Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Big Batch Bolognese (Giveaway Part 1)

Back in February, one of our favorite authors, Sarah Bowen Shea (of Run Like a Mother and now Train Like a Mother fame) tweeted about a Cauliflower and Macaroni and Cheese dish she had made.  It sounded so amazing that I had to ask about it, and was directed to The Good Neighbor Cookbook, by Sara Quessenberry and Suzanne Schlosberg.  Lucky for us, the authors had posted the Cauliflower Mac recipe on their website, but I wanted more.  Since then, a great deal has happened leading to this post (all of it good!), and we are thrilled to announce that we have teamed up with Sara and Suzanne for our first book review and giveaway.  (Information on how to enter the giveaway is at the end of this post.  And trust me, you want this book.)

The Good Neighbor Cookbook
The Good Neighbor Cookbook is unique in many ways and I found myself pouring over it the first time I held it in my hands, wishing I had had it years ago when my friends had their first children, when my neighbor was mourning the loss of his mother, and as I struggled trying to figure out what to make for a Memorial Day party.  The cover of this cookbook, which is organized by occasion rather than food category, entices readers with "125 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Surprise and Satisfy the New Moms, New Neighbors, Recuperating Friends, Community-Meeting Members, Book Club Cohorts, and Block Party Pals in Your Life!"  But a closer look reveals that the book is more than just recipes, as it is also filled with brief tips and hints on everything from when it is okay to substitute ingredients to how to reheat a particular dish as well as page-long advice on topics such as how to organize a meal train for a new mother.  "Homemade food is a labor of love but it need not be laborious," the authors state.  I was inspired by the premise of the book, and was anxious to dive in.

It didn't take long for me to figure out what recipe I wanted to try.  Believe it or not, I have never made my own sauce, but I have been wanting to for years. I don't know what has prevented me from doing so except for never having come across the "right" recipe, and not having the confidence to wing it.  The Good Neighbor Cookbook's Big Batch Bolognese gave me both the confidence and the right recipe.  Yes, making sauce from scratch did take longer than opening a jar, but the results were sooooo worth it.  I asked my kids their thoughts and with mouths full (sorry about the manners), they enthusiastically replied, "YUMMY!!"  Their clean plates confirmed their sentiment.  I am definitely looking forward to trying many more of the recipes in this book, and of course, sharing them with my neighbors.

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 lb ground beef chuck
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole or low-fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over med-high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and 1/2 tsp of the salt and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes (decrease the heat as necessary, to prevent scorching).
  2. With heat still on med-high, add the beef and pork to the pot and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 6-8 minutes.  (It took me closer to 10 minutes.) Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes more. 
  3. Add the wine, milk, 2 cups of water, crushed red pepper, black pepper, bay leaf, nutmeg, and the remaining 1 1/2 tsp salt and bring to a boil.
  4. Decrease the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have developed, about 30 minutes.

Difficulty: Medium
Time: 25 min prep, a little less than 1 hour cooking, (under an hour and a half total, at least 30 minutes of which is just the sauce simmering while you stir occasionally)
Source: The Good Neighbor Cookbook by Sara Quessenberry and Suzanne Schlosberg


How to enter:

Answer the following question in the comments on this post: "Have you ever given or received a meal to/from a friend or neighbor?  If so, what has been your favorite? If not, what might you make for a neighbor in the future?"

For additional chances to win, you may do any (or all!) of the following*:
  1. Like us on Facebook and leave a comment here saying you have done so (or tell us here that you already like us on Facebook).
  2. Like "The Good Neighbor Cookbook" on Facebook and leave a comment here saying you have done so (or tell us here that you already like The Good Neighbor Cookbook on Facebook).
  3. Have a friend like us on Facebook and have that friend tell us that you sent her/him.
  4. Follow us on Twitter @MomsRecipeBox and leave a comment here saying that you have done so (or tell us here that you already follow us on Twitter).
  5. Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment here telling us you have done so.  Please include the link to your Tweet in your comment.
*Each of the numbered options listed will earn you an additional chance to win a copy of The Good Neighbor Cookbook.  Please leave an individual comment for each that you complete so that we can keep track of entries easier. 

Find out if you won:
This contest ends at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, May 9, 2012.  One lucky winner will be chosen at random using Random.com.  Winner will be announced on Thursday, May 10, 2012 via Facebook and Twitter.  Look for it!  If you do not use Facebook or Twitter, please make sure you leave us an e-mail address at which we may contact you.  If the winner does not claim the prize within one week, we will pick a new winner.


  1. Yes - I have a neighbor with cancer so I often bring over baked items - breads, dessert, etc...

  2. Yes- to both! I've been the recipient when recovering from surgery, and taken food on several occasions.

  3. Yes- a few of us made a taco dinner for the crews that were doing hurricane cleanup a couple of months ago!
    And, after I had my 2nd, my co worker brought over a home cooked dinner that was incredibly nice!

  4. And I like you on facebook...

  5. What timing. Just the other day SisterChick and I were iscussing how some people seem to have a gift for "hospitality" and know just the right thing to provide at the time when someone needs it most. I wish I had that gift, but when I ever happen to think of taking food to someone, I can't figure out what to make!

  6. I just found you guys from "another mother runner" and I like you on facebook! Can't wait to read more of the posts. :)

  7. I have given and received meals from friends. The best meals are the ones that can be divided and frozen in serving sizes. I also 'like' you and the cookbook on facebook. (#1 and 2).

  8. I've never been on the receiving end of a meal nor have I given one. I just feel to nervous about what to make. I have made brownies to give to people. That's just more my style.

  9. This cookbook looks really cool!!

    I like you on facebook, too!

    I grew up in a big family and we were always shuffling meals around to loved ones for all sorts or reasons: births, wakes, illnesses, plain old age, housewarmings, graduations...this list was endless.

    My favorite meal to make and give is Marlene's Casserole. It is appropriately named since the recipe came from my Mom's neighbor, Marlene. We first experienced it's deliciousness on a visit to her farm shortly after she and her family moved to a different part of the state. It's super easy to put together and super easy to reheat. It can be made in gigantic batches or tiny individual ones and prepared ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen or baked off immediately. I love giving it away because it's tasty and because I can Sharpie scribble the preparation directions right on the foil covering:

    Marlene's Casserole

    One can cream of mushroom soup
    One cup sour cream
    One cup Cooked Chicken
    One Cup Green Beans (I usually use frozen)
    One cup prepared Rice (Mom ommitted the rice and served this dish over egg noodles)
    Salt & Pepper
    One box of Stove Top Stuffing, prepared

    Mix together all ingredients except stuffing. I usually do this in the same glass dish (or throw away aluminum foil pan if I'm giving it) I'll be baking it in. Spread stuffing over the top. Cover and bake @ 350 for 40 min. Uncover and bake an additional 15 min. If it's bubbly, it's done!

    You can totally customize the whole recipe according to your taste. Change up the soup, the meat, the veggies. It works with pretty much any kind of leftovers (especially Thanksgiving!!).

    My fingers are crossed for the cookbook!

  10. Found you through RLAM - the cookbook looks fabulous! I've given and received many meals. I'm always happy to receive anything, but I think the best meal I made for someone else was barbeque chicken, corn muffins, and sauteed green beans. It looked so good, I was kind of jealous that I was giving it all away!

  11. Just liked you on Facebook : )

  12. Just followed you on Twitter, too!

  13. I have both given meals and received meals. My favorite meal to give is casseroles or dishes that can be frozen. That way if the family receiving the meal can't eat it that day they can pop it in the freezer and know they have a meal for another day! also try to add a side, bread and dessert.

  14. Liked you on Facebook!

  15. Followed you on Twitter too!

  16. I received a meals from my church when I had both of my kids which was so helpful during those first few weeks with a newborn. I don't think I had a favorite meal, every meal provided was so awesome!

  17. I have given and received meals from my church. The meals are so helpful when I needed them after having my children and when my husband had a heart attack a year ago. When giving I feel so blessed that God gave me the gift of cooking and sharing the food with others who need it. P.S. I love your website!

  18. Have Liked you on Facebook for over a month!

  19. I have given and received several meals. One of my favorites that I received when my daughter was born was a solid beef stew. It was a high-protein, healthy meal that tasted great as leftovers as well!

  20. Of course, I totally like you on Facebook!

  21. I also just liked "The Good Neighbor Cookbook".

  22. Hi there! This non-gifted-cook is totally inspired by "The Good Neighbor Cookbook."

    I love the idea of knowing what to make people for any occasion, because I'm always in the dark. I usually call my mom. I also love the idea of carrying on the tradition of making food for people.

    My dad and brother used to mow the grass, shovel the walk, and just generally check on the elderly lady who lived next door to us. Every Christmas, she would give us a big tin of homemade pizelles. She was so grateful for all their help, and this small gesture was very meaningful to our family.

    I've taken food to people for holidays, picnics, parties, and sadly, funerals. I've received food as gifts, but I love and miss the food from my grandmother the most. She loved to cook, and she shared her gift with people as often as she could. She cooked for her church and for fundraisers. She cooked for the needy. She cooked for her family. She canned, she baked; she loved to try new things. She even won blue ribbons at the Butler Fair for her pies and jams (which she was shy about telling people). She loved to entertain and share her talent with others. She also LOVED cookbooks, and I think she might have gotten this one for me in the hopes that I might become less bewildered in the kitchen.

  23. Thank you for all of your comments and follows! This giveaway has now ended and the winner will be announced today, May 10, 2012 on Facebook and Twitter.