January 13, 2012

Crock Pot Bolognese

It has been exactly two months since I last typed up a blog post. I have had a VERY busy two months.

In November and April, school gets insane- Finals are drawing ever so much closer. Happy note: This upcoming Thursday, I will be attending my very last first day of school. In May, I will finally be done with school. Forever.

Sadly, I still have a giant four part exam to take after graduation. Two parts in May and two parts in July. FYI, if you ever wanted to spend an exorbitant amount of money on textbooks, get CPA prep books.

In December, I wrapped up my final tax course and attended my best friend's wedding. If you are planning a DIY wedding, you should check out her blog, My Yellow Umbrella. She did EVERYTHING herself and was kind enough to share how-to's on her blog.

After an awesome wedding, my husband Drew and I spent Christmas with my family. We had a blast. My mom and I did A LOT of cooking. My favorite thing we cooked were tamales (for Christmas dinner) and Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls, which really Mom cooked and I watched. FYI, if you don't like coffee or the taste of maple, you totally don't need to put them in the icing. You can definitely just flavor it with some vanilla.

We spent the new years at out own home. I made my first cake pops ever.

More on that later.

A few days ago, some of our best friends, who moved away about a year and a half ago, announced that they were hoping to come to Lubbock this week. So, they packed their bags and headed our direction for a couple days, and they brought their ADORABLE little girl with them. We were very sad to see them go this morning.

And that brings me to today's recipe. I used our friends as guinea pigs last night when I tried making a homemade bolognese sauce with some bow tie pasta. I got the recipe from this blog called Skinny Taste. It has lots of good  nutritious foods and bad for you foods made slightly less bad.

This meal is probably one of my favorite Italian meals I've ever made. I don't know what it is, but I think I may like bolognese better than marinara.

The hardest part about this meal is all the chopping. The rest of this is super easy. I did all my chopping a day in advance, because I knew we would have company when I made this, and I didn't want to spend hours in the kitchen when were just going to see our friends for a day and a half.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 4 oz (1/4 lb) pancetta, chopped (or center cut bacon)
  • 1 tbsp butter (or olive oil)
  • 1 large white onion, minced
  • 2 celery stalks (about 3/4 cup), minced
  • 2 carrots (about 3/4 cup), minced
  • 2 lb 95% lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 - 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup half & half cream
I used the pancetta (Italian bacon), not the center cut bacon. It was delicious. Get the pancetta if at all possible.

I chose to use olive oil, not butter, and I didn't really feel like I was missing anything. Skip the calories, and just use the olive oil.

As far as white wine goes, I use the cooking wine instead of normal drinking wine. In our grocery store, the cooking wine is cheaper and comes in smaller bottles than drinking wine. Since we don't drink, it was more cost effective to get cooking wine. Also, unless my grocer dropped the ball both times I've purchased cooking wine, they don't check your ID. So, if you are underage you don't need to omit the wine. You can find cooking wine in the same area as vinegar at your grocery store.

The Skinny Taste blogger recommends using Tuttorosso brand crushed tomatoes. I used the store brand, and again, I didn't feel like I was missing anything. I'd try her recommended brand, but our grocery store doesn't carry it.

Other than that, my only thing I did differently from her recipe was add a couple handfuls of Parmesan to the sauce at the very end.

Here are her step by step instructions:

"In a large deep saute pan, sauté pancetta on low heat until the fat melts, about 4-5 minutes. Add butter, onions, celery and carrots and cook on medium-low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.

Increase flame to medium-high; add meat, season with salt and pepper and sauté until browned. Drain the fat then add wine; cook until it reduces down, about 3-4 minutes.  

Add to crock pot. Add tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and pepper; cover and set slow cooker to LOW 6 hours

After the 6 hours, adjust salt and pepper to taste, add half & half and parsley; stir and serve over your favorite pasta or spaghetti squash." This final step is where I added a couple handfuls of Parmesan.

 To make things extra simple, I served salad and frozen Pepperidge Farm garlic bread with this.

I tried out the new Reynold's Slow Cooker Liners with this recipe. The bag leaked a tiny bit, but the bag really did speed up the clean up. Usually when I leave my crock pot alone for several hours, the stuff hardens on to the sides, and it takes me forever to clean. Even though the bag leaked a tiny bit, it took practically no time to clean up the pot. If you are prone to making messes like I am, you should totally try these out.

Next week, I will be starting classes again and making some cake balls. I will share how to do the cake balls for sure. They are REALLY fun to make. :)


  1. Sounds yummy :) I also LOVE cake balls! I have a book of cake pops that are adorable!!! If you're interested I can dig it out and look at the title :)

    1. Who is your book by? Mom got me a cake pop book for Christmas. It was by the blogger Bakerella.