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Jessica’s Garden: Homemade Pizza

During the Winter months, I am generally inspired by recipes that are simple and convenient. I am a huge fan of “low and slow” cooking recipes that put themselves together over the course of the day. And Crockpots; I love my slow cooker. A lot of times for me, recipes of convenience incorporate foods that I have prepared while more highly motivated during warmer months. I might be part bear; I’d rather hibernate during this time if year if I could.

Homegrown-Pizza-Sauce
Homegrown Pizza Sauce

This past week we made homemade pizza from a few store-bought ingredients and also some homegrown and canned items. Safeway sells frozen balls of fresh pizza dough in their deli section with their fresh take-and-bake pizzas. They require thawing and proofing at home and then rolling out, but they are quick and easy and taste much better than the pre-baked crusts that can be also purchased. And usually they only cost $1.39; my kind of deal.

We love making homemade pizza because you can control exactly what goes on the pizza. It’s a great way to use ingredients you enjoy and you can be a lot more conscious of incorporating healthier items. Or if you want to make a bacon, sausage and cheese pizza, there’s no one there to judge.

During my abundant tomato harvest season this Summer, I canned enough pizza sauce to make approximately fifty homemade pizzas. It turned out perfectly. And thank goodness, because I don’t think I’ll ever have to buy pizza sauce again. It turned out tasting fresh and bright from the homegrown herbs and tomatoes that composed that majority of the sauce. We also sprinkled one of the pizzas with homegrown and preserved candied jalapenos that I diced into sweet and spicy little chunks.

Candied-Jalapenos
Candied Jalapenos

I found a recipe online several years ago for candied jalapenos that turned out inedible because they were unbelievably spicy. It called for 1 tsp cayenne pepper split between only three jars, on top of all the jalapenos. So this year, I altered the recipe a little so that they were consumable and they turned out delicious. They are sweet and a little gummy because of being processed in a heavy syrup. But also spicy like a pickled jalapeno. We use them in tacos, enchiladas, as a pizza topping, chopped into a relish or any other way you would incorporate a pickled jalapeno. I have also seen these named ‘Cowboy Candy.’

Candied Jalapenos

3 lbs Jalapenos
2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
6 C White Granulated Sugar
½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Celery Seed
3 tsp Granulated Garlic

Slice Peppers into uniform 1/8″ – ¼” slices. Combine vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed and garlic in a large saucepan. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer liquid for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sugar from burning. Add jalapenos and simmer for 4 minutes. Bring liquid up to a hard boil; boil hard for 6 minutes. Ladle into hot sterilized jars. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes for half-pints and 15 minutes for pints. Recipe adapted from oldworldgardenfarms.com

Last week I provided two ideas for Winter soups using homegrown and preserved garden ingredients. The Butternut soup can be adapted from a recipe I introduced during the Fall for Creamy Roasted Vegetable Soup by substituting butternut squash for all the other root vegetables. However, I suggest still roasting an onion or two with the butternut. You’ll miss the sweetness it provides if you skip it. See recipe from 9/10/2014.

Heirloom-Crush-Tomatoes
Heirloom Crush Tomatoes

I also mentioned that I had whipped up a batch of Sixteen Bean and Chorizo Soup using a jar of homegrown and canned heirloom tomatoes as the base. It was admittedly not the prettiest of soups but hearty and satisfying.

Sixteen Bean and Chorizo Soup

1 (16 oz) bag Dried 16 Bean Soup
1 Lb Fresh Pork Chorizo (not the cured version)
1 Quart Crushed Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Large Red Onion, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic; diced
1 Can Beef or Chicken Broth

Prepare beans per package directions. There are quick soak and overnight-soak directions. Once soaked, drain beans. Cut chorizo into 1″ chunks and sear on all sides; does not have to be completely cooked through at this point. Drain excess fat and cook onion and garlic in approximately 1 Tbsp of chorizo rendering. Return all ingredients to large saucepan, add remaining ingredients. Simmer for about 2 hours on low, allowing ingredients and flavors to incorporate.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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