Spaghetti Bolognese

I haven’t posted a recipe here in forever, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. I’ve been (lazily) archiving a lot of my cooking adventures in Pinterest, linking the original recipe and making my own notes in the pin comments. But I’d like to get back to writing up the recipes I really love so I can easily repeat them, so I’m going to try to write recipe posts more often.

I made this Bolognese sauce this week and it was truly delicious. The only “bolognese” sauce I’d made before was adding cooked ground beef to a standard marinara. This sauce is entirely different and much more like an Italian-flavored meat stew than a tomato-y sauce. The vegetables cook down and add their unique taste, and the tomato flavor is a blended note instead of the main event. The wine helps deglaze the pan and add some sweetness and the whole thing is wonderfully balanced and flavorful. Big Man said it was one of the best dinners I’ve ever made.

I really loved this dish as well and I plan to make it again soon. One of my favorite things about it is the make-ahead factor. This sauce greatly benefits from a night in the fridge to let all the flavors blend and get happy. So I actually made the sauce one morning when I had a little extra time to hang out in the kitchen. The house smelled amazing the whole day, which was an extra bonus! I refrigerated the sauce overnight (in the Dutch oven where I cooked it – no extra dishes!) and for dinner the next night all I needed to do was heat up the sauce, cook some pasta, and make the garlic bread. A super easy, quick dinner that felt like a special occasion instead of a normal Thursday night. And like I said, the taste here is fantastic. With freshly grated Parmesan over the top and paired with a nice Moscato, it was a stand-out dinner. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Bolognese Sauce (adapted from Vikalinka)

Serves 4-6
Time: 2.5 to 3 hours, plus overnight refrigeration
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef (I used grass-fed)
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1.5 cups red wine (I used a Malbec)
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • To serve: cooked spaghetti, Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven (or large, heavy-bottomed pot) with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a couple minutes more. Remove the vegetables to a bowl.

2. Lightly re-coat the bottom of the same Dutch oven with a bit more olive oil. Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking it up into small pieces and making sure it browns on all sides. Once browned, remove to the bowl with the veggies.

3. Add the ground pork, season with salt and pepper, and brown it, just like with the beef.

4. Once the pork is browned, slowly pour in the wine, stirring and scraping all the browned bits (a.k.a. flavor!) off the bottom of the pan. Return the beef and veggies, and add the tomatoes, oregano, basil, and another good dose of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer for at least an hour and a half (I simmered mine for a little over 2 hours). While it’s simmering, cover with the lid askew so that steam can escape.

5. Taste a few times through the simmering and adjust seasonings as needed. Once the sauce is cooked and seasoned, cool completely, then cover and refrigerate at least overnight.

6. To serve, re-heat the sauce until it is simmering, then add al dente spaghetti directly to the sauce. Give everything a good stir to coat the pasta and serve. Add freshly-grated Parmesan to each serving, if desired.

7. Enjoy!

House Update #17: Second floor

The house is moving right along. The framing crew has been working continuously (thanks to the nice weather), and Big Man has been up there every day working as well.  He is working on the basement framing, organizing and moving all the materials, and basically just doing what needs to be done. All that hard work means the second floor is framed, about 75 % of the roof trusses are installed, and we can really see the entire house structure coming together. Here are some pictures!

The front of the house. The roofline is now visible!

The front of the house. The roofline is now visible!

View of the house from downhill, where you can see the walkout basement

View of the house from downhill, where you can see the walkout basement

View of the house from the uphill side

View of the house from the uphill side

View from the master bath windows

Standing in the master bath, looking out the windows

My favorite picture, the view out the master bedroom window

My favorite picture, the view out the master bedroom window

Thanks for following along with us!

Little Man Turns 5

A couple weeks ago was Little Man’s 5th birthday. I can’t believe my sweet little son is not so little anymore. Of course, I don’t know if I can call him little when he is 2/3 my height! My mom always says the smallest person is the one in charge, and with the way the kids are growing, I won’t have to wait long before it’s me again.

A lot has happened in our lives since Little Man joined the world 5 years ago. We have moved twice, changed jobs, and welcomed Little Lady along the way. We’ve begun work on one of the Life Dreams that Big Man and I have held for years. We’ve rejoiced as friends and siblings got married, and mourned as extended family members went home to be with Jesus. We’ve welcomed cousins and second-cousins, a new generation of little ones born into the loving embrace of family and close friends. Little Man was the first of that new generation in our family, and he’s done a fantastic job leading the pack.

We’ve moved beyond the early weeks of sheer exhaustion as we tried to figure out life with a new baby. We ditched the crib before he turned 2 because he climbed out of it all on his own. We’ve survived potty training and haircuts and first trips to the dentist. Little Man has fallen in love with trains, and cars, and airplanes, and trains again. He loves to draw and to build things, and is always ready to talk about trains to anyone who will listen.

He’s a wonderful brother to Little Lady, taking care of her when she is sad or sick, and is kind and generous to everyone he knows. He and Little Lady have a whole set of games only they understand and will “sneak” into each others rooms at bedtime for just a few more minutes of play before sleep. He is constantly asking when he will get to help build the house, and volunteering to help whenever I’m working in the kitchen. We can see more facets of his personality and character every day, and it is such a beautiful thing to witness. We are so very blessed that God gave us our Little Man and we love him more that words could ever say.

My mother-in-law has the best saying about raising kids: “The days move slowly but the years go by quickly.” That is absolutely true in our experience. There are long days and stresses and failures, but all the benefits vastly outweigh those frustrations.

Daddy and I love you, Little Man. You bring us joy and smiles and hugs and snuggles. We are so proud of who you are and we can’t wait to know you more in the years to come.

House Update # 16: More progress

We finally, finally have more progress on the house. We spent about 5 weeks around Christmas with no work being done and it is so nice to see things moving again now that we finally have a framing crew. We needed to find a group of enough people to get the final big logs up (they are so heavy) and to be able to get the remaining framing, roof, and windows/doors installed in a timely fashion. When we started looking in December, every framing company around here was swamped with work, so we had to wait a few weeks for other projects to be finished. But a crew started Monday and they are working quickly and it is so fun to see things coming together.  Here are some pictures:

View from the driveway. You can see the beginnings of the covered deck and entry

View from the driveway. You can see the beginnings of the covered deck and entry

Close up on the entry

Close up on the entry

Details

Details

More pictures soon. Thanks for following along with us!

Goals for 2015

It’s the middle of January already, but I’ve decided on my goals for this year. I did fairly well on my list from last year, but the biggest failure was not completing Little Lady’s Christmas stocking. That’s definitely at the top of the list for this year. Of course the house project is a big goal too, but that one is far bigger than just me. Big Man and I will be living in our new home before the end of 2015, Lord willing.

Projects:

Lifestyle Goals:

  • Continue daily workouts, mixing HIIT routines with yoga.
  • Eat less sugar
  • Intentional hospitality: have people over for a meal at least once a month

Cooking Goals:

  • Learn how to (consistently, successfully) poach and soft-boil eggs
  • Make croissants
  • Learn how to create latte art (if we get an espresso machine for the new house)

Happy 2015!

House Update #15: Logs!

With lots of hard work from Big Man and the contracted carpenters, the log walls are taking shape! We are so excited with how they look, and it is great to really see the house coming together. It’s especially fun for me because I get to see the progress pictures at the end of every day and avoid the crazy muscle soreness Big Man has from lifting the heavy logs all day. My husband is literally building our dream house with his own hands. He’s awesome!

Dining room walls and windows

Dining room walls and windows

Living room walls and windows

Living room walls and windows

One of the outdoor corners

One of the outdoor corners

One of the inside wall corners

One of the inside wall corners

Thanks for following along!

House Update #14: More progress

It’s amazing how fast things are moving now that we have hired on some help. We are less stressed and things are still getting completed without Big Man needing to be at the site every waking non-work hour. Here are some pictures of the framing progress and the wildlife friends that come to visit!

Hello there!

Hello there!

Walkout basement framing

Walkout basement framing

Main floor sub-floor, and the view!

Main floor sub-floor, and the view!

Our fox buddy standing on the leach field

Our fox buddy standing on the leach field

Starting to place the logs!

Starting to place the logs!

More logs

More logs

Thanks for following along!