back to basics: strawberry sauce

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I know it’s not strawberry season, but for some reason when I walked through Whole Foods this weekend and saw the cartons of strawberries, I couldn’t help but grab one right away.  It’s probably the fact that the weather has been so spectacular lately.  Today is March 1st, a time of the year when it is often still frigid and snowing, yet for the past couple weeks, the northeast has been blessed with beautiful sunny days in the 50s and up.  I even turned my A/C on in the car this weekend!  And walked outside with a long sleeve shirt on!  So when I saw those bright red strawberries, I immediately started thinking about what I could do with them.  I knew that I had to bake a cake during the weekend, so a lightbulb went off instantly – I would make a vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberry filling.

I love being able to make a basic sauce like this strawberry sauce because the possibilities with it are endless.  And we all know how much I love a versatile ingredient.  Sure, I used this sauce as a cake filling.  But this sauce also works great as a filling in a cupcake, as a sauce to incorporate into (or top) your vanilla ice cream, or even as a filling in doughnuts!  Mmmmmm.  Now excuse me while I go wipe the drool off my face!

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you use it for in the comments below.

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Strawberry Sauce
(Makes 2 cups)

2 1/2 cups cubed fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

In a small saucepan, combine the strawberries and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Add the cornstarch and continue to stir.  Let boil for 2 minutes and remove from heat.  The sauce will thicken and go from translucent to opaque.  Allow to cool completely before using.

– sauce on,
Sharon

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back to basics: tomato sauce

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Tomato sauce.  Such a simple ingredient in a recipe when you think about it.  But it has such an effect on the outcome of a meal.  Shirley and I grew up making and eating homemade tomato sauce.  One thing that you need to know about tomato sauce, is that cooking it is 10 times better than actually eating it.  There isn’t much else better than smelling garlic cooking in a pan.  Or sticking your nose so close to the simmering tomato sauce that you think you might get some on your nose.  Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for my mom’s homemade tomato sauce.

This sauce is incredibly easy to make.  It can be done with tomatoes, or my quick favorite, ground peeled canned tomatoes.  It’s an easy way to eat healthy, skip all the unnecessary ingredients in store-bought tomato sauce, and save some money while you’re at it.  This sauce can be frozen in glass jars or freezer bags for up to 6 months, so feel free to spend a couple days a year making a boat-load of sauce that will last you an entire year!  Or be like K and I and go through an entire supply in 3 weeks…

Be on the look-out for a BUNCH of new recipes with tomato sauce as an ingredient!

Tomato Sauce
(Makes 6 cups, yet easily doubled or quadrupled)

1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28-oz can of ground peeled tomatoes
1 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1 teaspoon fresh (or dried) thyme
1 teaspoon fresh (or dried) oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a large pot at medium heat, add the olive oil and shallots.  After about 2-3 minutes, add the garlic.  Cook for only a minute more, being sure not to burn the garlic or shallots.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot, leaving a small opening to allow steam to escape.  Simmer all the ingredients for 45 minutes.  Let cool.  Separate the sauce into a few glass containers.

The sauce can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator, or it can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.  To defrost, stick the container in a hot pot of water, being sure that it is not fully immersed.  After about 5 minutes, the sauce should be defrosted enough that you can pour it into a pan and let it defrost and heat up completely.

– sauce on,
Sharon

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