Tuesday, November 20, 2012

the pasta bolognese recipe you must follow

Next time you're craving some easy peasy comforting pasta bolognese {spaghetti with meat sauce} please please please take a cue or two from this recipe. 

The result is rich, deep flavor that sticks to every noodle. 

Stomach growling...


Recipe courtesy of Anne Burrell, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef

You know what they say about seasoning every step of the way? This recipe introduced me to the idea of browning every step of the way. I will now live and die by this cooking rule. 

Now, no one, NO ONE, has 5 hours and 15 minutes to make spaghetti with meat sauce. If you're like me, when you want this dish it's when you're tired, you're time strapped and there's nothing tasty in the kitchen. Your belly wants to be full, it wants to be warm, and it wants to be full and warm RIGHT NOW. 

That was exactly my situation the night of the amazing pasta bolognese {it gets the fancy name this time}. However, my brand new gorgeous Le Creuset was staring at me begging to be used. I felt it would be just downright disrespectful to carelessly throw pre-made pasta sauce into it and call it a day. So I called on an old memory of this Food Network episode and did the best I could. 

I poured myself a glass of wine and prepared to prolong the cooking process of what would become better-than-everyday-pasta pasta.

The onion and garlic sizzled and sizzled and browned and browned for as long as they could take it. 
The tomatoes did the same thing as did the meat. 
Each element was well seasoned, had ample space in the pan {I made space by removing elements where necessary} and soaked up the heat until they were beautifully browned and their flavors were bursting at the seams. 
Last I added in the pre-made pasta sauce and made sure to really hit it with heat to release the flavors. 
The pan was deglazed {as they say} with a touch of wine, from my drinking glass no less, to release all of the super brown bits from the bottom and the pan was left alone to bubble together.
 I stole a note from Giada DeLaurentis and tossed in two frozen parmesan rinds to add some salty and creamy flavors to my sauce. 
All in all the whole sauce took a good hour or more to create and about 30 minutes to reduce and combine. Maybe I should have let that process take longer, maybe I was going crazy starving though! 

This pasta tasted of love. The sauce clung to the noodles and was the most perfect consistency. I've never taken so long with a simple pasta sauce before and I always WILL from here on out. So worth it. And don't even get me going on how scrumptious the mounds of leftovers were. 

Take your time
:) amch

home happenings

So it's a rental apartment...but its our home and we are happy. 
{and the fireplace turns on like a light switch. amaaaaze!}

Updates, projects and crafts have been of abundance post-wedding! I am so very lucky to have a husband that is tolerant of my constant need to always be adding and updating and re-positioning {on a budget of course! ;) }. Better yet- the handsome fellow is quite amazing with a staple gun and isn't afraid of getting into projects now and then. Thank you J!

Game on. 

I mentioned earlier that Josh made me these lovely shelves- love them! They finish off the 'dining area' and give me more space to seasonally decorate and display wedding gifts! Score! 
Josh followed these directions for making the shelves. 

Mom always has new project ideas up her sleeve + amazing taste and thrifty skills! So we all got together and headed to Scott's for some Sunday scouting. 
Of course 80% of what we saw we would say 'oh we can so make that' so we didn't do a ton of purchasing but those crafty minds are now SUPER jam packed with ideas! 

I did score exactly what I was looking for- 2 vintage wooden wine crates. We picked through the stacks to find ones with worn colorful paint, metal detail and engraved branding- the more character the better. Our lovely crates are perfectly nestled underneath our new entry way table and have become the home to shopping bags and house shoes among other items. 

That new entry way table was actually birthed {what} as this black hutch. Then cast off who knows how many times until it ended up at the good ole Buckhead Goodwill for a whopping $14. Hutch smutch- this sucker is the perfect size for my hallway and has some built-in storage. Purchased! 

Passes the size test! Plus these cute baskets fit and our lonely {awesome!} lamp has found its home. 

Of course it got the white wash treatment. Sadly I was racing against daylight so its far from the best paint job, but it does the trick until I really get motivated to move it back outside and finish painting. Unlikely...

How cute is our little entry way table all decked out drink-station-style for Friendsgiving?! 
This iPhone picture isn't doing my little creation any favors...I promise its a cutie! 

Alright next project...!

Just one more week to enjoy our fall tablescape. Pumpkin yumminess. 

A new shelf above the bed plus brand new silky soft sheets in a warm golden color. 

It took me about 3 months to actually sew these pillowcases {I had been previously using that stupid pinterest 'no-sew' method. sloppy central.}. We also added another panel of burlap 'curtains' to each window for a fuller look. Love it. 

What was once a manly leather ottoman is now a more marriage-friendly linen covered ottoman. Perfect for storage and little stylish vignettes. It currently looks much more chic than in this picture...but I don't have picture proof. Nail head trim is en route to the Hall household that will give this ottoman some french finesse. Splendid! 
{p.s. those hooks are made from old wedding 'reserved' signs and drawer knobs}

So if you are ever feeling crafty, come on over and we will let you take a stab at the staple gun {which doubles as a nail gun. beware.}

Thank you Josh for all of your help!

On to the next project....!
:) amch

back to the kitchen: bacon jam

Josh and I didn't waste a moment getting back into the kitchen post wedding/honeymoon. After spoiling ourselves silly in Aruba with tasty food and drinks we were beyond ready to replicate the decidence back on the home front. And if you are reading between the lines, yes, this means a break from green smoothies and clean eating. You gotta live a little. {and 7 days later I was back to gulping green for breakfast- I'm addicted!}

We've made tons of meals since being back but there a couple that have got to be shared. Actually there are a few. That implies 3, right Mom? :)

Mini Grilled Cheese with Bacon Jam

Bubble bubble toil in trouble. Halloween night was spent testing/tasting out a bacon jam recipe. Josh and I fell in love with Empire State South's bacon jam years ago. Its decadent. Its deep. Its delicious. 

It was the first thing that came to mind when I was asked to bring an appetizer to a friends dinner party. 

Believe it or not Miss Priss herself -The Martha Stewart- has a bacon jam recipe. Yes, I am just as surprised as you. Seems so...lowly for her hoity toitiness. 

Because I functionally am not able to adhere to a recipe 100% this is how I made Bacon Jam:

  • Ingredients:
  • 1  pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup brewed coffee

How To:
  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet (reserve for another use); add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet with a wooden spoon, about 2 minutes. Add bacon and stir to combine.
  2. Let the mixture sit on the stove- med high heat- for 30-60 minutes until it is jam consistency. 
  3. Transfer to a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Let cool, then refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks. 

To pay homage to the amazing mini grilled cheese hors d'oeuvres that we served during cocktail hour at our wedding....we layered our jam between 2 pieces of bread and good white cheese. Indulgent!

Cut into cubes and added more bacon jam- for the true bacon lovers out there

Please. Make this next time you have appetizer duty. Please. 

Bacon Jam is my jam.
:) amch

we celebrated anyways

Thank you to everyone that made my birthday so special! It was a weird one to celebrate since I feel like we have spent the last 10 months celebrating with all of the wedding/bridal festivities. Believe it or not, I actually felt like I met my "Amanda Celebration Attention!" quota...but alas we celebrated anyways. 

The work girls dressed up our team mascot as Josh- so much fun having the hubs with me at work ;)

Birthday cupcakes and lunch- my work girls are too too good to me. Love! 

Birthday date night! Fancy sushi & sake with the hubs! 

Super yummy family birthday dinner at No246

beautiful mommy!

My birthday gift from Josh was these amazing custom built shelves! They took a lot of work and look amazing! Thank you Josh! {don't worry- they will get decorated}

Mom gave me this basket that I had been hunting for and 3 awesome awesome coffee table books including the one in this picture- 'I Brake for Yard Sales'

Thank you Thank you Thank you
I love you I love you I love you
:) amch

well lately...

It's been almost a month since I last posted...a disgrace. November is my favorite month {birthday month!!!} so the Hall's have been super busy. Therefore instead of an instaweek or instaweeked or whatever it was that I used to do- here is a look back at the month, in true instagram fashion. Makes my life look cooler than what it really is.... :) 

Lately we've been...
Sippin seasonal coffees on long shopping trips

getting cheesy with board games

meeting Food Network stars- love you Ree!

Sittin by the fire

Cheerin on the Jackets

getting beat by Mason in said board games

annoying Mason by taking his picture

and stuffing our faces with very unhealthy indulgences

But wait...there's more! 
2 dozen more blog posts coming to you in 5, 4, 3, 2....
:) amch