Quick and Easy Bolognese Sauce, True Comfort Food

bolognese sauce It’s January, mid winter and the weather still calls for some comfort food, and I say a nice pot of bolognese sauce simmering on the stove is comfort food at it’s finest!

Bolognese sauce is a meat based sauce that originated from Bologna, Italy. A classic bolognese usually consists of a mixture of meats, some pancetta, a soffrito of aromatic veggies, tomato, wine and milk or cream, it also requires many hours of simmering.

Over the years I found you can put together a darn good bolognese pretty quick and easy and in a little less than an hour.

mirepoix One thing for sure, and is a must when making your bolognese is that you want to include these veggies, a soffrito of finely chopped carrots, celery and onions and sometimes I include finely chopped mushrooms, I eliminate the pancetta all together.

If you want to speed things up instead of chopping the veggies by hand just pull out your food processor and pulse them until they turn into a small dice.

bolognese sauce For this quicker version I use only one meat and it’s usually a grass fed beef and when combined with everything else it creates a thick rich sauce with many layers of flavor, I can’t tell the difference if it was simmered for one or three hours, it’s that good!

pasta bolognese

Just about any pasta shape complements this meaty sauce, so just pick your favorite!

spaghetti squash bolognese

If you’re trying to watch your carb intake after all the holiday goodies, no problem, because it’s equally delicious on top of spaghetti squash, I actually love it that way.

You might want to double or triple the recipe because it freezes really well and it’s nice to have some tucked away in your freezer when comfort food is calling your name!

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Quick and Easy Bolognese Sauce
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef, preferably grass fed or sirloin
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • ¾ cup mushrooms, finely diced (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes, (optional)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup of whole milk
  • 1 28 oz. can of ground tomatoes
  • a few fresh basil leaves for added flavor
  • 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil
Instructions
  1. Dice up your vegetables into a fine dice either by hand or pulsed in your food processor.
  2. In a heated heavy bottomed pan add the butter and olive oil.
  3. Add all the veggies and garlic and cook until soft.
  4. Toss in the ground meat and cook until browned.
  5. Deglaze with the wine and let it evaporate.
  6. Pour in the milk and let it cook for a minute.
  7. Add the tomatoes plus salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Cook uncovered on a slow simmer stirring often.
  9. Should be done after 45 minutes or so.
  10. Serve with your favorite pasta or spaghetti squash.

 

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Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

cauliflower rice pilaf Who ever came up with the idea of ricing cauliflower was brilliant! It’s so versatile and healthy and if you’re trying to stay away from carbs it’s a nice substitute. Can I be honest, I like this recipe for cauliflower rice pilaf better than the real deal which you won’t even miss, plus you’ll feel really good about eating it.

riced cauliflower Let’s talk about cauliflower rice. In the past when it first became popular I made my own with a large head of fresh cauliflower that I riced in my own food processor, but it was a production, I made a mess and usually had cauliflower all over. Now it seems that you can find it riced and ready to go almost everywhere either fresh or frozen and that makes me very happy.

Can I just tell you in all honesty, I prefer the frozen over the fresh. I love the convenience of having it stashed away in my freezer to use whenever I feel like it, it won’t spoil and the taste and texture is the same. My favorite brand is the one shown above it’s delicious, and I love the consistency in the size of the “rice”.

cauliflower rice pilaf This cauliflower rice pilaf is a wonderful side dish to have along with fish, chicken or meats. It’s even great for lunch all week just on it’s own and you don’t even need to heat it up, I’ve eaten it straight out of the fridge like a salad. A bowl of this pilaf is very satisfying.

cauliflower rice pilaf

You can combine any veggies you like, but for me I found this combo to be excellent. Along with the cauliflower rice it has mushrooms, butternut squash, curly kale, red and yellow pepper, red onion, garlic, green onions, cranberries and some salty pecans.

I tried to give you approximate amounts so you could get some idea but I always go over, in my opinion the more veggies the better, so don’t be skimpy, enjoy, it’s all good!

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5.0 from 3 reviews
Cauliflower Rice Pilaf
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 12 oz. of fresh or frozen cauliflower rice ( I prefer frozen for convenience)
  • 1 small pack of cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper and yellow pepper, small dice
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced small (you'll have extra)
  • 4 thin green onions or 2 larger, cut in small slices
  • 1 packed cup of curly kale, cut into thin strips
  • ¼ cup of red onion, diced small
  • a handful of dried cranberries
  • a handful of salted pecans ( you could use unsalted but I prefer the salted)
  • 1 large clove, garlic grated on a micro-plane or diced very finely
  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In two separate pans roast the sliced mushrooms and the small diced butternut squash, both drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 425 until moisture leaves the mushrooms and the squash gets lightly golden. Set aside and let them cool.
  2. In a large saute pan add the garlic clove, red onion,the kale and both peppers and saute in olive oil for just a couple of seconds to soften slightly, basically until the garlic turns golden, then scoop out and set aside so it can cool down.
  3. Add the cauliflower rice into the large saute pan with more olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cook it until it's tender, do not overcook it! If it's frozen it just takes a few minutes. Let it cool down.
  4. Into a bowl add the cooked cauliflower rice, garlic, red onion, peppers and kale, mix well.
  5. Dump in the cooked mushrooms and also the butternut squash (you probably won't use it all).
  6. Toss into the bowl your green onions, parsley, cranberries and pecans, incorporating everything, mixing well adding more or less according to your liking.
  7. Taste for salt and pepper and drizzling more olive oil if necessary.

 

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Baked Crab Cakes with Meyer Lemon Aioli

baked crab cakes Have you ever gotten really excited about a recipe before? Well I sure have with these luscious baked crab cakes.

Before I go on I must confess this is the first time I attempted to make homemade crab cakes. I normally order them in restaurants but I’ve been disappointed so many times because they’re usually fried and somewhat greasy or you barely taste any crab at all because of the breading and fillers packed inside.

baked crab cakes Have no fear, these are the real deal! Jumbo lump crab cakes that are delicate and light with no breading or frying just baked to perfection in a very hot oven.

These are perfect for a special occasion like New Years Eve this weekend, a romantic dinner for two, a special birthday or anniversary dinner, a light and healthy main course or even served as appetizers. The best part is they’re so scrumptious and so easy to make!

jumbo lump crab for crab cakes You’ll need real jumbo lump crab meat so ask your fish monger where it’s located in the store. Many places sell it, It’s even available at Trader Joes but I happened to buy this at my Costco which always has it during the holidays. I added a little chopped red onion, red pepper, celery, parsley, basil and some spice for the other ingredients.

making crab cakes You must get a ring mold or a biscuit cutter like I used, or make your own with a can, it makes all the difference in looks and texture.

baked crab cakes What really makes these crab cakes so magical is the technique in which they’re cooked. I watched a You Tube of a chef in Napa and I just loved how he cooked them using high heat in the oven for just eight minutes.

The ingredients were a mix of a few different recipes I found on the web. I served them with a meyer lemon aioli that paired perfectly with all the flavors but a nice remoulade would work just as well.

baked crab cakes Don’t be afraid to make your own crab cakes, once you try these you’ll be hooked forever.

baked crab cake I can’t wait to make them again!

baked crab cakes

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Crab Cakes with Meyer Lemon Aioli
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Makes 4 generous crab cakes
  • ½ lb. of cooked jumbo lump crab
  • ¼ cup each, or even less ( you be the judge) of finely chopped celery, red onion, red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil
  • ¼ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • zest of a ½ lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of real mayo for the filling,plus extra for aioli
  • Old Bay seasoning to taste, or creole if you want it spicier
  • FOR THE AIOLI
  • 1 cup of good quality mayo
  • meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice, fresh. Mix well til you get a nice consistency, add some salt and pepper.
Instructions
  1. Pre- heat oven to 500 degrees
  2. Spray a small baking sheet or pie tin with olive oil spray, no parchment or foil.
  3. Take a mixing bowl then add the mayo, zest and old bay, mix well.
  4. Fold in the celery, red pepper, red onion, parsley and basil and panko.
  5. Gently fold in the lump crab meat and combine everything. At this point you can taste for seasoning as you like it, adding salt and pepper to taste or more spice.
  6. Place bowl into the freezer for 10 minutes or fridge for 20 minutes, no longer! This allows the panko to set up and hold everything together.
  7. Take a ring mold, the one I used was around 3" and fill it almost to the top, packing it down as your filling it.
  8. Gently push it out onto your greased baking sheet.
  9. Place them into the hot 500 degree oven for 8 minutes and do not touch or flip them over.
  10. Take them out after 8 minutes and let them sit on the baking sheet for a minute before removing.
  11. Swipe your platter or serving dish with some of the aioli then carefully take a fish spatula and lift the crab cake gently off the pan and actually flip it over with your hand so the deeper golden side that was on the bottom is now facing up.
  12. Garnish with more aioli, some parsley and a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning.

 

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