The secrets to your best Bolognese!

When your best friends happen to be personal chefs in Bel-Air, you pick their brain for professional cooking tips!  We decided to spend  an evening together, shopping for the freshest ingredients at Eataly in LA and then hitting the kitchen for some lessons in cooking a good Italian dinner!  Eataly has everything you could dream of, from a meat and seafood counter, to produce and pastas.  We could’ve spent hours in there! I think we did!

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We put our heads (and cravings) together and came up with a menu of:

A Charcuterie board, sautéed cauliflower and spinach, roasted beets and burrata salad with truffle honey, toasted hazelnut carrots, squid ink pasta and clams in a white wine sauce, and pasta Bolognese! Be still my heart!

At Eataly, we tasted cheeses, salamis, and prosciutto that were heavenly! I highly recommend doing this before purchasing your meats and cheeses for a charcuterie board to ensure that you absolutely love the flavors of each component.

Charcuterie!!! Daniel grilled the crostini and what a difference!7A48CE5D-392B-484A-8F1D-39A9C3C2EFC0

We found freshly made squid ink tagliatelle and spaghetti alla chitarra at the pasta counter where you can watch the employees knead, roll, cut, and shape pasta by hand!

My friend Daniel wanted to do a Bolognese with a mixture of veal, pork, and beef so we bought a combination of those meats and he magically mixed and seasoned it to perfection using salt, pepper and italian seasonings.  Then he formed the mixture into one large patty.

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Pro tip from Chef Danny, as I like to call him:  sauté your meat in one large formed patty and “do not disturb.”  This creates a golden brown charred outer crust.  Once you’ve browned the giant patty, remove from heat and hand-crumble it so that the pieces are not all the same, but more organic in shape and size.

The sauce for the Bolognese was made from scratch, by sautéing carrots, onions, heirloom tomatoes and garlic in EVOO, deglazing with red wine, adding in tomato purée, and finally returning the meat back to the pan.

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Pro tip from Chef Danny: Use tomato purée instead of tomato sauce for better sauce consistency.

I also saw him sneak some a couple spoonfuls  of the starchy pasta water into the sauce at the very end, to slightly thicken the pasta sauce.  So sneaky!

The fresh pasta was al-dente in just about 6 minutes.

My best friend Racquel made the most amazing clam and white wine sauce that I could eat every night! It was light, but rich at the same time, if that’s even possible!  I fall in love with her more every day!

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They also taught me a shortcut to shaving cauliflower, which is simply slicing thinly with a sharp knife as opposed to making a mess of it all with a grater or a food processor. Duh!

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If you’ve never had burrata and beet salad… This is amazing!

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Here’s our finished Bolognese! It was to die for!

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After all that cooking, all that’s left to do is choose a wine to enjoy with dinner!

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I cannot thank my friends enough for an amazing night of shopping and cooking, laughing and sharing. Follow them on Instagram!

Chef Danny: https://www.instagram.com/thefreshchefofbelair/

Chef Rocky: https://www.instagram.com/rockymercedes/

Bon Apetit!

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Leaving the Nest

KAREN:  Moving day was here and we had been preparing for months! We couldn’t have felt more ready. Kaylena had all her personal items and clothes packed and organized, and we made sure that she was stocked up with snacks for those late night study sessions.  We were up for the challenge of making a small space functional, and couldn’t wait to see how everything would fit. Kaylena’s dad and I were so excited for her — especially since he a UC Davis alum. Go Aggies!

The UC Davis campus is the largest UC Campus spanning 5,300 acres. A bike is essential to get from class to class at this campus. Thankfully my sister surprised Kaylena with a new bike at her graduation party! Her dad secured the bike to the top of the car, and off we went!  There’s something exciting about seeing so many bikes in one place.  It makes your mind imagine what each of the bike’s owners is here to pursue.

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A dorm room should reflect your child’s personality. After all, home is your haven and this will be their home away from home. Kaylena chose the aesthetic for her room, which was inspired by some of the artwork she collected for her wall. I didn’t necessarily approve of all of her art pieces, but hey, I’m supposed to be “allowing self expression” or “letting go” or something like that, right? Some of the canvases she painted herself, others she found at Ikea. Two of her prints were from Madison Riese Arts.  One of my favorites is the Paradise print, which was a gift from the artist herself. Thank you, Madison!

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We also brought in color with the vibrant throw pillows that her godmother bought her from Society 6.  Throw pillows are to women what stuffed animals are to kids — and we just love them!  Familiar items from home like her cute little air plant and record player really personalized the space.

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While she was in charge of the design, I focused on the functionality of the room. I couldn’t help myself and immediately moved some of the furniture around. We also had her bed raised to “level 3.”   Thank God for these stackable under bed drawers from The Container Store.  Instead of packing her clothes in boxes, we transported them in these and just slid them under the bed.  They’re the perfect depth.  We were also able to slide this Ikea cart under the bed which she used to hold her dishes, utensils, and most importantly, the coffee! She purchased a cute blue mini fridge from Wal-Mart to complete her new room.

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While we were beyond prepared for the move and new living accommodations, I can’t say the same for the actual goodbye.  I was overcome with so many emotions, and despite Kaylena saying “Oh gosh, Mommy.  Don’t cry!” the water works were uncontrollable.  Funny how despite knowing that moment would come, it was all still very heart-wrenching.  The emotions ranged from sadness to an enormous sense of pride, to just missing her already. While she isn’t too far from home, I was saddened by the realization of how fast her childhood flew by. Other parents of college students have reassured me, these are all normal emotions, and I am not completely losing it! LOL. On the other hand, we are very excited to see her growth, and for all the fun she will have at UC Davis!

Oh, and our family had a little going away party before the move, where Kaylena made these awesome and addicting sugar cookies to represent her new school.

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Did you know that many stores offer student discounts?  Here is a list of some compiled by Odyssey  Looks like we have some shopping to do!

KAYLENA: Hello Everybody ! Here i am writing to you from the comfort of my dorm room. Crazy, right? With everything from a revolving door of new dorm mates with crazy personalities, losing a bike basket in the middle of a bike circle, and 500 student lectures, Davis is definitely going to be my biggest adventure thus far.

In the past week, I have rushed for a sorority to find my new home with the women of Kappa Kappa Gamma, attended biology and chem lectures, braved my 8 am theatre class, and lost my voice to sickness. Nothing could have prepared me for the wild life of a college student. Classes are intense, with super-fast lectures and high expectations. Biking is terrifying, especially when crashing is so common: I’ve ran into bushes, fences, and the sidewalk- no people yet. The dining commons is a goldmine and the freshman fifteen is looking more like fifty for me.

Furthermore, the people at Davis are kind and supportive. My dorm mates are becoming my family, and I can’t wait to see what the ladies of Kappa Kappa Gamma have in store for me. Never in my life have I seen more genuine, intelligent, driven, and ambitious women all gathered in one place. And now I get to say I am with them.

And with all the flurry of Welcome Week, the homesickness hit me in a way I didn’t expect it to. I was sitting at the KKG bid night, eating chipotle after throwing down the greatest dance moves of my life, when I started tearing up. I missed my family. I missed my home. I missed my mom and dad. Regardless of the strange timing, I realized why I felt this way: It was the final step in me fully being away from home. This was more than having control over a piece of controversial artwork on my dorm room wall. This was, is me, growing, putting myself out there, starting my future and foundation here at Davis.

I love it here. Davis is everything and more I could’ve ever imagined. I can’t wait for the future.  First week of college! Check.

Thanks for stopping by! Until next time,

Karen & Kay

“Here is the world.  Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” ~ Frederick Buechne