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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
    • Optional: 4 tablespoons tomato paste (I added this to the recipe after making it many times, see directions below for notes)
    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. At this point if you are using tomato paste, add that as well. (Note: originally I did not have tomato paste in the recipe. The sauce base originally came out with more of a broth consistency - still unbelievably tasty, but you have to serve the pasta in a bowl. This last time I added tomato paste and it helped to thicken the sauce base up and the flavor remained the same. I will be using the tomato paste in this recipe from now on).
    6. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
    7. 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!

    Chili was one of the first things I learned how to cook without a recipe, so it holds a fond place in my heart. Over the years how I make chili has evolved and the great part is that it was delicious no matter what form it took! It’s one of my favorite go-to meals and my kids love it, so chili is therefore one of my favorites, too! 😉

    Recipe for Simple and Delicious Chili from @janemaynard

    As much as I love my chili (recipe below!), chili is one of those dishes I know people have recipes they are proud of and want to share. So I think it’s time for a chili cook off, don’t you? Call for Recipes posts are my favorite and I can’t wait to see what you guys have to share in the chili department. 

    Recipe for Simple and Delicious Chili from @janemaynard

    My recipe is not fancy, but it’s good, easy and flexible. And you can use whatever you have lying around. For you chili diehards out there…yes, I’m breaking all kinds of rules. (Beans! Quel horreur!) So, be nice. This is a FRIENDLY chili cook-off…anything goes, there are no rules!

    Recipe for Simple and Delicious Chili from @janemaynard

    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 (you can easily make this vegetarian by cutting the ground beef and adding an extra can of beans!)
    • 1 can kidney beans (14 oz size)
    • 1 can of chili beans (usually a mix of black, pinto and white) - I used to do 1 can of baked beans, but now I usually do the chili beans instead)
    • 2 cans petite diced tomatoes
    • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (or salsa/pasta sauce lying around in the fridge)
    • ~2 tablespoons chili powder
    • ~1/2 – 1 teaspoon cumin
    • ~1/2 - 1 teaspoon paprika
    • a few shakes of cayenne on the days I want some heat (red pepper flakes and hot sauce also work)
    • salt and pepper to taste
    Instructions
    1. Saute the onion and bell pepper in a about a tablespoon of oil over medium heat until onions are turning clear and vegetables have softened.
    2. Add the garlic and ground beef. Sprinkle everything with some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly to break up the meat, until ground beef is browned and cooked through. Drain off fat.
    3. Add everything else, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium-low and let cook for about 10 minutes.
    4. Serve with shredded cheese, corn chips, corn bread, sour cream, whatever you like!

    Time for you to share your favorite chili recipes! Any kind of chili counts, variety is the spice of life after all! Bring it on! You want to win the blue ribbon, right?