Today marks 15 years. That’s right. 15 years ago today, Ryan took me to our first high school dance. Dinner first at the Red Mill (oh, how I can’t wait to revisit that little supper club someday soon!) and a Winter Carnival Dance to follow at our ol’ MHS. Every year we say the same thing, “Can you believe it has been XX years?!” No! I can’t. We’ve survived high school…college at Minnesota…graduate school in Iowa…6 years of marriage…and finally, the birth of our first child, Bella. I’d say we’ve had a pretty good run. Ups and downs are expected on any journey, but this one has been oh-so-worth it. Thank you, Ryan. For an action-packed 15 years…and the most beautiful little girl (inside and out!) that I could have ever wished for. I look forward to many more years…and many more meals to celebrate! 🙂
After several weeks of traveling for work, Ryan and I were really looking forward to kicking off the beginning of our “next 15 years” with a meal at home last Saturday night. And after all these years, we’re pretty predictable. First choice is always caprese, pasta, and wine. All I needed was a new recipe idea. Fortunately Rachael Ray offered up a great suggestion in her recent edition of “EveryDay with Rachael Ray”. (You will have to catch that recipe below.) Meanwhile, as we enjoyed our caprese we also cracked a new bottle of red wine. As Ryan discarded the cork, I caught a glimpse of “Sparkle”. This little lady never misses sparkle. 🙂 I retrieved the cork and noticed that it held many tiny crystals. It was gorgeous! I know…it’s a cork. But have you ever seen a cork that sparkled? I apologize that I couldn’t capture a better shot…but you get the idea. I’ve also included a little lesson on these “diamonds” below…just click the link.
“Wine Crystals: Naturally made and un-stabilized wines develop crystals, which generally precipitate to the bottom of the bottle or attach themselves on the cork or the closure of the bottle. Sometimes referred to as “Wine Diamonds” they are indicative of good quality. Although crystals are bitter, they are harmless and do not affect the flavour of the wine in any way.” http://winesworld.com/index.php/wine-crystals/68/
Along with this wonderful bottle of wine (diamonds and all!), we also enjoyed the new recipe by Rachael Ray (Boudreau modifications, of course). If you are looking for a new twist on a spicy red pasta, please try this one. We loved the smoky flavors….fire-roasted tomatoes and roasted/blackened red peppers…spicy red wine…yes, please!
Fire-Roasted Tomato and Hot Sausage n Beef Rigatoni
Recipe Courtesy of Rachael Ray
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for drizzling (I added another 2 tbsps just before serving…to thin the sauce a bit)
- 3/4 pound bulk hot italian sausage (1/2lb is plenty)
- 1/2 pound ground beef sirloin
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 hot cherry pepper, seeded and chopped, or fresno chile pepper, thinly sliced (These can be hard to find in Iowa…we used 1/2 a jalapeno)
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup spicy red wine
- 1 can (28 oz.) or 2 cans (15 oz. each) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1/2 cup beef stock
- 1 pound rigatoni pasta
- Pecorino-romano cheese, for serving
- A generous handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped (We used BASIL)
Char the bell peppers under a hot broiler or directly over a high flame on the stovetop to blacken all over, turning occasionally. Place the charred peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel off and discard the skins and seeds. Quarter the peppers lengthwise, then slice crosswise into strips. (You can do this over a grill as well. We did!)
In a dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp. EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and beef and brown, crumbling the meat, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the onion, garlic and hot pepper until softened; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute, then add the wine and reduce for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stock and bell peppers; simmer to thicken.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Add the pasta and reserved cooking water to the sauce and toss for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls with lots of cheese and the parsley. Gild the lily with an extra drizzle of EVOO.
Heaven in a blue dish. 🙂 Serve up family style (like I did above) or plate individually like Rachael mentions. Pair with a spicy red wine that can stand up to the flavors on your plate. We chose one of our all time favorites…Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley. Enjoy!
Indulge. In Life. In Love. In Food.