Thursday, May 7, 2015

Weeknight Bolognese


I recently came across this weeknight bolognese recipe while looking through my stack of cookbooks trying to find something new to make for dinner. Hello Barefoot Contessa! Her cookbooks are the best, especially her "How Easy is That?" cookbook. If you don't have it, you should definitely should. Ryan is always challenging me to use my cookbooks (since I have so many and I keep buying more, oops), but sometimes I just get stuck in the rut of making the same thing or a slightly different version of something I have made before. Although those are all great meals, they can get boring over and over again. At least I think so. Here comes weeknight bolognese to the dinner rut rescue! This dish takes about thirty minutes to make from start to finish, yet your family or friends will think you spent hours making it. Trust me here. It's that good. This dish starts off with browning ground beef (simple, right?) and then adding in garlic, oregano, and wine to get all those brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Still simple, right? Don't let those brown bits go to waste! You'll then stir in tomatoes and tomato paste and let simmer for just a few minutes. Just don't drink all the wine before you get to making the dish. I know that can happen. And no, I did not do that. At least not this time.

While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of water to boil (with plenty of salt - just think salty like the ocean!) so that you can cook your noodles while you finish the bolognese. Once the mixture has simmered and the flavors have started to come together, add a splash of cream, a little more wine and fresh chopped basil to the sauce. Let the sauce simmer a little more while the pasta finishes cooking and then toss both the sauce and the pasta together. Oh, and don't forget to mix in some fresh parmi cheese too. That totally makes the dish. Not that it wasn't amazing before. This just makes it that much better. I promise.

The best part about this 30 minute meal is that you can make this any day of the week. Just because it says "weeknight", doesn't mean you can't make it on the weekend. Just saying. I have been known to make this during the week and on the weekend. I've made it for just Ryan and I and I've made it for family and friends when they come over. It's so versatile! Serve this pasta dish with a simple salad and big glass of red wine and you are good to go. Simple. Easy. Delicious. Keep this recipe in your back pocket for those times when you need a quick and easy, super yummy dish in under 30 minutes!



I bet you wish the screen was scratch and sniff.


Weeknight Bolognese (Barefoot Contessa)


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef 
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1¼ cups dry red wine, divided
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. dried pasta (I love
Orecchiette)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving!




  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Crumble the ground meat into the pan.  Cook until no longer pink and starting to brown, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add 1 cup of the wine to the pan and stir, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.
  • While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining ¼ cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and ½ cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.
So easy. So delicious. How easy was that?!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Red Wine Brownies

These red wine brownies are the richest, fudgiest (is this even a word?) brownies you will ever have. I am not kidding you. I recently had half a bottle of red wine left over from making another recipe (weeknight bolognese coming soon!) and I needed to do something with it. Of course I could have had a glass or two of wine, but you know me. I wanted to cook something with it! Call me strange, but it's true. I've had my eye on red wine and chocolate cupcakes, but I just didn't want to have a dozen cupcakes calling my name and saying "eat meeee". Because I would so eat them. I'd eat them all. Okay, not all of them, but more than I should have. I have a wedding dress to fit in for peets sake.

These brownies are a nice change from your favorite brownie. There is just something about the wine and chocolate that make you go "hmmm". You don't really know it's there (unless you told someone), but there is something different about them. Good different, of course. They are super easy to mix up for a quick dessert or if you are craving brownies, but they are fancy enough for a special occasion or to give away as a gift. You know me, I am always gifting treats and one that has wine, even better! Just make sure you do not over bake these. If you do, they lose their fudgy goodness and be a little dry. No one wants a dry brownie. At least I don't. I'm sure you don't either. The next time you are looking for a super yummy (and quick and easy!) dessert, promise me you'll try these. Red wine + chocolate = heaven.






Red Wine Brownies (Butter Me Up Brooklyn)


4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup red wine
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (mini or regular can be used)
For the glaze:
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons red wine
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter an 8×8 pan and spray with non stick spray or line with nonstick foil. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate and the butter together in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugars and vanilla. Whisk in the chocolate mixture and then the wine. Add the flour, cocoa powder and salt and stir until the batter is smooth and has thickened slightly. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a tester comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs attached. You may need to bake the brownies for a few minutes more, but set your timer for 15 minutes and then hang out in your kitchen for the last few minutes of baking time just to make sure they don’t over bake. An under baked brownie is better than an over baked one.
While the brownies are baking make the glaze. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water until melted. Add the butter, wine and salt and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze over the warm brownies and spread it to the corners so the top is evenly coated. Cool completely and enjoy!

These red wine brownies will change your life.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Parmesan & Thyme Crackers

Making your own crackers may seem like a daunting task, but I promise it is not. Especially when it comes to these little parmesan and thyme crackers. I was going through all the cookbooks in my kitchen looking for something fun and exciting to make, and came across this cracker recipe. I knew it might not be the best idea to make (considering I would probably eat all of them in one sitting - I'll be the first to admit, I have no self control), but since some friends would be coming over for dinner, I thought they would make a nice little nibbly bit for them while I was making dinner. Plus, these crackers take only five minutes to whip up and they only take just a few ingredients - many of which are probably already in your kitchen. 

All you will need to make these crackers is flour, butter, parmesan cheese, thyme, black pepper and salt. See super simple, right? I would have told you if it was complicated. You literally mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until combined. No extra bowls needed here! Once everything is combined, you'll want to place the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap, roll into a log and then place in the fridge to firm up. You can place this in the freezer to speed this part of the process up, but just don't forget it about it in there. You'll never cut through that frozen butter and cheese without cutting yourself. Trust me. It's not safe. Once the cracker log has chilled, you will want to cut it all up in to cracker like sizes, about 1/2 an inch thick. There is no specific way to do this, but just don't go too thick or too thin. Especially not too thin. Then your crackers will burn. Burnt crackers are not yummy crackers. Especially burnt cheese crackers! Unless you are in to that kind of thing.

Bake these little cheese delights at 350 degrees for 22 minutes and your house will smell better than it ever has before. No joke. As the crackers bake, your home be filled with the most heavenly cheesy aroma. Yikes. I am starting to salivate. These crackers are so easy to make and so impressive. People will really think you spent all day making them. Little do they know that they were a piece of cake cheese to make. These crackers make a great little snack or a great homemade gift (especially when you give them with a bottle of wine!). Just try not to eat them all in one sitting. Trust me, you'll be able to if you aren't careful. They are that deliciously addictive.


making homemade crackers is my new favorite thing!


Parmesan & Thyme Crackers (Ina Garten)

¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1¼ cups all-purpose flour


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, add the Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper and combine. With the mixer still on low, add the flour and combine until the mixture is in large crumbles, about 1 minute. If the dough is too dry, add 1 teaspoon water.
Dump the dough onto a floured board, press it into a ball, and roll into a 9-inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the log into 3/8-inch-thick rounds with a small, sharp knife and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 22 minutes, until very lightly browned. Cool and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

If you thought Cheez-Its were good, get ready for these!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Where Have You Been Lately?

Well, what can I say - I have been MIA since the end of November with not even a blog post in sight. You all have probably been wondering where the heck I ran off to or what has been going on in my life. I really should have posted something sooner to let you know I would be taking a few months off my blog, but life got so incredibly busy that I just never had the time. Oops. So, you want to know what has been keeping me away from blogging and sharing fabulous recipes with you? Here we go!

As many of you know, I am currently working full time and perusing my MBA in Finance. Working full time and going to school is definitely not easy, but taking three classes this semester (instead of two) is a whole other ball game. Let me tell you. I don't even know how I find time to try out new recipes, but of course, I do. My typical days goes something like this - up at 5:30am, study before I leave for work, work from 7am to 4:30pm then class 6-9pm and finally home, showered and in bed by 10pm. Repeat that three days a week. Holy moly! Not to mention I am the girl at work who spends a lot of her lunches working on homework or catching up on reading at her desk. Plus, weekends are typically booked with group projects on campus or working on other school related items. At least the groups I have been working with make projects fun, so it's not too terrible spending all of Sunday in the library. But see, I told you there wasn't much time for anything else. The good news is, the semester is over in three weeks and I will be back and blogging. My phone is full of fabulous photos and I can't wait to share some of the things I have been making. My groups this semester have been sampling all of these goodies - they are taste tested and approved! I know you will love them too.

Let's see. What else happened. Oh, some rather sad news, but it's another reason why I have been kind of MIA. At the end of September, my first ever dog passed away, Lucy. Last February, Ryan and I adopted an older black lab mix from the local SPCA. Even though she ate parts of the house (boy oh boy did she have separation anxiety) we worked though it all and she was such an amazing girl. Lucy loved to play ball (especially with soccer balls, although she would end up popping them after a throw or two), swim until she was exhausted and of course, chasing squirrels and always be around you. She was the sweetest dog you'd ever meet and she loved everyone! Sadly, five months after we adopted her, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. Due to the speed in which her cancer was progressing, there wasn't much we could do other than spend another few weeks with her and keep her as comfortable as possible. Those next few weeks weren't easy and boy was it hard to let her go (I never knew how much you could fall in love with a dog in such a short period of time), but it was the best thing we could do for her. Lucy is no longer in pain and she is now in a place where she can run free and always look after us. She will always have a very special place in our hearts and we think about her often. We love you Lucy girl!

Okay, enough sad stuff. I promise, there is no more of that in this post - promise! Ryan and I are continuing to work on our house (it's a never ending project with our busy schedules), but something BIG happened in early February of this year. WE ARE GETTING MARRIED! I know that some of you know this story, but for those that don't, hold on tight. Let me tell you what happened. Seven years ago, Ryan attempted to fly me to Boonville for a romantic lunch. Not more than 10 minutes up in the air did I get sick all over. Like missed the bag and got it all over me. Not romantic. I kinda forgot to tell him I have a little motion sick issue. Oops. Seven years later, he tried to take me to Boonville again and this time, I made it! And even better, I got a sparkly surprise when we landed. I had no idea this was even coming, despite one of my coworkers having a feeling it might happen. I was just glad I landed and did not get sick! Since that day, we have been wedding planning like crazy. Between working all day and school all night, it doesn't leave much time to book DJ's, rentals or find a caterer. We've picked our place and date and October 17th can't come fast enough. Especially now that I've found the dress. Yes, yes, I said "yes to the dress!".

So, that about covers it all. Work, school, and wedding planning. Life for this girl has always been a little crazy, but this year, it's a lot more so. One more year until graduation. Six months until I'm married. A lifetime full of laughter, love and friendship ahead. Thank you to everyone that has supported me though all the ups and downs these last six months have brought me. I could not have made it through everything with out my friends, family and most importantly, my fiance (I can't believe I get to call him that now!!).

XOXO

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sausage Crescent Breakfast Squares

After all that holiday cooking and eating, I bet you are looking for something quick and easy to throw together. Am I right? Don't get me wrong, I love cooking, but after cooking for hours and hours, I want something that is going to be super yummy. And super quick and easy. Especially for breakfast. If I had to choose a meal of the day that I could always eat, it would be breakfast. It can be sweet. It can be savory. It can be eaten any time of the day. Perhaps I am the only one that feels this way, but breakfast is seriously universal and you can almost make something that everyone will love. Thus, here comes the sausage crescent breakfast squares. My mouth is already filling up with saliva!

My amazing co-worker and friend, Stephanie, has made these many times before. When she brings them to the office, I can never seem to just have one. I always find myself going back for more. And then more. And then more again. Before I know it, I've already eaten half the pan she brought to work. Oops. I know I should stop at just one square, but they are just that good. And they couldn't be easier to make. I often shy away from super easy recipes, but lately, they have been my jam. Just because they are simple, doesn't mean they aren't good. Plus, between work and school, easy recipes are exactly what I need these days. Last weekend I was struggling to figure out what to make for Saturday morning breakfast. I was pouring through all my cookbooks to find something new, but nothing was jumping out at me. I have my few go to things, but I wanted something different. Then it came to me- these breakfast squares! 

Let me tell you just how easy these breakfast squares are to make. All you need are two cans of your favorite crescent rolls, one pound of breakfast sausage and an eight ounce package of cream cheese. Three ingredients to total deliciousness. Stephanie says her favorite way is to use the store brand crescent rolls, but you can use whatever you like. I even saw that Trader Joes makes their own now too! I decided to try to cut down on the calories a bit (you know me) and used low fat breakfast sausage and light cream cheese. You don't have to do that, but I could not even tell a difference between how mine turned out and Stephanie's. To get started, lay out one can of rolls into a flat layer. Take a 9x13 pan and press the dough into the pan. It does not have to be perfect. Just make it fit as best as you can. You'll want to do the same with the other can of rolls, but don't place it in the pan just yet. Next, you'll want to cook up the sausage, drain the excess fat and then stir in the cream cheese. Once everything is all nice and melted, give it a good stir and then pour the mixture over the dough in the pan. Then, take the top layer of rolls and place on top. That's it! See, told you it was super easy. I wouldn't lie to you.

From this point, you can pop the pan in the fridge and cook later. If you want to enjoy this goodness right away, just pop the pan right into the oven and cook for about 13-15 minutes, or until the top is nice and golden brown. If you took the pan straight out of the fridge, it may need an extra five minutes or so in the oven. Just keep an eye on it. Once it's ready to go, you can enjoy right away. Just give them a couple of minutes to cool so you don't burn your tongue. Eat them hot. Eat them cold. Eat them on the way to work. No matter how you eat them, you are sure to love them as much as I do!


how good do those look?!


Sausage Crescent Breakfast Squares (the famous Stephanie!)

2 8oz cans of your favorite brand of Crescent rolls 
1 pound breakfast sausage (Jimmy Dean is best!)
1 8oz package cream cheese (you can use light too!)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Take one of the cans of crescent rolls and pat out into a rectangle big enough to fit in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. It does not have to be perfect, just about that size. Place in the pan. Take the other can and do the same thing. Except, put this aside. This will be the top to the squares. Then, cook the breakfast sausage until cooked and brown. Drain excess fat and then return sausage back to the pan. Add in the cream cheese and stir until melted and combined. Once the cream cheese has melted, pour the mixture on top of the rolls in the bottom of your pan. Then, place the other rectangle of dough on top. Place in the oven and cook for about 13-15 minutes until golden brown and your kitchen smells amazing. Enjoy!



 Breakfast never tasted so good!



Monday, November 24, 2014

Lemon Pecan Pie

I know what you are thinking - lemon pecan pie? Why is she messing with a good thing. Can't she just leave it alone? Well, I know what you are saying, but you know me. I can't just do plain. Well, sometimes I can, but sometimes I can't. Remember last year when I tried a bourbon pecan pie? Let me just say, when I brought it to a holiday party last year, it was the first pie to go. That's saying something. Don't you think. I do. While I love a good traditional pecan pie, sometimes it's fun to switch things up. People will least expect it and there's nothing like a little something something to spice up the holidays.

I first saw this lemon pecan pie recipe the other weekend when I was watching some of my recorded Food Network programs. I am too busy during the week to catch up on my favorites, so I usually dedicate an hour or so to catch up on the ones I can. While I was cleaning up the kitchen, I turned on Trisha Yearwood's show. She makes some simple, yet great dishes that everyone can make. I wasn't really paying attention to the show while I was cleaning, but when she said "lemon pecan pie", I did a double take. At first I thought I would be part lemon bar and part pecan pie, but boy was I wrong. She doesn't do too much to change up the original and delicious pecan pie. But she does add a bit of lemon zest and juice. Not too much. Just enough to make you go, "hmm, what is that?" But in a good way of course.

This pie could not be easier to throw together. In five minutes, you can throw everything together and have it ready to pop in the oven. Seriously! Plus, if you are anti corn syrup, this pie is for you. No corn syrup here. Just butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, a bit of flour to thicken things up, lemon zest, lemon juice, a splash of milk and of course, pecans. First, you'll melt down the butter and then add in everything else. Just make sure the eggs are mixed in really well. I noticed some of the egg whites took a but more arm muscle to mix in. You don't want strands of egg whites through your pie, do you? I don't think so. That's kinda gross. Once everything is mixed really well, throw in the chopped pecans and pour everything into an unbaked pie crust. Then, before you pop the pie into the oven (at this point, try your hardest to not eat the filling by the spoonful), you'll want to add some halved pecans on the top making a pretty design. This part makes your pie look like you spent hours on it when you only spent 5 to 10 minutes prepping everything.

Bake the pie for about 55 minutes or so until everything is set and the center of the pie is no longer wiggly jiggly. I am clearly using technical terms here. You'll know when it's done. Just give the pie a little shimmy shake (another technical term) and if the middle doesn't wiggle, it's done. When the pie is ready to come out, let it cool to room temperature and then enjoy! I am almost willing to bet that your friends and family will love this subtle and new twist to pecan pie.


Lemon pecan pie. Enough said!

Lemon Pecan Pie (Trisha Yearwood)

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter (salted or unsalted)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup pecan halves
1 9inch pie shell, unbaked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs. Mix well. Then stir in butter, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, milk, flour and 1 cup of the chopped pecans. Mix until combined. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust and then arrange the pecan halves on top in a circular pattern.

Bake the pie until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set and firm, about 55 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!



Lemon pecan pie never sounded so good!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

I am always looking for ways to get more veggies into my diet. I will be the first to admit that although I love big salads, I may not always get as many veggies in as I would like. Veggies make great healthy and quick side dishes and I am always looking for new ways to spice them up. Figuratively, not literally. Steamed veggies are boring and there is only so much grilled zucchini and squash that this girl can eat. And I love zucchini. That tells you how much of it I am willing to eat. Nevertheless, when I came across this roasted green bean recipe, I knew I had to try it.

My usual go to green bean recipe is pretty simple - steamed green beans tossed in lemon juice and slivered almonds. Simple, fresh and delicious. There is something about the sound of roasted green beans though. Don't you think. You can't really get easier than tossing green beans in olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder and then popping in the oven for ten minutes or so. This recipe is really once of those toss and forget it kind of recipes. Although, don't really forget about it in the oven because then you'll end up with burnt green beans and not roasted. I've never had burnt green beans, but I can't imagine they are very good. Once the green beans have had about ten minutes to bake, give them a shimmy shake to turn them all around and give all the sides an opportunity to get brown and yummy. After another five minutes of baking, remove the beans from the oven and toss with a bit of fresh parmi so that all the beans are coated with a bit of the cheese. At this point, you can eat them straight from the pan as a snack or add them as a side dish to one of your favorite meals. Let me just say that these green beans are totally addicting and are so easy to make that you may want to consider adding this dish to your holiday menus. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this would be a great way to change up your green bean dish from the traditional casserole (boy are those onion things on top totally addicting!). 



you may never go back to eating steamed green beans ever again!


Roasted Parmesan Green Beans (SkinnyTaste)

12 oz green beans, trimmed (make sure they are dry)
2 tsp olive oil
kosher salt + fresh cracked pepper to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tbsp shredded parmesan


Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum for easy clean-up.
Lay green beans out on the baking sheet and drizzle oil over them. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and toss to evenly coat. Spread them out on the sheet so that they all lay flat and place on the lower third section of your oven. Bake 10 minutes, shake the pan to turn; bake 5 additional minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with grated cheese


Green beans may never be the same again!