What's for Dinner {28} - Simple Bolognese

My latest food obsession is most definitely the bolognese I had at La Rana a couple months ago. My friend from work and I decided to go out to eat during Women's Weekend Out here in Decorah and it was the BEST DECISION EVER! I literally had it two more times in a matter of less than two weeks after that initial discovery.

From this obsession came the determination to make it at home so that Gspice could try it too. I wanted to make Chef Zakarian's bolognese but that seemed a bit out of my league, especially since I do not have a dutch oven (I'll have to get one now!) so I went with Giada's simple bolognese recipe. Though this was quite delightful, I discovered that the meat used definitely makes a difference. Next time, I'll use something a little better than ground beef.

*1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
*1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
*2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
*1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped - (Gspice and I don't like celery so we left this out)
*1 carrot, coarsely chopped
*1 lb ground chuck beef
*1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
*1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
*8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
*s & p as needed
*1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (WAY too expensive at Wal-mart so I went with Parmesan but forgot to put it on!)

In a large skillet heat the olive oil. When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions become very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and saute for 5 minutes. Raise heat to high and add the ground beef. Saute, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. This will take approximately 1/2 hour so you can cook your pasta as well.

Finish bolognese with Pecorino Romano.


Little Mr. {Six Months}

Each month, there is more and more to be excited about - especially as new parents. This past month's biggest excitement is by far the introduction of rice cereal and real food. I definitely want to try my hand at making a lot of Owen's baby food from scratch but I have to admit, I did not put in much research on the subject before we started him on rice cereal. It may surprise you that this was decided on a whim. One day I just said, "Let's start rice cereal!" and we haven't looked back since. I think I'm even beginning to understand the idea of going with the flow. For those of you who may know me better than others, that is a BIG deal.

All you parents out there probably already know - the first two days were a bit hilarious. One, it's the first time we've ever fed a child their first ever "real" meal and two, it's the first time this child has dined on real food. Owen had no idea why he was sitting in his little bumbo seat, why we put a bib on him or what it even was, or had any interest in actually swallowing anything we gave him. He was all about blowing raspberries which of course landed all over my clothes and face. It was delightfully fun and Gary snapped pictures throughout the whole ordeal. After a day or two, Owen definitely got the hang of it. Our biggest mistake that first day? Not taking Owen's outfit off! Talk about messy.

Two weeks later, we started him on solids. We've decided to introduce a new food every three days and so far he's had bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes and pears. Next up on the docket are sweet peas and squash. I want his food adventure to include all sorts of different foods, tastes and textures so this should be a fun ride. I hope to capitalize on this three-day weekend to find some good items to prepare for the next few weeks of food adventures! I'll definitely blog about this experience in the coming weeks!

Developmentally, Owen's still plugging away. He loves to do anything that involves moving, being able to observe and grabbing/touching everything in sight and/or within reach. He's got this incredible strength in his little legs so he's can stand really well assisted. I love to perch him on my lap so he can wiggle about, bounce up & down and dance. Often times, he wants to look around so I'll just switch him around so he's looking away from me. He is quite easy to entertain! And speaking of moving around, Owen can spend a ton of time in his exersaucer (we bought this one) and jumparoo (we're borrowing one like this from my sister and brother-in-law). Definitely two MUST PURCHASE items for a busy baby! And for as much as Owen loves to chew on everything possible, no tiny baby teeth have sprouted. I'm sure that'll be the next "fun" adventure...

Now for what you all have been waiting for (for TWO WHOLE MONTHS!), Owen's six month stats!!! I had mentioned in Owen's 5m post that I guessed his weight to be 14-14.5 pounds. I actually meant 15-15.5. Oops!

6-Month Appointment (5/19/2014)
Weight: 15 lb 8 oz
Height: 26 inches

4-Month Appointment (3/18/2014)
Weight: 13 lb 1 oz
Height: 25 1/2 in

3-Month-Mommy-wants-a-weight-check Appointment (2/18/2014)
Weight: 11 lb 5 oz
Height: 24 in

2-Month Appointment (1/14/2014)
Weight: 10 lb 9 oz
Height: 22 7/8 in

2-Week Appointment (12/2/2013)
Weight: 7 lb 12 oz
Height: 21 in

Newborn (11/16/2013)                  
Weight: 7 lb 9 oz           
Height: 20 1/4 in

Catch up on Owen's First Year!
ONE  |  TWO  |  THREE  |  FOUR  |  FIVE 


What's for Dinner {27} - Homemade Pizza Sauce

I have such fond memories of homemade pizza. Growing up, my dad made these for us every once in awhile and it was always a treat. He'd prepare the dough and let us sneak a couple bites if there was extra (which there always was!) after spreading it across the massive rectangle cookie sheet. If I remember correctly, if we had different desires for the toppings, we each had a row or two. I'll take pepperoni and spicy sausage, please!
And so the love for homemade pizza continues. However, one thing I like to do now is make my own pizza sauce. This sauce works well on normal crust like my dad used to make or tortillas, which I now prefer to use. AND, the sauce freezes well so you can make a ton, freeze them in ice cube trays and then transfer to a bag for use later! I used two ice cubes per medium tortilla.

Homemade Pizza Sauce from Food.com
*1 (15 oz) can Hunt's tomato sauce** (Hunt's is the best!)
*1/4 c water
*1 t sugar
*1/4 t dried oregano
*1/4 t dried basil leaves
*1/4 t dried thyme
*1/4 t garlic powder
*1/4 t salt
*1/8 t black pepper 
*1 whole bay leaf
*1/2 t lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sauce starts to boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30-45 minutes or until it reaches the desired thickness. Then, build your pizza!


What's for Dinner {26} - Popcorn Chicken

Every once in awhile Gspice gets an itch to cook. Those are lovely days. On this particular day, he got especially daring - making his own battered popcorn chicken. And wow, they were DELICIOUS.

Crispy Popcorn Chicken from Real Simple
*kosher salt and black pepper
*1 cup buttermilk
*1 cup all-purpose flour
*4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
*1 cup canola oil
*1/2 cup barbecue sauce or sauce of choice (we used the new Kraft Spicy Ranch - worth every penny!)

I caught a glimpse of Gspice hard at work & the tunes blaring of course :)

Place the buttermilk in a shallow bowl. Place the flour in a second shallow bowl. Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Dip the chicken in the buttermilk (shaking off any excess), then in the flour (tapping off any excess).

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the chicken until golden and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with ¼ teaspoon salt.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce (and a beer!)

Definitely will be making this again but Gary said that it would be better to do it together. How cute :)


Project One a Day - {April} Dump Day

I was recently introduced to a co-worker's blog which uses just one photo a day as their posts. I LOVE the idea and decided I wanted to do something like it myself. This person posts one photo with a short tagline or comment per day. What I plan to do is take at least one instagram photo a day and tag it with #projectoneaday and then once a month, do a dump day :) Yeah, not the most classy name for what I think will be really fun but it works.

And without further ado, here is my first Dump Day!