Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

Well as you may have noticed, I, like many other bloggers, took an unofficial blogging break over Christmas. I could give you a bunch of excuses, some legit and some lame, but I will spare you the boredom that results from my random babbling. Instead, I'll get right to the good stuff.

First, I've come across some other food blogs recently that are well worth mentioning. Ree, AKA "The Pioneer Woman," is one of those lucky bloggers who started a personal blog some time ago and it quickly became one of the most popular blogs on the web. Here's Ree's story in a nutshell: City girl who lives on sushi and pedicures falls in love with a real-life cowboy, gets married, leaves the city behind, moves to the ranch, has 4 children...and the rest is history. I know, I know, it sounds like a movie script from Hollywood, a sort-of female version of "City Slickers," but believe me, her life is the real deal. Filled with snippets of the nitty-gritty happenings of family life on their ranch, often including references to calf nuts, Ree's blog is quaint, genuine and humorous. Perhaps you're more interested now that I've mentioned calf nuts??

My point in telling you all this is that The Pioneer Woman has a food blog, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks," that is equally as noteworthy as her main blog. One of the things I alsolutely adore about her food blog is the fact that it is overflowing with step-by-step pictures of her recipe preparations. And I cannot stress enough that she takes INCREDIBLE photos!! I mean, having a high quality digital camera sure helps, but suffice to say that she's a creative inspiration to me. Check out the abundance of photos on her main blog as well.

Another cool blog I discovered recently is "Foodmomiac." Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like--posts about food, about mothering, and about everything in between. Another real-life person sharing the ins and outs of life, plus she has great taste in food and has many links to recipes and food websites.

And lastly, I'll leave you with a recipe! For those of you who've become disillusioned by the cooking/baking overload that occurs over the holidays, it's time to give yerself a break. And who's the faithful friend to the disillusioned cook?? Why the crock-pot, of course! So sit back, relax, and let your crock-pot do (most) of the work.

Slow-Cooked Bolognese Sauce
I adore bolognese sauce, or Italian meat-sauce, as it's known to the common folk. I'd always wanted to try a homemade version of it, but was never quite confident delving into the territory of homemade Italian food, that is, until I found this recipe. Yum, yum, and double-yum! I recommend serving this sauce over a chunky pasta, such as farfalle (bowtie) or rotini (corkscrew). Thick sauces are best paired with chunky pastas because they tend to "hold" the sauce better than a noodle pasta, like spaghetti. But whatever pasta you choose to pair this sauce with, it'll be delicious!
  • 1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 4 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1-2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1-2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3/4 cup water

In a skillet, cook beef (or sausage) and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer to slow cooker. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and cook on high heat for 2 hours. Then cook on low heat for an additional 5-6 hours. Stir occasionally during the cooking time. Serve over pasta.

**Tip - While I love what a time saver the slow cooker is, it requires that one plans ahead so they have time in the morning to get the recipe started. And that is not something I'm good at...having extra time in the mornings. So one thing that's helped me a lot with this dish is prepping nearly everything for the sauce the night before. I cook the meat and onion, let it cool, and refridgerate it. Then I combine the remaining sauce ingredients in a separate bowl, all except for the garlic because it's best when freshly minced, and refridgerate that, too. The only left to do in the morning is throw it all together in the crock pot, add the garlic, stir, and let the crock pot do the rest...voila! Instant time-saver for all of you who are NOT morning people!

Also, this recipe is awesome to double. Then freeze the extra and you'll have a near-instant meal awaiting you, minus defrosting time, of course. I've also used the extra sauce to make a meal for families who've recently had a baby. Combine it with pasta, salad and garlic bread to round out the perfect Italian meal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Walk Slowly Live Wildly gal has a food blog now! Check it out:

Also, an email to you got returned to me. : ( Is your regular address still working?

Love ya,