Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese
(healthier version)
I love pasta! And every kind of pasta sauce there is!!
Bolognese is a thick meat sauce that has  but this recipe uses less meat then other recipes because I sub it with chopped mushrooms (my kids hate mushrooms but they inhale this sauce-hee, hee, they have no idea, because the texture is the same and I save money on using less meat.) This recipe makes a big batch of red sauce so if you like you can freeze half for a quick fix meal latter on, just remember to let it cool first before adding it to your freezer bag/container.
Sauce Ingredients:
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, minced
2 celery rib, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-6 oz. can tomato paste 
1 cup dry Italian red wine or beef broth
4 oz. pancetta slab (non-smoked bacon), diced into small pieces or 4oz. thick slices of bacon, diced.
1 large carton or 2 small cartons of sliced button mushrooms; chopped into very small pieces (buying  the pre-sliced saves you time in not having to slice them before dicing them).
3 pounds extra lean angus beef
1 Tablespoons dried basil
1 Tablespoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups whole milk
2-28 oz.. cans Cento crushed tomatoes
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

2 small packages of spaghetti
2 Tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups (divided) shredded parmesan cheese--1 cup for pasta toss and 1 cup reserved for garnish
  1. In a large dutch oven over high heat, add about 1 Tablespoons of olive oil once oil is hot add the onion, carrot, and celery, season with salt and pepper; cook stirring often until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Mix in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the red wine and cook until liquid is almost gone; set aside.
  2. Add a little more olive oil into pot add the pancetta and mushrooms and cook until pancetta is slightly crispy; set aside with vegies. Next heat a little more olive oil in pot and add ground beef, breaking it up as it cooks, once browned, season with salt and pepper and add basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and thyme.
  3. Next mix in the milk 1 cup at a time reducing the liquid by half before adding the last cup of milk; again stir till liquid is reduced by half
  4. Add the pancetta, mushrooms and vegies back to the pot. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and once sauce starts to bubble, add lid, reduce heat to low and simmer for 40-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Meanwhile cook the pasta).
  5.  Right before serving stir in the chopped parsley.
Pasta directions:
  1. In a large pot cook the pasta according to the 'al dente' directions on the package, in salted boiling water. Drain; and set on serving platter or large pasta bowl.
  2. Add the butter, olive oil and 1 cup of parmesan to the hot pasta and toss with two forks.
Ready to serve:  Plate the pasta on individual dishes and ladle the thick sauce over the top.  Garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.  Great with garlic bread too!!

Creamy Potato-Cheddar Soup with Bacon

Creamy Potato Cheddar Soup with Bacon
This soup is amazing! Comforting! And just the thing for a cold day filler!! 
Also this soup is a "miracle soup".  Like the fish and loaves that Jesus fed to the masses, this soup 'miraculously' turns into more than what you first set out to make-Let me explain: When you store the left-overs in the fridge, the soup binds and thickens, so when you take it out the next day, you must add more milk to it, to thin it out to it's original creaminess, thus making more volumes of soup!! 
1-large white onion, chopped into small diced pieces
3-large baking potatoes, peeled and diced into bite size pieces, set aside in a bowl and cover with cold water to prevent browning.  (I like to use the baking potatoes because the larger size is easier to peel and you only have to peel 3 instead of 6-8 medium size potatoes)
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 stick of butter
1 small clove garlic; minced
6 Tablespoons of flour
2 Cups Whole Milk
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (tillamook)
cooked crispy bacon, diced (optional garnish)
fresh chives, snipped (optional garnish)
fresh parsley, chopped (optional garnish) 
  • In a large pot add 6 cups of water, to that add the chopped onion and the drained, diced potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat until potatoes are fork tender.
  • Once the potatoes are done, turn off the heat and do not drain the water, this is your soup base! Season the potato-onion soup base with the kosher salt and black pepper.
  • In a medium sauce pan, on medium heat melt the stick of butter then add the minced garlic, stir for 30 seconds, add the 6 Tbls. of flour and whisk for 1-2 minutes (don't let the flour-butter mixture turn brown or burn, remove from heat if color is changing too fast). Whisk in the 2 cups of whole milk into your butter/flour combo, let it cook whisking constantly until it starts to thicken then add it to the large pot of potato-onion-water, turn the heat to Medium Low and stir the soup until it thickens, if it starts to boil, turn down the heat--do not burn the bottom of your soup. Once the soup is thickened, remove from heat.
  • Next stir in the 3 cups of cheese, until melted. If the soup is too thick add more milk.
Serve the soup with diced bacon, chopped parsley and/or chives.
    Let soup completely cool, before storing left overs in the fridge.  When re-heating soup the next day, add more milk to thin out and add more salt and pepper to taste.