Tuesday, September 25, 2012

PW's Spaghetti Sauce

5 pounds Ground Beef (I Used Ground Round)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 whole Large Yellow Onions, Diced
2 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
6 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 cup White Wine (or Low Sodium Beef Broth If You Prefer)
2 cans 28 Ounce Crushed Tomatoes
1 can (14 Ounce) Crushed Tomatoes
1 can (small, 4-ounce) Tomato Paste
1 jar Good Storebought Marinara Sauce (can Use Another Jar If You Like The Sauce To Be More Saucy Than Meaty)
1 teaspoon Ground Oregano
1 teaspoon Ground Thyme
4 whole Bay Leaves
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
1/4 cup Finely Minced Fresh Parsley (or 3 Tablespoons Parsley Flakes), More To Taste

Preparation Instructions (From PW)"

  • IMPORTANT: This recipe can easily be halved! I just like to make a ton so I can freeze it.
  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until totally browned. Remove meat from pot with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl. Set aside.
  • Discard any grease in pot, but do not clean the pot. Drizzle in olive oil. When it is heated, throw in the diced onion and diced bell pepper. Stir it around for 1 1/2 minutes, then add the garlic. Stir and cook for an additional minute.
  • Pour in the wine and allow it to bubble up and reduce for about 1 1/2 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and marinara sauce. Stir to combine, then add oregano, thyme, sugar, salt, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper (if using). Stir, then add cooked ground beef and stir to combine. Place the lid on the pot and allow to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add a little water or some low-sodium broth if it needs more liquid
  • After an hour, add the minced parsley and the rind from a wedge of Parmesan (or grated Parmesan if you prefer--or both!) Stir to combine, then put the lid back on and allow it to simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Discard bay leaves before serving.
NOTES (From me):
  • I didn't follow the instructions religiously, but this was possibly the best spaghetti sauce I've ever made.  The meat to sauce ratio was really good.
  • I ended up using more tomato products (3-28 ounce cans of tomatoes and 2 jars of sauce)
  • I didn't have the Parmesan rind, but yum!
  • I made a full batch and now have six meals in the freezer plus the one we ate last night.  :)  (3 cups in each.)
  • Link to original.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


3 1/2 lbs. pears, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup water
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
In a large saucepan, combine the pears, water, lemon juice, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, occasionally stirring, for 20 minutes.
Transfer mixture to a food processor, working in batches if necessary, fitted with a metal blade and puree just until a uniform texture is achieved. Do not liquefy.
Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Alternatively, freeze in one cup quantities in the freezer and store for several months.

  • I bought a flat of pears earlier this week and it was time to do something with the ones we hadn't eaten.
  • This was my base recipe but I didn't peel them and I simmered everything longer so it was a little thicker.
  • For a final step, I pulverized it all with the immersion blender and added about 2 tbls. brown sugar.

Cherry Pie LaraBars

1 1/4 cups medjool dates, pitted
1 1/4 cups dried cherries
1 1/2 cups almonds, toasted (optional)

To toast the almonds, place them on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for ten minutes. Remove from oven and transfer the almonds to a bowl or plate to cool.

Place dates and cherries in a food processor and pulse until a gooey semi-paste has formed (you want some bits of fruit, but not huge pieces). Empty the dried fruit into a large mixing bowl. Put the almonds in the food processor and pulse to coarse bits. You don’t want to make this a powder. Empty the almonds into the mixing bowl with the dried fruit. Knead the dried fruit and almonds together until combined and evenly distributed. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan to about 1/2-inch thickness. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes. Invert the pan’s contents onto a cutting board and slice to desired size. Makes about a dozen 1.5- x 3.5-inch bars with a few odd pieces leftover.

  • Source for this recipe.
  • I had a bag of dried cherries from Aldi which was a little more than a cup, so I just added 1 1/2 cups of dates.
  • The Aldi cherries list sugar as an ingredient, so I might search for a sugar-free option next time.  The sad part of this is that Aldi's dried cherries are a fantastic price.  :(
  • I added a little salt.
  • Not sure I had the variety of dates this recipe called for - I bought whatever it is they sell at Sam's.
  • It says that toasting the almonds is "optional."  Ignore that.  Toasting the almonds is fantastic!  It was an easy step and added a wonderful flavor.
  • I would never do this without a food processor, but it worked really well with it.

Clif Bars

Yield: 9 bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

1 cup dates (pitted)
1¼ cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup quick-cooking oats
¼ cup coarsely chopped peanuts
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
½ cup peanut butter
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

1. Spray an 8×8-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Place the dates in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Combine the pureed dates with the cereal, oats, peanuts, flaxseed, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

3. Combine the peanut butter and brown rice syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted and completely blended. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

4. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir until well combined. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly to pack the mixture into the pan. Let the mixture sit until completely cool and set, at least 1 hour. Cut into bars, then wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.


  • The recipe above is from Brown Eyed Baker.  
  • I didn't add the chocolate chips because ... why would I want them for breakfast?
  • I also looked high and low for brown rice syrup with no success.  I'll keep searching, but until then, I just used corn syrup.  I was tempted to use agave syrup, but had a sample at Costco once that I wasn't too fond of.  I hated to buy an overpriced bottle of something I likely wouldn't like and wouldn't have another use for.
  • Bottom line: these are good.  I'll play around with different flavors if they work well for breakfast on the go and I make them again.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Earl Grey Ice Cream

1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup loose earl grey tea leaves
5 egg yolks

Warm milk, 1 cup cream, sugar and tea leaves in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cover, remove from the heat and let steep for one hour.

Rewarm the tea-infused milk.  Pour the remaining cup of heavy cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream, pressing gently on the tea leaves to extract the maximum flavor from them, then discard the leaves. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Makes about 1 qt.

From "The Perfect Scoop"