Slow cooker marinara sauce

While looking through blog posts, I ran across a recipe for slow cooker marinara sauce from here.  It looked really good and would go perfect with another recipe I am making.  The only bad part?  I have a hand me down crock pot from my mom.  It makes me a little twitchy to leaving it on all day.  I decided to let it cook over night instead.  At least, then, I would be able to hear Categoriesthe fire alarms if it decides to blow up 🙂

Ingredients.  I know the wine isn’t the best, but I was on a tight budget when I bought the ingredients – especially since I really don’t drink wine and knew the rest would probably go to waste.  Knowing the rule that you should never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink, I tasted it.  It was surprisingly good.  Not the best, but not crap:

All mixed up

This is how twitchy I am about the slow cooker.  This is the timer I used when I plugged it in and left it over night

This is what it looked like the next morning.  At this point, it tasted pretty good.  A little sweet, but still good.

I threw it in the fridge so I could save it for after work.  Dinner time tonight

I am not sure what happened from this morning to tonight, but the sauce turned a bit sour.  I am not sure what happened from this morning to tonight.  The only thing I can think is the wine, but it really wasn’t that bad.  There is no other explanation, really though.  I haven’t given up yet, I want to make this again, but maybe leave out the wine – replace it with broth maybe.  I’ve never had good luck cooking with wine.  Not sure how to salvage what I have though.  Monday, I think I will heat it up on the stove and try some things.  Salt, sugar, maybe some fennel seed.  I wonder if throwing in a carrot would naturally sweeten the sauce – maybe even draw out some of the sourness from the wine.


Spicy Orange Shrimp

I love shrimp.  I love orange sauce.  When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it.  I did it a little differently than the original cook.  I worry about shrimp being over cooked, so I cooked that separate from the sauce.  It look a little longer to reduce it to what I prefer in a sauce, but it was so worth it.  I love this recipe.  It is going into my hand written book.  I may have to actually measure out the red pepper flakes next time, though.  Whew!!
Ingredients – all I had to buy was the juice and shrimp

Ingredients all mixed up in the clear measuring cup.  This made it easier to measure most of the liquids.  Just pour it in until the top of the liquid moves to the correct level.

I put the sauce on to simmer while I peeled and cleaned the shrimp.  It takes me some time because I absolutely despise the “vein” in shelled shrimp.  I don’t care what you say, I know it’s not a vein.  I know what it is!  And I AM NOT GONNA EAT IT!  That is why I never eat shelled steamed shrimp.  At this point, I was getting a little concerned because it smelled so strongly of soy sauce, I thought that would be the only flavor.

I cooked up the shrimp and added the sauce in.  I cooked them together a little more – until all the shrimp were cooked.

At that point, I took out the shrimp and put them with the portions of rice that I set up.  I got 4 pretty good servings out of this recipe as you can see.

I was going to store the sauce in separate containers, but of course, one fell on the floor 😐  I did have a reason for the separation – it was basically so the rice wouldn’t absorb the sauce.  And seeing how hot this got, it would’ve been nice to have the rice as a cooling down type accessory to the meal.  Yea, I have no idea what word I was looking for there, but you get my drift.  I had a picture of the spill, but it kind of looked… a potty accident?  Yea, that’s all I am going to say about that 😮

Here was my dinner last night

It was soo good.  The sauce tasted of soy sauce, but not as overwhelmingly as I had thought earlier.  It was definitely spicy, but that was my own fault.  I am wondering if I can do this with chicken.  Maybe even as a sauce on the side.  Try it, love it, thank the lady from the website 😀

Spinach Orzo

This is a recipe that I have made a few times.  I am not sure if I made it while “on the wagon” of dieting or not, so I made a mistake in this rendition.  I am pretty much a sucker for anything that uses orzo.  This is, by far, my favorite pasta with ditalini and elbows rounding out the podium.  Ok, ok, I am an orzo slut.  I admit it.  I should go to meetings.  I even love orzo cooked in chicken broth and nothing else.  Try it the next time you aren’t feeling well.  With white buttered toast on the side cut into triangles of course.  You’ll thank me 😉

I apologize for the lack of pictures with this post.  It is a relatively simple side dish and there are so few steps that I forgot!

Ingredients (I only made half the recipe linked)

After adding the spinach.  I don’t think there’s enough.  Do you?

Finished in the pot

Now, it was a little underdone and here’s why.  I didn’t measure out a cup of orzo, I went by the weight they listed instead.  There was definitely not enough broth/water to cook that weight of orzo.  Next time, I will measure the cup, then weigh to get the correct balance.

It’s a light tasting dish and the carrots and spinach are not overwhelming despite the green lagoon picture above.  This is one that I will come back to again and again.  It is so easy and quick to make.  This can simmer while you are cooking the main dish and heating up veggies.  As you can see, I neglected the veggies with my dinner.  Um, I wasn’t feeling good? 😀

I also want to touch on some shortcuts that I am sure you have noticed by now.  When a recipe calls for garlic or broth, I don’t usually have it on hand.  I forget about the broth or I just don’t buy it because half a can always goes to waste.  Garlic tends to form a life of its own in my house.  Literally.  I think there is a family of garlic living in my meat drawer.  I tried to open it and was attacked by the guard ginger they adopted.  Instead, I rely on my good friends Penzey’s.  You see them in most of my posts with seasonings.  Even if they have been stored in mason jars.  I use their dehydrated garlic as a replacement for minced garlic.  Rehydrate it in a little water, drain and voila – garlic.  It truly does taste like normal garlic to me.  I also love that it is already in small pieces.  I do not like biting into a hunk o garlic in my food.  The other is soup base.  Above, I used the vegetable because I just thought it was more appropriate in the dish than chicken (which I also have in my fridge).   Mix it with some hot water to dissolve it and voila – broth. 🙂  I never got the beef or pork soup base, though.  I don’t know why.  I am afraid the beef will smell like dog food…….kind of like beef broth does.  Something just seems wrong about pork soup base.  I don’t know what, but it keeps me up at night.  Same with the seafood.  *shudder*  I just checked and it looks like they have Ham and Turkey now, too.  Yeaaaaa, I don’t think so.  MAYBE the turkey.

One other thing I love is kitchen shears.  I use them for everything.  Cutting up the spinach and carrot shreds above, but I have also used them when trimming meant or chicken and I am just having some issues.  I’ve even used it for cutting lunchmeat.  Don’t ask.  Just believe.

Hope you found that useful!  I will try and remember to post more shortcuts that I use often on other posts.

Pancake “Squares”

I am always on the lookout for good, filling breakfast recipes.  When I stumbled on this recipe a while ago, I was ecstatic.  Easy pancakes?  Sign me up!  I made them and was disappointed with the flavor.  It is a simple recipe, but really didn’t have a taste.  I started experimenting with items to add.  I have added everything from vanilla, cinnamon, sugar and chocolate chips.  I love trying new things based on my mood.  It did make it into my recipe book, but I am still working on perfecting it to my tastes.  I would also love to make it more filling.  It started out with 8 servings, but I recently pared it down to 4.  Even with that, some sausage and a glass of milk, I am still hungry about an hour and a half later.  I would love to add fruit on the side, but I can’t at the moment (stupid budget).

Here’s the ingredients I used this time.  My milk went bad, so I used buttermilk – it was the only thing I had in the fridge.

All Mixed up

I then used this

In this

To make this

All baked up

My sad little breakfast.  I didn’t have any syrup and butter totally didn’t provide a suitable substitute.  In fact, it kind of sucked.  Especially since I didn’t even have milk to wash it down.  Sad Face!

Totally not filling.  I am thinking of having peanut butter on it tomorrow to add some protein and maybe make it more filling.  Or ham and cheese…..wonder how that would go.  And just a note about the spray – that is my number one “secret” to things releasing perfectly.  People always ask how my cakes don’t stick.  Any time I am making something that might stick, out the spray comes.  Now, this isn’t your ordinary Pam (personally, I think those things are nasty – just pure chemicals and people use them for EVERYTHING.  Really?  Spray directly on food to save some calories?  I don’t think SO!).  It is a flour spray.  Kind of the new fangled butter and flour coating of the pan.  Works every time and smells delicious 🙂

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

I have been wanting to make this recipe for a while, but with all the past dough fiascos, I was a little wary.  I dove in anyways and enlisted the help of a friend with the taste testing.  He happily obliged 🙂  Now my friend is a self-professed pizza snob/aficionado.  He liked it, so I would say it is a hit recipe.  I actually left my part at his house last night and I am regretting my lazy decision today.  I WANT MY PIZZA!!  lol.  I am definitely going to be making this again…..and soon.

Sauce Ingredients

I didn’t get any pictures of the actual sauce making because I was multi-tasking.  I basically followed the directions on the website above.  The only thing I changes was I didn’t add the olive-oil at the end and I only had dried basil on hand.  I made do and it was good.  I was skeptical of the sugar in the sauce – I have other methods to cut the acid from the tomatoes – but I stuck with it.  I am so glad that I did.

Dough Ingredients – missing some butter.  Yep, there’s more butter 🙂

I mixed it all up, but I don’t have a fancy schmancy mixer with a dough hook.  The closest I have is this:

Now, these will give your arms a workout.  I had some trouble holding on.  These mixers move fast and trying to hold them while kneading dough.  I got it done though.  I had to put it in a smaller bowl so it would all catch together.  I never really got it smooth – I think because of the cornmeal.  It didn’t seem to affect the final result, though.  It rose on the counter once, then slathered with butter and rose again in the fridge.  While it was doing that, I got my pan ready.  Instead of using a cake pan, I went with a springform pan to make serving and cutting easier.

I didn’t use 2 tablespoons though.  I poured some in and used a basting brush to spread it around

I had one drip that concerned me about leakage with the pan.  I didn’t have any other problems with it.  To be safe, when I baked the pizza, I put a pan underneath.  I think it may have had a few drips in it.

I prepared the dough in the pan and got ready to transport it about 20 minutes away.  I was concerned the trip would affect the dough or make it ookey.  Maybe even rise more.  Last thing I needed was a pan full of dough with no room for cheese and sauce!  What kind of pizza would that be?  Maybe make breadsticks?  Mmmmmm….breadsticks.

All dressed up and ready to bake.  I added some sausage that you can’t see.  I had trouble deciding where to put it.  Mix it in with the sauce?  On top of the sauce?  On top of the cheese?  The expert pizza guy kept saying “You’re the cook”  I threatened to cut him if he didn’t have an opinion 🙂  It worked.  I put it on the top of the cheese and then the sauce last.

Looking at the two pictures, I can see it did puff up a little.  Maybe I should add a quick rise before baking next time?

It took the entire 30 minutes to cook and get the crust browning on top, but the hardest part was waiting to cut it.

But when I did – OMG!  The sauce started to slide off after I cut it, but it didn’t matter.

It was fantastic.  I was so happy with the results.  The connoisseur was happy with the results.  He truly liked it.  It was a great compliment.  It was also great fodder to use for the rest of the day.  If he annoyed me, I could threaten to take away the pizza 😀 – and I did, often.  I really want to make this again.  The sauce was great.  The dough was good – nice and crispy.  Right about of cheese. – just good.  I made it so a quarter of a pie is a single serving, but with a salad, an eighth of the pie would be plenty.  I wasn’t hungry for about 3-4 hours after eating this.  I wanted to eat all of it, though.  I am off to write this in the hand-written cookbook – tootles!!


MIA – Sorry :(

I know I have been MIA for a bit.  To be honest, I really haven’t been making many new items.  I did make one new thing that sucked so bad, I didn’t even eat it.  I made some pasta and one casserole.  The casserole I had never made before, but I didn’t take pictures because I wanted it to be fast since I was very hungry.  I will write a little more about it later.

Also, since I am being honest, I got a little discouraged since all the views on this blog are for ONE post!  I mean really.  They are all for the appetizer post I did.  I am almost tempted to change the title.

I won’t let that stop me anymore, though.  I am making something new this weekend, so I will be sure to post it for you.

Until then!!