Easy Weeknight Bolognese

Yo! I’ve been a little lazy about posting with the holidays, but hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas if you celebrate! I haven’t been cooking too much this past week and by yesterday, I was dying for a Sunday dinner that was made by me. I’ve been doing Ina Garten’s Easy Weeknight Bolognese for the past few years, one of my favorite hearty pasta dishes and exactly what I felt like last night. There are so many recipes for Bolognese out there and most of them are very labor and time intensive, which is why I love this one. So flavorful and delicious, yet takes less than an hour.

Good enough to make for guests too! I had my friend Nicole and her 2 boys over last night. None of our boys were impressed with the sauce, they all ate plain pasta. Bo-ring! Nicole and I both had seconds.

Weeknight Bolognese from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean grass-fed ground beef
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (roughly 5 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided – I used a Cabernet and it was amazing, so rich in flavor, plus there was extra to drink!
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, or a 24-ounce BPA free box of San Marzano tomatoes –  I used the 24-ounce BPA-free box of San Marzao tomatoes, and it’s the same as using a 28-ounce can.
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fine kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 box dried orecchiette pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box, usually 11 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.


I Feel Pretty

stila kittenBenefit They're RealNot only has 2013 been a lipstick revival, it has been a year to reassess my entire makeup situation. For the longest time, I mean years, I have been wearing the same daily combo. Something like Stila Kitten eyeshadow and mascara – my current fave is Benefit They’re Real ($22). And that’s it. I definitely spruced it up for a night out, but that had been status quo for my everyday look. Pretty boring.

Being single has definitely provided motivation to kick up my appearance a few notches. I have invested in my wardrobe and felt it only natural to evolve my makeup as well. Enter Laura Mercier. I was going to a birthday party this past summer, had just gotten my haircut and had a fantastic blow out going on. What better way to round out the look than getting my makeup done! I stopped by Nordstrom and fortuitously ended up at the Laura Mercier counter. This was literally the best makeup job I have ever gotten. I felt so pretty, but not overdone, my skin looked great, I loved the way it wore over the course of the night. I ended up going back, a few times, and completely revamping my makeup routine, so now I have a bunch of looks for day or night. Love, love, love these products.

Face – Laura Mercier believes that every woman can achieve an even, smooth, natural complexion by following these 4 simple steps: Prime the Skin, Apply Foundation (or tinted moisturizer), Conceal, Set with Powder. I don’t do everything every day, but I do use the following 4 products together for special occasions and love the way my skin looks, and I promise, it’s not heavy or makeup-y. For everyday, I use the illuminator most frequently, sometimes starting with tinted moisturizer.

Eyes –

Lips –

Take a trip to Nordstrom and get your makeup done at Laura Mercier (look for Alicia in Bellevue or Downtown, she is the best). They do it for free, you will love the results, and maybe shake up your makeup routine too!

PS – I certainly still have other stuff in my arsenal, but today is about Laura.

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Leftover Masterpiece – Pappardelle with Peperonata & Chicken Meatballs

I am not a creative cook, by any means. I follow recipes. I leave the recipe creation to people who have actual talent, like Ina Garten or Tyler Florence or Deb Perelman. Once in awhile, however, I happen upon a creation of my own and this week’s is worth tooting my horn. Toot toot!

It started with leftovers from the Pi Phi Christmas Party, I had a good amount of baked chicken meatballs and pureed peperonata in my refrigerator and I thought to myself, “Self, this would be darn tasty served over some pasta”. Well, I was right. I boiled up some pappardelle, tossed it all together and topped with grated pecorino romano. It was a little bowl of heaven. So nice to have a change of pace from a typical red sauce and the peperonata is flavorful, colorful and just delicious.

Pappardelle with Peperonata & Chicken Meatballs

Chicken Meatballs (adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup milk 3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.

Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly.

Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, 1/2 t salt and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in a 4-sided sheet pan (I used a 9×13 roasting dish).

Bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (though mine took a good 5 minutes longer).

Peperonata (adapted from Martha Stewart Living & Epicurious)

  • 3 large bell peppers, preferably 1 each orange, yellow, red – cut into strips
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add pepper strips and sugar, and toss for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover pan, and turn heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers are very soft, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove cover; raise heat to medium. Stir in vinegar, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt & pepper. Cook stirring often, until most of the liquid evaporates and peppers are nicely glazed, about 3 minutes. Add a little water, if necessary, to avoid scorching.

Let it cool a little and then throw it in the food processor to puree completely, so there are no large chunks. Boil 120z Pappardelle.

You can add the meatballs and sauce back into a pan to heat. Serve over pasta with fresh grated parmesan or pecorino romano. Deeeeeeelish.