Married Life So Far…

To say I am enjoying married life is probably an understatement.

I love not having to say goodbye all the time.

I love not being on the road all the time between our two homes.

I love that I have not eaten a single meal in my car since I have gotten married.

I love that I only cook in one kitchen.

I love that I have a dishwasher now.

Actually the dishwasher might be my favorite part.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

But anyway I been cooking a good bit.

Here is what I have been making.

Good Ol’ Toll House Cookies

I made cookies to take to our post-wedding present opening get together with my family.

I used my new silicon baking sheets when I baked them.

Love them! The cookies browned very nicely but did not turn hard.

Worth the money if you bake a lot.

Silicon Baking Sheets, Williams-Sonoma

We were overwhelmed with how generous everyone was!

Then we spent a mostly quiet weekend at home before we had to return to work on Tuesday.

I whipped up a big batch of this stew and stuck half of it in the freezer.

I will admit that the main reason I wanted to make beef stew was because I wanted to use my new Le Creuset Dutch oven that my Grandma Deuink had given me as a wedding present.

I was just amazed how evenly it heated up. No hot spots on the bottom.

I can tell I will be using this gift often!

Because I try not to eat a lot of red meat, I cut the amount of beef the recipe called for by half, but I bulked it up with mushrooms.

Beef Stew

I received this olive oil as a house-warming gift from my sister. It is just lovely. I used it in the stew.

Then on Monday night I whipped up a loaf of banana bread to take to work as a peace-offering since several people had to cover for me for two whole weeks while I was out.

I just used my trusty banana bread recipe with the additional ingredients of chopped almonds(1/2 cup), almond flavoring(1/2 tsp) and chocolate chips(3/4 cup).

PS. Almond flavoring is one of my most favorite things.

Sometimes I just sniff the bottle cuz I feel like it.

I am a freak show.

I increased the baking time by a couple of minutes and it worked perfectly.

The banana bread received rave reviews.

Try this next time you make some banana bread. I liked it so much better than adding walnuts.

But then again I am not a walnut person anyway.

So I guess that makes sense as to why I liked it better.

Moving on.

As we were on our way home from our honeymoon, I clipped a few branches from the woods to use in an arrangement.

Every time I walk by the arrangement on the dinning room table I smile.

It’s a nice reminder.

Common sense note: The lemons did not come from the mountains of NC. Just thought you should know that. (insert sarcastic tone)

Weeknight Pasta with Meat Sauce

I have been on the hunt for cheap yummy(at least semi-healthy) recipes to build up my repertoire for weeknight dinners. You know, since I am getting married and all.:) Anyway, I came across this recipe recently for slow cooker Bolognese sauce.

Usually I am not a huge slow cooker fan.

Slow cookers (aka Crock Pot) just seem a little too “becky home-ecky” to me.

Using a cast iron Le Creuset Dutch oven to make authentic pasta sauce seems so much more sophisticated (you know, like Ina Garten); but alas, I don’t have a Le Creuset Dutch oven and I am not as sophisticated as I would like to think I am.

I also picture myself much taller than I really am. Whenever I see myself in pictures I am always shocked at my short stature. But that’s another issue for another day.

And I certainly don’t have the luxury of having eight hours of time at home during the middle of the day to let it cook in the oven.

So I just whipped out my little slow cooker and cranked up the heat so it would cook while I was at work.

This sauce was really yummy. It’s definitely enough for two or three meals, unless of course you are feeding a small army.

And to make it a super quick meal, I actually made the rigatoni ahead of time. Drained off the water, tossed in a little parm, fresh frozen basil, olive oil and s/p. I stored the pasta in the frig overnight and then just let it come to room temp before dinner. Talk about easy!

Recipe courtesy of framedcooks.com

My notes are in green.

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (garlic powder would work too because that’s alot of garlic! Folks, get out the garlic press!)
  • 3 14 oz cans chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes

Directions

1. Cook beef in large skillet until browned.
2. Transfer to 5 quart slow cooker. Stir in all remaining ingredients, mix well.
3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. (I cooked mine on high for 5 hours. Worked great.)
4. Serve over your favorite pasta. Happy sigh.
photo by bigheartdiary.tumblr.com
Update: This sauce freezes really well.