Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

tomato-sauce

Ever since I first made this sauce I’ve been a huge, HUGE fan. The recipe is seemingly everywhere and it’s so simple, so perfect, so delicious you just want to eat more and more of it… it’s Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce With Butter and Onion. Three ingredients (not including salt, but that hardly counts), but they come together in a way that defies explanation. The butter adds so much richness to the tomatoes, and the onion in the background just adds to the overall roundness and balance of the sauce. It’s my very favorite tomato sauce, and it comes together with pantry ingredients in under an hour.

Seriously, I beg you to try it the next time you want a weeknight treat. How to make it?

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Juneberry Jam

juneberry-jam-biscuit

A few years back while at the school playground, my daughter ran up to me and asked if she could eat some “juneberries,” which she had found growing on trees planted around the play equipment. Wary at first (but figuring that it was extremely unlikely the school would’ve planted poisonous berries on their playground), I checked online and determined that the berries were edible, so she was allowed to try them. I even tried one myself, and discovered that they tasted something like a cross between a blueberry and a cranberry– sweet but with a tang. They were pretty good!

juneberries

Since then, we’ve noticed juneberry bushes all over our neighborhood parks, and while the berries are only ripe for a very short period (in June, of course), they’re abundant as long as you can get to them before the birds do!

This June we decided to finally make a serious effort to harvest some, rather than just picking them here and there, so one afternoon we set out with a plastic Halloween bucket and managed to collect just over 2 pounds of berries. It didn’t look like quite enough to make a pie, so we decided to make jam.

juneberry-jam-berries

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Cupcake “Sliders”

sliders

This past Father’s Day my daughter decided that she wanted to make something fun for dessert for her dad– and since she’s recently been obsessed with “food impostors,” we thought it would great to make cupcakes that looked like cheeseburgers– mini cheeseburger sliders, of course, since full-sized ones would be a bit too much for even my husband’s sweet tooth to handle!

We decided to keep things simple and use box mixes as our base ingredients– a box of french vanilla cake mix, and a box of fudge brownie mix (though to avoid having a gigantic plateful of cupcakes we only used half of the cake mix).

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Carnitas!

carnitas

One good thing about working from home due to COVID-19 is that I suddenly have time to try out recipes that have a long cook-time– now that I’m home all day it’s no problem to babysit something on the stove for a few hours before dinner! I flipped through my bookmarked recipes for something to try on a drizzly day, and came up with pork carnitas!

Carnitas are chunks of pork butt or shoulder, simmered for hours and then crisped up a bit over high heat. These couldn’t have been easier and were amazingly delicious, particularly when spooned onto warmed corn tortillas and heaped with a bunch of taco fixings. Once again, I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, so I knew it would be good!

I can’t wait until this whole social distancing thing is over and I can make a huge batch of these for a party.

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Hedgehog Cheese Ball

For my daughter’s woodland party I couldn’t *just* do sweets, so I made a few savory themed treats as well– case in point, this hedgehog-shaped cheese ball. Because who doesn’t like cheese?

I went with the standard sliced-almond technique for the spines, and for flavoring I took inspiration from recipe online and used half a package of dried onion soup mix as my main mix-in. With a few other additions for extra kick, it turned out creamy and flavorful, and went well with crackers. As an added bonus, any leftovers can be spread on toast and broiled for a delicious snack, or melted over pasta for a more substantial meal!

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Candied Pecans

pecans.jpg

Okay, so I admit that candied nuts are something I’ve long associated with the winter holidays– they’re so great for eating by the handful along with all of those rich, cheesy, sugary holiday foods– but there’s no reason to restrict one’s intake of these deliciously crunchy, sweet-savory snacks to the winter months! They go just as well with bright, crispy salads as they do with melty brie (mmm, brie…). Brown sugar gives them depth, while cinnamon gives them a hint of spice. I’ve been known to add 1/8 tsp. of cayenne pepper for an extra kick, but you don’t have to if you want something a bit milder.

I will note that I’ve tried different methods of getting a nice, crunchy coating on the pecans, and the egg white method is the only way to go. Works every time, and no hassle with trying to caramelize sugar!

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Pickled Mustard Seeds

mustard-seeds.jpg

Can you believe this is my 300th post? Neither can I! Thanks to everyone for reading this far! Now, on to the project post!

I originally made these as part of a recipe for those delectable uni bocadillos, but they also make a great condiment on their own, so I thought I’d post about them separately. For any mustard newbies, you most often find mustard seeds as part of whole-grain mustard, and their unique texture adds to the mustard experience. It’s hard to describe– once they absorb liquid, they transform from a dry, crunchy seed to something a little soft, with a nice little “pop” when you crunch them between your teeth.

Anyway, in addition to having them mixed into whole-grain mustard, you can also pickle them on your own to make a seed-only condiment for extra pop! I used yellow mustard seeds for this application, though you can also use brown if that’s all you can find.

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Improving Storebought Caramel Topping

caramel-doctor-originalEvery year we throw an ice cream party, where guests bring their favorite flavors of ice cream along with toppings to create an ice cream buffet. Unfortunately, once the wreckage is cleared away we find ourselves with an excess of high-calorie, high-sugar treats in the form of sauces, crumbled cookies, and candy– what to do with them?

I managed to use up a lot of the leftovers, but one bottle of storebought “caramel flavored syrup” remained stubbornly in our refrigerator. I usually make my own caramel sauce (deeply caramelized, and hit with a generous pinch of salt), but I thought I’d try my hand at doctoring up the storebought stuff, just to see what would happen.

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Bacon Jam

bacon jam cracker

So I had a lot of extra bacon, and with its expiration date fast approaching I didn’t want to let all that salty, smoky, fatty goodness go to waste. What to make? Bacon jam. And it’s AMAZING. Seriously, I’ve tried other bacon jam recipes before, but this one was a standout– I tasted it and immediately declared it one of the best things I’d ever made. It’s incredibly delicious, and while it may seem like a lot of work for a condiment, this is no ordinary jam!┬áThis sweet-savory spread (with a hint of spice at the end) goes on anything, from grilled cheese sandwiches (my favorite) to crackers and peanut butter.* Try it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!

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