Pizza Sauce

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Last year when I was canning tomatoes I decided to make salsa.  As usual, I did more than necessary and have plenty of salsa left for this year.  This season I made some of my tomatoes into pizza sauce.  There is no pizza delivery anywhere remotely close to where we live so when we are craving pizza I need to make it myself.  The sauce is relatively easy to make.  Cooking down the tomatoes is the most time consuming part so you need to be patient or you will end up with watery sauce.  The kitchen smells so good when this sauce is cooking.

Ingredients:

Tomatoes , approximately 4 quarts peeled and diced

2 T olive oil

1 Large Onion diced

6 or more cloves of garlic (I used more)

2 T oregano

2 T basil

2 T celery seed

4 T chopped fresh parsley

2 T salt

2 T granulated sugar

cracked pepper to taste

1/4 tsp citric acid per pint of sauce

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Core, peel and dice the tomatoes.  Bring a large kettle of water to a boil and drop a few tomatoes in for a minute or so until you see the skins start to break.  Remove the tomatoes to an ice water bath and slide the skins off.  Dice and put the tomatoes into a large, non aluminum, kettle.

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Begin cooking the tomatoes over medium heat.  In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender and translucent but not brown.  Add the onion and garlic to the tomatoes.

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Bring the tomatoes to a simmer stirring frequently.  Add the sugar, herbs and spices, and salt and pepper.  Once the tomatoes begin to break down use an immersion blender to get a nice, smooth sauce.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have reduced by approximately 50% and you have a nice sauce that clings to the spoon.

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Ladle the sauce into sterilized jars (I used pints).  Add 1/4 tsp of citric acid just before sealing the jars.  Process the sauce in a hot water bath for 45 minutes.  Once you remove the jars from the water bath allow them to cool completely before storing.

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That is not ALL pizza sauce…better than half the jars are diced tomatoes.  Now, all you need to do is whip up a crust and get a pizza in the oven.  I made one with the sauce that was left over after filling my jars and some of our favorite toppings.

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NOTE. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender or food processor and process in small batches.  Also feel free to add other spices or increase/decrease some of the ones that I used.  If you like your sauce kicked up a little add some red pepper flakes.

I put my garlic cloves in the tomatoes without dicing.  Once the sauce simmered for awhile the immersion blender took care of  them.

Applesauce

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It’s apple season and this  weekend was applesauce Sunday.  I like cranberry sauce with most of my chicken or turkey dishes and applesauce with pork dishes and now I’m stocked up for the winter.  Applesauce also makes a nice addition to a bowl of oatmeal or just as a snack.  One of my sister-in-laws thinks my applesauce is the best and she wanted my secret recipe.  There is no secret recipe.  No secret ingredients.  No sugar.  No spice.  My applesauce is just apples.  A variety of apples.  The variety is the only secret and there is no hard and fast rule.  Just combine some tart, some sweet.  Some that cook down more quickly, some that remain firmer.

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Peel, core, and slice the apples.  A peeler, corer, slicer machine is very handy.  A friend with two extra hands to peel, core, and slice and keep you company while they work is great too.

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Put the prepared apples into a large, heavy kettle and add about 1 cup of water.  Cover and cook over medium heat opening the lid and stirring occasionally.  Once the apples cook down a bit, uncover, and use your wooden spoon or a potato masher to get the apples to the consistency you prefer.  We like chunky applesauce.  Once it’s reached the desired “chunkiness” turn the heat to low,

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Sterilize your jars and lids in a hot water bath.  Put the hot applesauce into the hot jars leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth to make sure there is nothing to interfer with the seal.  Put the lid and ring on the jar.

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Process the jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove the jars and place on a heavy towel and allow them to cool completely.

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Store the jars in a cool place.  Remove the rings from the jars before storing them.  Making applesauce is a little time consuming but simple process.  This winter you’ll  be happy you did it.

NOTE:  One bushel of apples made 35 pints of sauce with a little extra left for dinner that night.  Last year I added 20-25 red hot candies to a couple of my batches of sauce.  It gave the sauce a nice pink tint and added a little cinnamon flavor.

 

Salsa

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I’ve been doing a lot of canning this last month.  I did a bushel of beets (now pickled) and a bushel of cucumbers (now bread and butter and dill pickles).  image

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I put up 2 1/2 bushels of tomatoes.  Some just plain diced tomatoes, some stewed tomatoes, and, this year, salsa.  Nothing is better than a winter of making chili or tomatoe sauce or soup with tomatoes that you canned yourself.  And we enjoy a lot of tomato dishes.  Salsa was a new experiment this year and, if I say so myself, it turned out quite well.

Ingredients:

15 cups diced tomatoes

1 each red, yellow and orange pepper small diced

1/2 each of a red, white, and sweet yellow onion small diced

3 jalapeno peppers seeded and small diced (use the seeds if you like a spicier salsa)

2 serrano peppers seeded and small diced

2 anaheim peppers seeded and small diced

1 1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 T salt

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Core the tomatoes, put them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes to split and loosen the skin and transfer them to an ice water bath.

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Peel and dice the tomatoes.

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Wash, core and dice the peppers and peel and dice the onions.

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Combine the tomatoes and onion and pepper mix in a heavy, non-aluminum kettle.  Add the salt and vinegar and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes stirring occastionlly.

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Put the salsa in sterilized pint jars leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth.  Put the a lid on each jar and process in a hot water bath canner for 25 minutes.

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Remove jars from the water bath, place on a heavy towel and allow to cool.  Wait 24 hours and test each jar to be sure it has sealed by pressing down on the lid.

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The “heat” level may increase over time.  I like medium salsa.  If you like yours hotter don’t seed the peppers and/or add additional hot peppers.  We ate some of the salsa while it was still warm on tortilla chips and later on tacos.  It was great!  I haven’t tried this yet but I’m thinking a jar of this salsa would be a perfect addition to a pot of chili.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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I almost always prefer green salsas to red ones.  Unless the green salsa is very hot and the red is not. In New Mexico they use the term “Christmas” when both red and green chilies are used in a dish…or, if you can’t choose your salsa, just tell them you want Christmas.

I like this mild salsa made with tomatillos. Tomatillos look like green tomatoes with a papery covering.  Apparently ripe tomatillos are red or purple but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ripe one. When you choose them in the grocery they should be firm but not hard and the papery husks should be open but intact. They have a hint of citrus flavor and, like tomatoes, they add acid to a dish.  This salsa is very easy to make.

Salsa Ingredients:

6-7 tomatillos

2 jalapeños (seeded or not)

2 poblano peppers

3-4 garlic cloves whole

1 fresh lime

1 small onion rough chopped

Salt to taste

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Wash the peppers and tomatillos, halve them and spread them out on a baking sheet along with the whole garlic cloves.

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Roast then under the broiler until they are nicely charred.

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Add the roasted vegetables along with their juices and the chopped onion into your food processor. Pulse until smooth.  Juice the lime and stir in along with salt to taste.

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This roasted tomatillo salsa is great with warm corn chips.

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Or on your fish taco. Spicy baked cod, queso fresco (mild Mexican farmers cheese), slaw and salsa.

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Or to spice up breakfast.  Potatoes fried with onions and peppers, over easy eggs, crispy bacon and tomatillo salsa.

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I love cilantro and, if I had had cilantro on hand, I would have added it to this salsa. Also, I seeded my jalapeños but if you prefer more heat leave the seeds. Whatever modifications you make I hope you enjoy changing up your usual red for a little of the green or opting for Christmas.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

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Some of my favorite recipes are from my Knit Wit girl friends. We have the most incredible pot lucks!  All of us love to cook and bake and feed people. This recipe showed up at one of our feasts and I make it often.  It’s a great side dish but last night it was my entree with a piece of crusty bread I made a couple nights ago.

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked orzo (prepared per package instructions)

2 cups baby spinach chopped

5 oz jar sun dried tomatoes in oil

3 T red onion chopped

1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives

6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts undrained

14 oz can small artichoke hearts chopped

3 oz feta cheese

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NOTE:  I used sweet white onion because I didn’t have red. And I was out of feta cheese…which is really a good addition.   But the salad still tasted really good even without the cheese. 😊

Bring two cups of salted water to a boil, add the orzo and cook for about 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

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Rough chop both artichokes and put them in a salad bowl.  Set the marinade aside.

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Rough chop the tomatoes (reserve the oil) and dice the onion.

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Add the tomatoes, onion, and sliced olives to the salad bowl.

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Add the orzo to the salad bowl. I like to do it when the orzo is still warm. I think the orzo observes the flavors of the marinade and oil better.

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Rough chop the spinach and add it to the salad bowl.

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Toss the salad along with the marinade from the jar of artichokes and some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes. Add 3 oz of cubed feta cheese (remember, I was out of feta) and salt and pepper to taste. I prefer this salad at room temperature but it’s also good chilled. Either way, I’m sure you will enjoy it.

This salad is great served with lamb chops, fish or even a good burger. This afternoon we had left over salad with tuna melts.

Chili Rellenos with Tomato-Pepper Sauce and Refried Beans

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One of our favorite vacation destinations is Santa Fe New Mexico. We love all of the arts, the people, the beautiful scenery and the food. Chili Rellenos are one of our favorites. We first had really good rellenos at the La Fonda, a hotel restaurant on the square in Santa Fe, and we loved them. I have tried a few different ingredient combinations and this one has become my make at home favorite. I’d rather go to Santa Fe and order them but mine are the next best thing. It’s a fairly time consuming process so I don’t make them very often.

The first thing I made today were the refried beans.

Ingredients:

1 48-oz jar pre-cooked Randall’s pinto beans

1 large onion, rough chopped

2 T bacon fat or crisco shortening

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 jalapeño seeded and in a small dice

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped

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Heat the grease or shortening in a large heavy skillet and add the onion.

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Cook the onions over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized. About 20 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. You want them to be golden and sweet.

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Drain and rinse the beans. Add the beans and broth to the caramelized onions and cook about 10 minutes over low heat.

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My bean smashing implement of choice is an old fashioned potato masher. Smash the beans and onions together. Add a little extra broth if the beans seem too dry. Dice the jalapeño and chop the cilantro.

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Stir the pepper and cilantro into the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the beans to an oven safe dish and cover with Saran Wrap until you’re ready to heat them in the oven.

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I sprinkle a little cheese on top of the beans before pitting them in the oven. (Queso fresco, queso Oaxaca, goat cheese or Monterey Jack.). When you’re ready heat in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the beans are heated through.  If you want the beans to be vegetarian use crisco and vegetable broth.

Next I roast my peppers and prepare the Tomato-Pepper Sauce.

I line a large baking sheet with foil, preheat my oven to 425, spread the peppers out and roast them until they have a nice char on each side.

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Turn the peppers at least once. It takes about 30 minutes total. Once the peppers are done put them in a covered bowl to steam and cool before peeling.

Sauce Ingredients:

2 or 3 large red or yellow bell peppers roasted or a jar of roasted peppers

1 large onion rough chopped

5-6 cloves of garlic rough chopped

2 T canola or olive oil

1 pint tomatoes in their juices

1/4 cup cilantro

2 T honey

salt and pepper to taste

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Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions, roasted and diced peppers, and garlic together. Cook until tender, 15 minutes or so.

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Stir in the tomatoes and cook until thickened and reduced by half.

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Once the sauce is thickened and reduced transfer it to your food processor. Add the cilantro and honey and pulse until smooth.

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Pour the sauce into a serving bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until you’re ready to serve the Rellenos. The sauce is served at room temperature.

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Last, but not least, we prepare the peppers and the filling.

Poblano Peppers and Filling Ingredients:

4 poblano peppers roasted and peeled

3/4 to 1 cup goat cheese

1 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese shredded

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

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Peel the roasted peppers and, using a sharp knife make a slit the length of the pepper and remove the seeds and membranes. Lay the peppers on paper towel until you’re ready to stuff them. Put the chickpeas, cheeses, and cilantro in the food processor and pulse until well blended.

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Divide the filling into 4 equal parts and shape into ovals.

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Put one of the ovals into each of the poblano peppers and, using your hands, gently close the pepper around the filling.

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Heat peanut oil in a deep fryer or a heavy Dutch oven to 385 degrees.

Coating Ingredients:

2 large eggs whisked

1 cup beer

flour

cornmeal

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Whisk the egg and beer together. Roll the pepper in flour, dip it into the egg mixture, and roll in the cornmeal.

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Gently lower a couple peppers into the hot oil.

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Fry until the peppers are golden brown turning once while they are frying. Remove peppers to paper towel to drain. Fry the remaining two peppers.

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Serve hot with the refried beans and a generous serving of the tomato-pepper sauce.

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Mexican rice and chips and guacamole are both excellent sides with this dish. Garnish with lime wedges if you’d like. Excellent with a nice cold beer or a tequila drink. You might feel transported to Santa Fe.

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

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This is is one of my favorites salads; it’s a recipe I got from a dear friend and I make it frequently. The fresh lemon and herbs always taste like summer to me so I especially enjoy this salad in the winter!

Ingredients:

1 bunch green onions, green and white parts sliced thin

1 lb ripe tomatoes diced

1 cucumber peeled, seeded and diced

1/2 cup chopped mint leaves

1/2 cup chopped basil

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 can garbanzo beans aka chick peas

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1 T minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

8 oz fresh feta crumbled

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Get out a large salad bowl and start chopping. Slice the green onion.

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Dice the tomatoes and seed and dice the cucumbers.

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I like to put all of my fresh herbs in the salad spinner to wash and dry them well. Then I remove all of the stems and put the herbs in my food processor and give them a few pulses.

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Place the green onions, tomato, cucumber, and herbs in a salad bowl. Rinse and drain the chick peas and add them to the vegetables. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and minced garlic in a small bowl and whisk.

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Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss with a spatula to coat the vegetables. Add the feta cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

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This salad is great on its own served with fresh or toasted pita bread. The cheese and beans provide plenty of protein for a good lunch. I think this salad pairs especially well with fish and pork. I served it for dinner with trout and smashed garlic cauliflower.

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Enjoy!

 

 

Honey Mustard Dressing

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I am part of a small group of the very awesome women who get together once a week for lunch and knitting and we call ourselves the Knit Wits. We have the most incredible pot lucks and parties. Sometimes our pot lucks are out of control because we never just each make one thing.  Everyone brings along Rubbermaid containers so we can take leftovers home!  We all love to cook and bake and share recipes.  One of my Knit Wit friends served us a gorgeous salad with honey mustard dressing and the dressing recipe has become one of my favorites. Easy to make.

Ingredients:

6 T mayonnaise

3 T Dijon mustard

3 T honey

3 T white wine vinegar

1 T grated onion

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I combine all of the ingredients in my mini food processor and pulse a couple of times.

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Voila!  Awesome honey mustard dressing.

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It’s what was for dinner last night along with smashed cauliflower and herb crusted pork loin.

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Enjoy!

 

Chicken Piccata

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Chicken cooked in a sauce of lemon, parsley and butter.  And, in my interpretation, a few other ingredients. Yesterday was a snowy winter day and even though we weren’t snowed in, today was a great stay at home day watching cooking shows and HGTV.  I had taken a chicken breast out of the freezer and was inspired to make the piccata because of a dish I saw prepared on The Chew today. On the Chew the chicken was marinaded in lemon juice, grilled and then topped with a mixture of parsley, garlic, capers, and olive oil. Sounded wonderful.

Ingredients:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced thin

2 T olive oil

4 T butter, divided

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest

3/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup capers rinsed and chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic sliced thin

1/4 cup parsley chopped

salt and pepper to taste

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Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil has heated add 1 T of butter to the skillet. Dredge the chicken in the flour or put in a zip lock bag and shake to coat. Cook the chicken a couple minutes per side and set aside on a platter. Continue until all of the chicken has been lightly browned. You don’t want to over cook the chicken.

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Once the chicken is done add the chicken broth, lemon juice, capers, 1T of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley to the skillet.

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Scrape up any browned bits in the skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken back into the skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Remove the chicken to a platter or casserole dish. Add the remaining 3T of butter to the sauce and pour over the chicken.

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I served the chicken with quinoa cooked in chicken broth with a bit of garlic and kale cooked with dried cherries. Proved to be a great combination of tastes!  It’s what was for dinner tonight.

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NOTE:  It’s easiest to thin slice your chicken breasts if they are still slightly frozen.

Coleslaw

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This weekend we had an at-home fish fry with friends. They brought the walleye and fried it up and I made the sides. For me an essential side with fish is coleslaw. I also like coleslaw on my fish tacos. I have had some really awesome slaws and some very mediocre…or worse…slaws. I like my coleslaw to have crunch and to be a little tangy, a little bit sweet. It’s something that should be made a bit ahead so the flavors can marry. It even makes a great midnight snack, speaking from experience!

Ingredients:

10 cups, approximately, of shredded or finely chopped cabbage

1 cup of matchsticked carrots

1/2 cup of matchsticked radishes

1/2 cup of red onion chopped (more or less based on personal taste)

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup half n half

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 T white wine vinegar

2 T fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

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You can shred your own cabbage or purchase a bag of shredded cabbage (2# bag). Shred or use a mandolin to matchstick your radishes and carrots. Chop your onion.

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Mix your vegetables together in a large bowl.

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Whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour over the vegetables. Toss well and refrigerate. Mix a couple more times before serving.

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Enjoy!

NOTE:  Like any salad you can add or delete items. Just don’t delete the cabbage or it wouldn’t be coleslaw. According to NPR the term coleslaw came from the Dutch term koolsla… “kool” means cabbage and “sla” means salad. We anglicized kool into cole.  While it’s best served cold, it’s coleslaw, not cold slaw.