Ali Edwards chooses one little word to focus on each year, and this year I’m playing along.
Yes folks, I’m going zen this year. Sort of. I won’t be raking any sand gardens or sitting cross legged and chanting meditations, but I am going to attempt to pare down those things that do not need to be in my life. That ranges from my material possessions to the activities I fill my calendar with to maybe those extra 5 pounds that have been hanging around since I got back from my honeymoon. But probably not those. They’re a clear indication that my food tastes good and is worth eating.
My year of simplify started with an all out blitz on our house on New Year’s Eve Day. My closet has never looked better, and my husband cooked up some big plans for a game room/guest bedroom/office. We’ve been here for two and a half months now and I’m getting the itch to make this place ours. I know what’s broken and needs replacing. I know what I like. Most importantly, I know where I want to keep stuff. And I know how I want to set things up. And I’ve been spending a lot of time over here for inspiration. Which leads me to the entryway, because who wouldn’t start at the very beginning?
This oh-so-flattering picture of Queen Cupcake putting on a pair of particularly difficult, but super-trendy boots is the only evidence I have of our bare entry. Hi Queen Cupcake. I like that top. See that empty corner over there to the left of the fireplace? That’s what you see when you first enter our house. It was so bare and so boring. I was eyeing this little number from Crate and Barrel,
but I wasn’t crazy about the black color, and by the time I bought the cushion and two wicker baskets to go in the cubbies it was going to cost me around $350. We’re recovering from a pretty nice Christmas around these parts, and trying to get back to saving a buck or two every month, so spending $350 on something I wasn’t ga-ga over didn’t seem right.
So for now, the entry looks like this:
which I love! The dresser was Grandma Glass of Milk’s, but it’s been mine from the day she downsized to a condo several years ago. It has since hung out in various bedrooms, but I do believe it looks like it was custom made for this particular space, which is awkwardly narrow for most entryway benches. The best part about completing this little home project, of course, is that it cost nothing, save for a little man-power on the part of my husband. And now things are a little more organized.
Oh and speaking of simplify, it can work with food too.
Like this tomato cream sauce Ree made. It couldn’t be easier (think weeknights) and it’s going to end up being one of those sauces you come back to again and again. The touch of cream (and you really don’t have to add too much) means the dish is a little more glamorous than your typical pasta with red sauce dinner. And the flavor is rich and fantastic. All in about a half hour.
You will need:
- 2 T EVOO
- 2 T butter
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cans (14.5 oz) tomato sauce (The stuff in an actual can. I use Hunts and Muir Glen often.)
- Salt and pepper to taste (I did use a decent amount of salt to cut through some of the acidity from the tomatoes)
- Sugar (which I only sometimes remember to throw in, hence my adding more salt)
- 1 C heavy cream (but I only used 1/2 C)
- grated Parmesan cheese
- chopped fresh basil (which would really set this dish over the edge and give it some freshness, but I didn’t have any, so oh well)
- 1 1/2 lb. Fettucine (but there is no reason not to use your favorite cut if you want)
The moral of all these little asides in the list of ingredients is this: this is a simple dish. You can adapt it to suit your needs. And it’s going to be pretty hard to mess it up.
So let’s begin. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
Then, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes, until the onions start to become translucent. Add the tomato sauce, salt, pepper and sugar and stir. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
With any luck, your water has started boiling. Add some salt, then the pasta and cook according to the package directions. If you reserve some of the water you used to cook the pasta, you might use it later to thin out the sauce a little. I didn’t need to. But it’s not a bad idea to keep it just in case.
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cream and cheese. Add as much cheese as you like. You all know how much I prefer.
Now you have sauce and pasta. You can mix them all together if you’re like Ree, or spoon the sauce over a big bowl if you’re like me. This would be the time to add some chopped or julienned basil too. Enjoy.