Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bolognese Sauce

I have been meaning to post this recipe for Bolognese Sauce for a long time. It's been sitting in my drafts for two years, in fact. Oops.

Ground beef mixed with tomato sauce this is not. There are no hard bits of ground beef here. I don't know how to describe it except to say that the meat is soft, but "soft meat" sounds wrong somehow. Just make it and you'll know what I mean. This recipe makes a lot of sauce. It freezes really well, and since it takes all day to make (are you still reading after I said that? Good- it's made in the slow cooker) it's nice that you have lots to show for it. I always have some in the freezer for a quick meal, and as soon as I run out I make some more.

The sauce is great on pasta, of course, but I love it best on spaghetti squash. It is lighter and actually more flavourful, I find and the squash adds another dimension of flavour. I've made it before and then mostly forgot about this weird and wonderful vegetable until a girls weekend in October. One friend brought meatballs with tomato sauce and another made spaghetti squash in place of pasta. Even those who were sceptical went back for seconds and we didn't even need to make the back-up pasta. 

One Year Ago: Chocolate Lollipops

Three Years Ago: Home Made Gifts 

from Best of America's Test Kitchen 2007
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 carrot, chopped fine
  • 1/2 celery rib, chopped fine
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground pork
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • 2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes, pureed in a blender until smooth
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and cook until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste, cook about 30 seconds. Add meat, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and cook, breaking up meat, until crumbled into tiny pieces and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the milk, bring to a vigorous simmer, and cook until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes, thyme and bring to a boil. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Cover, set the temperature to high, and bring to a boil.

Remove the lid and simmer until the sauce is very thick, 7 to 8 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Notes: Sauce can be refrigerated up to 4 days, frozen up to 2 months.

Recipe can be made partially ahead of time by completing all steps prior to putting sauce in the slow cooker- refrigerate sauce in pot overnight, then bring to a boil again before transferring to slow cooker.

Place slow cooker on a counter or on the stove away from cabinetry as a lot of steam will rise from the sauce as it cooks.

If you will be out of the house for longer than 7 or 8 hours, set the lid halfway off the slow cooker rather than removing it entirely, then simmer for 10 to 11 hours.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Healthy Lunch: Quinoa Salad

Everybody gets on the healthy bandwagon in January, don't they? I am no exception. For two weeks in December I have this mentality that I have to eat every unhealthy thing in sight. I'm looking at you, bake sale at work. I spent $15 in one day on baked goods. And ate them all. Yikes. It also didn't help that it was cold enough that I didn't want to run outside (I draw the line below minus 5 Celsius) so therefore I gave up on fitness for the last couple weeks of December as well. Holy Hell, did I feel gross come January 1 (and not just because of the NYE champagne).

Usually I don't want salads in the winter. This salad however, with it's lack of lettuce, hits the mark. Plus, I don't have to get up from my desk to go upstairs to the lunch room to warm it up. Which I realize is counter-healthy resolution month but I'm just being honest here.

An Amy Original
Serves 1
  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • chopped vegetables- I've done cucumber, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli or shredded carrot, tomatoes, roasted peppers, etc. Use what you have.
  • 2 tbsp reduced fat Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • balsamic vinaigrette, store-bought or recipe below
Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender- 10-15 minutes. You can tell it's cooked by looking at it- the grains will expand and be opaque throughout. Drain and rinse under cold water if making salad right away.

Toss all ingredients together, adding as much balsamic dressing as desired. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Makes multiple servings. 
This is one of my sorta-recipes. A guideline if you will. I like more vinegar than oil in my dressings, but you can easily change it to suit your tastes.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • a squeeze of honey
  • a dollop of Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 clover garlic, grated on a Microplane or chopped very finely
  • salt and pepper
Add all ingredients to a mason jar or other container with a lid. Shake well. Store any unused portion in the fridge.