Sunday Dinner

Spaghetti Bolognese

Long time no post! Sorry for neglecting my blogging duties, I have been having a little too much summer fun. I plan on catching up this week, so sorry in advance if you get a lot of Juicy Bites in your in box. We had a fun and busy weekend and I wanted to finish it off with a nice family dinner yesterday. The kind where we actually eat at the dining room table and I light the candles. It was a really nice mellow end to a fun summer weekend.

To me, a Sunday dinner is all about comfort food. One of my family’s favorite comfort foods is spaghetti with a good meat sauce. For this Sunday dinner, I decided to go with a bolognese sauce instead of my usual meat sauce. Bolognese is thicker, meatier, and richer than a basic meat sauce. It’s usually a combo of beef, veal, and pork and is finished with milk or cream. It’s more of an Italian “stew” than a sauce. I searched around and settled on this recipe from Emeril Lagasse. I stuck pretty close to his, with just a couple of changes.

With any Italian dish that calls for tomatoes, you want to make sure that you use a good brand. This is one that I like…

This recipe starts with some diced pancetta or bacon. I used bacon because it’s what I had on hand. After you crisp up the bacon, you saute a mix of onions, carrots, and celery in the rendered bacon fat (YUM!).

This dish does have a lot of steps, but once they are done you can just let it simmer and smell your whole house up with deliciousness.

Don’t forget crusty bread…or good wine. In this case, a fabulous Zinfandel from Orin Swift called “The Prisoner”.

Spaghetti Bolognese

This recipe serves 8 (with 2 pounds of pasta) or 4-6 with one pound and left over sauce to save/freeze.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces bacon or  pancetta, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (one medium onion)
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh if you have it)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1  28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef  broth
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup half and half or whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • freshly grated Parmesan for serving


In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beef, pork, and veal, and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, and until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add the can of crushed tomatoes, beef broth, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer (uncovered), stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the half and half or milk, stir well and simmer for a couple more minutes. Discard the bay leaves and taste for seasoning, you may need a little more salt depending on the type of broth that you use. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and return the water to a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes, then drain put back in the pot or in a serving bowl.

Add a cup or 2 of the sauce to the pasta, tossing to coat. Top with chopped parsley and serve with extra sauce and cheese.

Baked Shells in a Cheesy Cauliflower Sauce

This was a good find! A dinner that everyone in my family loved…with vegetables!

It was pretty easy and it was a hit with the husband and kiddos.

You make a yummy cheesy sauce with  a little sauteed onion and garlic, milk, and a whole head of chopped cauliflower.

Once the cauliflower is tender you blend the sauce until

it is smooth (or put it in your blender).

Add some cheese (a mixture of Gruyere and Parmesan turned

out great).

Add some cubed ham…

and Broccoli florets (raw) to the pot with the sauce.

Meanwhile…cook a pound of pasta (these shells worked

well) in some well salted water. You really want to under cook

it because it will finish cooking in the oven. This pasta said

cook for 13 minutes so I did it for 6 minutes.

Toss it all together, top with some extra Parmesan and bake!

After the pasta is just about done and the broccoli is tender,

sprinkle some Panko bread crumbs (mixed  with some melted

butter) over the top and finish cooking uncovered. You can broil

a few minutes to brown the top at the very end)



  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cored and chopped (3 cups)
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups milk (I used 4 1/2 cups 1% and 1/2 cup of half and half)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  •  1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound  pasta shells
  • 1/2  pound diced smoked ham
  • A handful of fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 medium bunch broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets (5 cups) or you can use a bag of florets
  • 1/2 cup  panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) mixed with 1 tablespoon melted butter


  1. Heat oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened but not brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add Cauliflower and sprinkle with flour; stir to coat well.
  2. Gradually stir in milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; gently simmer until cauliflower is very soft, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I used about a teaspoon and a half of kosher salt). Blend the cauliflower mixture until smooth (either with an immersion blender or in a regular blender). Add one cup of the parmesan and all of the gruyere and stir to melt. Add the broccoli florets, ham and chopped parsley and mix will.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until slightly tender but not fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Drain well; return to pot. Add ham, broccoli, and cauliflower sauce; toss to combine. Transfer to a ovenproof 3 1/2-quart baking dish sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese, cover with foil and bake until bubbling in center, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5 – 10 min. Sprinkle the Panko bread crumbs mixed with melted butter over the top and cook under the broiler until golden brown on top, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve!