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Bubs’ Sauce

If you ask any cook, of any level, what they like most about cooking, I bet they’d say, “Cooking for those I love.”

For me, that’s the definitive answer. I love nothing more than spending the day in the kitchen–cooking and baking–for those who mean the most to me. What better way to show love than working in the kitchen– tasting, babying, coaxing flavors, and making sure a dish is just the way it should be. Putting a little (or a lot) of love on a plate goes a long way. It creates flavor memories, conversations, laughing, fun, togetherness. What could be better than that?

Like most weekends, this past weekend, I was able to cook for my number one, my husband. However, this was more special–it was for his birthday.

A couple weeks ago, I asked him what he’d like me to cook for his birthday, and without thought, without hesitation, he said, “Bubs’ Sauce.”

What’s Bubs’ Sauce? It’s my spaghetti sauce.

It’s the one thing I’ve cooked over the years that he, and friends, always ask me to  cook.

Just like my Salmon Chowder recipe, my mom is the inspiration for my sauce. Mom’s spaghetti was AMAZING! She taught me how to make it at a very young age and it’s a recipe I cherish so very much.

There was a time when I made it for her, and she said, “Amy, I think this is better than mine.”

That wasn’t possible, but I took the compliment as high praise.

The biggest difference from my recipe and hers is I don’t put meat in mine.

WHAT? No meat? You ask.

That’s right. No meat.

When Chris and I became pescetarians (we eat fish, but no other meat), I took the meat out of the recipe and found a way to add depth and richness that meat would normally give.

Some people would turn their nose up at spaghetti sauce that doesn’t have ground beef, pork, and/or veal– my dad being one of them. He normally wouldn’t touch such a sauce. However, just a few months ago, I made it for the family, and he tasted it. To my surprise, he liked it! I doubt… no, I know… he won’t ever make it my way, but the fact he thought it tasted good is enough for me. He, and my brother, couldn’t believe it didn’t have meat it in it.

It comes down to layering flavors. Don’t worry, meat eaters, I give directions on adding meat if you want to.

Please pay attention to any little tips I give along the way. They make a difference in the end product. This is not a quick spaghetti sauce. It’s a process that results in a restaurant worthy bowl of spaghetti. Who doesn’t want that?

Okay, let’s get to it.

First, dice one large onion, six cloves of garlic, and two medium carrots.

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In a large pot, sauté the carrots and onions in olive oil for five minutes. From this point, until the sauce is put together, cook at medium to medium high heat.

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Add Worcestershire sauce. I know… it seems weird, but I got this tip from my Italian friend, Tony De Vito, who co-owns our favorite Italian restaurant in Stowe, Trattoria La Festa. Just add it. It does something good. Also add the chopped garlic and spices– Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.

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Stir and cook for five minutes. Don’t worry if it gets “dry”. Deglazing with wine comes soon.

Now, add a whole tube of tomato paste. I use Cento brand. If you can’t find any that comes in a tube, use the canned version. I know it seems like a lot of tomato paste, but like the Worcestershire, it adds a depth of flavor. Stir it into the veggies and spices. It’s not going to look pretty, but it’s a part of the process. Go with it.

Cook for three minutes.

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Time to add the good stuff… Wine! Add one cup of red wine… whatever you have open or any everyday table wine. If you don’t cook with wine, use vegetable broth.

Stir into the mixture. Again, it’s not going to look pretty. Continue to go with it.

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Let that cook for another five minutes. You want to cook out the alcohol. Even if you use vegetable broth, let it cook down.

Now, add the tomatoes. I use two large cans of crushed tomatoes and one large can of diced tomatoes. You can mix and match whatever tomatoes you like best. After stirring them in, add one package of mushrooms– baby bellas or white mushrooms work great.

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Stir, cover, and let simmer on low heat. This is where all the flavors come together and the veggies cook through.

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After an hour, taste the sauce. What do you think it needs? I always end up adding a bit more of each seasoning. Plus, we like it a little spicy, so I add some red pepper flakes. Season however you wish, then cover and let it continue to simmer away… checking it every once in a while. It’s good to leave the lid off every so often to let extra moisture evaporate, which thickens the sauce.

I let it simmer for four to six hours, depending what our plans are. It can never simmer too long, but don’t let it simmer for too little. At the least, make sure the veggies are cooked through and then let it cook for another hour (or more).

About twenty or thirty minutes before you’re ready to eat, add grated Parmesan (or Romano… my favorite) to the sauce. Again, it adds a depth of flavor. I never measure this… just grate away until your heart is happy. I’m guessing 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup is a good amount. If you can, get the kind you need to grate; it has more flavor.

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At this point, I also like to add another package of mushrooms. The mushrooms that were put in at the beginning are cooked down, so adding more will give a “meatiness” to the sauce, especially if you’re not adding meat.

Turn the heat up to medium and leave the lid off while the second round of mushrooms cook in the sauce. This will allow any water they let off to evaporate and the sauce won’t become watery. Let them cook for around twenty minutes.

During this time, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Be sure to add a good amount of salt to the water. Any pasta will work. This weekend, we chose our favorite, Pappardelle. It can handle a hefty sauce. This is the brand we use. It may be hard to find, but Amazon carries it:

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Swirl your pasta around in the water; this helps it to not stick together. Also, adding a little olive oil in the water helps. Don’t over cook your pasta. You’ve spent all this time making a delicious sauce and nothing will hurt it more than mushy, over-done pasta. Once you get to the seven minute mark, taste a piece of pasta every minute thereafter. (Unless you’re using angel hair. Those don’t take much time to cook– maybe five to seven minutes total). As soon as you eat the perfect one (al dente is best), take the pasta off the stove, and drain. Do not wash your pasta! However, drizzle a little olive over the pasta, and toss gently. This keeps the pasta from sticking together. Let it sit in the colander for at least 3-5 minutes, shaking it around a few times to get all the water off.

Okay, FINALLY, it’s time to eat!

I like to top mine with fresh basil and grated Romano (or Parmesan) cheese.

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Chris ended up having three bowls, which made me smile. I have to say, it was the perfect bowl of pasta. We reheated it on Sunday and Chris had another three bowls.

I also made him a Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream Icing, which was the best cake I’ve ever put in my mouth (if I say so myself). Chris had two pieces on Saturday and two pieces on Sunday. Birthday boy had a very happy tummy.

 

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What you’ll need:

1 large onion– diced

2 medium carrots– diced

6 cloves of garlic– finely chopped

4 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1/4 cup Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon of salt

1 tablespoon of pepper

Red Pepper flakes– if you like adding heat

1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

1 tube or 1 small can of tomato paste

1 cup of red wine or vegetable broth

3 large cans of tomatoes (2 crushed and 1 diced– or any combination you like)

2 packages of mushrooms– Baby Bellas or White Button

1/4 – 1/3  cup, grated Parmesan or Romano, plus more for adding on top– get the kind you need to grate yourself

Fresh Basil–chopped

Directions:

First, dice one large onion, six cloves of garlic, and two medium carrots. Sauté the carrots and onions in the olive oil for five minutes. (From this point, until the sauce is put together, cook at medium to medium high heat.)

Add Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and spices– Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook for five minutes. Then, add a whole tube or can of tomato paste. Cook for three minutes and then add the wine (or vegetable broth). Cook for five more minutes and then add tomatoes and one package of mushrooms, stir to combine.

Let it simmer on low heat. Taste after one hour, adding more seasonings if you need to. Let it simmer for 4-6 hours on low. When you’re 30 minutes away from eating, add approx. 1/4-1/3 cup (or how ever much you want) of grated Parmesan (or Romano) cheese and another package of mushrooms. Leave uncovered and cook on medium heat. During this time, cook pasta. *Be sure to make note of the tips I gave above about cooking pasta.

Plate and enjoy!

Alternatives and more tips:

You can do this in the crock pot, but make sure to do all the steps up to adding the tomatoes and mushrooms on the stove top. Transfer the veggie mixture into the crock pot, then add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Set on high for the first few hours and then turn to low for rest of the time. Be sure to leave the lid off every once in a while to let moisture evaporate, which will thicken the sauce. Follow the rest of the instructions just the same.

Once you begin tasting the sauce, and you feel there’s too much acidity, add a tablespoon of sugar. It will cut the acid in the tomatoes.

If you want to add meat, brown your meat mixture (whatever you choose) and add it after adding the tomatoes.

Having someone be a taste tester is always a good idea. Sometimes I feel my taste buds aren’t catching everything they should, especially after the third or fourth time tasting the sauce.

If there’s a particular ingredient you don’t like, leave it out. For example, I know people who don’t like mushrooms. That’s cool, just don’t add them.

 

 

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I’ve had people ask me which spiralizer I use, so I wanted to do a quick post to share the one I like most.

This spiralizer has three different blades, so you can have three different size “noodles”. It has suction cups to keep it stable on the counter and it’s super easy to use and clean.

Here’s what it looks like:

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Here’s a close up of it doing its job:

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Here’s the finished product of it zoodling a very large zucchini from my garden:

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I’ve tried a hand held spiralizer and it was a waste of nine dollars. If you want to do a lot of different veggies of differing shapes, sizes, and firmness, spend the extra money, and get one similar to the one I linked to above.

There are so many different recipes you can do with a spiralzer and I’ll share some along the way.

Just the other night, I sautéed onions, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and garlic in olive oil, and then tossed the zoodles in the cooked veggies for a few minutes over medium heat. To finish it off, I topped it with fresh basil and shaved Parmesan. It was an easy and delicious pasta alternative. 

Next, I’m going to try spiralizing a potato to make shoe-string french fries. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

 

 

 

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Salmon Chowder

In the kitchen with my mom was where I gained my cooking wings. It’s where my love of mixing, stirring, cutting, baking, cooking, and creating was born. I’m so thankful for all the kitchen memories I have with her. The recipe I’m sharing today (and many more in the future) was inspired by her and I know she’s looking down, smiling, proud that I’ve started this blog.

Mom, this is for you! I love you and miss you.

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Growing up, when Mom said it was salmon stew night, I got so excited. I can still remember the amber glass Pyrex pot on the stove—milk simmering with a nice layer of butter on top and lots and lots of pepper.

It was my job to open the cans of salmon (we never, ever used fresh salmon) and get all the bones out. Who knew there was so much joy in such a tedious task, but I absolutely loved doing it.

After the milk, butter, salt, and pepper simmered for a while, Mom would put the salmon in and let it continue to simmer away. That was it… that was  the extent of her recipe. Mom always had a way of making the most simple ingredients taste amazingly delicious. I swear the whole “it’s a mom’s loving touch that makes everything good” is true. It’s the only way to explain how canned salmon in hot, buttered milk could taste so yummy.

Fast forward many years, to my own kitchen… I’ve turned Mom’s recipe from a stew to a chowder. Just like hers, it’s a go-to comfort food, it’s just a little more hearty. Mine is full of potatoes, onions, corn, and salmon.

As far as the salmon is concerned, sometimes I use canned, and when I do, I use wild salmon. Also, I always reserve the liquid and put it in the chowder for more flavor. Here’s the kind I use:

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Most of the time (like this past weekend), I use a fresh salmon filet from our local seafood market, Stowe Seafood. Look at this beauty!

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I’m not one to wait for fall or winter to enjoy soups and chowders. I love them too much to only make them in the cold months. Some people ask, “How can you enjoy hot soup in the middle of the summer?” Well… I guess I could ask the same about someone standing in front of a grill, then eating a hot steak and baked potato. Hot food is hot food, right? (Besides, fall is right around the corner. YAY!)

That being said, let’s make some chowdah on this beautiful first day of August!

First, if you’re using fresh corn, take the kernels off the corn. When there’s not fresh corn around, frozen corn works fine and dandy. I love Green Giant’s new roasted frozen corn.

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Now, chop your onions. It’s up to you how chunky or small you want them. I usually go for medium. Then, quarter the potatoes. Use golden or red potatoes. DON’T use russet; they break down too much, too fast. I like to keep the skins on. If you don’t like them, peel them. Also, I like mine in larger chunks. If you want smaller bites, go for it. It’s all about personal preference.

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Time to heat up the pot. Make sure it’s a large, heavy pot. I love my Le Creuset, but any big pot will do the job. Once it’s hot (medium high heat), add butter and oil (one tablespoon of each), and then add the potatoes.

Let them cook for ten minutes with the lid off, stirring often. Then put the lid on, lower to medium heat, and let them cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on the cut of potatoes you choose), continue to stir every once in a while. If they begin to stick (especially if you’re not using a nonstick pot) use veggie stock to deglaze the bottom of the pot. It will unstick the potatoes and help them to not stick further. Plus, the stock will help steam the potatoes as they cook.

Now, it’s time to add the onions and corn. Throw them in and let them cook with the potatoes for about 8 minutes, stirring often, and adding a little stock if they begin to stick.

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While the veggies are cooking, warm 8 cups of milk. You can do it on the stove-top or in the microwave. You don’t want it boiling, just warm. I stress this– do not let it boil.

Add the milk to the veggies (if you’re using canned salmon, add the liquid from the can at this point). Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. I use a tablespoon of each to begin with. Then, after they’ve hung out with the milk for a little bit, I taste, and then add more of what I think it needs. You do the same. Want more salt? Add it. Want it more garlicky? Do it. Want it spicy? Add some red pepper flakes or cayenne. Add as much or as little of a spice as you want. Everybody’s taste buds are different on different days. Some days, I want to kick it up, some days, not so much.

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From this point, now that the milk is added, be careful. Do not let it come to a boil. Keep it on low heat. If you scorch the milk, your dinner is ruined. Also, if your milk gets too hot it’ll break down the fats and curdle. So, don’t rush it. You just want the vegetables to finish cooking. Taste them, especially the potatoes. Once they’re done to your likeness, it’s time to add the salmon. If you’re using canned salmon, add it, and let it simmer (on a low heat) for not long at all… maybe 5 minutes. If you’re using fresh salmon, put it skin side up, like this:

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Let the salmon cook for around ten minutes (depends on thickness of the salmon you use). Once the salmon begins to cook through, the skin will pull away using tongs, like this:

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With tongs, or a fork, break up the salmon into large chunks or small pieces… it’s your choice.

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Time to serve it up!! It goes great with cornbread, saltines, or oyster crackers. I also love a few dashes of Frank’s hot sauce on mine.

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What you’ll need:

1 onion– diced

3 ears of corn– kernels off the cob or a small bag of frozen corn (thawed)

1 bag (24 oz) of golden or red potatoes– quartered (or diced to your liking)

1 Tablespoon of butter

1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil

1/2 cup to 1 cup of vegetable stock– depending if you need it to deglaze the pot.

8 cups of warmed milk (I used 2%. Feel free to use whatever you like)

1 Tablespoon of salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder (Remember, you can adjust these amounts up or down to your liking)

Cayenne or red pepper flakes… if you want it spicy

1 lb of fresh salmon or three cans of canned salmon

Directions:

Add butter and oil to a hot pot and sauté the potatoes. Let them cook for ten minutes with the lid off, stirring often. Then put the lid on, lower to medium heat, and let them cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on the cut size of the potato), stirring every so often. If they begin to stick (especially if you’re not using a nonstick pot) use veggie stock to deglaze the bottom of the pot and it will help the potatoes to not stick as much. Plus, the stock will help steam the potatoes as they cook.

Add the corn and onions. Let them cook with the potatoes for about 8 minutes, stirring often (add a little stock if they begin to stick).

Add warmed milk, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Let simmer until the potatoes are cooked through to your liking. Then, add the salmon. Once cooked through, if using fresh salmon, remove skin and break up with tongs.

Serve with cornbread, saltines, and/or oyster crackers. Hot sauce is good, too.

ALTERNATIVES AND TIPS:

If you like to cook with bacon, cook bacon in your pot, remove, and then cook your potatoes, onions, and corn in the bacon fat. Save the bacon and crumble on top of your chowder before serving.

If you’re lactose intolerant, or enjoy a Manhattan style chowder, use 2 cans (large) crushed tomatoes and 1 can (large) diced tomatoes in place of the milk.

Remember, DO NOT LET YOUR MILK GET TOO HOT OR BOIL.

Don’t add your salmon (especially if you’re using fresh) too soon. Wait until you’re  at least ten minutes away from serving.

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*** Sorry the photos aren’t uploading. I think I accidentally deleted them when cleaning up blog photos. I’ll upload new ones the next time I make the recipe.***

 

In advance of the recipe I’ll be posting tomorrow, I wanted to share my cornbread recipe.

I love regular ole cornbread, but a kicked up skillet version, with extra goodies in the crust, is my favorite.

I made it for my dad the last time I was in South Carolina, and he loved it, which makes this daughter super proud.

Let me show you how I do it!

 

First, chop the jalapeño and onion.

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Then, if you’re using fresh corn, which I highly recommend, take it off the cob. I use a handy dandy kernel remover. If you don’t have one, no biggie. A sharp knife works fabulously.

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For the next step, I’m not going to lie… I use the directions on the back of the Quaker Yellow Corn Meal package for the cornbread mixture, with two exceptions: I don’t add any sugar and I replace milk with buttermilk. Feel free to add sugar, I’m just not a fan of sweet cornbread.

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After getting the mixture whisked together, let it rest while you sauté the jalapeño, onions, and corn.

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Suggestion: Use a small to medium sized cast iron pan. If you use a large one, the mixture will spread too thin and your cornbread will be super skinny. If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can use an oven safe pan, but you may not get the same crust.

After sautéing the veggies for about eight minutes, pour the cornbread mixture on top and spread evenly.

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Put in a preheated 400 degree oven for about twenty minutes. Keep your eye on it, because every oven is different.

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When it’s done, take it out of the oven and let rest for about five minutes, then flip it upside down on a cutting board. The onions, jalapeño, and corn will be the beautiful top for this cornbread. See…

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Slice and enjoy!!

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I should’ve used one size smaller pan, BUT, silly me sold it last year in a yard sale and I didn’t realize I didn’t have it until too late. The medium pan worked just fine, but a smaller pan would have provided a thicker layer of cornbread.

 

What you’ll need:

1/2 an onion– chopped

1 jalapeño– seeded and chopped

1 ear of corn– kernels taken off the cob

1/2 Tablespoon of butter (for sautéing)

1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil (for sautéing)

For the cornbread:

1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup of corn meal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

For cornbread mixture: Follow instructions on the back of package.

For the veggies: Sauté in  1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil.

After sautéing the veggies for about five minutes, pour the cornbread mixture on top and spread evenly. Put in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Keep your eye on it, because every oven is different. When done, take it out and let it rest for eight minutes, then flip it upside down on a cutting board.

 

 

 

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Welcome to my kitchen, my favorite space in the house. It’s my happy place where I can create and have fun. Whether it’s a sandwich with potato salad or a full-on, four course meal, there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing a meal come together from beginning to end. Each dish will find its way into happy bellies, so no matter how simple or complex, having fun and enjoying the process, is the foundation for my love of being in the kitchen.

 

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My kitchen isn’t big, but it’s full of fun and love.

At the top of this page you’ll see a “To All My Followers and Visitors” tab. This is where you’ll find my vision and mission for this blog. I hope you’ll take a moment and give it a quick read.

While taking lots of pictures, measuring ingredients (which is new for me), and taking lots of notes, I plan on cooking my first recipe this weekend. I will have it posted by this Monday–August 1st.

I can’t wait to begin sharing my love of food and cooking with you. I have so many memories embedded in the recipes I’ll post and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

So, join me at my table. Let me cook for you. I’ll always share the recipe.

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