possibilities as they zip from school concerts to office parties.

I’m not a big fan of fast food.  Sometimes it’s a treat, but most of the time I feel guilty.  I imagine my cholesterol and blood pressure charting new territory, and you have to admit, that sort of spoils the fun.  So to avoid the guilt as often as possible, I’ve developed a few recipes I can easily make from scratch and enjoy with just a bit of lead time and planning.

I’ve already shared a link to Giada de Laurentiis’s fabulous pizza dough.  This is foolproof stuff.  I make mine with half whole wheat flour, and unlike every other recipe I’ve tried, I find it stretches without tearing and can be coaxed and prodded into almost any pizza pan.  I use vented pans, on top of a pizza stone that I keep on the bottom rack of my oven.  The combination is easier for me than trying to shovel an uncooked pizza on to the stone.  I’ve had limited success with shoveling, ending in some spectacular messes, and this is so easy.  The crust browns on the bottom, and once it’s cooked I move it to my poor neglected pizza paddle for cutting.

The crust takes less than five minutes to prepare and rises for an hour in a warm place before fitting it into your pan.  Then you can make the pizza.

I’m never excited about tomato based pizza sauce.  I prefer pesto or garlic and oil, and the less sauce the better.  But recently I created one that we fell instantly in love with.  I found two recipes online, one at and another at that seemed promising, but only when I combined them with a few touches of my own did the sauce really come together.

For a quick meal make the sauce while your dough is rising.  My version makes enough for two pizzas, if you spread it thin, or use two-thirds of it and freeze the other one-third for a smaller pizza or for use in omelets, to add to spaghetti sauce, or anywhere else your imagination takes you. 

We spread the sauce on our dough, sprinkled sauteed mushrooms and red peppers over it, then lay slices of provolone cheese on top and baked in a 425 degree oven for about twelve minutes.  Of course you can top yours with a million possibilities, and that’s the fun part.  But warning, this sauce is so flavorful, you won’t need a wealth of toppings.

So a holiday gift to you, neither slow food nor fast food, but something in between to enjoy.  Make it before December 31st, tell us how you liked it and what changes, if any, that you made, and enter the CHU giveaway for a $50 B&N gift card.


Emilie’s Homemade Pizza Sauce

1 6 oz can tomato paste
3/4 cup warm water
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 to 2 cloves minced garlic (or more if you’re daring)
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds (I use a  mortar and pestle)
A few good grinds black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or several good shakes)
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Combine ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup and let sit for 30″ or more to blend flavors.

Makes enough for 1 to 2 pizzas depending on size and preferences.


  1. Dee Winter on December 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    As Yes, the cookbook – truthfully I have a Christmas pamphlet from Better Homes and Gardens from many moons ago. I made the Chocolate Covered Cherry cookies from it the other night for my stitching group. When my kids were little, they didn’t like cherries. This is a chocolate cookie with a cherry and then chocolate frosting on top of it. They loved the chocolate, and that “red thing” in the middle. Haven’t made them in years, brought back great memories of Christmas when my kids were little and I didn’t work. Merry Christmas!

    • Emilie Richards on December 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      An old recipe revived is a surefire entry in the CHU giveaway. This sounds like a winner whether it wins the giveaway or not.

  2. Nancy Badertscher on December 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Just saw your Facebook posting about CHUsday and realized that I just made something that will qualify. Walter Reeves, the Georgia Gardener, as he is known on Facebook, posted this recipe for ambrosia yesterday –

    Pretty easy to make – 6 apples coarsely grated, 12 oz can of frozen orange juice, 14 oz grated coconut (recipe calls for unsweetened but I could only find sweetened), 14 oz can of crushed pineapple. I used Golden Delicious apples – they grated up very easily. We had some for supper and it will be going to family get-togethers tomorrow and Monday. Not everyone likes coconut, but that just leaves more for those of us who do! It was really tasty, and I did not miss sectioning the oranges! I have some marachino cherries that I think I will add to it, or at least serve along with it. I’d like pecans in it, but not all of my kids do so that may go as a side also.

    • Emilie Richards on December 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm

      Ambrosia with apples is definitely different and sounds like a keeper.

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