Posts in Sauces

spicy wings with dipping sauce

Spicy Fuego Wings with Lime Cilantro Dipping Sauce

February 3rd, 2017 Posted by Appetizers, Food, Grilling, Meat, Sauces No Comment yet

This post has been YEARS in the making. I made these once about 7 years ago, and they were delicious but suuuuper spicy. Those chipotle chilis in adobo deliver! I always wanted to remake them, but this time I wanted to tame the sauce just a teeny bit. The result was a delicious, sticky, medium heat chicken wing, with the added fun of a dipping sauce. 


easiest cranberry sauce

The Easiest Cranberry Sauce

November 22nd, 2016 Posted by Food, Sauces, Thanksgiving No Comment yet

So the biggest meal of the year is coming in two days. We can do this! I just want to express how incredibly easy this recipe is. Please make cranberry sauce this year, it’s so tart and tangy and good, and really, the easiest thing you’ll do besides pouring that second glass of wine. 


Easy Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

September 26th, 2015 Posted by DIY, Homemade Condiments, Sauces No Comment yet

Strawberry Refrigerator Jam-8

So it’s the end of the summer season, but somehow there is still some really lovely, fragrant berries in the stores around here. I bought two pints of local strawberries on a whim (and they were on sale) last week and I needed to do something with them. I love eating them on their own, but these, because they were the end of the season I think, were juuuust a hint on the tart side. I decided I needed to make something that would make them last a little longer and sweeten them up. Refrigerator jam!

refridgerator jam collage

Making a quick jam like this is perfect when you have a bit of berries (two pints or so) and you just have a little time rather then the whole day it takes to put up jam.

This jam will last probably a month in the fridge, and mine came out a little runnier than proper jam. But it has a really fresh berry flavor and wins points for being quick and easy.

I think this recipe could probably apply to any type of fruit you want to use:

  1. Chop.
    Strawberry Refrigerator Jam
  2. Add sugar and lemon juice.Strawberry Refrigerator Jam
  3. Cook for 10-15 minutes over medium-low head, until slightly thickened. Strawberry Refrigerator Jam
  4. Let cool, store in a jar.
    Strawberry Refrigerator Jam

You’ll notice my strawberries stayed in tact, and my jam is a bit chunky. I like it! But if you want to make a smoother jam, I would suggest pureeing half or all the strawberries, after cooking them with sugar and lemon juice, then let cool and put in a jar.

Recipe slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, I totally recommend it!

Strawberry Refrigerator Jam-14


Easy Strawberry Refrigerator Jam
Recipe Type: Condiments, DIY
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 jar
  • 1 quart (2 pints) fresh or frozen whole strawberries
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • pinch of sea or kosher salt
  1. Hull the strawberries and slice them thin.
  2. Add them to a medium sized skillet, along with the sugar, salt and lemon juice.
  3. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens and gets syrupy, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and let cool. You can see how thick it is, and if you would like them thicker, continue cooking over medium for another 2-4 minutes.
  5. Let cool for at least an hour before putting in a jar and storing in the fridge or serving.


Tomato Harissa sauce

November 11th, 2014 Posted by Sauces 2 comments

tomato harissa sauce

Hot sauce is as ubiquitous as ketchup these days, showing up everywhere on our tables from breakfast to dessert, but harissa has a fiery complex flavor more like a chili paste then a vinegar based hot sauce. Harissa is a condiment/sauce/rub or seasoning that is mostly chili peppers, plus a selection of seeds (cumin, coriander,caraway plus others depending on the variation) and sometimes mint, and usually also has some kind of oil, lemon and garlic. Harissa can be a bit like curries, there are endless subtle variations on the basic recipe. Explore harissa and find your favorite, but I would recommend using it sparingly if you are just starting out with it. Taste your dish as you add the harissa in small amounts so that you can build layers of flavor and heat rather then blowing your head off with straight up heat.

This spicy tart sauce could be used for sandwiches or thinned out with any kind of oil and use it as a zesty salad dressing. You could use it as is, tossed with carrots and then roast them in the oven and have something in the neighborhood of Moroccan on a winter’s night. It’s easy, full of flavor and quick to make.

Most of the flavor in this recipe is due to the harissa. Harissa is actually North African, but it is used the cuisines of Tunisia, Morocco and France. How did it get to France you might ask? I was wondering that too. The French occupied Algeria in the 1830’s and then move on to colonize Morocco for roughly 50 years (1900-1957, you can read all about it here.) So surely the French were exposed to this traditional condiment and brought it back with them. Now, many brands of harissa are made in France, despite there seemingly “authentic” labeling. 

 Harissa as a base for a sauce that you continue to build on can be a great place to start. Because you are adding other flavors that can mild the peppery sauce, it’s a nice way to easy in to it. Like this tomato harissa sauce. The tang of roasted tomatoes adds a little bit of a tart-sour note that counter acts the spice, and the added little bit of vinegar makes this more like a dressing or vinaigrette, helping to thin it out (so you can simply apply it as a thin layer instead of a glob). You can find my recipe for oven-roasted roma tomatoes here

Even as I’m writing this, David Lebovitz is posting this, all the way from France. Funny, isn’t it? 

Tomato Harissa sauce
Recipe Type: Sauce
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 cup
  • ¾ cup oven roasted roma tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons harissa
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine or apple cider vinegar.
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.
  2. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.



Homemade Mayonnaise

November 2nd, 2014 Posted by Homemade Condiments, Sauces No Comment yet

mayonnaiseI had a religious experience today. An eye opening moment, when I saw the possibilities of all that could be. I realized that what I’ve been settling for with store bought mayo was so far from what mayonnaise could be, it was a crime. I think Julia Child would roll over in the grave if she had what we are calling mayonnaise today. 

Joel has been the mayo maker in the past, but this time I thought I would try my hand at it. This recipe from Katie on The Slice of Life looked so easy and good. 

I was really surprised how the texture of the mayonnaise was so much better then when hand whisked. It was firmer and more what you would expect out of mayo, not a little runny like when we have made it before. 

For the full recipe and more photos, head over to the Slice of Life blog and check it out. 

Sugared Raspberries

August 12th, 2014 Posted by Desserts, Sauces 1 comment

sugared berries

Summer brings a different sort of cooking. Cooking that can be started and ended with a simple plate of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and marinated garbanzo beans.  Meal time around here in August often means a big salad with cold cooked chicken, or it could even be a large plate of antipasti, with good bread. A cold and peppy gazpacho is also a welcome guest in the evening.

I often bake during the year, but summer gives me a different idea of what to do for something sweet. When it’s warm and muggy, turning on the oven is not often in my plan in the month of August. Canning and preserving is the only exception, and for that I’ll pay the price of a hot kitchen.

When there’s something sweet to be had, I try to do one of two things: 

A. Bake very late at night. This usually only works if it’s the weekend. Baking at midnight is a practice I’m known to do no matter what time of year it is. In the summer it’s just as fun, with the windows thrown open, to imagine the scent of cookies or muffins wafting down the street, through people’s window fans, and into their dreams (this happens to me when I go to bed right after baking). I’m a night owl, so this option works for me. 

B. The other option is to make a dessert that doesn’t require heat. Cutting up berries, melon or stone fruit, spooning it over ice cream and devouring it until my mouth is so cold it cools down my entire body.  You can also try this method of making a sweet and lightly spiced syrup. 


This syrup (and the berries that make it) is totally carefree and no work at all. You could throw anything in a jar with a little sugar and it would make you a sweet syrup that is quite useable. Stone fruit, berries, or possibly citrus could be used interchangeably, depending on what’s in season. The spices could also vary from cardamon to cinnamon or even a few cloves. Some wedges of ginger, cinnamon and citrus would be very nice in a colder month. The vanilla and the sugar will go with anything. 

Just layer spices or aromatics, sugar and fruit. 

Store in the fridge for a few days.  This batch was made on Monday and finished by Thursday, though longer would be fine too. 



And there you have it. The syrup is created by the fruit and sugar, flavored by the aromatic spices, and soft and sweet berries are a treat too. Not a flame or pan in sight. 

This is a real treat at breakfast time over my favorite yogurt. (I’m not paid to say that, I just really love that stuff!)

They would also be fantastic over cheesecake, pound cake, or even pancakes or waffles.


Sugared Berries


1 pint raspberries

1/4 cup organic sugar

1 vanilla bean pod, cut down the middle and lightly split open (I like to buy them online)

2-3 green cardamon pods

1 jar or vessel that will hold about 1 and 1/2 cups. 


In the bottom of the jar, place the vanilla bean and 1 cardamon pod. 

Put down a layer of berries, to cover the bottom of the jar. Sprinkle some of the sugar over the first layer. Keep layering the sugar and the berries, adding the spices in every so often. I put the vanilla bean in first so that it would steep in the syrup that will be created at the bottom. 

Store in the fridge for a few days. Serve the syrup and the berries spooned over yogurt, cake or ice cream.




Super Green Arugula Pesto

August 5th, 2014 Posted by Gardening, Sauces, Snacks 1 comment

I am winning at gardening. I used to think I had a very black thumb. But what do you know? I’m actually making things come out of the ground that aren’t dead after a week. I guess the key is consistent watering (duh, Darlene). And just trial and error. If you are thinking about starting a garden, my advice is set yourself up with an easy win right from the beginning. This will give you the strength you need to continue in this strange new plant world. 


Arugula. Super easy to grow, and very prolific. This year, the arugula was the first thing to come and it didn’t stop. It’s now found it’s way in to our meals from breakfast (arugula cheese english muffin sandwiches) to dinner with this arugula pesto. It also makes a great snack with some crackers or crusty bread (is this heaven?). Did you know that in Britain they call arugula “rocket”? (Confession: sometimes I say that word over and over again in a british accent while I’m making this.) Garden grown arugula is so tender, yet amazingly sharp. It’s different from store bought, but then, isn’t everything home grown different? 


Here’s the thing about pesto. It took me awhile to master it. It should be easy right? After all, the food processor does all the work. But the thing is, pesto has to be a good balance between the salt, the nuts, the cheese and the herbs. If you add too much oil, these flavors are dulled.

Pesto, when finished, is that lovely bright green color that can sometimes fade too quickly to almost brown-black due to the oxidation of the delicate basil. I tried pouring a “protective” layer of olive oil over the surface of the pesto before storing in the fridge, but it didn’t seem to work and just made my pesto too oily.

From trial and error, I have developed a few tricks to keep my pesto from browning.

(One built-in bonus with using arugula: the blackening never happens. You can make this a week ahead of time and serve it like you totally got this summer entertaining thing down. No one will ever know, and it will undoubtedly be delicious.)

Toast with arugula and sliced cherry tomatoes is a great anytime snack:


Tips for making super green pesto: (applies to both arugula and basil pesto)

1. Use pistachios. They are green already, and so good! Joel got me hooked on using pistachios for pesto years ago, and I love this little twist. No reason pine nuts should have all the pesto fun.


2. Blend the hard stuff first (nuts, cheese, lemon zest) so that when you add the more delicate basil or arugula it will bruise less and be easier to blend.

_MG_7424 _MG_7430

3. Use a good amount of lemon juice. The acid will prevent oxidation.

arugula pesto mostly blended arugula pesto blended

This is exactly what you love about pesto: herby, garlicky, a little rich from the parmesan cheese, and thanks to our friendly garden lettuce, arugula, supremely peppery. 

arugula pesto-01

Super Green Arugula Pesto
Makes about 1 cup


2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly sliced

3/4 cup finely grated or chopped parmesan

1/3 cup shelled pistachios, roasted and salted or raw

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 cups packed arugula

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


In the bowl of a food processor, add garlic slices, parmesan, and pistachios. Pulse about 6-10 times, until the nuts are in small pieces and the cheese and garlic is minced. Add the lemon zest and pulse 2 more times. 

Pile the arugula into the food processor and squeeze the lemon juice over it. 

Pulse a few times until the arugula is broken down and chopped small. 

With the machine running now, pour the olive oil in a thin stream through the feeding tube of the food processor. Let it process for about 1 minute total time, adjusting to add more or less olive oil for your desired consistency. 

Taste, adjust the salt and pepper, or possibly add more arugula if the flavors are too muted by the oil. 

Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.  Try it on bread, crackers, stirred into pasta or smeared all over chicken.  

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