Simple Weeknight Bolognese

There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of pasta. This hearty Simple Weeknight Bolognese is the ultimate comfort food fix. It takes little time to make but is big on flavor! Making it a great weeknight meal and not just a Sunday Gravy.

To make it even easier, I like to chop up and measure out all of the vegetables the day before (carrots, onion, celery and garlic). Then it’s just a matter of adding everything to the pan in a few simple, easy steps.

To make this hearty meat sauce, start by sauteing the vegetables in good quality olive oil. Cook until soft and just lightly browned. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring, until browned and cooked through.

Once meat is cooked through, drain of any excess fat. Then add the red wine (use a bold red, such as Chianti, Sangiovese or Cabernet). Bring to and boil, just to cook off alcohol and then reduce heat a bit.

Simple Weeknight Bolognese 2

 

Add the tomatoes, broth and seasonings and stir well to combine. I used Fire Roasted Tomatoes because they add another dimension of flavor (Muir Glen are the best!). They also give the sauce such a richness, as if it has been simmering on the stove all day.

Then add a bit of heavy cream. This will not only add a bit more richness to the sauce but will also mellow some of the acidity of the tomatoes. A little bit goes a long way. I only use an 1/8 of a cup.

Then, bring the sauce to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let it do it’s thing for about 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta of your choice (I like to use rigatoni, their shape is perfect for holding that hearty meat sauce).

Serve with some crusty garlic bread and a fresh salad. This Caesar Salad is my favorite! Yum!!!!

Simple Weeknight Bolognese

A hearty meat sauce with all of the flavor of a slow cooked sauce. Ready in under an hour!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Bolognese Sauce, Meat Sauce, Pasta Sauce, Simple Weeknight Bolognese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8
Author angela@eatlivehappy

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 cup onion, small diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, small diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, small diced
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 28 ounce cans crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon italian herbs seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. In a large high sided skillet or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, celery and carrots and saute' until soft.

  2. Add ground beef and brown until cook through. Drain off any excess fat.

  3. Add wine and bring to a boil, then add tomatoes, broth and seasonings stirring until well combined. Add cream. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

  4. Serve over cooked hot pasta of your choice. Enjoy!



 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Bars

Peanut Butter Bars! Who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate? Yum! Now that Thanksgiving weekend has passed, it’s time to get in that holiday baking mode.

Have you started baking yet? I decided to start out with this simple recipe, just to get me in the baking mood. Hahaha, actually, I was just craving a yummy peanut butter and chocolate treat.

And these little taste treats, totally hit the spot! Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I would never turn down a Reese’s or peanut butter m&ms. It just wouldn’t be right!

I came across this recipe in the cookbook A Taste Of Oregon. I just love this cookbook! It is full of really great recipes that are simple to make.

I did make a couple of simple changes to the recipe, though. The original recipe called for chocolate chips (which usually refers to semi-sweet) and I used milk chocolate chips. I also sprinkled some chopped nuts on top, for added crunch and eye appeal.

Oh, and I used a tad more chocolate than the original recipe called for. Because, um, it’s chocolate! Yum! Who doesn’t love more chocolate!? Right?!

Anyway, here’s my updated version of the recipe. Hope you enjoy! It’s Yummy!

Peanut Butter Bars

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Peanut Butter Bars
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 24 2-inch Bars
Author Adapted From The "Taste Of Oregon" Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 10 ounces milk chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts or mixed nuts

Instructions

  1. Cream 1/2 cup peanut butter, butter and sugars together. Add egg and vanilla. Add all dry ingredients, blending well. Spread dough into a buttered 9x13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes.

  2. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread the chocolate chips to cover the bars.

  3. Combine powdered sugar, peanut butter and milk, adding enough milk to make a thin consistency. Drizzle over chocolate layer. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

  4. Cut into bars for serving.


French Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole

This French Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole is a delicious combination of tender french green beans, earthy mushrooms and crispy onions cooked in a white wine cream sauce and then topped with more crispy onions and gruyere.

Making it a definite “must have” dish for your holiday table. No canned soup or green beans in this baby! I did use canned crispy onions to save time but you can make your own as well.

 

I used frozen french green beans because the are already blanched and more readily available in any area. If you are using fresh green beans, be sure to blanch them and then shock in cold water first.

Here are step by step instructions on How to blanch green beans

Why french green beans? They tend to stay tender/crisp, hold their shape and keep their bright green color. And they are more flavorful than their larger counterparts.

French green bean and mushroom casserole close up

Once you try this French Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole, you will never go back to those mushy canned green beans or condensed mushroom soup again.

Add you will get better health benefits from using nutrient rich fresh ingredients and a lot less salt! Real simple ingredients but big on flavor!

Enjoy!

French Green Bean Casserole 3

French Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole

Course Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Cook Time 40 minutes
Author angela@eatlivehappy

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake or chanterelle mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 12 ounce packages frozen french green beans (hericots verts)
  • 1 1/2 cups crisp fried onions (I used french's)
  • 1/3 cup gruyere cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add shallots and garlic, saute' for a couple of minutes until soft. Add all of the mushrooms and saute' until cooked and lightly browned. Add the white wine, bring to a boil and reduce by half. Remove from skillet and set aside.

  3. In the same skillet add butter and flour, cook stirring often, over med/low heat until very light golden brown. Slowly whisk in the half and half and  bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Add mushroom mixture and season with salt and pepper.

  4. In a large casserole dish, add the thawed green beans and 1/2 of the crispy onions (3/4 cup). Pour mushroom/cream mixture over the top and stir to evenly coat.

  5. Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

  6. Remove foil and top the casserole with the rest of the crispy onions and grated cheese. Place back in the oven and bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes until crisped and bubbly. Serve.

 

Pear and Cranberry Strudel

For this Pear and Cranberry Strudel, buttery puffed pastry is filled with fresh pears, dried cranberries and sweet spices then topped with sliced almonds.

Strudel makes a great alternative or addition to the traditional pies and cakes served on your holiday dessert table. And it’s one of the easiest to make.

Filled with fresh ripe pears, cranberries and warm sweet spices, it just tastes like the holidays! This makes a great dessert for Thanksgiving and all of the way through the new year.

 

Cut it up into smaller pieces if you are serving it at a cocktail party or on a holiday buffet. Make sure to have some freshly whipped cream on the side! Yum!

I like to serve up a nice selection of little sweet bites for my holiday parties. Try these Pecan Pie Bars or make some little cookies and tarts to round out your dessert selection.

 

Yum!

Pear and Cranberry Strudel

Crispy puff pastry filled with fresh pears, dried cranberries and sweet spices topped with sliced almonds.

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Author angela@eatlivehappy

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 3 pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • powdered sugar, for dusting the top of finished pastry

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Lay out puff pastry sheets onto a parchment lined sheet pan.

  3. In a bowl add diced pears, dried cranberries, sugar, spices and lime juice. Stir to combine. Add melted butter and flour and stir well to combine.

  4. Spoon pear mixture down the center of puff pastry sheet, dividing evenly among the two sheets.

  5. Cut 12 slices down each side of pastry and fold over filling in a criss cross pattern

  6. Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk together. Brush egg wash over the top of the pastry and them sprinkle with the sliced almonds.

  7. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven to cool. Once cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut each pastry into 5 slices. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

    Pear and Cranberry Strudel with fresh pears and dried cranberries topped with sliced almonds

 

Mom’s Southern Cornbread Dressing

This Southern Cornbread Dressing is so simple to make and so delicious to eat! It has been a staple at our Thanksgiving table for as long as I can remember. And a favorite!

I make the cornbread (recipe below) and chop the onions and celery a day or two before, making it a breeze to put together on Thanksgiving day. Or you can make the whole thing in advance and just pop in the oven the day of.

If you make it up the day before, add an extra 10 minutes to the cooking time. I recommend using the recipe for Mom’s Cornbread to make this dressing. But if you use a different one, make sure that it is a savory cornbread, not a sweet cornbread.

Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!

Mom's Southern Cornbread Stuffing

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Southern
Keyword Southern Cornbread Dressing
Cook Time 45 minutes
Author angela@eatlivehappy

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups celery, small diced
  • 2 cups yellow onion, small diced
  • 1 recipe Mom's Cornbread
  • 1-12 ounce package herb seasoned cubed stuffing I used Pepperidge Farm. Make sure to used the cubed stuffing.
  • 4 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Make 1 recipe of Mom's Cornbread. You can make this a day or two beforehand.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a large ceramic or glass rectangular casserole dish.

  3. In a large bowl, break up the cornbread into small chunks.

  4. In a large high-sided skillet melt butter. Add celery and onions and cook, stirring often until soft and lightly browned. Add sage and thyme. Add cubed stuffing and stir well to combine.

  5. Add the crumbled cornbread to the pan. stir to combine. 

  6. Add broth 1 cup at a time stirring after each addition. Season with salt and pepper.

  7. Scoop into the buttered casserole dish lightly pressing it in. 

  8. Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until lightly browned and heated through.

 

Mom's Cornbread:

Servings 6
Author angela@eatlivehappy

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat

Instructions

Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Butter cast iron skillet and then sprinkle with a bit of cornmeal. Heat pan in the hot oven.

Beat egg and then mix in remaining ingredients until smooth. pour batter into the hot skillet and bake for 20-25 minutes until done.

Cut into wedges and serve with butter.