Archive for the Category ◊ Sauces, Dips & Spreads ◊

10 Sep 2010 Crockpot Pizza Sauce (and yummy extras)

I’ve finally found something that the crockpot (slow cooker for those of you offended by the term “crockpot”) excels in.  Excels in!  This is not just a recipe that can be cooked in the crockpot. It’s a recipe that should be cooked in a crockpot.  Yes, a recipe that tastes best cooked in the crockpot!  I found this recipe in “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann (San Joseans!), on page 250.

I have made my fair share of pizza sauces and this is, by far, my favorite.  The flavor is so rich and consistent.  I’m in love!  What’s more, one batch of this recipe makes about 6 cups of pizza sauce.  Use one portion, freeze four! That’s my type of batch cooking.

Crockpot Pizza Sauce

2 12 oz. cans tomato paste
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed (to taste)
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup minced fresh flat leafed parsley
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan (or similar) cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Place everything but the cheese, salt and pepper in the crock pot.  Cover and cook on low for at least 10 hours and no longer than 14 hours.  If at all possible, stir the sauce every few hours.  If you are sleeping, don’t worry about it.

Unplug crockpot.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in cheese.  Let cool to room temperature.

I use just over 1 cup of sauce in my pizza.  Depending on the size of your pizza pan and your personal preference regarding the quantity of  sauce you might more or less than I do.

Sauce will keep, refrigerated, for at least four days.  Freeze for longer storage.

My Favorite Cheese Blend for Pizza

Like I said, I have made my share of pizza over the years.  I am finally getting good at it!  Last night’s pizza was fresh veggie…, sliced tomatoes, zucchini and basil, from my garden, and sliced fresh mushrooms and green onions.

Two of my three kids would holler, “Where’s the meat?”, but they are not home so I get to choose everything!

Whatever pizza I make, I always use this cheese blend.  I no longer have the cookbook I got it from, nor do I remember the name of the book, which is unfortunate now that I am going public with this blend.

2 parts shredded mozzarrella
1 part shredded smoked gouda
1 part shredded Italian Fontina
1 part freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

Enjoy your creations! OH, you need a recipe for pizza dough, too?  Here you go… I hope you have a bread machine 🙂

Pizza Dough (for the bread machine)

1 1/3 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine.  Press “Quick Dough” or “Pizza Dough” cycle. Use immediately (as directed below), refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to three months.  Let frozen dough defrost overnight in refrigerator.  Let refrigerated dough rest for 20 minutes at room temperature before using.

Remove dough to a work surface sprinkled with flour or cornmeal. Divide into 2 parts (for large pizzas).  Roll or press dough into a circle about the size of your pizza pan.

Use dough immediately to make a pizza, or let rise 30 minutes or so for a thicker crust pizza.

When you have it all assembled, bake in preheated HOT oven (500 degrees) for 12-15 minutes.

Have fun assembling the perfect pizza!  Thanks for stopping by my pizzeria today. See you tomorrow!  Remember how much I like feedback.  I’d love to read your comments about this, or your experience making pizza at home.

31 Jul 2010 Fresh Strawberry Jam (3 ingredients, no pectin)

Has it been a week since I posted a recipe? Argghhhhh. I hate, hate, hate being laid up. I want to walk! When I get up from this chair, things are going to change. I will swim, I will work out, I will walk…and I will cook and post and maybe(!) start cleaning again. Having a broken ankle is soooo NOT fun. My heart goes out to all of you who have had to go through stuff like this before. I’m in a relatively minor pickle and have a lot of help and just listen to me whine…

Thank goodness I have a lot of recipes and a daughter willing to cook her way through them all while I sit on the sidelines. She’s even turned out to be good little food photographer! She decided it was time to make strawberry jam.

We have a strawberry delivery person in our neighborhood. He first knocked on my door pulling strawberries in a rickety Red Flyer wagon. Now he drives a fancy van. He used to just bring strawberries. Now he brings strawberries, mangoes and oranges. The only problem is…, he brings flats of strawberries and mangoes and 25 lb bags of oranges. I always buy what he has and then I have to start cooking. He knocked early last week so we’ve had Strawberry Volcanoes, Strawberry Cake, Chocolate-Strawberry Pie (not yet posted) and, with the leftover less-than-perfect strawberries, Fresh Strawberry Jam.

I found this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine. I am not sure of the date or the year, but it was probably about 4 or 5 years ago. I usually make a double batch of this, and then store 1/2 cup portions in the freezer. I just loooove hot buttered toast with Fresh Strawberry Jam. By making this when strawberries are at their tastiest, juiciest best, I can enjoy the taste of the best strawberries all winter long!

Fresh Strawberry Jam

4 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Combine strawberries and sugar in a medium saucepan, and bring to simmer over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 1 hour or until thick (if you are doubling the batch, this step may take an additional 30 to 45 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, and let cool to room temperature. Makes approx. 2 cups. Can be stored in a covered container in refrigerator for up to one month. For longer storage, freeze.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Stop by again in January for some hot buttered toast with Fresh Strawberry Jam (I’ve put some away in the freezer just for us)!

25 Feb 2010 Microwave Marmalade

You can make marmalade for breakfast. Yes you can! It’s amazing! I have made orange, lemon and lime marmalade with this recipe. It’s so QUICK! I am so impressed. I have had better marmalades, but they weren’t made in 15 minutes from the citrus in my backyard. This recipe is a winner.

The original recipe was found at Put Up or Shut Up!, a canning blog.

Notes from original recipe:
Do not double the recipe, the microwave will not like it and you will end up with a giant mess.
Use a high-sided microwaveable container (I used an 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup) to microwave the marmalade
After you get the basic technique down, play a bit…, add a touch of booze or spice!

Microwave Marmalade

Thinly sliced zest (with no white stuff) from 1 lb of citrus
3/4 lb citrus, all peel, white rind and seeds removed (tangerines, lemons, limes, oranges or a combination)
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1-tablespoon rum (optional) (I used Cointreau)
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Peel and seed fruit, removing and discarding all the white pith and white stringy bits from the outside and down the center of the fruit. Weigh the peeled fruit and removed zest, you’ll need 3/4 lb. of pulp and zest. Place zest, pulp and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Puree, making sure all the peel and section skins are reduced to a pulp. Pour pureed mixture into a high-sided microwaveable bowl, adding optional alcohol and nutmeg. Cover tightly with plastic wrap pierced a few times to vent. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir; remove platic wrap and return to microwave for 7 minutes. Remove, stir and check thickness. At this point, depending on the juiciness of your fruit (oranges mainly), return mixture to the microwave for another 2-3 minutes. Marmalade will thicken as it cools. Makes 2 cups. Keep in refrigerator for up to three weeks. Can be frozen for longer storage.

Thanks for visiting!

21 Feb 2010 Microwave Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd: (n) a wonderful treat cursed with an unfortunate name.  Don’t be put off.  Lemon Curd is not curdled and there are no curds (nor whey).  So why the unfortunate name?  I just don’t know.  Never mind, though, Lemon Curd is lovely;  it’s sort of a lemon jam. There’s nothing better at the end of the day (or the beginning of the day or the middle of the day, for that matter) than a slice of hot toast with lemon curd, a cup of hot tea on the side, with feet up and something nice on the telly. Oh, yes there is, two slices of hot toast with lemon curd!  I picked 6 large lemons off of my neighbors tree this afternoon and whipped this up in the microwave. Enjoy Lemon Curd on your toast all week. Next weekend put some Lemon Curd in the middle of a layer cake, cupcakes, or cookies AND, I will post a recipe for a Pavlova with lemon curd and blueberries to finish off your batch. Leftover lemon curd will keep in the refrigerator for approximately three weeks.

I was reminded of this microwave recipe when I visited a few food blogs recently; 2 Stews and La Table de Nana.

Microwave Lemon Curd

1 cup sugar
3 whole eggs
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 or 7 large lemons)
zest of 3 lemons (I used a microplane)
1/2 cup butter, melted

In a microwave safe bowl whisk together sugar and eggs until smooth. Sir in lemon juice, lemon zest, and melted butter.  Microwave for one minute, stir, microwave for another minute, stir.  Do this until the lemon curd is think enough to coat the back of a spoon.  This will take 5 – 7 minutes.  At this point can pour into small sterile jars to give as gifts, or cool, then cover and refrigerate for your family to use.  Store for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Thanks for visiting! Enjoy your Lemon Loveliness with your feet up, a cup of tea, and a good book.

02 Feb 2010 Crockpot Bean Dip for a Crowd

Super Bowl Sunday is just on the horizon. For years, I couldn’t care less. But somehow or other, I managed to raise a football crazy girl who actually anticipates and then watches football games, playoffs and bowls. So, through her, I am slowly warming up to the excitement of Super Bowl Sunday. Not for the game. Not for the commercials, either. For the snacks!. Just like there are American food traditions around Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day, there are also special Game Day foods. Being slow to this football thing, I don’t have a huge repertoire of Super Bowl recipes yet, but I’ll share what I do have. Here’s my “go to” recipe for all big parties, my Crockpot Bean Dip. I put the crockpot right on the coffee table, with a ladle and some bowls and chips right next to it.

You can control the flavor and spiciness of this dip by your choice of beans, salsa and cheese. This recipe makes enough for two football teams. If there are leftovers, they freeze and microwave well. I’ve also combined leftover bean dip with leftover meat and rice, wrapped it in a tortilla and called it a burrito.

This is probably one of my most requested recipes.  Friends of my son have written to me and asked for the recipe.  When I visit my son I put a batch in several small Ziplok containers, which he can put in his dorm refrigerator and freezer and then reheat in his small microwave as needed.

The original recipe is from “The Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook” by Ranck and Good.

Crockpot Bean Dip for a Crowd

2 (16oz.) cans refried beans
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed and then softened in the microwave
2 cups jarred salsa
2 T. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin
4 cups grated cheese (I often use the packaged Mexican Blend)
16 oz sour cream

Mix beans, cream cheese, salsa, chili powder and cumin together in a saucepan. Heat over medium high heat until cream cheese is melted. Gradually stir in grated cheese, stir until melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in sour cream. Pour entire mixture into a crockpot and cook, covered, on high for one to two hours to reheat, then reduce heat to warm to serve. My kids like this on Tostitos Scoops, because they can get a lot of bean dip on one chip.

Thank you for visiting the kitchen!

Polly

31 Jan 2010 Chocolate Fondue

Chocolate! Valentine’s Day is only two weeks away. Here’s a fabulous dessert suggestion. Start now collecting fondue pots, dippers, and toppers so you don’t get stressed out at the last minute.

This fondue is rich, dark, silky smooth, and delicious. I WISH I knew how to take better pictures (I should also try to remember to take a picture before eating the  food…) This is NOT melted chocolate chips with a bit of shortening fondue, no, no, no, no, no! It’s high quality chopped chocolate and cocoa powder, whipping cream, and sugar.   Would you expect anything less?  You’ll need a candy thermometer to make this-don’t stress-the candy thermometer is a helpful tool for getting the texture right.

For me, the hardest part of this recipe was figuring out how to get ten individual fondue pots for my dinner guests last night. I thought I would use individual butter warmers, but after countless shopping trips I couldn’t find any (I’ve seen lots of them in the stores previously, but of course I didn’t need them then)…but even if I did find some, I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford ten of them, sooooo I ended up crafting my own pots out of small glass candle holders, tea lights, metal triangles, and ramekins…but they were a bit precarious (if you have any ideas to better my design, please let me know). With it getting closer to Valentine’s Day perhaps butter warmers or individual fondue pots will be easier to find BUT, if you don’t have a fondue pot-individual or otherwise-make the fondue anyway, the sauce can be kept warm in a crockpot, and your guest can put little puddles of chocolate sauce on their plate to dip their goodies in.

See the end of the recipe for great ideas for dippers and toppers.  This was such a success at my annual Book Lovers Dinner, that I am thinking of putting it permanently on the menu, and just changing the main dish and side dishes each year.

I wish I could remember where I found this recipe.  I tried about 5 different recipes before knowing this was “the ONE!” .  If I remember or find out where I found this recipe, I will post the information ASAP.

Chocolate Fondue

1 cup Scharffen Berger or Valrohna cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup bottled water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup plus 5 T. heavy cream
5 oz. Scharffen Berger 62% semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Place the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan and bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, and clip a candy thermometer on the side of the pan.. Allow to mixture to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it reaches 220 degrees on the candy thermometer. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cocoa powder, and keep whisking until mixture is smooth. Return pan to medium heat and bring back to 215-220 degrees. Remove candy thermometer-be careful, it’s hot-and then add heavy cream. Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in chopped chocolate, keep stirring until mixture is smooth. Pour into fondue pots or crockpot to keep warm and serve.

These are the dippers I used: cubes of Lemon-Poppyseed Tea Cake, Mini Peanut Butter Cookies, Mini Rice Krispy Treats, homemade vanilla and peppermint marshmallows, cubed Croissant; dried apricots, plums, and pineapple wedges: fresh strawberres, banana and pear slices; and mini scoops of Vietnamese Coffee Ice-cream. (Not all are pictured, I had to recreate this morning from leftovers!)

These are the toppers I used: toasted coconut, crushed pretzels, chopped peanuts, rainbow sprinkles (would have liked to have had grated white chocolate and chopped mint chocolate, too).

More good news…1). this sauce can be made ahead and reheated either on top of the stove or in the microwave. 2). I successfully doubled this recipe (for 10) and have plenty of leftovers. 3). Leftover sauce freezes well!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today,

Polly