Sunday, September 30

MAKE IT: Pomodoro Sauce

Pomodoro sauce is a great Italian tomato sauce. Now the first question usually asked is what is the difference between Marinara sauce and Pomodoro sauce? Truthfully, it is a regional and upbringing difference. Pomodoro sauce is slightly chunkier and is almost always started with onions and garlic, where Marinara is more gravy like and often water is added to create the texture.

I am going to walk you through the basics of a simple Pomodoro sauce. It will be finished off with basil, but you can easily add in peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, or additional vegetables. I do recommend adding them in with the tomatoes so they cook fully and soften nicely.

This will make roughly 4-5 cups of sauce (based on tomato size) roughly 2 jars of sauce.
Full time: 40-50 minutes

You will need:

8-10 fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded (or 2 cans whole crushed tomatoes 28 oz)
1 large onion finely diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp salt, or salt to taste

1/2 cup fresh finely chopped basil for finishing

Let us being:

In your stock pot melt, pour olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.

Add in onions and garlic.

Cook for 5-8 minutes or until they begin to turn translucent and edges just begin to color.

Add in the tomatoes and reduce heat to medium-low.

Cook for 30 minutes or until a nice rich red color develops.

Stir in salt and basil, cook 1-2 minutes to wilt basil.

Serve or can immediately and enjoy!

Friday, September 28

MAKE IT: Apple Juice

It's fall and I think I have covered everything from Apple pie to doughnuts, to sauce, and butter but, what I haven't covered is the easiest of them all, making your own apple juice. This is the perfect way to use the last of your fresh picked apples, or use up and extra apples in your house. I don't like to use much additional sweeteners or flavorings when making mine. You can easily get the store bought organic taste from your own kitchen with just a few apples, water, and brown sugar! Give this one a try and I'm sure you'll never want to buy it again.

Full time: 40 minutes (doesn't include cool time in refrigerator)
Makes approximately 1 quart apple juice (4 cups) but easily multiples up to make more

You will need:

9 fresh apples, ripe and red as I like to say, I use Gala
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cheese cloth
2 pots 1 medium and 1 large, you want to make sure the medium pot is about half the size of the larger.

Let us begin:

Core and slice the apple, there is no need to peel them. In fact leaving peels on creates a better flavor.

Place sliced apples into the medium pot and add in enough water to get the apple to float, if you push down it should just to cover over the surface of apples.

Place pot on burner and bring to boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes.

While this cooks line a colander with a few layers of cheese cloth, place this into the large pot.

Once apples are cooked , carefully pour contents of medium pot into the colander in the large pot.

Allow the juice, water to drain into the large pot.

Using a potato masher, mash down the solids until you feel you can't get anymore liquids out of them.

Place large pot on burner and heat over low heat.

Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon, cooking for 3-5 minutes or until sugar is fully dissolved.
before dissolve
Pour into serving pitcher or into mason jars for canning. Refrigerate or can immediately, allowing contents to cool completely before serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26

Chinese Take-Away: Beef and Broccoli

Everyone enjoys the occasionally Chinese Take-away meal. It's fast, fun, and let's be honest, we all have our favorites. Wonton soup, sweet and pungent chicken, fried rice, the list is endless. One of my mother's favorite dishes is Beef and Broccoli or Chicken and Broccoli. It is the perfect balance of meat and vegetables cooked in a subtle sauce. As we have often discussed I love making my own Take-Out nights, and this one is quick and easy to enjoy!

If your more in the mood for Chicken or Shrimp, just substitute equal amounts of them.

Full time: 20 Minutes
Sevres 2-4

You will need:

1 lb. boneless chuck steak, round steak, or flank steak.
2 broccoli heads
4 tbsp corn starch or tapioca starch
4 tbsp water, warm
1 tsp garlic powder

For Sauce:

1/2 cup water, warm
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp corn starch or tapioca starch
1 tsp ground ginger

For cooking:

1/4 cup water, warm
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided

Let us begin:

You will want to get everything set up before you start cooking. Once you start cooking this will go rather fast so there wont be much time to be mixing.

Slice your steak into strips roughly 1/4" in thickness and set aside for a moment.

In a bowl mix together the corn starch, water, and garlic powder.  Make sure you get a nice smooth paste.

Add in the beef and toss it with your fingers to coat. Set aside next to cooking area.

Cut broccoli heads into florets, you should hopefully end up with around 4-5 cups of florets.
 top shows florets size you are looking for
                                       bottom shows full head

Set these aside next to cooking area.

In a small bowl mix together the sauce ingredients. Stirring to make sure the starch doesn't clump up. Set this aside near cooking area.

Let's begin the cooking.

Get a wok or large saute pan heated over medium high heat and add in 1/2 of the oil.

Once oil is nice and hot, toss in the beef, it will start to brown very fast so move it around in the pan.

Once your meat is cooked to your desired temperature (2-3 minutes medium rare, 3-4 minutes medium, 4-5 minutes well) remove it to a plate and keep warm.

Add in the remaining oil and get it nice and hot.Toss in the broccoli and lower heat to low.

Just as before, your going to want to stir the pieces around to prevent uneven cooking. Cook 8-10 minutes.

Add sauce into the pan and allow the broccoli to soak it in for 3-4 minutes.

Return beef to the pan and stir it around to fully incorporate.

Add in the 1/4 cup water and cook until the water is absorbed into the sauce, less than 2 minutes.*

Plate over rice if desired and serve immediately. Enjoy!

*The broccoli will still have a little crunch to it, if you don't like crunchy vegetables. Pop a lid over the pan and cook for 5 -8 minutes more, just watch for scorching. You may want to add extra water to create a little steam action.

Tuesday, September 25

Loving the Apple!

Last year I talked about a great fall favorite of mine, the apple. Apples are one of the seasons best fruits to preserve are apples. Apples can easily be made into several tasty treats. From the basics with apple sauce, apple butter, and apple jam are some of my favorites. To the more elaborate apple doughnuts, apple biscuits, and apple pies. Apples are easily one of the most versatile ingredients in the pantry, and they just happen to be ripe at this time of year.

Many recipes call for apples to be used as fillers or healthy alternatives when cooking. Apples work amazing in slaw's, salads, and more recently I discovered you can use applesauce instead of oil when baking. Now that was a great moment in cooking for me. More important than this discovery was the recent conversation I had with a co-worker who told me, they liked apple picking but got tired of eating the apples. I asked what else she used them for and she revealed with the exception of applesauce there wasn't much you could do with them. I was shocked and slightly heart broken, had she never read my blog? Did I forget or imagine all the conversations we have had? I asked her, and she honestly said that she thought maybe making anything else was too above her cooking skills.

OK, now I see. Yes some apple recipes are more complicated than others. But that is true with any ingredient. I sent her on a mission, I told her to go apple picking. And then said if she tried 1-2 other recipes and found they were too hard, I would personally pay back the money she spent on apples and ingredients. That was a month ago.

Today I am here to tell you, not only did I not have to pay back a single cent. But I may have an apple addict in my work place now. She has made every recipe I have posted using apples as the base and has asked for more. I was happy to oblige. This year I will cover, Apple juice, Apple Crumb Pie, Apple Biscuits, and Traditional Apple Bread Pudding. You should give one or two a try...I bet I can convert you too!

Here are a few links to get you started:

Apple Bread Pudding

 Candied Apples

 Resturant Style Fried Apples

Applesauce Doughnuts

Apple Butter


HOW TO: Make Mashed Potatoes

A few months back I started covering the basics of cooking great meals. Turns out, this is a very popular subject and several readers have emailed asking about mashed potatoes and how I make mine. So here goes, how I make my mashed potatoes.

Serves 4-6
Full time: 45 minutes

You will need:

10 medium red potatoes or white potatoes
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream or condensed milk
2 tbsps salt, divided
Ground white pepper to taste

Let us begin:

In the sink peel your potatoes and set then into a strainer.

Wash them carefully.

Now quarter them and move them into a pot.

Fill pot with water just enough to cover them.

Set pot onto stove and add in 1 1/2 tbsp salt, cover.

Boil over medium-high heat until potaotes a percable with a fork. Roughly 20-30 minutes.

Drain excess water, but keep potatoes in the pot. Some water may be left behind, this is okay but not too much.

Using a potato masher or hand mixer, mash potaotes down for a few minutes.

Add in the butter and allow it to melt almost completely.

Continue to mix or mash until butter is incorporated.

Add in the cream or condensed milk and mix/mash until incorporated.

Blend in remaining salt and pepper, checking that the potatoes are seaasoned to your liking.

Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy!

Monday, September 24

Carmel Apple Bread Pudding

Traditional bread pudding is an amazing thing! Blend the simplicity of a bread pudding with the sweet and satisfying flavors of a warm Carmel apple and taste bud magic occurs.

I love baking this after a nice fall apple or pumpkin picking day. Nothing says fall like a warm dessert with vanilla ice cream!

Serves 4-6
Full time: 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours

You will need:

4 apples, cored and diced
4 eggs
4 cups day old bread cubes (about half a loaf Italian bread)
1 cup half and half, slightly warmed
1 cup hot water
1 cup caramel sauce
3/4 brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice or ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

For serving:

Vanilla Ice Cream
Caramel Sauce

Let us begin:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a lightly greased deep baking dish place diced bread and apples. Make sure to give them a good stir to mix them up.

In a small container dissolve brown sugar into water.

Pour over the bread and apple cubes.

In a small bowl whisk together all remaining ingredients except caramel and white sugar.

Pour mixture over bread and apple cubes.

Dust top with white sugar.

Bake in oven for 50-60 minutes or until it tests done when knife inserted.

Remove from oven and pour over caramel sauce allowing heat to melt it into dish.

Allow to cool and set 1 hour before serving.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Enjoy!