Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Eileen's Pappardelle Alla Bolognese

Because I'm Italian I love all things Italian, except for calamari, that I can not eat.  All I can think of when I hear that word, is a squid slapping me with it's tentacles or trying to eat me.  I know, THAT sounds crazy!  I just can't do it.  But anyway, Italian food is always on my list of what I can make for dinner.  It's a simple food to make, rustic, tasty and fills you up.  Add a bottle of wine and you have an elegant meal, no matter what is on the plate.

I bought a couple of packages of pappardelle at Trader Joe's the last time I was there, and stored them in the pantry.  Pappardelle is a wide flat noodle, sometimes made with eggs, sometimes not.  I have been toying with the idea of a beef bolognese sauce for them, I don't usually have a bolognese sauce with my pasta, have some picky eaters in the house.  But, I decided to give it a try, pulled some things together and made this bolognese recipe my own.  It was so darn good!  The beef, the wine, cheese, veggies and sauce, all cooking together made the house smell so fantastic, I couldn't wait to eat that night.  What is it with Italian flavors that does that, it's just good food no doubt about. So here is my take on Pappardelle With Bolognese Sauce.
Recipe below.
To print recipe, click, highlight and print.
To view photos in a larger format, click on them.

These are the ingredients I started with.  I chopped my onion, celery and carrots to get them ready.
 I didn't have pancetta on hand, But I always have a container of bacon fat stored in the freezer.  I always save it after cooking bacon.  I melted some of it with olive oil, for added flavor while cooking the beef.
I pan seared the beef on all sides..... 
then covered it with a lid for the remainder of cooking time.
Take them out of the pan and let them rest on a plate.  Lookin' good!
 I used diced tomatoes and pureed them in a small food processor.
 In the same pan with the meat juices, cook the onion, celery and carrots, then add garlic paste, more on that later.
 Add the tomato paste and stir it in.
 Ahhh, then the wine!  This gives so much flavor to the rest of the ingredients.
 Toss in those tomatoes, a little milk for creaminess, a cheese rind, bay leaves and return meat to the pan....
 .....stir the sauce so everything combines, cover and cook stirring occasionally.
 OMG! That meat, it's so tender and juicy.  Shred it with a fork, trim any fat off of it, and return it to the pan so it can absorb some of the sauce.
 Looks amazing!  Start a pot of water, bring to a boil and toss in the pappardelle to cook.
 Scoop out most of the meat from the sauce pan and put it into a bowl.  When the pappardelle was done cooking, I put it into the pan with the sauce.....
 .....gave it a roll in the sauce and WOW, that looks so good!
 When I plated the pappardelle, I topped it with the beef mixture, shaved Romano- Pecorino cheese, fresh basil, and dinner was served.  It was so good I didn't want to talk while eating, I wanted to savor every bite.
Eileen's Pappardelle Alla Bolognese

1 tablespoon olive
1 tablespoon bacon fat, or 2 tablespoons pancetta (see note), or use butter
2 boneless beef short ribs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 tablespoons garlic paste (see note)
3 tablespoons tomato paste (see note)
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup milk
2 bay leaves
small Italian cheese rind, optional
1 package Pappardelle noodles
Grated cheese

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and the bacon fat.  Add the short ribs and sear them on all sides.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from pan onto a plate.

Add the onion, celery and carrot to the same pan, and cook for about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic paste and stir it in, cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomato paste, stir it in, cook for 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, wine, milk, bay leaves and cheese rind to the pan.  Stir until all is combined, then add the meat back into the pan and season with a little more salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pan partially with the lid so the moisture escapes, and let cook for 2 hours stirring occasionally.  The sauce will thicken during cooking time.

About 20 minutes before serving, start a pot of salted water for the pasta.

Remove the cheese rind and the bay leaves from the sauce.  Take the meat out and using two forks shred the meat and return to the sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let the meat absorb some of the sauce while the pasta is cooking.

Scoop most of the meat out of the pan and into a bowl.  When pasta is done cooking, drain completely, then toss the pasta with the sauce that is left in the pan.  To serve the pasta, top with the meat mixture and shaved cheese. Makes 4 servings.

1.  If using pancetta instead of bacon fat, after browning the meat, cook pancetta in the olive oil  until brown and crispy, drain on a paper towel.  Add it to the sauce when you add the meat back in.  

2.  AMORE makes garlic paste and tomato paste in a tube, as well as many other good ingredients that you may only need a little of.  It's found on the shelves where jarred pasta sauces and canned tomatoes are sold. The garlic paste is so much easier to use, than chopping garlic cloves, and the tomato paste is less wasteful than opening a whole can of paste when you only need a few tablespoons.  If you are vegetarian or vegan, this dish is easy to switch out ingredients and still have a great, tasty dish.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sweet Little Piggies

You know those little cocktail wieners, well they are kind of a staple in our house, especially during the holidays.  I can have a whole elegant spread of food, and then I have to make those.  Everybody loves them.  All I do is wrap them in crescent dough, bake and set out ketchup and mustard for them.  Why they are such a hit, I don't know.  I found a new way of making them, someone on my old job made them for a party and I couldn't stop eating them.  I asked her for the recipe, you won't be disappointed. The ingredients are an odd combination, and you wouldn't think they would be good together, but surprisingly they are.  Who knew a little beef frank could taste good!
Recipe below.
To print recipe, click, highlight and print.
To view photos in a larger format, click on them.

So this is a package of those little beef franks, there are about 35 of them in a package, give or take.  Some of the ingredients I used, walnuts, honey, butter and brown sugar, that combo alone is good!
Melt the walnuts, honey, butter and brown sugar, this makes the sauce.
 After it melts, pour into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish, layer the crescent rolled franks in a single layer.  Bake them, and the sauce becomes this thick, gooey, sweet sensation that sticks to the little wieners, it's awesome!  Now, I didn't get a picture after they were baked, they looked so yummy, because I had take them to a friend's get together and wanted to serve them hot. Trust me they were good, I had the hostess ask me for the recipe!
Sweet Little Piggies In Blankets

1 stick butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tube refrigerated crescent dough
1 package little wieners

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small sauce pan, combine the butter, walnuts, honey and brown sugar, stir together as it starts to melt.

Meanwhile, unroll the crescent dough and pinch seams so they stay together.  You should have a large rectangle of dough.  Start cutting the dough in strips on the short end, until you have enough for all the wieners in the package.  Roll each wiener in a piece of the dough.

When the butter mixture has melted pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish and spread it evenly.  Line the wieners seam side of dough down, on top of the butter mixture.  Bake uncovered for 15 - 20 minutes or until the crescent dough is golden brown and the mixture is bubbly.  Be careful not to burn them, as always all oven temperatures are different.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Soft And Chewy Peanut Butter Bars

My favorite bar cookies are Peanut Butter Bars.  I had a recipe for Peanut Butter Bars when my kids were little, now it's lost.  Around once or twice a month I would make them and they would fly out of the pan, they loved them so much.  When we moved to our new house 10 years ago, a whole folder of old recipes including the one for these bars, disappeared.  Don't know where it is, who misplaced or threw it out!  I have been on a search, for a recipe for these bars, forever.  I don't even remember where I got the original recipe from. That recipe was baked from scratch, and all I remember is that it was handwritten on an index card, and never to be seen again.

While grocery shopping in different supermarkets, I did find a box version that came close to the homemade bars, but then that was pulled from the market too, can't find it anywhere.  After much searching I am happy to say, I found a recipe that does come close, and after tweaking it a bit, these new Peanut Butter Bars will definitely be in the dessert rotation at our house.
Recipe below.
To print recipe click on it, highlight and print.
To view photos in a larger format, click on them.

I used a box yellow cake mix for this recipe, JIF peanut butter (is there any other brand, NO!).  JIF is my favorite.  Mix the egg, water and peanut butter together.
 Whip it with a hand mixer.
 It will look like the picture on the left, fluffy.  Then add the cake mix.
 It will be more like a soft cookie dough.  Scrape the bowl so all the cake mix is incorporated.
 Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish, use a spatula and start spreading it in the pan.  It's pretty easy to do, as the dough is soft.
Make sure it's even and not lop sided.  PERFECT! Now it's ready to bake.
After it's done baking and cooling, start mixing the frosting, the best part!  
 Add milk and whip into a delicious creamy, chocolaty frosting.
 I chopped about 1/4 cup of peanuts in a small food processor, to sprinkle on 1/3 of the bars after they were frosted.  Not everyone likes to eat peanuts so I didn't do the whole pan.  If you do the whole pan 1/2 cup of chopped peanuts will do.
 Cake, frosting and peanuts lined up and ready to finish off the bars.
 I find it easy with a 9 x 13 pan, to plop down three scoops of frosting down the center of the cake and then spread it.  After it's frosted, sprinkle part of the pan or the whole pan with chopped peanuts.
 I made these Peanut Butter Bars to take to a friends house for a Saturday night get together of food, fun and talk, it was a great night!
 I cut my bars into 2 inch squares for easy eating finger food.  They were a hit!
Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Bars

Cooking Spray
1/2 cup water
1 large egg
1 cup JIF Peanut Butter
1 box yellow cake mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.  In a medium size mixing bowl combine the water, egg and peanut butter.  Beat with a mixer until fluffy and smooth. Pour the cake mix in and beat with a mixer until all is combined. Scrape down the bowl as you are mixing.

Spread the mix into the baking dish.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a light golden brown.  Please remember all oven temperatures are different and bake according to your oven.  Cool completely before frosting.

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 - 3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Beat all ingredients in a medium size bowl with a mixer until smooth. Frost the bars, sprinkle with peanuts, cut into 2x2 inch pieces and serve.