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  1. Friday, February 1

    Easy, Fresh-Tasting, No-Cook Pizza Sauce

    Yesterday I promised you pizza sauce, so today I give you pizza sauce.

    I’ll admit, when I make homemade pizza, I usually just grab a jar of pasta sauce from the pantry. Because I’m lazy like that. But the pizza sauce I made this week was so easy and so good that even my lazy bones could handle it. It’s homemade pizza sauce from here on out!

    America’s Test Kitchen has an episode about homemade pizza, trying to replicate New York-style thin crust at home. Now that I have my food processor, I finally gave the recipe a try. The recipe promised a no-bounce-back dough, no air bubbles and lots of flavor. I ended up getting a sort of bouncy dough, more air bubbles than I’ve ever had in any pizza crust I’ve ever made, and lots of flavor. That’s two strikes…at least it wasn’t an out, but it was definitely only a single! I obviously did something wrong along the way (ATK’s recipes are usually so fool-proof!), but the process was super involved, so I probably won’t try that crust recipe again. I’m sticking with my pizza crust recipe. It’s easier and turns out great every time.

    But not all was lost on this experiment! In the episode, ATK shared a quick and easy pizza sauce recipe that also utilized the food processor (I’m sure you could use a blender if you are food processor-less). People, this sauce is wonderful. It tasted awesome. It was so easy to make. It doesn’t cook until it is actually cooking on the pizza, so the flavor is super fresh. And I loved the texture – a small, uniform chunkiness that is perfect for pizza. I am super excited about this recipe and can see using it with pasta dishes as well!

    Easy, Fresh-Tasting, No-Cook Pizza Sauce
     
    From America’s Test Kitchen, with my notes
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Sauce
    Ingredients
    • - 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (when I took notes watching the episode I swore they said undrained tomatoes, so that is what I've always done. but one commenter says it was drained. I've always liked the texture of the sauce, but when I freeze and defrost it is a tad watery, so I am going to try drained next time...so, take your pick. drained may work better in the end!)
    • - 1 Tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 cloves minced garlic (I used my garlic press)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (Jane note: I actually did ½ teaspoon dried basil and ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning instead and it was delicioso)
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
    Instructions
    1. Add all ingredients to your food processor then process for 20-30 seconds. Refrigerate ½ hour before using on pizza.

     


  2. Tuesday, November 23

    Thanksgiving Prep: Roux for Perfect Gravy

    Today I made a white roux so that on Thursday we can make gravy. Smooth, delicious, lump-free gravy. Mmmmmm…

    Nate and I used to watch Good Eats. A lot. In fact, we were a little addicted. But we learned a lot from that show! Years ago, an episode called “Gravy Confidential” aired and that’s when I discovered the technique of using roux to thicken gravy. Until that point, I had always used what Alton calls a “slurry,” flour and cold water whisked together. It works fine, but I must admit that gravy made with roux is in fact richer and smoother.

    This is what the roux looks like right after I take it off the stove to cool. It turns a more golden color as it cools and all the bubbles disappear.

    If you want to see the Good Eats episode that changed my gravy life forever, click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2. Part 1 has lots of introductory information (and, of course, some silliness), but the first 5 minutes of part 2 is where Alton actually makes the roux and is the part I find most helpful.

    So, let’s make some roux! I’m giving you a play-by-play, so it might seem daunting at first glance, but it’s really quite simple to whip up!

    Thanksgiving Prep: Roux for Perfect Gravy
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Thanksgiving
    Ingredients
    • 1 oz butter (2 tablespoons)
    • 1 oz flour (I do 3 tablespoons since {gasp!} I don’t have a kitchen scale. True confessions, people.)
    • Roux made from these measurements will thicken 1 cup of fluid*
    Instructions
    1. Since I know I’m going to be making gravy for a bunch of people on Thursday, and even making my own turkey again next week as per Cate’s request, I decided to make a lot of roux at once. You can put it in the refrigerator for up to one month, and you want it cool or at room temperature when you add it to your hot liquid, so having some on hand in the fridge works perfectly. Today I used 1 cup of butter and 1½ cups of flour to make my roux. This will thicken 8 cups of fluid.
    2. Melt butter (preferably in a saucier, but a regular sauce pan will work, that’s what I have) over medium heat. Have a whisk with lots of wire loops handy and ready to whisk! When the butter is melted and starting to bubble a bit, add the flour all at once and start whisking. Whisk constantly over medium heat until the roux starts to liquify. If you’re cooking a lot of roux like me, this takes a little while…be patient, it will happen! Once it’s liquifying, turn the heat to low and cook for about 3-4 more minutes, whisking occasionally.
    3. The roux and the liquid need to have opposite temperatures, so if your roux is hot, your liquid (broth) needs to be room temp or cool. If your liquid is hot (which mine always is), then the roux needs to be at room temp or cool.
    4. In the video, Alton talks about how gravies thickened with flour will thicken as they cool, so you probably want to have your gravy a bit on the thinner side on the stove so that by the time it reaches the table in the gravy boat, it’s the perfect thickness.
    Notes
    *In terms of the liquid…when it’s Thanksgiving, I always simmer the turkey’s heart, neck and giblets for an hour or two and save that broth, then combine it with the juices from the cooked turkey. If I’m still needing more liquid, I add chicken stock, but I don’t often have to do that. And don’t forget salt and pepper!

    A note on storage: I always just put my finished roux in a bowl or tupperware to store in the fridge. I would then chisel out pieces of roux to add to my hot liquid later. It’s kind of annoying. So this time around I’ve put the roux in a ziploc bag with the air squeezed out and I’m going to cool it in the fridge flat like this. I’m hoping it will be easier to break off pieces…we’ll see!

    Postscript 11/28/10: Storing the roux in these ziploc bags worked GREAT. I knew that each “brick” would thicken appx 4 cups, and it was super easy to break them evenly into fours, so I could estimate accurately how much roux I was putting into the fluid. And it was easy to break and pop out of the bag. Will definitely store the roux like this from now on!


  3. Thursday, May 20

    Simple Homemade Tomato Sauce

    Today I made a quick homemade tomato sauce. Thought I’d share my “recipe” with you. This isn’t necessarily cheaper or faster than jarred tomato sauce from the store, but it is very yummy and fresh tasting. I especially love using this sauce with homemade pizza. Tonight I’m going to add a bit of cream to the sauce and serve it over tortellini.

    homemade tomato sauce web

    The beauty of this sauce recipe is that you can change it up however you like. If you have canned tomatoes, use them. If you have a bunch of fresh tomatoes, use those instead! If you like onion, use more of it. If you like Italian spice seasoning, throw some of that in, too! There are no rules…just play around with the recipe and make it your own!

    Here is what I did today. Other days it might be a little different, but I always follow this basic plan.

    Simple Homemade Tomato Sauce
     
    Simple and delicious!
    Author:
    Recipe type: Sauce
    Cuisine: Italian
    Ingredients
    • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil (or canola oil if you’re out of olive)
    • 1 shallot OR ~1/2 onion, chopped
    • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced or use your garlic press
    • 2 14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes (I like the petite diced a lot, but you could use regular diced. also, if you have lots and lots of fresh tomatoes, dice those up and use them instead! I would guess you need 4-6 cups)
    • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 – 2 tablespoon sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 7-10 large leaves of fresh basil, chopped (probably 1-2 Tbsp or so…if you like basil, add more!)
    • If you don’t have fresh basil, feel free to use dried spices – but I would add them in before the simmering step instead of after. Oregano, Parsley and Basil are all great dried spices to add.
    Instructions
    1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots/onions. Cook until soft, a few minutes. Add garlic and saute for about a minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to the point where the sauce still simmers. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. (While it’s simmering, you can smash the sauce up a bit with a ricer or pastry blender, to break up some of the tomatoes…although I do like my sauce chunky, so I just do this a little bit. Again, just figure out how you like it best and go with it!) Add fresh basil and mangia!

    garlic press web

    A note on garlic: I love my garlic press. I’ve heard from a few chef-types that they don’t like garlic presses because it damages the oils or something. I don’t notice a difference and the press is just so quick, so I pretend I’ve never heard anything negative about the technique. 😉 Also, I don’t put the garlic in with the onions at the beginning of cooking because it can overcook the garlic…I’ve ended up with deep fried garlic before, not exactly the flavor I’m going for in sauce.


  4. Thursday, January 7

    Swedish Meatballs

    Another Swedish food that my grandmother ALWAYS made was Swedish meatballs. Just like bulle, the smell alone takes me back in time. The last two years I’ve made meatballs 2 days before Christmas, ready to pop in the oven on Christmas Day. Making the meatballs is a little labor intensive, but doing them ahead makes for a super easy and delicious Christmas dinner.

    swedish meatballs finished product2 web

    Christmas or not, these are some good meatballs. They are best served with boiled red potatoes and lingonberry jam.

    Swedish Meatballs
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Beef
    Ingredients
    • FOR THE MEATBALLS
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • ¼ pound ground veal
    • ¼ pound ground pork
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 2 teaspoon paprika
    • 2 cups bread crumbs
    • ½ cup milk
    • 1 onion (medium) (I do only about ⅓ of an onion)
    • 2 tablespoon butter
    • 2½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
    • 3 beaten eggs
    • FOR THE SAUCE:
    • Fat left in skillet
    • ¼ teaspoon garlic
    • 5 tablespoon butter
    • 2 teaspoon tomato paste
    • 1 teaspoon beef concentrate (or bouillon cube)
    • 2 cups bouillon or beef stock
    • Optional: 1 teaspoon aromatic bitters (I’ve never used these)
    • ¼ cup butter
    • 1 cup sour cream
    Instructions
    1. Have meat ground together twice or mix really well. Soak bread crumbs in milk. Add meat – mix well. Mix in pepper, nutmeg, paprika, and beaten eggs.
    2. In a large frying pan, saute onions in 2 T butter until soft. Add salt and dry mustard and stir. Add onion mixture to meat mixture and mix well. Form 48 small balls. Brown meatballs in ¼ C butter. Remove balls – set aside in a 9×13 baking pan.
    3. Add garlic and 1 T butter to fat left in skillet. Blend in 4 more Tbsp. butter, tomato paste, beef concentrate, and beef stock. Stir mixture over low heat until it thickens slightly. Stir in 1 cup sour cream and a few more tablespoons of butter (yes, more butter!). Pour sauce over meatballs. Heat in moderate oven (I think baked them at 350 degrees) until hot.
    Notes
    This recipe improves if made one day ahead.

    swedish meatballs three meats webswedish meatballs cooking webswedish meatballs sauce webswedish meatballs in pan webswedish meatballs finished product1 web


  5. Tuesday, December 1

    Cranberry Orange Sauce

    I know I already shared this Cranberry Orange Sauce recipe within the last week, but I finally took a picture of the final product and it’s just too pretty not to share again! Besides, I don’t think cranberries are only relegated to Thanksgiving, right?

    cranberry orange sauce web

    I also know that I already posted a photo of this pie, but I just love the leaves on top. The picture has been BEGGING to make an appearance on the blog. I have acquiesced. I promise to stop putting fall-ish pictures up now that Thanksgiving is over and we are all roasting chestnuts on an open fire.

    pumpkin pie leaves web

    Cranberry Orange Sauce
     
    A recipe I found online somewhere, easy to make and very very yummy alternative to normal cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving
    Author:
    Cuisine: Side Dish, Thanksgiving
    Ingredients
    • ½ pound cranberries
    • ½ cup sugar
    • ¼ cup orange juice
    • zest of 1 orange
    • 4 oranges separated, pith and membranes removed
    Instructions
    1. Bring ½ C water to simmer. Add cranberries, sugar, OJ and zest. Simmer & stir until sugar dissolved and berries begin to pop, ~15 mins. Remove from heat – add orange segments

     


  6. Wednesday, July 8

    Soo-Wee Sauce for Baby Back Ribs

    Remember the amazing ribs Nate cooked on the 4th of July? The recipe is from the Weber’s Way to Grill cookbook that I {stereotypically} gave to Nate for Father’s Day. Hey, it worked, I’m already benefiting from the book!

    Anyway, the recipe for cooking the ribs is LONG and involved, so I’m just going to share the wonderfully delicious sauce that went with the ribs. I will give a quick overview of the process…the ribs cooked on the grill for HOURS, Nate put a divider in the grill with water under the ribs and coals on the other side, he added hot coals throughout the cooking and he used hickory wood chips for smoking. As for the sauce, when the ribs were cooked, he took them off the grill, laid them on foil, smothered them in the sauce and wrapped the ribs up in the foil for about 30 minutes. Delish!

    Soo-Wee Sauce for Baby Back Ribs
     
    Sweet and spicy sauce for ribs!
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Ingredients
    • 1 C apple juice
    • ½ C ketchup
    • 3 T cider vinegar
    • 1 T soy sauce
    • 2 tsp molasses
    • ½ tsp pure chile powder
    • ½ tsp granulated garlic (garlic powder)
    • ½ tsp dry mustard
    • ¼ tsp kosher salt
    • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
    • ~1 T honey (this is our secret ingredient…we added to thicken AND sweeten the sauce)
    • RUB
    • 2 T kosher salt
    • 2 T paprika
    • 4 tsp granulated garlic (garlic powder)
    • 4 tsp pure chili powder
    • 2 tsp dry mustard
    • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
    Instructions
    1. Mix ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes (we simmered longer). Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste if needed. This is NOT a thick sauce, but it was perfect for the ribs.

     

    The Weber cookbook is a great resource for grilling…click here to check it out!


  7. Wednesday, May 27

    Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing/Sauce

    I love honey mustard.  In fact, I went through a phase in college where if there was something with honey mustard on the menu, I always ordered it.  In fact, it was overkill.  I’m not so obsessed these days, but it’s still a favorite sauce and dressing for me.

    I love Ken’s Steakhouse Honey Mustard Dressing.  But last night it was all gone.  I was making chicken paninis and really wanted honey mustard.  I’ve tried to make it in the past, but it wasn’t very good…of course, that was pre-Internet when you couldn’t find 2 million recipes in 2 seconds. So last night I found this recipe and it was delish.  I even crossed the Ken’s honey mustard off my shopping list today – sorry Ken!

    Honey Mustard Dressing/Sauce
     
    Prep time
    Total time
     
    Recipe type: Sauce
    Ingredients
    • ½ C mayonnaise
    • ¼ C mustard
    • ¼ C honey
    • 1 T rice wine vinegar
    • Dash salt
    • Dash of black pepper (the original recipe calls for cayenne, but I usually go with black in this recipe since my kids are eating the sauce with me)
    Instructions
    1. Whisk and enjoy!
    2. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.


  8. Wednesday, October 29

    Raspberry (or Blueberry) Sauce

    I love raspberries.  They were on sale this week, so I couldn’t resist grabbing a couple little containers.  They were still kind of expensive, but worth every penny!

    I made some sauce/syrup out of them and it was mighty tasty.  Here’s my recipe!


    Raspberry (or Blueberry) Sauce
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Sauce
    Ingredients
    • 1½ cups raspberries (one of those 5-6 oz containers) -OR- 1 C blueberries (I’ve only ever used fresh fruit for this recipe)
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ⅓ cup water
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    Instructions
    1. Bring to a boil. Lower heat. Simmer for a bit. That’s it! Refrigerate leftovers.
    Notes
    If you want to thicken it up (which you probably do, the raspberry syrup was a little thin, but it still tasted awesome)…you can sub some of the sugar for karo syrup and/or add a little cornstarch to the water. I’ve always just sort of done this off the cuff. If I ever actually pay attention, I’ll provide measurements for you.