Homemade Margherita Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes

homemade margherita pizza with roasted heirloom tomatoes 1

The other day, our sweet friend and master gardener, Jack, gave us a generous box full of his amazingly beautiful heirloom tomatoes freshly picked from his garden.

Jacks Heirloom Tomatoes

Not only are they practically works of art how beautiful they are, but there is nothing like the taste of these gems!  (I do believe I would trade an entire box of chocolate covered salted caramels for one of these super sweet garden goodies!)

Roasting Heirloom tomatoes

When trying to decide what I could I make with them to give them the showcase they deserved (and eating one for breakfast while contemplating!), I decided to roast them up for fresh homemade Margherita pizza.

Roasting Heirloom tomatoes close up

If EVER I wished for scratch and sniff or “smell-a-computers,” I so wish I could share how my entire house smelled while garlic and fresh basil and thyme infused with these golden and crimson chunks of lusciousness.

roasted heirloom tomatoes

And I even decided to sacrifice one of them to ferment and save some seeds to see if I could master growing these in my own garden next year.

Fermenting heirloom tomato seeds

And then…..

After making some fresh dough, I rolled it out and placed a generous portion of these precious concentrated bursts of flavor atop.

homemade margherita pizza with roasted heirloom tomatoes

I topped that with slices of fresh Mozzarella, finely grated, salty Parmesan cheese, and coarsely chopped fresh basil right from the plant in the garden.

homemade margherita pizza with roasted heirloom tomatoes 2

And just for a bit of extra yumminess (and because I had some in the fridge), I topped it off with some chopped up thickly sliced smokey bacon ( O…. M….. G!!!)

homemade margherita pizza with roasted heirloom tomatoes slice.

This is the BEST pizza I ever ate in my life!  My son Nick took what was leftover for lunch, and I had the one solitary piece that was left in the refrigerator for breakfast the next day – stone COLD – and it was even better than I remembered the night before!

It had to be those tomatoes!  Thanks Jack!

Homemade Margherita Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes:homemade margherita pizza with roasted heirloom tomatoes

  • 6-8 large tomatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Cut tomatoes into quarters and spread in a baking dish.  Add garlic, basil, thyme, salt and pepper.  Drizzle all with olive oil.  Bake in 350 degree F oven for one hour.  Turn oven off and leave tomatoes in until ready to use.   (I roasted in the morning and let them set all day).


  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp (1 envelope) active dry yeast

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.    Mix water and yeast until dissolved in a measuring cup or small bowl.  Combine both until well incorporated.  Turn dough out onto counter and knead for several minutes.  Place in oiled bowl covered with towel, and let rise until ready to use.  (It really doesn’t matter whether it is an hour or several.)


  • Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 lb Fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh coarsely chopped basil
  • Any other toppings you like (or not)

Punch down dough and divide into 2 balls.  Stretch and roll out onto two baking stones to form thin crust.
Top with Roasted tomatoes, cheeses, basil, and anything else you like.
Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 20 minutes until crust is done and cheese is browned and bubbly.
Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Cheers & Hugs,

Seasons of Change

wilting sunflower

Fading sunflower at daybreak – Conneaut Lake, PA

Night fades to day –
the moon retreats as the bright sun rises.

Summer beckons Autumn’s reprieve –
when green becomes yellow or orange or red.

Flowers shrivel and wilt –
creating seeds of new life before they fade.

People wrinkle and shrink and age –
transforming the definition of authentic beauty.

Eyes blur and squint and fade –
erasing the wrinkles but not the sweet memories.

Seasons of renewal,
Seasons of hope,
Seasons of growth,
Seasons of age –

All of these seasons
are seasons of change.

Cheers & Hugs,

Autumn Leaf

leaf watercolor 1

One Autumn leaf inspired me to create a little painting that closely replicated it in watercolor.

But then I decided to go a little free form and make it whatever color I wanted.

leaf watercolor 2

And then another color.

leaf watercolor 3

And then a little different shape…

leaf watercolor 4

All from one Autumn leaf picked up on a walk back from the mailbox.

The simple, smallest things that can create such joy…

Cherish the moments!

Cheers & Hugs,


A Paper Players Sketch Challenge with Hugs

PP264 Too Kind Hugs

As a guest designer for The Paper Players, I think Sketch Challenges are my favorite.  (I love a good color or theme challenge too!  – – – Heck – I guess I just love a paper challenge – eh?!)

This week, Claire presented us with this sketch for PP264 that I really fell in love with, so my card is pretty true to the sketch.

I haven’t used the StampinUp “Too Kind” flower stamp in a while.  I love it’s versatility and layers, so I did it in Autumn pumpkiny colors to pop off the black and (very vanilla) white background of the rest of the card.

pp264 too kind hugs flat

What would you do with this sketch challenge?  Join us!  I’d love to see your interpretation and creative expression of this sketch.

For my card, I used the following “ingredients:”

  • Stampinup (SU) Black and Very Vanilla Card Stock
  • SU Typeset Specialty DSP
  • SU Inks in:  Pumpkin, Tangelo Twist, Tangerine Tango, Mossy Meadow
  • Memento Black Ink
  • SU Too Kind Stamp Set
  • Paper Smooches Sentiment Sampler Stamp (Hugs)
  • SU metal button
  • Black and White Bakers Twine
  • SU Adorning Accents Edgelit
  • Black Script Washi Tape

Cheers & Hugs,


Peach and Red Raspberry Galette

peach raspberry galette

I’ve always wanted to make a galette.

I love the beauty of the free form, rustic French-inspired dessert that is like a simple version of a fruit pie.

peach raspberry galette slice

I had some peaches and raspberries hitting their peak of ripeness that were just screaming to be combined into a dessert fit for “company” dinner with our BFF Janet visiting one day this past week.

peach raspberry galette 2

Can you tell how well loved my baking stone is?

And Grandma always taught me a pie was done when the filling started bubbling and oozing out (usually onto the oven floor), so I figured the same holds true for a galette.

It turned out beautifully and was a fine tribute to end our dinner on the last day of summer!  The guys loved it, but Janet was too full of stuffed peppers and Yukon gold mashed potatoes to eat hers, so she took some home.   (Did you enjoy Jan?)

Here is my recipe derived from combining my pie crust recipe with several galette recipes found on the web.  You could make it with apple filling.  How yummy would it be with apples, golden raisins and walnuts??!!!  It would also be great with plums or apricots or cherries or blueberries.

Have you ever made a galette?  I’m feeling rather “French” as I write this.  Jouir!

Peach Raspberry Galette

Ingredients:peach raspberry galette


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup butter-flavored Crisco shortening
  • Dash of Salt
  • 2/3 cup cold water


  • 5 large peaches
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh red raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 2 Tbsp coarse sugar

Prepare dough by combining flour, Crisco, and salt with pastry blender until it forms a crumbly mixture.  Add water, and mix just until incorporated.  Form ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing filling.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut peaches in half, pit, and slice into 1/2 inch wedges (leaving skin on).

In a large bowl, combine peaches, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, sugar and flour.

Dust a large baking stone with flour.  Remove pastry dough from refrigerator, and roll out to 15″ circle.  Place on baking stone.  fill center with peach filling, leaving 2-3 inches of dough all around.  Gently add fresh raspberries.

Fold dough up and around edges.  Cut butter onto top of filling.  Brush pastry dough with beaten egg.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and coarse sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees F.  Reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake until pastry is golden and juices are bubbling, about 20 minutes more.

Let cool completely, and serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, sweetened yogurt or all by itself.  Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,


Jodi’s Grapefruit Gin Gimlet

Grapefruit Gin Gimlet

One of my favorite cocktails on our recent visit to New Orleans was one I had at the bar at the National World War II Museum believe it or not.

Who knew this beautiful museum had a bar!?!  An awesome restaurant and bar actually – called The American Sector – with yummy drinks and treats.  And what a joy it was to sit there and buy a drink for a World War II veteran we met and chatted with for a little while in between activities and exhibits.

If you make a visit to New Orleans, this museum is a MUST SEE!  I do not consider myself a history buff, and I am ashamed to say I did not pay very good attention to history in school.  This museum, which combines galleries and exhibits, a 4-D movie, and interactive activities made learning the stories of heroism, tragedy and liberation enjoyable and interesting.

But back to this drink.  I don’t recall what it was called on the menu, but I do recall what was listed in it, and I have tried a few times to recreate it at home.

Last weekend, at the end of a beautiful sunny, warm Autumn day, I made this one that was just what I was hoping for.  This drink is not for “froo froo” sweet cocktail drinkers.  It is sour and tart and refreshing.  Since I can’t recall what it was called, and since I made it my own way, I am giving it my own name.  I call it Jodi’s Grapefruit Gin Gimlet.  If you are a gin lover like me, I hope you’ll give this refreshing cocktail a try.

Jodi's Grapefruit Gin Gimlet

2 shots Bombay Sapphire Gin
1 shot St. Germain Liquer
1 Grapefruit
1 Lime

Fill Cocktail Shaker with ice. Add gin, liquer, freshly squeezed juice of one whole grapefruit and one lime. Shake vigorously. Pour in cocktail glass.

If the grapefruit is a little too tart, you can stir in a 1/2 teaspoon of powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

Friday Weekend Cheers & Hugs,

To every thing there is a season… or is there?

white iris

They say to every thing there is a season,

a time,

and a purpose.

So why is this amazing Spring white iris blooming in my Fall garden right now?

Makes me wonder….

I was talking to my dad on the phone yesterday morning (like I do every weekday at 7:05am) and walking around the yard with Charlie checking out the beautiful Autumn day it was going to be.  All of the sudden, I caught glimpse of a bunch of white irises blooming in my front garden up against the house.  IRISES blooming amidst the browning leaves and dying off summer flower baskets!  Irises are one of the early Spring blooming flowers here in Mars.  What an unexpected, yet pleasant little gift.   Life is so full of surprises.  

Cherish the moments.

Cheers & Hugs,


PS  Dad said, “I guess I’ll be seeing this  on lifeinbetween.  You were right, Dad!  xo

Autumn Trees – to doodle or not to doodle

autumn trees watercolor doodle card

Happy First Day of Fall!

The other day – as I continue to convince myself how much I love Fall (and it really is happening!) I dabbled with a couple abstract watercolors of Autumn trees.  One I “doodled” up and the other I didn’t.

autumn trees watercolor card

Interesting what a different effect it gives.  And more interesting – I kind of like both.  (what do you think of that Charlie O and Laura!?!?)

So I asked my guys that evening, “Which do you like better?”

Hubby picked one… and my son, Nick, picked the other.

I knew that was going to happen!

Which one do you pick?

Cheers & Hugs,


Smoked Gouda Penne ‘n Cheese

smoked gouda penne 'n cheese mac n cheese

With the Fall nip in the air, comfort foods like Mac ‘n Cheese come to mind and come to our table!  This kicked up version is super simple, yet amazingly delicious.

This is not your pantry’s boxed macaroni and cheese!  This is a gourmet version to make for your family without having to be a gourmet chef.

smoked gouda penne 'n cheese close up

I pretty much wing it to taste, but I will do my best to list ingredient measurements that you can work with.

This could be served alone with a salad for a vegetarian/meatless meal or you could serve it alongside your favorite protein.  You can even throw some grilled chicken or shrimp or seafood in for a heartier meal.

smoked gouda penne 'n cheese

We had it Sunday with chicken sausages on the grill and some homemade coleslaw with a fresh vinaigrette dressing.

Don’t like smoked gouda cheese?  For shame!  But…. you can throw any kind of your favorite cheese in – cheddar, muenster, brick – or a combination of all!

Have fun and enjoy!

Smoked Gouda Penne 'n Cheese

Ingredients:smoked gouda penne 'n cheese mac n cheese

  • 1 lb Penne Pasta
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk (I use Skim)
  • 8 oz. freshly grated smoked Gouda cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente,  Drain in colander and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.
  • In medium saucepan, prepare a rue by melting butter, then stirring in flour.
  • Bring to a simmer, then gradually whisk in milk slowly to thicken the sauce.
  • Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese until melted.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir all but 1/4 cup cheese sauce into pasta.
  • Pour all into greased baking dish.
  • Top with reserved cheese.
  • Bake for 20 -30 minutes until browned and crispy on top and edges.

Cheers & Cheesy Hugs,


Covered Bridge Visiting & Doodlewashing

covered bridge watercolor doodlewash

This weekend, hubby and I went to a Covered Bridge Festival.  There were ten park festival locations centered around  ten different covered bridges where they had a variety of handmade arts and crafts booths, food, historic re-enactments, demonstrations and live bands.

It was fun to stroll around the festivities and capture some photos of the bridges.  We only made it to two, because we really didn’t decide to go or head out until mid-afternoon, but we enjoyed what we did see, and then ended the day with a nice dinner out.

The next day I decided to try to “doodlewash” one.  My blogging buddy, Charlie at Doodlewash.com has stirred my creative desire to play around with this whimsical art style combining doodling and watercoloring.

I struggle with the doodling/drawing part, and then I totally overworked the washing/watercoloring part of this piece, but since I spent an hour and a half doing it, I am sharing anyway.  (Chalk it up to one for the archives.  Hopefully one to look back on to gauge improvement!)

Here is the photo I took that I used for my reference.   It was such a sweet little bridge in a quaint community park.

covered bridge

And then, with some paint still in the palette and the urge to do something else, I decided to recreate a version of the DSP (designer series paper) I used in yesterday’s card post and made this piece below that I can use in a future card or project.  It was fun to mix and splash and see how the colors dried.   Loving the Autumn tones that remind me of the gorgeous weather we’ve been having these past few days!

color wash swash

Happy Monday all!  Hope you have a great week!

Cheers & Hugs,