• 6 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 3/4 pounds ground round
  • 1.5 cups onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Port wine
  • 1 cups Pacific chicken broth
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons each dried thyme, basil and oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Pimento Moida or fresh red crushed pepper or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

A few days before Christmas we gathered at the home of our dear friends, and God-willing, our future relatives. The Forster home looked so pretty with Christmas lights aglow throughout each room. Amanda decorated a very pretty smaller tree in the kitchen/dining area.

Their family tree in the living room was so pretty, too, with special ornaments placed just so. Billy collects Santa ornaments and Debbie collects ornaments with nativity scenes, so you can imagine how pretty it was in person. Also hanging on the tree were some of Amanda’s childhood ornaments like her First Christmas and hanging front and center was the ornament celebrating Nate and Amanda’s First Christmas together. Thankful for Amanda and Nate’s union, Billy said jokingly, “I don’t even have a picture of myself on our tree and there’s Nate hanging up there! And there he is on the wall, too!”

Speaking of the happy couple, here they are celebrating Christmas together for the first time

I was with Amanda when she purchased that dress and knew Nathaniel would love it – and he did! My son Alexander gave his brother that outfit for Christmas – well done, right? Alexander also gave Nathaniel a matching red and black tie, but I think Nate must have taken it off during Christmas evening before the picture was taken.

Two families becoming one

The merriment began as our families gathered together to share a meal and exchange our Christmas gifts. Debbie made these delicious Barbecue Chicken Sliders and yummy coleslaw and I made my German Potato Salad which turned out to be a nice compliment to Debbie’s sliders. Whenever serving barbecue, or something on the sweeter side, a tangy side dish is the perfect choice.
Amanda made a batch of her famous cupcakes (I’ve never had better) and then the gift giving began.

After dinner, we all gathered near the family tree to exchange our presents. Amanda gave me a lovely serving set which matches my other white serving platters perfectly.

We can’t wait to use it when serving dipping sauces for our Egg Rolls, Steamed Dumplings and Salad Wraps.

Debbie and Billy surprised me with a beautiful pasta machine for Christmas. They told me all about the United Restaurant Equipment Company on South Saunders Street in Raleigh, NC. They told me that I would be like a kid in a candy store there! Funny how I recently thought that a pasta machine would be nice, but hadn’t mentioned it to anyone and then voila! The Magic of Christmas! I was thrilled to unwrap the shiny machine and later that evening, instead of dreaming of sugar plums, I dreamt of different types of pastas my family and I could make together.

Two days later, the guys and I were in the kitchen testing out our new gift. With Bolognese Sauce bubbling away and the pasta dough kneaded and ready, we began taking turns with our new toy. Nate took one for the team, as he cut his hand on the side of the pasta machine.

This is my favorite shot, not because Nate cut himself of course, but because he was such a good sport about it and what a funny face!

Be careful because this tool has some very sharp edges.

While Nate, Alex and I rolled out the pasta, my hubby insured that each batch was cooked to perfection. Fresh pasta cooks much quicker than dried, so you have to watch it carefully. Once the sauce was done and the pasta was ready. We sat down to enjoy a meal fit for a king! Here’s how we made it:

Nathaniel was in charge of the Bolognese sauce.

He began by browning the bacon, beef, grated carrots, celery, chopped onion and green bell pepper. He then added the garlic and sauteed it one minute more. We added a cup and a half of Port wine and let it cook into the meat for a few minutes. Then some chicken broth – simmer, simmer, simmer…

Crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red crushed pepper and spices were added next.

We added a little heavy cream to richen the sauce and we were almost there!

Stir to combine and you’re there!

Now onto the pasta – it’s so simple and FUN!

The rule of thumb when making homemade pasta is to add one extra large egg to one cup of flour for one person. We combined four extra large eggs and 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. We added this to to four cups of flour and one teaspoon of salt because there were four of us and we LOVE to eat. We did have leftovers, so that is a hearty portion. You may need to a dd a teaspoon of so of either water or heavy cream.

Now, combine the dough with a wooden spoon or your hands like I did, and knead THE HECK out of it! We took turns kneading – it was hard work, but definitely worth the effort!

Cut your dough into pieces that can be easily run through your machine. You can also use a rolling pin if you do not have a pasta machine.

My hubby (an engineer) read the instructions (something I rarely do) and suggested we run a small piece of dough through the new machine to get rid of any unwanted material; it worked like a charm – thanks honey!

Once the machine was ready to go, we began running our dough through it and boy was it FUN!

The strips of dough get larger as you run them through the machine.

Our fresh fettuccine is now ready to cook! Mike made sure our water was well salted.

The pasta is ready!

We’re ready to DIG IN! I should have titled this post “the best pasta we ever had!” It sure was the best! We can’t wait to make it together again!

We thought it only appropriate :) to invite our dear friends Billy, Debbie and Amanda to dinner News Years Eve. We’ll all get back into the kitchen to make homemade pasta together! I hope you and your family will try this recipe and make your next meal an eventful one! Happy Cooking and Eating! Elise

Here’s how we made our Homemade Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

Place the bacon in a large pot over medium heat and saute until brown and crispy. Add the ground round, breaking it up with a fork, cooking until browned about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the onions, green peppers, carrots, celery, and garlic, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the wine and cook for about five minutes. Add the chicken stock and cook another five minutes. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, basil and oregano. Finish off with the cream. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

To make homemade pasta simply measure our one cup of all-purpose flour to one extra large egg person. Combine the egg and flour mixture and turn out onto a board. Knead together until you get a smooth ball of pasta dough. This may take a while if you have several people, so you may want to knead in batches. I don’t think I would combine more than four cups of flour to four eggs. It took us quite a while and some elbow grease to knead this amount.

Once the dough is smooth, cut into smaller pieces. Begin on the largest level of your machine and work your way down as you pull the dough through the machine. With each roll, decrease the number. This will make your dough thinner and thinner. Roll out to desired thickness and place small batches in salted boiling water. Serve al dente with Bolognese Sauce and enjoy!