Classic Bolognese

Although it still feels like summer, and we still eat outside when it’s sunny enough, fall is definitely here – back to school time makes me crave those classic dishes from my childhood: shepherds’ pie, chili, classy chicken, and spaghetti loaded with sauce. When we start getting back into the groove of fall schedules, I like to make a habit of preparing twice (or more) as much dinner as we need, and freezing the surplus for an almost instant dinner on another night. A classic bolognese is the perfect candidate for the freezer – and makes use of fall veggies in season, like garlic, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers, if you’re inclined to add any. Or roughly chop a bunch of veggies and skip the meat altogether for a vegetarian bolognese.

This recipe is fairly small, but can be doubled or even tripled for a larger batch – or bulk it up with extra veggies and tomatoes. Often when I have overripe tomatoes I’ll toss them in the freezer whole, then add them to sauces later.

Classic Bolognese
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Ingredients
  1. olive oil, for cooking
  2. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  4. 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  5. 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  6. 3 slices bacon or pancetta, finely chopped (optional)
  7. 1 lb. lean ground beef, or half ground beef and half ground pork
  8. 1 28 oz. (798 mL) can diced or whole plum tomatoes, drained
  9. 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  10. a few basil leaves
  11. salt and pepper
  12. 1/2 cup half & half (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large, deep skillet, sauté the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and bacon in the olive oil for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring and breaking up the lumps of meat until no traces of pink remain. Add a splash of wine if you like, and cook until the liquid evaporates.
  2. Crush the tomatoes with a fork and add them along with the balsamic vinegar. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for half an hour to an hour, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened. Add the basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste, stir in the half & half and simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve over pasta with grated Parmesan cheese at the table. Serves 4-6.
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Sticky Honey-Garlic Chicken Drumsticks

sticky-drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks are my son’s favourite – and if I’m honest, I secretly love them too. They’re inexpensive, perfect for eating with your fingers, and are like a meatier version of chicken wings – more meat, less skin, but still wonderfully, finger-lickin’ sticky. I recently tried a version with honey and garlic – my favourite style of chicken wing – and they were a dinnertime hit.

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Broccoli Cheese Soup

broccoli-cheese-soup

Need something quick, warming, and full of veggies for dinner this busy holiday season? Broccoli-cheese soup is always well received at our house – and it’s a great way to use up a bunch of broccoli that may be starting to get droopy. For a vegetarian version, swap vegetable or onion stock. It’s simple to chop the broccoli (cauliflower would work well too – or a combination of the two) and toss everything into a pot to simmer when you get home from work and school. By dinnertime it’s ready to puree – use a hand-held immersion blender right in the pot – and serve with crusty bread or cheese biscuits. Comfort food for busy, chilly days!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
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Ingredients
  1. Vegetable oil, for cooking
  2. 2 Tbsp butter
  3. 1 small onion, chopped
  4. 1 carrot, chopped
  5. 2 celery stalks, chopped
  6. 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  7. Salt and pepper, to taste
  8. 4 cups chicken stock
  9. 4 cups broccoli florets
  10. 1 cup half and half cream
  11. 1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot, heat a drizzle of oil along with the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook for 4-5 minutes, until soft.
  2. Add the flour, season with salt and pepper and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the chicken stock and broccoli and bring to a simmer; cook for 20 minutes, or until the broccoli is very tender.
  3. Add the cream and puree with a hand-held immersion blender right in the pot. Add the cheese, let sit for a minute, and puree again until smooth. (Alternatively, puree in batches in a blender.) Season with salt and pepper, if it needs it. Serves 6.
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Pulled Pork

 

 

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Whether you’re cooking for two or serving a busy family, slow cookers make easy work of creating delicious and soul-satisfying meals. We love being able to switch on the slow cooker in the morning, head out the door and then arrive home to a house filled with the mouthwatering aromas of dinner. 

 Shredded, or “pulled,” pork is the perfect slow cooker food and we think the BBQ flavours taste extra special in January when we all need a reminder of warm summer days. Enjoy!Read More

Shepherd’s Pie

This comfort-food favourite tastes even better topped with garlic mashed potatoes

Shepherd’s Pie
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Ingredients
  1. THIS COMFORT-FOOD FAVORITE TASTES EVEN BETTER TOPPED WITH GARLIC MASHED POTATOES.
  2. INGREDIENTS
  3. 11⁄2 LBS. LEAN GROUND BEEF OR GROUND 750 g
  4. LEFT-OVER ROAST
  5. 1 CUP CHOPPED ONIONS 250 mL
  6. 2 GARLIC CLOVES, MINCED 2
  7. 1⁄4 CUP FLOUR 60 mL
  8. SALT & PEPPER TO TASTE
  9. 1⁄4 TSP. DRIED THYME 1 mL
  10. 1⁄4 TSP. DRIED SAVORY 1 mL
  11. 10 OZ. CAN BEEF BROTH 284 mL
  12. 1⁄2 CAN WATER 1⁄2
  13. 2 TSP. WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE 10 mL
  14. 1 BAY LEAF 1
  15. 1⁄2 CUP FINELY DICED CARROTS 125 mL
  16. 1⁄2 CUP FROZEN CORN 125 mL
  17. GARLIC MASHED POTATOES
  18. 2 LBS. POTATOES (5–6 MEDIUM), PEELED 1 kg
  19. AND CUBED
  20. 6 GARLIC CLOVES, PEELED & LIGHTLY 6
  21. CRUSHED
  22. 3⁄4 CUP BUTTERMILK OR 2% MILK 175 mL
  23. SALT & PEPPER TO TASTE
  24. 1 EGG, LIGHTLY BEATEN 1
Instructions
  1. USING A LARGE NONSTICK FRYING PAN, COOK GROUND BEEF OVER MEDIUM HEAT UNTIL NO LONGER PINK. BREAK MEAT UP AS IT COOKS. ADD ONIONS AND GARLIC; COOK UNTIL SOFTENED. STIR IN FLOUR, SALT, PEPPER, THYME AND SAVORY. ADD BROTH, WATER, WORCESTERSHIRE,BAY LEAF AND CARROTS. SIMMER, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY, FOR ABOUT 20 MINUTES, OR UNTIL QUITE THICK AND CARROTS ARE TENDER. STIR IN CORN. REMOVE BAY LEAF. SPREAD MIXTURE IN A DEEP CASSEROLE. LET COOL SLIGHTLY.
  2. TO MAKE GARLIC MASHED POTATOES: PLACE POTATOES IN A SAUCEPAN WITH GARLIC AND COVER WITH WATER. ADD SALT, BRING TO BOIL AND SIMMER GENTLY UNTIL TENDER. DRAIN WELL AND MASH. BEAT IN BUTTERMILK, SALT AND PEPPER. RESERVE 1 TBSP.(15 mL) OF BEATEN EGG AND ADD REMAINDER TO MIXTURE. SPREAD POTATO MIXTURE OVER MEAT AND BRUSH WITH RESERVED EGG. BAKE AT 350°F (180°C) FOR 40–45 MINUTES.
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SERVES 6
 
A WOMAN’S WORK THAT IS NEVER DONE IS THE STUFF SHE ASKED HER HUSBAND TO DO.
 

 

 

Casablanca Chicken Soup

Fragrant and nourishing. A salad to start, a bowl Of soup and fresh crusty bread.Dinner is served! And we think Bogie would approve

Casablanca Chicken Soup
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Ingredients
  1. Fragrant and nourishing. A salad to start, a bowl of soup and fresh crusty bread. Dinner is served!
  2. 2 bone-in chicken legs, skin removed 2
  3. 1 can (14 to 19 oz/398 to 540 mL) 1
  4. chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  5. 1 tbsp vegetable oil 15 mL
  6. 2 onions, finely chopped 2
  7. 4 cloves garlic, minced 4
  8. 2 tsp ground cumin 10 mL
  9. Salt and pepper
  10. 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) whole tomatoes, 1
  11. with juice
  12. 1 2-inch (5 cm) cinnamon stick 1
  13. 1 tbsp granulated sugar 15 mL
  14. 2 cups chicken broth 500 mL
  15. 1 cup chopped drained roasted red 250 mL
  16. bell peppers (see tip, page 77)
  17. 1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper 1 mL
  18. 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 15 mL
  19. 2 cups packed baby spinach 500 mL
Instructions
  1. Place chicken and chickpeas in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, cumin, 1 tsp (5 mL) salt and 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) pepper; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cinnamon stick, sugar and broth, breaking tomatoes up with a spoon. Pour over chicken mixture. Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or on High for about 21⁄2 to 3 hours, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and use two forks to shred meat, discarding bones. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker and stir in roasted peppers, cayenne and lemon juice. Cover and cook on High for 20 minutes, until steaming. Add spinach and stir until wilted. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired.
  2. Serves 6.
Notes
  1. Tip: Chicken legs are a thrifty and tasty choice for the slow cooker. It’s worth buying them when they’re on sale and popping them in the freezer. Since legs don’t look particularly appealing on a plate, we mostly use them in soups and shred the cooked chicken off the bone before serving.
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