As you could probably gather from the title of this post, we’ve got several items to discuss today so let’s get right to business. First up, I’d like to offer congratulations to Mike, of Good Things about Living Out West, who is the winner of the very first giveaway on this site! Congratulations Mike – your copy of The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book is on its way! Many thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway. I had a lot of fun reading about your resolutions!

I’d also like to let you know that sign-ups for the third round of Secret Baker are underway. You can read my original post explaining more about Secret Baker here and you can check out the posts that Sarah and Margaret put together to recap the November and December rounds. If you haven’t participated in previous rounds and would like to join us, please email the following information to

– Your name
– Your shipping address
– Your email address
– Your blog address (if applicable)
– Any food allergies, dietary restrictions, food aversions, etc…
If you have participated in the past and would like to join us this month too, just shoot me (or Sarah or Margaret) a quick email to let us know. I already have your information so no need to resend. The last day to sign-up for this round is January 12 (you will receive information about the person you’re baking for on January 13) and we will ship our packages on January 19. Thanks to Wendy of Pinkstripes for suggesting the theme for this round: healthy treats! Everyone seems ready to lighten things up this month and healthier recipes, even for desserts, abound so there are tons of possibilities (whole grains, whole wheat, reduced fat, fruit, less processed sugar, etc). We hope you’ll join us!

Five Minute Tomato Sauce

Wow, this is a wordy post – finally a photo! ๐Ÿ™‚

Since I’ve begun cooking and baking more, there are certain items I try to make at home rather than buying at the store. Bread, for one, though I’ll confess I still buy English muffins because we go through them quickly and I just don’t have the desire to make that many English muffins! Ice cream is another item as well as pie crusts and pizza dough. One thing that I never, ever buy anymore is jarred tomato sauce. It’s so easy to make at home and usually cheaper! I rarely plan ahead, though, so you probably won’t find me simmering my sauce all day on the weekend and then freezing it to use during the week. Instead, I go with quick recipes I can start at 5 pm and still have on the table for dinner. I’ve made a 15 minute recipe from Cook’s Illustrated that’s delicious (and I’ll eventually blog it) but today I want to share a recipe that you can throw together in 5 minutes!

I discovered this recipe on 101 Cookbooks and we made it for dinner earlier this week. We had a simple pasta dish and this sauce was the star. It’s bright and fresh with just a bit of surprise heat from the crushed red pepper. This recipe calls for lemon zest, which I’ve never added to my tomato sauces before, but it was brilliant. This one is definitely worthy of a repeat here!

Five Minute Tomato Sauce
from 101 Cookbooks

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I only used 3 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped or put through a garlic press
1 28-ounce can crushed red tomatoes
zest of one lemon

Combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat, saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant – you don’t want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and heat to a gentle simmer, this takes just a couple minutes. Remove from heat and carefully take a taste. If the sauce needs more salt, add it now. Stir in the lemon zest.

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