The Easiest Bolognese Sauce Ever

Hi lovelies!

There are some days when you are just craving comfort food. For me, this usually happens on cold, winter nights and when it’s raining – it’s intensified! While at work, I decided that it would be a good idea to make a pasta with a bolognese sauce that night. Not sure what triggered this epiphany  I had – perhaps it had to do with the fact that I was really missing our honeymoon in Italy.

Let me just start out by saying, I’ve been trying desperately to brush up on my cooking skills since the hubs and I are big fans of good cuisine and like to consider ourselves “foodies”. I wanted to find a recipe that was easy to follow but one I could potentially build on. If you search on Pinterest or Google “bolognese recipe”, I guarantee that you will find thousands. The one that I ended up going with was simple, fresh and a recipe I could certainly add my own little flair to.

So here it is.

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What you need:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 celery stalk (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. ground chuck beef
  • Shredded or grated Romano cheese
  • The pasta of your choosing

Directions:

In a large pot, add the olive oil and cook on medium-high heat until it’s almost smoking. Add in the chopped onion and garlic and cook until the onion becomes soft and almost translucent (approximately 7-8 minutes). Next, add in the chopped celery and carrot and saute (around 5 minutes). Turn the burner to high and add in the ground beef. Stir until the beef is broken up and fully cooked (no longer pink). Lastly, turn your burner on to medium-low heat and add in the tomatoes and parsley, stirring occassionally until the sauce thickens (about 30 minutes).

While the sauce is cooking, go ahead and cook your pasta in a separate pot. Once the sauce is thick and your noodles are done – it is ready to be served. Pour the bolognese sauce over your bowl of pasta, top with the shredded or grated Romano cheese and enjoy!

What’s great about this recipe is it lends itself to be eaten as is or you can get creative and add your own touch to it. For the olive oil, I used a local, basil-infused olive oil to give it a little extra flavor. I also added some dried basil and Melting Pot’s garlic and and herb seasoning because – well, the stuff is good on everything! Something I’d like to attempt next time? Adding a little bit of red wine…but that’s for another day!

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Food Truck Frenzy

In case you haven’t heard…food trucks are all the rage. Of course they have been for quite some time, particularly on the west coast. But my beloved city, Charlotte, is experiencing a large growth in the food truck game lately and I can’t lie…I’m kind of loving it! I am big on doing everything on a local level – supporting neighborhood businesses is big for me. Especially because I am a native Charlottean and I love nothing more than standing behind those who put their heart and soul into a vision and made their dream a reality. NoDa Brewing Company being one (yay craft beer) but also my dear friends, Kevin and Matt, who have started their very own food truck, New Wrap Order.

This was something I’ve heard Kevin talk about through the many years he has been in my life. And rightfully so, the guy is talented. He went to Johnson and Wales for culinary so let’s put it this way – he knows what he’s doing. When he told the hubs and I that he was going for the gold, to say we were excited for him is an understatement. Watching Kevin and Matt take a dream and see it through has been inspiring. Nothing tugs at my heart strings more than seeing someone take a leap of faith, put everything they have into something and to put it frankly…make it happen.

Two nights ago, we attended a family and friends night Kevin and Matt hosted for their food truck. In light of their first real event/public launch of their truck today (Food Truck Friday in Matthews), I am sharing my favorite food trucks in town and also the ones I am dying to try! Enjoy!

New Wrap Order (the new kid in town)

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Exhibit A – Kevin & Matt’s food truck, New Wrap Order. New Wrap Order is exactly what you would think: internationally inspired wraps but also bowls for all of you avoiding carbs! Two night ago, I tried the Caribbean Wrap – Jamaican jerk sauce, crispy plantain chips, black beans, white rice and toasted coconut (and comes with your choice of meat – I picked steak). I also got to to taste the “wonchos” – think nachos with wontons instead – and there are three different kinds: Traditional, American and Asian Style! Let me tell you…the Asian Style was out of this world. I am confident that they are going to kill it in the food truck game and excited to watch it come to fruition! More information can be found here.

Ooowee BBQ

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Now, I thought I had tasted the best BBQ in Charlotte as we frequent Midwood Smoke on a fairly regular basis. But I have to say, Ooowee BBQ definitely gives them a run for their money. I was fortunate enough to try their food at NoDa Brewing a couple of weeks ago. No words. The BBQ is ridiculously on point and the mac and cheese is killer. Not to mention they do a little something called BBQ Sundaes…and it is exactly what you would expect. Layers of mac and cheese, baked beans, your choice of meat, dry rub cole slaw and topped with BBQ sauce. They even serve it in a sundae container. Lots of points on creativity but even more on the cuisine itself. More information can be found here.

Papi Queso

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If you know me, you know I love cheese. Better yet, grilled cheese. So you can imagine how this food truck won my heart long ago. This is not some plain, boring grilled cheese – this is grilled cheese on steroids! From mushroom gruyere to a grilled cheese with prosciutto and honey walnuts…this truck is on point. More information can be found here.

The TIN Kitchen

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In my opinion, TIN Kitchen is a Charlotte food truck staple. They offer a little bit of everything – from tacos to quesadillas to salads and sliders – everyone will dine happy here. My personal favorite is the Chicken Tinga Tacos — chipotle chicken braised with tomatoes and charred onions, topped with salsa verde and queso fresco crumbles and scallions. This is a food truck that I will continue to support for life. More information can be found here.

Maryland Crab Co. 

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Have you ever wanted fresh seafood? I know…it sounds strange that a food truck could potentially provide this but believe it or not, Maryland Crab Co. does! This food truck launched in 2013 and it has been a great addition to the town. They found that people could not find fresh seafood in Charlotte and why would they? After all, we are no where near the coast. However, Maryland Crab Co. brings fresh MD crab to the Queen City. From soft shell crab to shrimp to crab cakes – this place has it all. More information can be found here.

King of Pops

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So…it’s not a truck per say. But same kind of concept. If you have not had the luxury of eating one of these popsicles in your life, you are doing a disservice to yourself. I am quite serious. King of Pops has little carts all around Charlotte and their mission is to bring fresh, all-natural popsicles to the area…and they definitely deliver on their promise. They have a schedule that you can check out on their site that tells you exactly where they will be. They provide an array of seasonal pops as well as some staples. With flavors like Cereal Milk Fruit Loops, Chocolate Tarragon, Coconut Lemongrass, Grapefruit Mint, Lemon Ricotta (my personal fav) and Pineapple Cilantro – you will never be disappointed with the selection. More information can be found here.

Now…the trucks I have not tried yet but am dying to…

Yummi Banh Mi

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Okay, so I am not 100% sure what this truck is about other than one thing…bahn mi. A delicious, traditional Vietnamese sandwich. I’ve seen it driving around Charlotte and I’ve actually contemplated following it (is that weird?). At any rate, I will be finding this one soon so I can get my hands on a delicious sandwich! More information can be found here.

Sugar Handmade Gourmet Donuts

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Yeah…I have no shame admitting that I love donuts. I don’t do them regularly but when I do, I want a good one. Don’t get me wrong, I love cupcakes too but there is something really fresh and almost chic about gourmet donuts. Everyone sees Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ but a homemade donut just simply cannot be beat. When I saw this food truck the other day I nearly peed my pants (not really, but you catch my drift). I mean, they have a beignet donut for goodness sakes. This is definitely a food truck worth trying! More information can be found here.

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Recipe Box | The Best Steak You’ll Ever Have

Happy Saturday y’all and happy GAME DAY to all of my fellow Carolina Panther fans!

Tonight, we are facing the Seattle Seahawks and its a big deal for those of us here in Carolina! Last week for the game, we all gathered at our friend Joe’s new pad and brought an assortment of delicious food to share. I made my famous sausage balls but there were some other notable treats (i.e. – caprese skewers, pigs in a blanket, chex mix and mimosas). For those of you who are gathering tonight to watch some football, may I suggest making the best (and I do mean the best) steak you’ll ever have. And get this…it is not done on a grill.

Now bear with me folks, I know this sounds crazy. But with it being unusually cold here, making this incredible, tender filet mignon can be done in a pan and finished off in the oven (restaurant style). This steak can be cut with a butter knife, and it’s decadent, full of flavor and absolutely to die for.

How did I find out about this? A girl friend/coworker told me about it…and I’m telling you, I will never eat a steak any other way again. I’m dead serious. We paired our filet with a spinach-artichoke dip twice baked potato. I’ve included that recipe as well. Enjoy!

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Best steak ever

 Recipe: Best Steak Ever

What you’ll need:

  • Filet Mignon (however many you need)
  • 1/2 Stick of Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Directions:

  • Pour a little olive oil on each steak (both sides)
  • Grind a substantial amount of fresh pepper on both sides of the steak. Do not be shy, you want to coat it enough so that it almost forms a crust.
  • Sprinkle a good bit of sea salt on both sides. Do not be shy with this either…the salt will help tenderize the steak.
  • Let the steaks sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes so that salt and pepper goodness sinks in.
  • While steaks are marinating, take the half stick of butter and soften slightly so it is easy to mold.
  • Chop 1 tablespoon of parsley, garlic clove (minced) and zest the lemon to get 1 tablespoon of lemon zest. By hand, mix the softened butter, parsley, garlic and lemon zest and form into a log. Put in the fridge to chill.
  • Once steak is done marinating, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Put a little bit of butter in a baking dish and place it in the oven and let it sit while it preheats.
  • Put some olive oil in a pan on high (about 3-4 tablespoons).
  • Place the steaks on the pan when it is screaming hot.
  • Pan sear both sides of the steak until it is brown and forms a crust from the salt and pepper – approximately 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • Once finished, take the steaks and put them in the buttered baking dish in the oven and let them cook for about 6-8 minutes for medium rare. About 9-12 minutes for medium (You do not have turn the steaks over).
  • Remove the steaks from the oven, and plate. Take the special butter you made out of the fridge, and put a dollop on top of each.
  • Enjoy!

 

 Recipe: Spinach-Artichoke Dip Twice Baked Potato (Serves 6)

What you’ll need:

  • 3 Large Baking Potatoes
  • 2 Teaspoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Melted Butter
  • 9 Ounce Bag Fresh Spinach (Roughly Chopped)
  • 3 Tablespoons Cream Cheese (Softened)
  • 1/4 Cup of Sour Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sea Salt (For Seasoning Potato Skins)
  • 6.5 Ounce Jar of Marinated Artichoke Hearts (Drained and Chopped)
  • 1/4 Cup of Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 4 Ounces of Shredded Fontina Cheese (Or a Similar Cheese)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Pierce the potatoes with a fork all over.
  • Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and put in oven for approximately 1.5 hours or until cooked all the way through (soft inside).
  • Take out of the oven and let them cool slightly.
  • While potatoes are baking, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat; add garlic and spinach. Cook the spinach until it is wilted (approximately 7 minutes).
  • When spinach is done, take out of the pan and put it in a strainer. Press against the spinach to remove any excess liquid.
  • When potatoes are cool enough to touch, slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the middle of the potatoes into a bowl but be sure to leave enough of a border of potato to keep the shape of the skins.
  • Rub some olive oil on the skins and sprinkle with sea salt; set them on a baking sheet.
  • Mix the scooped out potatoes (in a bowl) with the cream cheese, 3/4 of the fontina cheese, sour cream, and melted butter until smooth. Fold in the spinach and artichokes.
  • Place the mixture inside each of the potato halves. Sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese and remaining fontina cheese.
  • Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes (or until cheese is melted on top).
  • Enjoy!