Perfect Pesto!

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 ounces (about 6 cups gently packed) any greens (parsley, basil, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup nuts (just about any would do)
  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Throw everything except the olive oil in a food processor and finely chop.
  2. Slowly stream in olive oil until paste forms (keep scraping down the sides as needed).
  3. Adjust ingredients to taste.

Deven’s Divine Italian Sauce

One major plus about growing up in New York is the Italian food! I make an all-day sauce in the slow cooker that is just amazing! Here’s the recipe!
Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of 29 oz tomato Puree
  • 1 can 28 oz diced tomatoes
  • 6 cans 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic in oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup of diced onions
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 4 crushed bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oregano (I like my sauce with extra oregano so add this to taste)

Directions:Open and empty all cans into the slow cooker. Fill one of the large cans halfway with warm water and swish to remove any remaining tomato juice. Pour from one can into the next until all cans are satisfactorily clean. Then pour the water into the slow cooker. Add all other ingredients and stir. Set slow cooker on high for four-six hours (or until sauce thickens)

Tips & Hints: This is a big recipe and should almost completely fill a 6 quart slow cooker. Reduce recipe to fit yours or use a large pot on the stove top. This sauce freezes VERY well with or without meat already added. Be sure to leave room when freezing for slight expanding. Fresh tomatoes can be substituted for diced but extra puree should be added to compensate the less liquid. You will also have to cook longer to allow for them to soften completely. Sun-dried tomatoes add a unique and robust flavor with just enough olive oil that you don’t need to add any more to the recipe, least of all with the minced garlic in olive oil (I make it myself for added flavor and freshness).

And there you have it! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Deven’s Broken Lasagna

Disclaimer: As the image shows, if you are someone that judges their lasagna success with perfectly square stacks of layered pasta and cheese, DON’T try this recipe.  Why? Because it is what the name implies… broken.
With that out of the way… let me introduce you to one of my favorite dishes now converted to the slow cooker!  Having spent so much of my adult life in New York, where Italian food is on every corner, making lasagna is second nature to me.  And if you’ve ever made lasagna before, you’ve already got a good idea of how it should work.  All you’ll really need is a few pointers for converting your recipe to the slow cooker.
Ingredients (6 quart slow cooker):
  • 3 packages of 9 oz. “No boil” lasagna noodles
  • 32 oz. red sauce
  • 1 lb. shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 32 oz. Ricotta cheese
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 16 oz. frozen spinach
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix everything but the pasta.  Yes, you read that right, everything.  Even the sauce.  Go head, I promise it still tastes amazing.  Cream then together until fully incorporated.
  2. In a large plastic bag, break up your pasta.  This is to keep it from flying across the kitchen.
  3. Combine the cheese mixture and your broken pasta pieces in the cooker until well mixed.
  4. Set your cooker to low.
  5. Set your timer for 3 hours.
  6. At the end of the 3 hours, check your noodles to ensure they are the right consistency for your tastes (if you like al dente, check the noodles after two hours and continue to cook to perfection).
  7. Serve as is!
I know it doesn’t exactly look like lasagna but I can assure you, it is VERY tasty and a great way to make a family favorite without slaving away and babysitting your stove!  And it freezes VERY well!

Quick Homemade Pizza

Ingredients:
  • Pre-packed pizza crust
  • Jar of tomato sauce (any style including the chunky ones work fine)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter/margarine
  • 1 teaspoon Olive oil
  • Spices (to taste): garlic powder & oregano
  • Options:
    • White pizza: ricotta and broccoli (no tomato sauce)
    • Hawaiian: pineapple chunks and Canadian bacon or ham
    • Cheese burger: ground beef (browned first) and cheddar cheese (instead of mozzarella)
    • Pepperoni
    • Meat lovers: (meat should be precooked) sausage, ground beef and ham (a great alternative is deli meats)
    • Cheese lovers: Anything but gouda, feta or the pungent tasting cheeses as they don’t always blend well
    • Veggie lovers: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach (goes great with some ricotta as well)
    • Great additions: olives, purple onions, bbq chicken, shredded bbq pork/chicken (can find it pre-cooked), pasta with mozzarella & ricotta, basically… just about anything you can get on a pizza from a shop!
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a small bowl, add butter, oil and spices.
  3. Mix well.
  4. On a pizza pan (or cut the pre-packaged pizza crust into half or slices to fit smaller square pans), lay out your crust.
  5. Using the back of a spoon or a pastry brush, add a thin layer of the butter/oil mixture covering the entire crust.
  6. Using a large spoon or ladle, spoon out the sauce and spread it across the crust (go to the edges or leave 1/2 inch from the edge to make it a bit cleaner when eating).
  7. Add your options (remember, these crusts aren’t as “sturdy” as normal pie crusts and sag or break under weight)
  8. Add your cheese.
  9. Place in oven.
  10. Cook till the cheese is melted thoroughly but not burning.