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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

6 Lbs of tomato puree = 4 days worth of meals!

This is my base for a Ragu/Bolognese type sauce that I convert into several dishes or I freeze into smaller portions for "Sunday Gravy" later in the month when time is short.

I make Fresh Tagliatelle Pasta (recipe here), and the KIDS eat it up, they especially like when I add in meatballs (What can I say I have carnivores!)

I then make a variety of meals from this base, this week I decided to concentrate on soups and since it is the cold of winter, soups are just the ticket!

Base Sauce/Gravy:
  • 6-Lbs San Marzono Tomato Puree
  • 2 Palm-fulls of Dried Oregano & Basil,Crushed
  • 2T Brown Sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 Lbs Ground Beef
  • 16 Oz, Crimini Mushrooms- sliced
  • 1- Lg Red Onion, diced
  • 4-Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1C Beef Stock
  • 1-C Dry Red Wine of choice (I prefer a soft dry red like Lambrusco)
  • Several Palm-fuls of Fresh grated Parmesano-Reggiano Cheese to taste
  • Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
Then I take the rest of the box of Stock (about 4 C), sauted veggies, and some cooked Ditalini (Or Macaroni) &/or Cannelloni beans and make a delicious Minestrone type soup.

Minestrone Soup:
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white cannelloni beans, Optional -{Depends on what is available will not always use both beans and pasta but love using them both when is available}
  • 1 Lb freshly cooked Ditalini Pasta Or Macaroni, Optional -{Depends on what is available will not always use both beans and pasta but love using them both when is available}
  • 2 T Bacon Drippings or EVOO/Butter
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped- finely
  • 1/2  celery stalk, chopped-finely
  • 1 cup onion,diced
  • 3 Cloves garlic, Grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Basil
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked ditalini pasta (Macaroni)
  • 1 medium zucchini, (Can Substitute Escarole, or Swiss Chard) chopped
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 4-6 C Beef Stock (Depends on how thin you like)
  • 3 C Tomato Sauce from above
  1. Turn Dutch Oven on medium-high heat and add Bacon Drippings or EVOO/Butter and saute Onions, once translucent and fragrant push to outer side of pan or remove, saute carrots and celery until soft, then grate in garlic cooking for 1-2 min until fragrant
  2. Give each aromatic veg a chance to develop flavor, then Season with S & P, 
  3. Deglaze pan with beef broth using wooden spoon to scrape all the pieces stuck to bottom of pan.
  4. Add Tomato Sauce, beans- if using, and herbs and any cooked veg you might have removed.
  5. Season with Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper then simmer for 1-3 hours. stirring occasionally. --At this point can pour into Crock Pot and cook for 6-8 hours on low and continue with rest of instruction-- (The longer you allow to simmer the more depth you will have)
  6. Last 30 min add Ditalini, Zucchini & Spinach
  7. Taste one final time and adjust seasoning as needed.
  8. Ladle into bowls and give a fresh grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese and Parsley
Then I go a bit Tex-Mex, I know the mushrooms aren't typically in Chili but I really like the meaty texture and you just don't notice it when you have all the other ingredients blending and making a "Party in you Mouth!"

Black Bean & Corn Chili
  • 3 C Meaty Tom Sauce from above
  • 4 C Beef Stock
  • 2 Cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 16 Oz Sweet Corn Nibblets
  • 1-2T Bacon Drippings or Butter
  • 1 Fire Roasted Red Pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red chili pepper minced ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 Red onion, Diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 T Chili Powder
  • 1 T Mexican Oregano
  • 1 T Smoked Paprika
  • 2 t Cumin
  • 1 t Dried Chipoltle powder
  • 1/2 t Dried Ancho chili Powder
  • Parsley
  • Brown Sugar, OPTIONAL
  • Cinnamon, OPTIONAL
  • Sour Cream, Salsa Verde, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Blue Corn Chips- use as garnish OPTIONAL
  1. Over Medium Heat saute Onion in melted Bacon Drippings/Butter once translucent, add roasted red pepper and cook for 1-2 min until soft and fragrant. Then add minced garlic and season with s & p. 
  2. Deglaze the pan with beef stock using a wooden spoon be sure to scrape up anything stuck to bottom, stir in sauce.
  3. Then add in Beans, Corn, & spices. Give a taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  4. *Sometimes I will add just a small pinch of cinnamon or brown sugar if the chili is too acidic or spicy, it just adds some depth and rounds out the flavor.
  5. Allow to simmer for 1-3 hours in dutch over on stove top or place in crock pot for 6-8 hours on low.
  6. Ladle into bowl and Sprinkle with Parsley.
  7. Add Sour Cream, Salsa Verde, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Blue Corn Chips to small individual Bowls on a "Lazy Susan" in center of Table so each person can add to their own preference.

Finally  a typical Pasta bake with an added "kick" from the vokda taking a regular pasta bake up another level.

Vodka Penne Bake
  • 3 C Sauce
  • 1/2 Heavy Cream
  • 2-3 T Vodka
  • 1-LB Penne
  • 3 C  Shredded Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, Peccarino Romano, & Provolone Cheese Blend if you can find, if not just 3 C of Mozz would fine.
  • 8 Oz Ricotta Cheese 
  1. Simmer 1/2 cup heavy cream and 3 cups pasta sauce in a skillet for 3 to 5 minutes; 
  2. Remove from heat and stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons vodka. 
  3. Toss with cooked penne. 
  4. Layer 1/2 Pasta Sauce Combo in bottom of 9X13 Pan and spoon Ricotta Cheese over top
  5. Then sprinkle with 1/2 of shredded cheese blend.
  6. Repeat pasta/sauce and top with shredded cheese blend.
  7. Bake 350 for 20-30 min until bubbly



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