Tuesday, April 19, 2011


On a recent trip to NYC, the Music Man had an encounter with penne bolognese at a restaurant near his hotel. He returned home with appetite whetted for more. This concoction is the nearest possible alternative that I could come up with, having only his taste buds to go on for accuracy. I don't know if it comes anywhere close to that memorable New York penne bolognese, but it has definitely become a hit in our home. In the above picture, I made it with rigatoni, but we've made it with farfalle and penne as well.


1 Tbs. olive oil
4 oz. bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup finely diced carrots
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground italian sausage
1 6oz. can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 (14.5 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes in their juice
1 (14.5 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1 lb. pasta of your choice, cooked to package directions

In a large pot, heat the oil over med-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring until browned and the fat is rendered, 4-5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery, cooking until soft, about 4-5 minutes. (note: I place the onion, carrots and celery in my food processor and pulse until very finely chopped). Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano and cook, stirring about 1 minute. Add the pork and sausage, cooking until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine, stirring to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan and until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer, stirring occasionally to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan and until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 1 hour. Add the cream and parsley, stir well, simmer for 2 minutes more then discard bay leaves and serve over hot pasta. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

No Bottle Necessary

Chicken stir fry - a one bowl wonder that often comes packed full of sodium...via the sauce. With all the bottled stir fry sauces on the market, it's disappointing to find the vast majority packed full of too much salt, msg, and other not-so-natural wonders. This girl is super sodium sensitive and while I love a steaming bowl of goodness, I can live without the puffy eyes it brings. Here I've made my own sauce - just as yummy when you simmer it all together and pour over your favorite combo of stir fry veggies and rice.

Chicken Stir Fry

1 1/2 lbs. bonless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 large carrot juliened*
1 small green pepper, sliced thin*
1 cup broccolli flowerets*
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced thin*
2 cups peapods, trimmed*
1 can chicken broth
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup cashews (optional)
4 cups rice, cooked according to package directions

In a small bowl, whisk together broth, cornstarch, soy sauce and ginger, set aside. In a large skillet, or wok, heat the vegetable oil and stir fry chicken until no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside. Add to skillet the onion, green pepper, and mushrooms, stir frying until tender. Pour sauce into skillet with the vegetables and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return chicken to the skillet, adding the peapods as well, stir until heated through. Serve over hot rice and top with cashews.

*can easily substitute your favorite stir fry mix of fresh, frozen veggies.