Monday, February 20
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.
I 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.
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 SauceAdapted from a Food & Wine recipe.Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Tuesday, September 1
The very first recipe I ever made on my own was my Grandma Blomquist’s Brownies. I was in 5th grade and the experience was very memorable for me, not just because I burned both some chocolate and my arm in the process, but also because the brownies came out great, starting a lifetime of brownie baking.
Last week when Cate was in charge of dinner, she asked if she could bake something for dessert on one of the nights. Of course I pulled out my grandma’s brownie recipe. I’ve never written a post about the brownies, but I did put the recipe on the blog ages ago with a cute picture of 2-year-old Cate stirring the batter. Last week when Cate baked her first batch of brownies, I took a few photos for a Babble post I’m working on. Today, as I got this post ready, I stuck the photos side by side and it made me smile. It also made me a little sad. Where did my baby go?!
I needed to take some nice photos of the brownies for this post, so I asked Cate if she could whip up a batch for me. She happily complied. I’m kind of loving this whole Cate cooking thing, especially since her “thing” is brownies.
These brownies are on the fudgy side of the brownie continuum, with a delicious crispy crust on top. It’s a basic, reliable and wonderful brownie recipe. Although, the brownies always taste best when my Grandma Blomquist or Cate bakes them!Grandma Blomquist's BrowniesPrep timeCook timeTotal timeMy grandma's recipe that my family has been making FOREVER. Fudgy with a crusty top!Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 2 ounces baking chocolate (substitution: 6 tablespoons cocoa + 2 tablespoons butter)
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 well beaten eggs
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease/butter an 8" x 8" baking pan.
- Melt butter over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan. Add corn syrup and baking chocolate and stir until all melted. Remove from heat.
- Stir in sugar.
- Stir in eggs after the sugar has been mixed in.
- Stir in baking powder, vanilla and salt. Slowly stir in the flour until well combined.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until fork comes out clean.
Dishes from Q Squared NYC.
Wednesday, February 26
As a kid my favorite dinner was beef stroganoff. My mom didn’t make it often and she only liked to make it when she could get the meat from a particular butcher in town, so when we did have stroganoff it was such a treat. I suppose I’ve been a sucker for sour cream and mushrooms since the early days!
I also rarely make beef stroganoff and, until now, always just used those dried sauce packets from the grocery store. I must admit that I liked how it tasted and it didn’t require any thought. But what I like more is cooking food from scratch whenever I can, so I decided it was time to try completely homemade beef stroganoff. And, in all honesty, it wasn’t any harder than using one of those sauce packets!
This recipe is simple but delicious. I researched tons of different recipes as I thought about how I wanted to put the dish together and this is what I came up with. The sauce was creamy and tasty, the meat was tender and I totally had seconds (just like the old days). I also love meals that use meat sparingly. This recipe makes a ton of food with just 1 pound of steak – I love that!
In the interest of full disclosure, Anna did not like it, but I think she just doesn’t like stroganoff to begin with. (She also doesn’t like chicken pot pie, so can we trust her? I think not.) Owen only ate two bites, but that was more a function of Anna giving him a giant granola bar 5 minutes before dinner without telling me. Soooo helpful. Cate said it was really good and worthy of sharing on the blog and Nate agreed. At least I have some supporters in the family!
Tuesday, October 22
Today I have a super fast and easy dinner recipe for you that is also delicious and healthy. That’s the best kind of recipe, right?
But first, a confession. I love ramen noodle packs. You know, the 89-cent packages of ramen noodles paired with the sodium-rich broth that is oh-so-good. But…but. The sodium. Ah, the sodium. I haven’t bought ramen in years and years because of that darn sodium. Happily, today’s recipe will let us have our ramen and eat it, too!
You will need to buy one of those cheap-o packages of ramen for this recipe, but you’re going to throw the flavor packet in the trash where it belongs. Instead, we’ll use healthy, natural ingredients and just a bit of salt to create a yummy meal that’s perfect for kids, adults and college-kids alike!
This recipe is fast to prepare and should be eaten immediately, so plan accordingly!Easy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup (a.k.a. Homemade Ramen)Cook timeTotal timeAdapted from a recipe in America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family CookbookAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Main Dish, Soup, PoultryCuisine: AsianServes: 4Ingredients
- ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*
- 2 green onions, sliced thin with greens separated from whites
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced (I use my garlic press)
- 3½ cups low-sodium or sodium-free chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus extra as needed (a commenter mentioned that soy sauce can be high in sodium, so if you really want to cut back, try using low-sodium soy sauce or reducing the amount used)
- 1 3-ounce package ramen noodles, flavor packet discarded
- 1½ cups shredded coleslaw mix (I used a coleslaw mix made only with green cabbage)
- 1½ cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
- ½ tablespoon sesame oil, plus extra as needed
- salt and pepper
Notes*Cook the chicken however is easiest for you – grill, sauté, boil, whatever!3.2.2925
- Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped white green onions (reserving the greens for later), ginger and garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
- Stir in chicken broth and soy sauce and bring to a simmer (you’ll want to turn the heat up to get it boiling gently, then reduce the heat to medium or so to maintain the simmer).
- Stir in ramen noodles and coleslaw and cook for 4 minutes.
- Add chicken and spinach and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the rest of the green onions and sesame oil. Mix together, taste, then add salt, pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil to taste. Serve immediately.
Wednesday, May 8
One of the delicious dishes we were treated to at our latest book club was an asparagus and spring onion tart, as made my dear friend Barbara.
LOVED THIS TART. The “shortcrust” was delicious, the top had a pleasant chewiness thanks to a melted Parmesan cheese, and all the flavors blended really nicely together. Of course we all begged for the recipe. Barbara had found the recipe in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times, which she happily shared. She’s not one to keep secrets when it comes to good food!
You all may be wondering (as I am) what the difference between a quiche and a tart is. If anyone has a good answer, please feel free to share! Tarts may be savory or sweet, while quiche are savory, but beyond that their “official” definitions are almost identical. So, I say just call it whatever you want!Asparagus and Spring Onion TartSavory and delicious!Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Main DishIngredients
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- 6 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes (I just use salted butter)
- 2 large eggs, divided
- ½ pound trimmed asparagus spears
- 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
- 2 cups spring or green onions
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups whole milk or heavy cream
- 1 ounce (1/4 cup) grated fresh parmesan cheese (I might use a bit more myself)
- Mix flour and salt in large bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Jane note: I use my pastry blender.) Beat 1 egg and 2 Tbs water in a small bowl. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture just until dough comes together, adding 1 Tbs. more water if needed. Flatten dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour (up to 1 day).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough to 12-inch circle on floured surface. Press dough into 9-inch springform pan or fluted tart pan with removable bottom. (Jane note: Barbara baked and served her tart in a pretty fluted dish without a removable bottom. It worked very well.) Trim edges, prick bottom all over with a fork. Line tart shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. Bake 25 minutes or until barely golden. Remove beans and paper. Beat remaining egg and brush on bottom of crust. Bake 5 minutes more.
- Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water 3 minutes. Drain and cut into 1¼-inch lengths. Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions, cook 8-10 minutes until softened. Remove from heat. Whisk together eggs and milk in bowl. Stir in onions and asparagus.
- Pour filling into shortcrust and place pan on a baking sheet. (Jane note: line baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up.) Sprinkle tart with parmesan cheese. Bake in the 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, or until tart is set in the middle and top is browned well. Cover edges of crust with foil if they start to brown too much before the tart is done. Pop out of pan and serve.
Tuesday, April 16
Spaghetti is definitely a go-to meal around here and my kids could eat it every day, much like myself as a kid. Once, when I was in 3rd grade, my dad and I found ourselves home alone for a week. We ate spaghetti every night. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. My dad was lucky I was a clueless 9-year-old.
While I am grateful to know that my kids will always eat spaghetti (it really is a good option on a busy night), I must admit that Nate and I are less enthusiastic about the dish. I don’t know, it’s just kinda boring. The razzle dazzle of spaghetti has finally worn off for me. Sorry, Dad! 😉
Last week, however, I decided to try to make spaghetti more interesting. The result was delicious! I used a recipe for spaghetti carbonara from Christina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love cookbook and it came out beautifully. The ingredients are simple, the taste is flavorful, and the sauce is creamy without using actual cream.
Nate and I both really liked this recipe. I actually loved it. The girls stuck with classic boring spaghetti that night, but I don’t think they even tried the carbonara, little stinkers. Owen, however, ate three servings and couldn’t get enough!Easy Spaghetti CarbonaraAdapted from Big Bowl of Love by Christina Ferrare (I changed a few of the ingredient amounts and also some of the technique based on my experience with the recipe)Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Main Dish, PastaIngredients
- 2 cups peas (original recipe calls for fresh, I used frozen)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces diced pancetta
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallot (or regular onion if you don’t have a shallot on hand)
- 8 ounces spaghetti or linguine (fresh is yummier, dried is fine)
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish
- If using fresh peas, remove the peas from their pods and set aside. For frozen, run warm water over the peas to separate them, drain, then set aside.
- In a cold, large, heavy pot, pour the olive oil and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the pancetta, cook over medium heat until pancetta is crisp. Remove pancetta and set aside. Add shallot to the pan and saute until crispy. Remove from heat, add pancetta back to the pot and set aside. I am lazy, so I cooked the pancetta then just added the shallot/onion to the pan without removing the pancetta. I added the shallot before the pancetta got crispy then cooked until the onions were softened. Once cooked, turn off heat and set pan aside.
- Cook pasta to package directions. Be sure to salt the water – 1 tablespoon salt per 3 quarts of water. Three minutes before pasta is ready, add peas. Drain pasta and peas, reserving 3 cups of the pasta water and set aside.
- The original recipe tells you to add the pasta to the large pot with the shallots and then mix in the sauce ingredients. I did it this way and found that the cheese was very clumpy. It tasted good, but I didn’t get a smooth sauce. So, I am modifying the directions. Return the pancetta/shallot pan back to the stove and turn the heat on to medium-high. Immediately add ½ cup pasta water, ½ cup milk and ½ cup parmesan cheese. Whisk well. Add remainder of the parmesan cheese and milk and keep whisking. If the sauce is too thick or gooey, add pasta water ¼ cup at a time until sauce is creamy. Reduce heat to low then stir in the peas and spaghetti.
- Serve topped with additional parmesan cheese and mint leaves if desired.
Wednesday, April 13
Today I’m car-less, it’s raining, and I have a ton of work to do. And Anna doesn’t have any school. In anticipation of a pretty boring day for my little 3-year-old, I decided to whip up some playdough for her.
I went straight to Make and Takes and found Marie’s favorite playdough recipe. I trust her. She knows what she’s talking about. Sadly, I scoured my cupboards for cream of tartar and came up empty-handed!
I googled homemade playdough recipes to try to find one that didn’t require cream of tartar. I settled on two recipes – one salt-based and the other baking soda-based.
Well, the salt-based dough was a total bust. I don’t know if it’s a bum recipe or if I didn’t cook it long enough, but it was super sticky and soft, definitely not a useable dough. Anna decided it just needed to go in the trash, and she was right!
The baking soda recipe, however, came out great! It was much faster than the other recipe and it makes a nice maleable dough. And, someone pointed out on Twitter, it’s gluten-free. Nice bonus for those of you who need that. I have no idea how long the shelf-life is, but it’s just baking soda and cornstarch, so I think it could probably keep in the fridge wrapped in plastic and in an airtight container for a while.
Here’s the fun playdough tip I discovered while searching for recipes. Add your food coloring to the water BEFORE mixing with the other ingredients. This worked so great! Of course, if you want to make multiple colors of dough from one recipe, you would need to add the color after it’s cooked, but if you’re just making one color, dissolving the color in the water was a genius idea.
Here’s the recipe we used today. Although, I’m getting some cream of tartar so I can give Marie’s favorite recipe a go one day!Homemade Playdough Failure and Success...and a Good Coloring Tip!Standard recipe; I found it on this site, but I’ve added my own commentary.Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 1 cup baking soda
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup cornstarch
- If you’re planning to just make one color of playdough, mix your food coloring into the water.
- Whisk all ingredients together in a pan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Once boiling, you’ll let it cook 2-3 more minutes, until it turns into dough. It’s pretty quick and magical!
- Turn dough out onto waxed or parchment paper to cool. Cover the top with plastic wrap so you don’t get a dry film on the top while it cools.
Wednesday, August 25
I’m doing something today I never do. I’m recycling a recipe AND a photo. But I just feel like I NEED to. The warm weather calls for it and, since I first wrote about this recipe, there are a lot more of you reading this here blog. I’m saddened to think you may have missed the original homemade frozen yogurt post from back in the day.
I love my frozen yogurt recipe. Great texture, just sweet enough, and downright addictive. Also, you can freeze the leftovers without it getting icy. (Xanthan gum is the key and worth tracking down!)Jane's Homeade Frozen YogurtAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: DessertIngredients
- 2 cups plain yogurt (Trader Joe’s European Style is my favorite yogurt for this, Greek is good too, or just plain old plain yogurt will work as well!)
- a little less than ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup milk
- ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (see my comment below (comment #2) for more details about xanthan gum)
- Mix ingredients together and follow directions for your ice cream maker (Cuisinart – 25 minutes)
It’s kind of tragic, I haven’t made this frozen yogurt in aeons (which Nate has reminded me of more than once!). I’ve recently discovered Pinkberry and their amazing coconut frozen yogurt. I think today’s post has inspired me to dig out my ice cream maker that’s been hiding and figure out the coconut flavor. Mmmmmmm…..
Tuesday, December 23
Need to warm up now that we’re in the dead of winter?
Then hop to it and make this great vanilla hot chocolate mix! Our friends the Neilsons brought this mix over the other night (we have been so spoiled this year by homemade yumminess from so many friends!). Nate and I have had hot chocolate the last two nights. I’m considering NOT sharing with Cate. Yeah, I’m a great mom, eh?
Here’s the recipe, if you want to make it for friends…or yourself!Vanilla Hot Chocolate MixFrom EpicuriousAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split crosswise (see tips, below)
- 1½ pounds high-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process (see tips, below)
- Place sugar in large bowl. Split half vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape seeds into sugar, and add pod. Work seeds in with your fingers. Cover snugly with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.
- In food processor fitted with metal blade, process semisweet chocolate and milk chocolate until finely ground, using 4-second pulses. (Process in two batches if necessary.)
- Remove pod from sugar. Add ground chocolate and cocoa powder to sugar and whisk to blend.
- Store mix airtight at room temperature for up to six months.
- To serve:
- For each serving, heat 8 ounces milk in small saucepan over medium heat until scalded (or microwave 2½ minutes at full power). Whisk in ¼ to ⅓ cup mix. Serve with unsweetened softly whipped cream or marshmallows.
•Save the other half of the vanilla bean for another use, such as a second batch of vanilla sugar, which keeps indefinitely and can be used in baking, coffee, or simply to sprinkle on fruit or waffles.
•Dutch process cocoa has been treated with an alkaline solution, which gives it a darker color and less bitter flavor and makes it dissolve more easily. Droste is a good brand.3.2.2807