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  1. Monday, February 20

    Homemade Bolognese Sauce

    I’ve tried making bolognese sauce a few times in my life and was never impressed. I blamed the bolognese. But what I should have been blaming were the recipes I was trying. Today I have a recipe that is divine and completely changes how I feel about homemade bolognese sauce. This past Christmas I found myself with a half a pound of ground veal left over from making Swedish meatballs. I searched around the web for recipes to use up the veal and happened upon this recipe for veal bolognese from Food & Wine. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly but used it as a guide and oh my GOODNESS the resulting sauce was so, so good and flavorful and wonderful and, well, I am finally impressed by homemade bolognese sauce.

    Incredibly Flavorful Homemade Bolognese Recipe from @janemaynard

    think one of the reasons the sauce was so good was because I used half veal, half regular ground beef. But I’m quite certain the sauce will still be uber delicious with straight ground beef, as the veggies and spices are what really make this sauce shine. If you want to use veal, by all means do. But ground beef alone is a-okay.

    Click here for the original recipe, which also includes butternut squash, which I am sure is delicious! Below is my version of homemade bolognese sauce, with some modifications from the original recipe.

    Incredibly Flavorful Homemade Bolognese Recipe from @janemaynard

    Oh, one more note! I used a rigatoni-like pasta instead of spaghetti and really liked that shape of pasta with this sauce. Use whatever pasta you like, but the rigatoni is quite delicious.

    Homemade Bolognese Sauce
     
    Adapted from a Food & Wine recipe.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 pound ground beef or veal (or half pound of each)
    • 2 slices of bacon, minced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • ½ cup minced carrot
    • ½ cup minced celery
    • ½ cup minced onion
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press
    • Kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon ground sage
    • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil OR 1 tablespoon fresh basil (chiffonade)
    • 1 cup dry red wine
    • 2 15-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • ¾ cup cream
    • Pepper
    Instructions
    1. In a large cast-iron casserole (or pot), cook minced bacon in the olive oil over medium heat, for about 5 minutes until bacon is well cooked, stirring occasionally.
    2. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Sprinkle evenly with a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Add the fresh garlic and stir.
    3. Add the ground meat along with the sage, parsley, bay leaf and oregano. If using dried basil, add that now as well. Season evenly with a few pinches of salt. Cook until meat is cooked through and no longer pink, stirring regularly.
    4. Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced significantly, about 3-5 minutes. Add UNdrained tomatoes and cook until liquid is reduced by about half, around 5 minutes.
    5. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
    6. Remove the bay leaf. Add the cream and, if using fresh basil, the basil. Stir and add salt to taste if needed. Finish off with a few shakes of pepper.

     


  2. Thursday, August 11

    Cora’s Mexican Ground Beef Tacos

    I have to confess something. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to Mexican food. I blame living 20-40 miles from the Mexican border for eight of the last 15 years, with the other seven years still being in California. One of my biggest fears of moving away from the San Diego area is that I won’t be able to access my favorite Mexican ingredients for cooking at home. No, really, it’s a true FEAR.

    Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos | from @janemaynard

    Now that you know I’m a snob, I have another confession to make. Ground beef tacos are not my favorite and I refer to them as “gringo tacos” in my head (especially when crispy taco shells are involved). This isn’t to say Mexican cuisine does not include seasoned ground beef for tacos, it’s just not my first pick and ground beef is never on the menu at any of my favorite Mexican restaurants. That all said, I will still eat and even cook ground beef tacos occasionally, it’s just never my first choice.

    While we were visiting family the last few weeks, however, my sister-in-law Cora (who is a wonderful cook as well as a crazy talented photographer) made the best ground beef tacos I’ve ever had. Her Mexican friend Zu taught her how to make this delectable taco meat, and Cora has now passed that wisdom on to you and me.

    Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos | from @janemaynardPlease note: The amount of meat you see in the picture above is the recipe below doubled.

    First off, you will not need taco seasoning packets ever again. Stop buying them.

    Secondly, after you make this taco meat, you will want to eat 10 tacos. You’ve been warned. (After Nate’s umpteenth taco he declared, “Why are these SO GOOD?!”)

    Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos | from @janemaynard

    Thank you, Cora, for bringing ground beef tacos back into my life in the most delicious way.

    Cora's Mexican Ground Beef Tacos
     
    My sister-in-law Cora gave me this recipe. Her Mexican friend taught her how to make this meat and it is scrumptious!
    Author:
    Serves: 8
    Ingredients
    • 1½ pounds ground beef
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder (Cora prefers chipotle chili powder)
    • 1 teaspoon paprika (Cora uses smoked paprika)
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1½ - 2 tsp seasoned salt (to taste)
    • 1 handful chopped fresh cilantro
    • ½ onion, diced
    • 1 pint quartered grape tomatoes
    Instructions
    1. Brown beef over medium heat in a large, preferably deep, skillet. Use a potato masher to really break down the meat as it cooks. (The potato masher is the secret trick to this recipe!)
    2. When the beef is about halfway browned, drain off excess fat, then add the diced onion and seasonings. Continue browning, then add the chopped cilantro and tomatoes.
    3. Reduce heat to low and cook until tomatoes and onions melt into the beef mixture, at least 20 minutes. You can add a bit of water as it cooks if needed. Also, continue to use the potato masher throughout the cooking process.
    4. Awesome served with fresh homemade salsa (like this one), pico de gallo and Cholula hot sauce...but you can eat it however you want!

     

     


  3. Friday, August 28

    Call for Recipes: Chili Cook-Off!

    We had chili last night and it struck me that I’ve never done a chili call for recipes. This is definitely a dish I know people have recipes they are proud of and want to share. So, it’s time for a good old fashioned Chili Cook-Off! Well, as old fashioned as sharing recipes online can be, anyways!

    I’ll share my chili recipe. It’s not fancy, but it’s good and EASY. And you can just use whatever you have lying around, it’s a very flexible recipe. For you chili die-hards out there…yes, I’m breaking all kinds of rules. So, be nice. This is a FRIENDLY chili cook-off…anything goes, there are no rules!

    Chili
     
    Measurements are approximate, this recipe is easy going.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • About ⅓ of an onion, chopped
    • Bell pepper (about half of one…red tastes better, but green offers a nice color contrast…you choose!)
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped or minced…if you don’t have fresh garlic, just sprinkle some garlic powder
    • ~3/4 lb ground beef
    • 1 can kidney beans (15 oz size…don’t know if it’s exactly 15, but around there)
    • 1 can of baked beans (small/med size can…yeah, I know baked beans probably offends some chili purists…I like the sweetness they offer and I like this type of bean, so whatever)
    • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
    • ~1/4 - ½ cup salsa
    • ~1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (yup, spaghetti sauce…I make sure it’s a neutral one, without lots of italian spices or veggies like mushrooms in it - if you leave it out, just up the salsa amount a bit)
    • ~2 tablespoons chili powder
    • ~1/2 – 1 teaspoon cumin
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • HEAT…red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, tabasco sauce, whatever you have on hand…I usually don’t add this to the pot b/c we have little ones, so Nate and I sprinkle a little cayenne pepper in our individual bowls.
    Instructions
    1. Saute the onion, garlic and bell pepper in olive oil until soft – I season with salt and pepper at this point. Add ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned. Drain off fat. Add everything else and simmer for a little while. Serve with shredded cheese, corn chips, corn bread, whatever you like!

    Time for you to share your favorite chili recipes! Any kind of chili counts, variety is a good thing! So, bring it on! You want to win the blue ribbon, right?