When life is unsteady and a sudden thrust of unsettling news unexpectedly hits I am faced with the uncomfortable reality that life is fragile. A smile from my sweet baby becomes more precious, the happy shrieks from the boys makes me joyful rather than annoyed, and the popcorn kernels littering my floor continue to reside there as I’d rather enjoy a prolonged snuggle than interrupt that time with the roar of the vacuum.

The poignancy of those moments fade more quickly than I care to admit. The monotony of everyday life returns as does the ability to take it for granted. The screams become as offensive as chewing on egg shells and the baby’s smile fades as she becomes bored playing alone while her mother tries to retain some sort of order and sanity in the house.


An image pops up on the computer – victims of the tragic devastation in Japan. Their is a terror in their eyes that I have never known. With water raging behind them they cling to a slumped body of a child who is tired and afraid. Their faces are stained with mud and confusion seemingly asking what’s next? where do we go? what the hell just happened?

The gift of such catastrophic events is an appreciation of simplicity and a awakening to the reality that life is fleeting. But the harsh truth is in this moment thousands of lives are wrecked. My mind can not comprehend the fear, pain, and destruction that abounds in Japan at this very moment. My heart breaks for everyone involved and I continue to pray for all those affected. If you feel so inclined and are financially able to give the CHC organization is a great way to take action and there are so many other ways to help.


I’m a once again devastated with grief and overcome with joy for the gifts that I have today. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but today I will savor the smiles, the rowdiness of young boys and the comfort of homemade bread.

I can not think of a more comforting combination than fresh baked bread and tomato sauce. In one bite you are faced with sweet, salty, acid, and chew. The familiar feel of warm dough worked between your finger tips and knowing that the very thing your are coaxing into a supple round is alive and well.


The dough rises and falls gaining elasticity and flavor. With simple ingredients and a safe environment the bread thrives rewarding you with a dinner that reminds you to slow down and appreciate today. In the heat of the oven the brightness of the tomato sauce subtly invades the baking bread creating a taste reminiscent of my mom’s homemade pizza that I lovingly remember from my childhood. The pillow-like crust pleasantly took center stage then as it does now. Sometimes all you need is red sauce and bread.

Foccacia with Red Sauce
inspired by Tessa Kiros, Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook – a delightful book, I highly recommend.

This dish is made even simpler with the addition of store bought marinara. I know, I know. It’s so simple to make your own but there are days when even making marinara seems an impossible task. For those days I recommend using Newman’s Own. I like it best.


1¾ cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 tsp honey
1 tbl olive oil
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tsp salt
1 (24 oz) jar Newman’s Own Marinara (or homemade red sauce)

Pre-heat oven to 375º. Put the water, yeast, honey,
oil and 1½ cups of flour in a bowl and mix. Whisk together. On top of that add the rest of the flour, salt and garlic but do not stir. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave for 20 minutes. Mix the dough together and knead the dough for 4-5 minutes.
The dough will feel soft and slightly sticky. Cover and leave for 1½ hours or until the dough has doubled in size. Lightly oil a
9″x13″ pan. Punch down the dough and spread evenly over the base of the pan. Cover and leave to rise for 45 minutes or until puffy. Carefully dimple the dough with your fingers and gently spread Newman’s Own Marinara. A few torn up leaves of fresh Basil makes a great addition.
Bake in a 375º oven until edges are golden, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly then serve.


*This post was part of an ad campaign in association with Newman’s Own. But the words are mine. I wouldn’t write about it if I didn’t love it. I think you’ll agree. 🙂

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26 Responses to “Focaccia with red sauce”

  1. Michelle

    Moving words. Beautiful as always. Myself, speechless.

    This is a wonderfully simple recipe that will most likely be dinner!

  2. Simone

    What is going on in Japan is almost too much to even understand and it scares me to think what still might come next… I was supposed to go to Japan in two weeks time and I guess I can only be grateful that I didn’t go earlier. My friends that live there are safe and back here in Holland now… My thoughts are with all those who are not so fortunate!

    Your focaccia look superb!

  3. Becca

    I love how honest you are about the ad campaign. Your willingness to share makes you even more likable! (I know, we all thought that it was impossible!)

  4. Katrina

    I was in Italy this summer and came across the BEST focaccia ever. I haven’t found anything that resembles it since being back..until now. This looks amazing!

  5. foodies at home

    Beautiful post…It’s hard to think how much people are suffering and then how lucky we are just to cook a meal in our homes. I am thankful everyday!

  6. LimeCake

    This was a lovely post. Everyday there’s so much sadness in the news, and I can’t even begin to fathom how many people are suffering in Japan. Delicious looking foccacia!

  7. Boone

    I’m going to give this a shot tomorrow to go with our homemade tomato soup (from the meat lovers veggie cook book you guys sent us).

    Also, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the fagility of life.

  8. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    It’s so true, we can easily fall into the routine of daily life and forget what a precious gift it is to us. I can’t begin to imagine the pain and helplessness of the people affected by this tragedy, my heat breaks to see so much suffering.

  9. Elizabeth

    This isn’t foccacia. It’s red pizza strips in rhode island. Add a drizzle of olive oil and maybe some grated , not shredded, parm. Also known as party pizza.

  10. Laura

    Sounds delicious! I love a good focaccia (and have been meaning to make some at home for a while now!) but I never would have though to put sauce on top… Great idea and I love Newman’s own too! All profits to charity is definitely the type of business model I’m okay with supporting!

  11. Colleen

    I could not agree with you more. With everything going on in Japan, Libya, and the home front, I am finding myself in the kitchen more and more. It is my therapy. In a weird, non-rational way, I feel that if my family and I are well fed then we are more able to put joy (even if it is small) out into a world that is so hungry for it. It is like I am trying to love people that are so far away from me by loving those that are close by. In the big scheme of things, it is nothing. But for me, it makes me feel more in control of a world that is so out of control.

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Colleen – I totally get it. And I really don’t think it’s nothing. Loving those close to us is everything – imagine what kind of world this would be if EVERYONE did that. Keep it up.

  12. Annalisa

    Hey, just wanted to thank you for the recipe–made it least night for a lovely, simple supper. Very yummy comfort food.

  13. Brenda

    Made this tonight for dinner – ! It actually turned out well – I’m quite surprised since this is only my second attempt at making any sort of bread at home! Quite yummy – I left off the red sauce and brushed with olive oil and sea salt during the last 5 minutes of baking. Ate with fresh mozzarella and a big glass of Washington red wine. Thanks Ash! Julian (13 months) laughed at me when kneading the dough…good memories today!

  14. Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food.

    I baked that day too. It seemed the most sane thing I could do, the most comforting, an escape from reality.
    And, I identify with everything you wrote about your relating to the kids. I also slow down during such times, inhaling comfort from their energies, their aliveliness.


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