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Slow Cooker Sauce Bolognese

November 16, 2018

A few weeks ago, right before I went to meet our farmer in Vermont and pick up our grass fed beef, I was running a 5k and thinking about all the different cuts we were going to get. I was like a kid in a candy store, and I thought to myself what should I make first??

This sauce popped into my head. It is so good, and one I used to make a lot at our ski condo since it is from the very aptly named Ski House Cookbook. I love that it cooks all day in the crock pot and then when you go to make dinner, you just boil a box of pasta.

They even recommend freezing half so it is always ready for you at your condo. I might be at home but I still took their advice, and I’m going to cook it this weekend when my sister comes over for her birthday so we can just catch up and relax.

This dish is a classic for a reason – the wine and the milk do some special alchemy to make this an elevated pasta sauce, and it it sticks to your ribs with not one but two kinds of beef – ground and cubed that are super tender from cooking all day. (If you’re in a pinch you can just used ground beef). And kids love this dish (don’t worry about the wine, all the alcohol evaporates) so it makes for great family dinners.

Definitely taste it for seasoning and add more salt if it needs it! Or just heaping piles of parm like I do.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Slow Cooker Sauce Bolognese (printer version here): 

3 Tablespoons canola oil

1 pound chuck stew meat, cut into ¾ inch pieces

2 small carrots, finely chopped

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 pound ground beef

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 ½ cups dry white wine

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (28-ounce) can crushed or pureed tomatoes

Freshly ground black pepper



  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the cubed meat to the pan in one layer (you will most likely need to do this in batches) and brown it on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the browned beef to the slow cooker. Repeat until all the cubes are browned.
  2. Return to the skillet to medium heat, add the carrots, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the onion and continue cooking until the vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook , breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. When the meat is nearly cooked through (but not brown), about 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the wine and simmer until nearly all of the liquid is evaporated, about 6 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until nearly all of the liquid evaporates, about 4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the ground beef mixture to the cooker and add the salt. Stir in the diced and crushed tomatoes. Cover the slow cooker and set it to low heat for 6 hours.
  5. Stir the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve immediately, or cool, cover and freeze in small containers for up to 1 month. Reheat over medium-low heat until simmering, adding a little water if needed to prevent scorching.

Adapted from The Ski House Cookbook by Tina Anderson and Sarah Pinneo


Weekly Meal Plan 10/2

October 4, 2018

Hello October!

Fall is my favorite. We’re planning on heading north for the long weekend, and will be eating out at our favorite places to keep it simple. But I’m planning on doubling the beef stew just in case! It travels really well and gets better each day.

Here’s what we’re having this week. Happy Fall! xoxo Katie


Root Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie – this was my daughter’s dinner choice since it was her Saint’s Day, St. Therese the Little Flower. I am linking my Root Vegetable version (usually post my Easy Shepherd’s Pie) for a little change.


Stuffed Chicken Breasts 


Eggplant Parm


Instapot Beef Stew 

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 

Going North & Eating Out – Time to look at all the peak foliage in the White Mountains.

Anniversary Dinner

February 18, 2012


This Valentine’s Day, my husband took me to the same restaurant he took me to on our first Valentine’s Day ten years ago. For some reason this number of years makes me feel old and young at the same time.

It was surprising how this evening became a measure of us.  That perspective shift of seeing through your older eyes what you saw when you were young, and how some of those things weren’t out there but inside yourself. Like standing on your college campus, reading a childhood book, or seeing an old friend. The place was like a time capsule of our former selves.

Ten years ago, with our cubical job/company softball team/few years out of college eyes, the restaurant had seemed fancy. The menu, the wine, the atmosphere felt like we were participating in a grown up life that was just a bit ahead of our twenty-something lives. Now, after three kids, many travels, and well, a job where you take people out to dinner, we are there. The food wasn’t outrageously expensive, as it had seemed then, there weren’t uber chic surroundings, merely sophisticated ones, and, because an early wake up was sure to greet us the next day, we only had one bottle of wine instead of two (that explains a lot doesn’t it?)

But somehow, even though a place can change, food is unique in it’s ability to make a memory that is indelible. When I took one bite of the Filet, with a nice sip of Bordeaux, I was transported back to that Valentine’s Day, ten years ago, when I fell in love with my husband, and with good food.



A cheese plate with a French Sheep’s milk cheese, a blue and goat cheese, with honey and raisins. This is a good example of the measure of 10 years. This seemed fancy. Now, this is a regular pre-meal nosh at home.

Oeuf en Cocotte with Truffles, Pommes Purée, Marinated Chanterelles & Brioche – love the French towel it is served on!



Chermoula Braised Short Rib with Pommes Purée, Rainbow Carrots & Pickled Radish



Filet Au Poivre with Cognac Cream, Grilled Scallions, Green Peppercorns & Pommes Au Gratin 



This was a tough choice because we make Filet Au Poivre a lot at home, in fact that is what we had for Christmas Dinner. But it was good and the addition of the cognac in the cream sauce and the green peppercorns were inspiring.

We are off for a week of skiing for school vacation week where I will be making more meals out of the Ski House Cookbook – I will let you know which one’s we love! I can’t wait to come back and buy lots of veggies and fish and have healthy meals and spring clean our house!


The Drunken Half Cow

April 2, 2011

Last September, we bought a half of a cow. A friend and fellow mom, Jessica, did the research and found a farmer in Vermont who raises cows naturally, on a grass-fed, antibiotic free diet.  He sells his cows at $3.60 a pound, in ground beef or thick-cut, Cryovac-sealed glory. All we needed to do was buy a freezer to store it.

At first, my husband loved the idea.  His eyes turned glossy at the thought of a half cow worth of steak. Then it was delivered, and he was shocked at how little turned out to be steak.  That steak was only a portion of the cow, and that rump roast and rib roast and plain ground beef also made up the half cow, was a moment of disillusionment/crabbiness for him.  If we need evidence that we don’t know where our food comes from, I offer this up as Exhibit A.

Since then, however, our lives have taken an up-word tick.  Grocery bills have been slashed.  When stumped at the ‘what’s for dinner?’ question, plain old burgers can be made in 10 minutes. But oh-my-gosh is this delicious is the result.  Grass-fed burgers are heavenly.  I crave them.  So simple, yet there is nothing that comes to mind that is as satisfying and soul-filling as this dinner. 

A correlation of having the half cow in our freezer is that we also usually have beer in the fridge, and these make for a happy marriage (literally and figuratively).  I have discovered that if you cook good beef with beer, great things happen.  This equation is pretty fool proof.  Ok, I did have superb guidance the first time I attempted this : Fresh & Honest is the cook book from Chef Peter Davis, and his restaurant Henrietta’s Table is right next to Jody Adam’s restaurant Rialto in Cambridge, MA.  His New England style menus are simple and amazing.  Seriously, his Pale Ale Braised Short Ribs, made with our grass-fed short ribs were close-your-eyes-let-the -angels-sing-around-you delicious.  It helped that I made his mashed potatoes exactly as he instructed. And the meal was rounded out by his Brussels Sprouts with Bacon. 

I attempted to re-create this beer and beef nirvana when we went skiing recently.  Packing up 3 kids and a dog is made easier when you just grab a crock pot and grass-fed cut-up beef chuck and let it defrost on the way there.  The night before skiing, I attempted to follow the William Sonoma Slow Cooking Cookbook recipe for beef stew (a great resource, I love the Lamb and Spinach Curry recipe).  But, having to rely on a kitchen that was not stocked as my own, I combined two different recipes in the book, as I only had onions and potatoes, a very small amount of butter, an aged generic pepper shaker and God-knows how old Canola Oil Spray.  That’s right, spray.  I sort of sobbed as I cooked the well-floured and peppered high quality of beef in such a sad representative of cooking oil.  Then I deglazed with a Pale Ale while I drank one as well.   I refrigerated it overnight, and plugged it in in the morning before skiing. I commented to my husband on the chair that I did not have high hopes for the outcome. 

Happily, when we returned home, with tired kids and tired feet, the smell that greeted us at the door was simply heaven.  It was rich and peppery and succulent.  We hurried to put the kids down for a nap and grabbed our bowls and spoons.  Turns out that even expired Canola Spray cannot override the flavor of grass-fed chuck.  It was a perfume for the soul.  If I hadn’t just had the Pale Ale Short Ribs, I would have called it the best meal ever. 

So in an effort to use up Old Bessie (Barney?) I defrosted a small roast not knowing what I was going to do with it. Answer: braise it in beer. I looked up Julia this time, and her beer and onions roast looked good although she lost me at the cheesecloth bouquet step since I am chasing an 18-month-old and don’t have time to search for cheesecloth. I seared my meat, sliced some onions, chopped some thyme, threw in some Bay, and deglazed with Beer.  After braising it for a while (it was small so it only took an hour), I added some apple cider vinegar for a finishing flavor.  I served it with roasted veggies and mashed potatoes and celery root. Heaven.  When I served it to my kids I put it on egg noodles (I subscribe to the ‘alcohol burns off’ theory) and my son, who is 4 ½, said, ‘can we have this every night for dinner?’.  My reluctant taster turns fan. Thanks, half cow.

I’ll keep you posted on my future beer and beef adventures. Part of me feels like I am cheating on wine, since I haven’t cooked with it in a while.  Who knows, maybe Boeuf au Vin is in my near future as well.  All I know is drunken meat , in any fashion, is my friend. 


Beer Braised Beef and Onions

by Katie Curtis 


3 lb. beef roast such as chuck roast or rump roast.

(If your roast is closer to 2 lbs or 4 lbs, just adjust the braising time, about 1/2 hour per pound)

3 T canola oil

1 1/2 lbs. sliced onions (about 6 cups)

4 cloves garlic, minced

Salt & Pepper

1 cup beef stock

1 12 oz. beer, such as a Lager or a Pilsner (I used Sam Adams)

2 T light brown sugar

1 t. thyme, chopped

1 bay leaf

2 T apple cider vinegar



Heat Canola oil on high heat in a large heavy pan, such as a Dutch Oven.

Cover beef with salt and pepper on all sides, and brown on each side for 3-4 min, 10 min. total.

Remove beef from pan and rest on a plate. Reduce heat to medium, then sautee the onions in the drippings, 5-7 min or until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 min then add thyme and bay leaf, cooking for 1 more minute.  Pour in beer and deglaze pan, cooking for 3 min. Place beef back into pan.

Add beef stock, and cover with lid.  SImmer for 1-2 hours depending on size. After cooking, add apple cider vinegar to the remaining juices in pan and boil to reduce for 5 min. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If a thicker sauce is preferred, add flour or butter (or both mixed together). Serve over mashed potatoes or buttered noodles.