Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pasta Sauce - Secret Family Recipe ;)

Over the years I've perfected the red sauce we make for pasta. I've simplified and tried to make it a tasty sauce with fresh ingredients. It is a meat sauce, I usually do a quick sauce in the summer when I can get fresh basil from my garden. Recently, I've started adding homemade meatballs. (Recipe below)

Pasta Sauce

5 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Dried oregano - 1 to 1 1/2 tsp (depending on taste)
6 packages Pomi strained tomatoes
1 /2 cup dry Red Wine
1 stick of butter
1 package pork riblets (they have extra meat on the bone)
1 package of medium or mild sausage (4 to 6 links)
1/8 cup of sugar

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven. Add riblets and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside. Puncture sausage with a fork and cook until brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Add garlic and cook only until you smell the garlic. Add meats back into pan. Add Pomi tomatoes, wine, butter, salt and pepper, and oregano. Add 1/2 of the sugar. Add meatballs if you are using. Once sauce is bubbling, lower heat and cook for about 4 hours. Make sure you watch so that the bottom doesn't burn.  If needed, add the rest of the sugar and perhaps some more wine.

Meatballs (adapted from Pioneer Woman's recipe)
2 pounds ground beef or 1 pound beef and 1 pound ground pork
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup ricotta cheese ( I use homemade)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, grated on a rasp grater
2 whole eggs
Splash of milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the ground beef, pork, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, ricotta, parsley, crushed red pepper, salt, garlic, eggs, milk and black pepper in a bowl. Mash with your hands until thoroughly combined. Cover hands with oil and form into small balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes (depending on size), flip then cook for an additional 15 minutes. Add to sauce. If you are not adding to sauce and depending on the size, you may want to cook a little longer to ensure they are cooked through.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pumpkin Soup! A Fall Favorite

We love pumpkin soup and find this time of year perfect for enjoying this treat. I served this with cheddar grilled-cheese sandwiches with a slice of bacon in the sandwich. I always shred my own cheese. It taste so much better and is so fresh!


1 can of Pumpkin Puree 29 ounce can
1 medium Butternut Squash peeled, softened, and cut into 1 inch cubbed-pieces*
1 can of low sodium Chicken Broth 32 fluid ounces
1 small onion chopped
2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
1 pint cream
6 whole, black peppercorns
Pinch of salt (or to taste)
I sprig of Rosemary
4 slices of bacon
1 Tablespoon of bacon fat
2 Tablespoons of olive oil

Heat olive oil in dutch oven and add chopped onions. Saute until translucent. Add garlic, salt, and peppercorns. Cook until you smell the garlic. Add pumpkin puree, chicken broth, butternut squash, and rosemary sprig. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes (when squash is soft). While soup is cooking, bake bacon at 425 degrees for approximately 15 minutes ( I usually cook more than 4 slices since my family loves bacon).  Reserve 1 Tablespoon of fat and add to soup. Cool bacon and once cooled, crumble to add to soup when it is done.

Cook pumpkin mixture until squash is fully cooked. Remove from heat and use an emulsion blender or regular blender to puree soup.  BE CAREFUL! The soup will be very hot. Add back to pot and mix in cream and bacon. Serve!

*I buy the entire squash, cut in half, remove seeds, and then cook in microwave at 2 minute increments until soften (not full cooked), I cool slightly so that I can peel and cut into 1 inch chunks. However, you can also buy them peeled and cut from the grocery story.