We’re watching Dexter these days. I hope you understand why that means my posts have been a bit sporadic lately. I’m sure it also explains why I’m hearing the words I’m typing in the voice of Michael C. Hall. Is it still your own inner monologue if it’s in the voice of someone else? In case you’re wondering, it’s still happening.
I feel like we hardly even know each other anymore, you guys. So I’m going to try to change that. Here’s a little of what I’ve been up to these days, outside of the kitchen:
As we discussed, I’m eyeballing a lot of this guy (bonus points for showing that creme filling who’s boss):
And attempting to do more of this:
I booked a trip to here for February:
(That’s Minneapolis people. And yes, February. Because paste tasted good in kinnygarten.)
And here for March:
And I’m hoping to coordinate a little girls weekend here for April:
(Let’s drink wine and Take-a-Napa Valley)
I bought these for a STEAL:
(Backstory: Kevin is like, “So I read this HuffPost article about how TJ Maxx has great finds on high-end designer shoes. When have you ever seen high-end designer shoes at TJ Maxx?” [scoff scoff] We walk into the store. Oh, ‘sup B by Brian Atwood pumps at 90% off in my size. The universe works in beautiful ways. And no, I don’t care that I HAVE NOWHERE TO WEAR THESE.)
Oh, and I got a little too excited about the industrial-strength bubble wrap we had at the office and skinned the crap out of my knuckle with my own fingernail trying to pop it. Try as you might to read between the lines on this one, it’s exactly as it sounds. It’s a glamorous life I lead. No picture. Sor’s.
So that’s me. Pray tell – what have you guys been up to?
I’ve also been cleaning up our menu a bit, as you know (ok, maybe that Baked French Toast was a small setback), which is why this Pig & Prairie Pasta is such a home run. We made it for a New Year’s Eve supper with friends, and I absolutely believe it was the perfect way to celebrate all the good to come in 2014.
You see, it’s got all the hallmarks of your fave hearty, meat-sauced pasta, but it’s ridiculously simple to prepare, and in reality, it’s not nearly as sinful as it sounds. For eight servings, you’re looking at a pretty responsible amount of pasta — and please feel free to choose whole wheat, brown rice or whatever is currently keeping your dingy above water. And the bolognese is little more than a couple of cans of tomato sauce, sustainable bison (heyo, there’s the prairie!) and aromatic veg all simmered together. With wine, because antioxidants. And a leetle bit of bacon (pig!) because I want your tongue to like me.
Crowned with a few dollops of light and tangy chèvre that melts dreamily into the piping hot sauce — and I beg of you, do NOT skip this step unless you have, like, a goat allergy — this is balanced eating at its absolute best.
Enjoy, my friends. And let me know how you’ve been passing the time, yeah?
Hugs and stuff.
(Pssssst… How amazing are these bowls? I “met” Akiko Graham of Seattle-based Akiko’s Pottery through work and knew we had to make these gorgeous pieces part of our everyday dinnerware collection. I’m sure you’ll see a lot more of them here on The P&Q. Check her out!)
Pig & Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese & Chèvre)
By Emily Stoffel
Cook time: 10 mins hands on; an hour to simmer | Serves 6-8
Note: I love this sauce heaped over rigatoni or something else equally capable of capturing all its pig n’ prairie glory (read: scoops up meaty bits well). It can be the traditional semolina stuff, or upgrade to whole wheat pasta for a little extra nutritional oomph. If you’re avoiding gluten, just choose a GF variety. And I bet no one would complain if you served this spooned generously over a bowl of creamy polenta.
- 1 T olive oil
- 2-3 oz good, smoky bacon, diced (about 2-3 slices; we used a superbly flavored, cured Country Bacon that I picked up during my travels in the South)
- 2 small or 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
- 2 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 – 1.25 lbs ground bison
- 1 T Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 2 15oz cans tomato sauce
- 1 cup red wine
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb desired pasta (see note)
- 4 – 8 oz chèvre
- flat leaf parsley, chopped
Add bacon and olive oil to a large, cold pot or Dutch oven and turn on medium high flame. Render fat out of bacon until just starting to crisp. Add onion, garlic and chili flakes and sauté until onion is translucent, lowering heat if necessary so garlic does not burn. Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper to taste; toss veggies until well coated in fat. Add bison, Italian seasoning, fennel seed, tomato sauce and wine and stir to combine, loosely breaking up the bison. Bring to a light bubble, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove bolognese sauce from heat and allow to cool slightly while you prepare your pasta al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water just before draining pasta.
Toss pasta with a generous cup or so of bolognese sauce and a little cooking water, as needed. Divide into bowls and top generously with additional bolognese, crumbled chèvre and fresh parsley. Enjoy!
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