Monday, January 19, 2015
Today's bounty (22 pounds of tomatoes) gave me two (6-quart) crock pots full of sauce making ingredients, plus one freezer container with five pounds of peeled tomatoes for later use. That means that 8.5 pounds went into each crock pot; not bad! So, why do folks ask me why I go to all this trouble? Well I'm going to tell you...
Next question, but why toss the skin, doesn't that contain fiber and nutrients? Yes it does, but unless you're buying guaranteed organic tomatoes; that skin has to go and here's why. Many cases of fruits and vegetables come from foreign countries; the tomatoes I purchased came from Mexico, distributed via an Arizona state company. How many times have we read about contaminated foods coming from Mexico? Using the hot water bath destroys any bacteria sitting on that skin.
Next, here is an informational quote from the box itself, "May have been treated with O-Phenylphenol or Sorbic Acid to inhibit mold and coated with Paraffin waxes and oil, Mineral oil and/or Carnauba was." You can wash them with cold or warm water, but those items listed will not simply wash off; enjoy the chemical and wax snacks along with your tomatoes. No thank you! If you need that skin, go organic.
Why is jarred sauce, purchased at the market, so bad? Read the label; if you need a degree in science to be able to pronounce and understand all the chemicals listed, then why ask why? Even products sold in "health food stores" need to have the labels looked at carefully. Even though they state "all natural ingredients", the jars are sitting on shelves in warm environments; how are the ingredients kept from spoiling?
All I'm saying is, at least give it a try. Yes it's work; yes it takes time and energy; but once you taste the results, you will so be thanking me for the push in this direction. Click Here for my instructions on processing your own fresh tomatoes.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Each style uses its own type of dough; each uses its own type of baking pan, but the toppings can be the same, just used differently. Lets go play!
So, what exactly did I do for my pizza; I used New York style dough (click on the link above) and a deep dish pan (14 inch diameter) for Chicago style layers.
Preheat the oven to 450F; for a crispy bottom and thoroughly baked dough, the oven has to be hot. NO! you cannot use a convention oven!!! We have a place in town that does that, and they continue to remain clueless to great pizza making. Nonstick pans are the best to keep the dough from sticking and burning; spread the dough to the very edges of the pan, an even 1/4 inch thickness. If you have excess dough on the sides, a simple roll of the dough makes a nice edge all around.
Now begin the layering; slices of provolone cheese covers the dough; then slices of mozzarella over the provolone, but not completely covering.
Depending on your tastes, now would come the meat layer; the meat should be cooked already as this pizza will not be in the oven long enough to thoroughly cook raw meat. Instead of a layer of meat, I used meat sauce instead of a plain tomato sauce. For this 14 inch, I used one and a half cups of sauce; oh no, I am not stingy on the sauce when it comes to my pizzas.
A generous sprinkling of an Italian herbal mix, grated Parmesan cheese and this baby was ready to go into the preheated oven. Now the bad part...the waiting!
Normally, a pizza will take about 20 minutes; that's right, as long as one of those nasty, frozen pizzas you can purchase at your local supermarket. Depending on your oven, and the altitude, it can take up to 25 minutes. At 15 minutes, check it and see if the sauce is bubbling yet; then check at 20 minutes; if yes, it's done, if no, bake it for 5 more minutes.
|Browned, crispy crust...Oh Yes!!!|
Still not sure if you want to make homemade pizza; how about French bread pizza? Just click on the link and find out how simple and easy this is; but you might want to make my homemade meatballs for a topping.
I bet you're drooling for pizza now, so go make some!
Friday, January 16, 2015
Since the Alfredo sauce will not be strictly a cream sauce (addition of diced sun-dried tomatoes), throw in a couple of tablespoons of diced green or red bell peppers for added color and texture. Alfredo sauce begins with a basic recipe for Béchamel (white sauce); it's the addition of Parmesan cheese that creates Alfredo.
Basic Béchamel Recipe
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups hot milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time; whisk continuously to avoid burning or clumping. When mixture is completely smooth, remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg; set aside until ready to use.
Makes 3 cups.
For the Alfredo sauce, once the mixture is smooth, add one cup of grated Parmesan cheese and continue to whisk until smooth; add the salt and nutmeg as directed.
For the Sun-dried Alfredo sauce, after the butter has melted, add 1/4 cup of diced, reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes plus a teaspoon of minced garlic. Once they begin to sizzle in the butter, then continue the rest of the sauce making process. Add in two tablespoons of diced green or red bell peppers, if desired, after the sauce is finished.
|Sun-dried Afredo Sauce with diced green bell peppers added.|
|Cheese Tortelloni; garnished with parsley.|
|Italian Sausage added.|
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Here is the original recipe in the section called "Impress Your Guests".
Scalloped Tomatoes and Corn
1 (15 oz.) can cream style corn
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup saltine cracker crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsps. sugar
3/4 tsp. black pepper
Combine corn, tomatoes with juice, cracker crumbs, egg, sugar and pepper in crock pot; mix well. Cover; cook on low 4 to 6 hours or until done.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
My first question for the preparation is "What size crock pot?" For the best cooking medium, a crock pot should be almost full (allowing for liquid produced during cooking); no way this would fill a 6-quart, not even a 4-quart. Second question, "Why the sugar?" The cream style corn would release sugar during cooking; isn't that why salt wasn't added, because of the saltine crackers? Third question was "How is this scalloped? Scalloped means a casserole with cream and cheese incorporated; ok, the cream style corn could act as the cream, but where was the cheese?
So, how was I going to work with this recipe, but make it even better. First thing was to check out the freezer; and I struck gold! After Thanksgiving, turkeys and turkey breasts have a tendency to go on sale. I usually buy a turkey breast, roast it, and portion out the meat into freezer bags for future use; they last up to six months. I also found a package of applewood smoked bacon; bacon makes everything better!
A little bit of this, a little bit of that; skip the sugar altogether. All the ingredients fit inside a 2-quart crock pot, cooked in four hours and created a complete meal, for four, of delicious comfort food.
Come, see what I have created in my lab...umm kitchen, I meant kitchen.
½ cup diced celery
4 slices Applewood smoked bacon, cut into one inch pieces
6 slices Swiss cheese
1 (15 oz.) can sweet corn, cream style
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 cup crumbled saltine crackers
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. crushed dried thyme leaves
Spray inside of a 2-quart crock pot with nonstick cooking spray. Layer the turkey, celery, bacon; cover with the Swiss cheese slices.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
216 East Center Street
Monticello, Utah, 84535
Phone: (435) 587-2335
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pjsofmonticello
Located on Center Street aka Route 491, the colorful building housing PJs is up for sale, but still open for business. The interior is divided up into two sections; the restaurant and the pool hall which also has tables for dining.
After ordering a cheeseburger which comes with fries, I asked about the Buffalo Wings. I love buffalo wings, but only if they're deep fried, then sauced. Many places bake the wings; and I abhor mushy, gummy skin on my wings! For all you lovers of authentic buffalo wings, I have found nirvana for you...PJs does them right, deep fried and sauced!!!
Anyway, the cheeseburger is massive; 4 and 1/2 inches in diameter making it stick outside the 4 and 1/4 inch bun, and it's 1/4 inch thick; lettuce, pickles, onion, ketchup and mustard are the toppings. The French fries were so loaded up (crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside), they were spilling off my plate; and yes! they come with Utah's favorite, fry sauce.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; if you need a meal to take on a hike or picnic, PJs can box it up for you, no problem.
Thankfully, PJs has stayed open while it has been for sale; just hoping that whoever eventually buys it will keep the concept of good food done right, not nasty fast food...and don't do away with those authentic buffalo wings!
Saturday, December 13, 2014
111 East Main Street
Farmington, New Mexico, 87401
Phone: (505) 325-6605
We'd passed by Three Rivers many times, but always on the way to somewhere else. This time though, we made sure to stop and were so glad we did; amazing atmosphere, food and staff. JJ, our waitress, is a firecracker personality; so ask for her when you go to dine in. While you can dine in the bar area; there is a separate restaurant part in the next room; plenty of seating (tables, small and large booths).
Three Rivers has an eight page menu; something for everyone's tastes! We started off with the Onion Rings appetizer; crunchy goodness with a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing. We so wanted to order another round of onion rings, but needed to keep room for the main meals.
One of the menu pages is "Daily Specials"; we were there on a Monday, so I started with a cup of the Baked Potato soup; luscious, packed with potatoes, bacon and chives.
The sandwich for the day was the Smokehouse Cubano; tender pork, onion, pickle, on pressed bread; and Yes! I ordered bacon for it which enhanced the whole experience.
I'd met some folks from Farmington awhile back, who had highly recommended Three Rivers Brewery; and told us to try the Drunken Steak Sandwich. This was hubby's main meal, but I had a bite; oh my goodness, so tender and juicy!!! This definitely hit the top of the awesomeness scale.
Two relatives had joined us for lunch; one had the Garden Burger with a side of black beans; she surely raved about those beans, but enjoyed the burger too.
The other had a half pound burger special (2 - 1/4 pound burgers stacked) with more onion rings); nothing left on her plate, so you know it was that good!
Now I had already perused the dessert menu and saw that Tres Leches cake was listed; here was my chance to finally try this cake out. I only ate half my sandwich to make sure I had room for this treat. The cake is light with a, not unexpected, milky taste; it was almost like a palette cleanser and yummy treat all wrapped up into one. Definitely would have this cake again!
If you're in the Farmington, New Mexico area and want a unique dining experience, Three Rivers Brewery has what it takes...atmosphere, friendly staff, awesome food.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
64 West 200 South
Monticello, Utah, 84535
Phone: (435) 459-9399
Shari Rene' (aka Shari Griffin); a renowned San Juan County artist, formerly from Oregon, loves her art, and loves serving up fresh made coffees, teas, hot chocolates, muffins and bagels to visitors of her newest indulgence shop, "The Studio-Coffee House". It is so named due to the fact that she also conducts art classes; so the best of both her worlds is offered to customers.
|Shari Rene with her employee, Mary are waiting to give you friendly service!|
The building is "country cute" and the interior is "country comfort"; large windows bring in the sunshine; a couch in front of the fireplace speaks of warmth and cozy. Shari Rene's artwork adorns the walls and table tops; the menus on chalk boards over the kitchen counter.
Now for the most important part, well for me anyway; the food and beverages; as I stated before, the beverages are fresh made, no premixed powders and just add water or milk. The first is Chai Tea Latte, made from a freshly brewed chai tea and topped off with steamed milk; a dash, alright, a huge dash of cinnamon to top it off. I nursed this baby, it was so, so delicious!
My friend ordered a hot chocolate with espresso shot; again, chocolate powder cooked with real milk, topped with whipped cream, real liquid chocolate so thick, it cannot be pumped out, but spooned out; and a dash of cocoa powder. Opinion; my friend was very happy with her choice.
Newest item on the menu are bagels (blueberry, plain and everything); real wood fired bagels (partially baked, shipped in, then Shari Rene finishes them off in the her oven); toasted up perfectly and smeared with cream cheese. Oh I was in bagel heaven; I haven't had a real, delicious bagel since leaving the East coast, and this did it for me! I did request that Shari bring in cinnamon raisin (we both had the blueberry), since that is the perfect comfort bagel with cream cheese; in my opinion of course. Just a suggestion, but I sure do hope she does it.
The Studio-Coffee House just opened in September and the current days of operation are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However Shari Rene announced that, with the addition of new employees, hours and days will be added on; call the phone number to make sure it's open before you go for your hot beverage fix. This place is going to be a great boon for locals and visitors alike; but I do hope not so busy that my Chai Tea Latte and bagel with cream cheese are sold out before I can get them.