Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's the Great Pumpkin Pie, Charlie Brown

As illustrated in this photo from last October, there are many reasons I love Fall.  In addition to spending lots of quality time enjoying beautiful weather with friends, I LOVE pumpkins.  It's kind of a problem, actually.


Signs of a perfect autumn day.
It started when I was pretty young.  There was a real estate agent in our area, Judi Finney, who left pumpkins on everyone's doorstep every October.  While my grandmother may not have been the best cook in the world (hey, we were poor and she did the best she could), she could make a MEAN pumpkin pie.  In fact, while we grew up on every form of processed food you could imagine, I distinctly remember that we almost always had pumpkin pie made from fresh pumpkins.  This was our family's big "heirloom" recipe, and this was the recipe that Granny tried to pass on to me for the recipe book at my bridal shower.  (I also told her it was a cop-out, since I had been the one who typed out the recipe for her in the first place!)  

I knew my pie so well that I could look at two pies sitting next to each other on the dining room table and knowing which one was made with the canned pumpkin by its distinctly George Hamilton-esque color.  (I'd always pass that pie out to everyone else in order to try and score the good stuff.)  

I was SO excited last week when the farmer's market finally had pumpkins available.  I purchased one right away, roasted it (along with some other hard-shell squash I had laying around) and tucked it in my refrigerator until I had time to make the pie I had been dreaming of since last fall.

So, in spite of a crazy Sunday filled with marching competitions, yoga, laundry, yoga, grocery shopping, taking care of the dogs, and yoga... I decided to make my first pumpkin pie of the year.  

This is my grandmother's recipe--it's a little different than most, but I LOVE it and hope you will too.  I would also like to note that Granny didn't really believe in measuring ingredients (even when baking), so you'll see that my process is a little bit different than the printed recipe.  (She also didn't believe in pre-heating the oven, but I wouldn't go that far.) And yes, fresh pumpkin takes more time but it also makes all the difference in the world.  

Granny's Pumpkin Pie

Gather your ingredients.  FRESH roasted pumpkin, sugar, flour, sweetened condensed milk (fat free here), vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract), eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger.  Be sure you have a pie crust (I cheat and use the unroll-and-bake kind), a pie pan, and a clean tea towel handy as well. 


Fresh pumpkin has a lot of water in it, so start by piling  the pumpkin into your tea towel.

Then gather it into a ball and squeeze as much water out of it as you possibly can.  (Pumpkin juice, Harry Potter fans?)

Once you've squeezed as much water as possible out of the pumpkin, measure it out.  The recipe technically calls for 1 1/4 c. of pumpkin but since I had 1 1/2 c., I just put it all in there.  (Deviation #1)

Next, you dump your pumpkin, sugar, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger--heavy on the nutmeg; it was Granny's favorite spice!), and flour into the mixing bowl and mix well; scrape down the sides as necessary.  

Next, add each of the two eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.


Once you've beaten in the eggs, add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  Now, 1 c. of sweetened condensed milk always ends up leaving about 3 tbsp left in the can--and since I dumped in extra pumpkin, I just add the rest of the condensed milk and a pinch more flour along with it.  It always works out just fine.  (Beat well.)  



You can choose whether or not to add the water.  If you're using fresh pumpkin, I don't think it needs it--but if you're using (blech! sacrilege!) canned pumpkin, you may want some to thin the filling out.
 
Prepare your pie crust and have either pie shields or a couple of strips of aluminum foil (not shown) handy.  

Check it out!  I can flute anything! (ha!)
Fill your pie--be sure it isn't TOO full though!


Put the pie on a baking sheet and wrap the foil around the crust to protect it from burning.



Put the pie in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350°F for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, take the pie shields/foil off of the pie and allow it to continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.  (Note: When I baked this pie, I didn't take the foil off until there were only 15 minutes left in the oven, so the pastry is a bit pasty looking--but it tastes okay.)



When the pie emerges, it will look something like this--golden brown and fluffy.  Give the pie a little wiggle before you take it out of the oven so you can be sure that the center is set. 


As the pie cools, the puffiness in the middle of the pie goes away.  All you're left with is this pure deliciousness.


I find it so delicious that I kind of stared at my pie as I savored the first succulent bite... and even though I hadn't said a word, Duff Man accused me of bragging about my amazing pie!  I guess my face said everything I needed it to.




Granny's Pumpkin Pie

1 ¼ c. Pumpkin (or a little more.)
¾ c. sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon (ground)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp all-purpose flour
2 eggs--slightly beaten
1 c. sweetened condensed milk (or a little more.  I had the Fat Free kind in the pantry and the final product tastes just fine.)
2 tbsp water
½ tsp vanilla extract
Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices, and flour in a mixing bowl. 
  • Add eggs and mix well
  • Add evaporated milk, water and vanilla, and mix well.
  • Pour into crust-lined pie pan.  Cover the edges of the pie shell with foil to avoid overly browning them.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425 F for 15 min
  • Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for 35 min longer or until set.
  • Enjoy!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Random Friday Facts

Or perhaps I should call this Random Saturday Facts?


1.  I often pass a car with the license plate "DRM2DNC."  I'm sure it's supposed to say "Dream to Dance," but I always read it as "Drum to Dunce.


2.  Lack of professionalism really irks me.


3.  I still watch Grey's Anatomy.  I love Christina & Owen and thought they were done screwing with Meredith and Derek.  Ugh.


4.  Every once in a while I have doubts about going through teacher training for two reasons: a) my schedule is absolutely insane and I feel like I never get to breath and b) I wonder if "knowing too much" or teaching  yoga will ruin it for me.  I really don't want that to happen.


5.  I miss riding my bike.  I need to go for a ride soon.


6.  Three times this week, I've gotten halfway through writing a post for the next day one night... only to fall asleep and not have time to finish writing it at a reasonable hour the next day.  (It happened to this post twice.)


7.  I love pumpkin and can't wait to bake with it soon.


8.  All of my nails are long and pretty right now (although not manicured or polished.)  I am expecting half of them to break any day.


9.  I was scared to try protein powder, but I've had protein shakes almost every day this week and I really like it.  I don't even taste the fake sugar in it (which is highly unusual.)


10.  We had a company come over to give us a quote on a waterproofing system.  The representative clearly loved her company and believed in their product.  It was a great pitch.  And I would 100% recommend them because, after inspecting our basement and cutting into our drywall, they told us NOT to spend upwards of $10,000 on their system right now--because they didn't see evidence that our flooding was anything more than a fluke because of the 28" of rain from Tropical Storm Lee.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

All I Really Want Is Girls

I was aiming for Beastie Boys lyrics, but it will be interesting to see what kind of Google searches lead to my blog in the next few days.


Anyway.


I've been thinking for the past few days about all of the awesome women in my life.  Some have known me since I was a teenager, and others for just a few months.  I don't even necessarily have photos of all of them.  Some of the friendships have drifted in the past months or years--either due to distance or changes in circumstances or the fact that we're too "busy" to call or get together regularly--but I think about them all the time.  


I laugh/cry/eat/drink/celebrate/commiserate/snark/cook/love/bitch with them.  They've stood by me through the toughest times in my life--with a shoulder to cry on or a tray of ziti or by cleaning out my grandmother's flooded basement the day my grandfather died.  I've done the best I can to be there for them through their moments of joy and sorrow.  


I'm not close with my family, but I know I have these girls to count on.  (And I hope they know they always, ALWAYS have me.)


They're the reason why I want to dance when I hear Cyndi Lauper and why I always tear up a teeny bit when my MP3 player starts playing, "So right away Mary Anne flew in from Atlanta on a red eye midnight flight..." Because I'd do the same for them in a heartbeat, whatever the reason they needed me.  (And also, their abusive significant other would probably also meet the same fate as Earl.)


So, here are just some of my favorite photos of my girls.  (Not all of them, though.  Unfortunately, it's probably not a good  to post those bachelorette party photos for the whole interwebz online... if you know what I mean.)

















I love you all and I need a girls night ASAP.  Who's in?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Roasted Squash Risotto with Fresh Pesto and Roasted Mushrooms!

Two years ago, a group of students at my school started a garden project.  It took them a while to get off of the ground, but this summer they finally built raised beds, planted, and harvested their first crops.  Even though they've only grown for a couple of seasons, the garden has already provided significant amounts of food for local food assistance programs, has won awards for its quality, and is receiving some exciting larger scale recognition. (Unfortunately, in an attempt to somewhat protect my privacy, I can't really brag the way I want to about them!)  


Back on the day of the earthquake, I was in a meeting where the students presented to the school leadership on the progress of the garden.  The students and parents involved brought several vegetables for the teachers to taste, and some to take home.  In everyone's rush to leave after the earthquake, this guy was left behind:



So I decided to give him a good home.  He's a Guatemalan Blue Squash.  When you cut it open, it's got orange flesh--much like an acorn or butternut squash.

I wanted to share this special squash with some other friends at school, so I waited until a day when I had time to prepare it and bring it in to share at a meeting.

On Sunday night, I roasted the squash.  (Process: cut squash in half.  remove seeds.  Cut halves in half and bake on foil-lined cookie sheet for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Allow to cool somewhat.  Slice lengthwise, then crosswise, then remove the cubes.  Use immediately, or store for later use.)  




Because I hold meetings with my team on Tuesdays, I decided to make a bunch of extra risotto when made dinner for Duff Man and I on Monday night so I could bring it to work today.


The cast of characters: 2 c. arborio rice, 1 large Guatemalan Blue Squash (in tupperware; 4 c.; acorn or butternut squash would be a good substitute here), baby portabello mushrooms (1-2 c.), onion (large, minced), white wine (1 1/2 c.), vegetable stock (6 c.), butter (2 tbsp), cream cheese (4 oz.), olive oil, garlic, basil, almonds, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.  Note: I used the olive oil, garlic, basil, and almonds to make pesto--but I'll talk about that process in a separate post.

Halve the mushrooms and coat them in olive oil.  Roast the mushrooms at 375 degrees F for about 20 minutes.  You could even do this the night before with the squash.  Just don't do what I did and leave them in the oven (turned off) once they're done, or they'll wither to near nothingness (although they'll have great, meaty texture!)



Heat oil in a large, deep pan or dutch oven and saute the minced onion over medium-high heat for a few minutes.  


Once the onions are soft, add the arborio rice and toast it in the pan for another minute or two.


Turn the flame off, add the wine (safety first!), then turn the heat back on to medium.  Give the rice a good stir and then let it sit and liquor up.


Once the rice has absorbed the wine, add about two cups of vegetable stock.  Give it a good stir, then leave it alone for about 5-7 minutes.  (Contrary to popular believe, you do NOT need to constantly stir risotto.  In fact, constant stirring can break up the grains too much.)  



Once the stock has absorbed, add some more stock, give it a stir, and let it sit.  Add some salt and pepper to taste.  (It's always important to season as you go.)


After the second addition, add the squash to the mix with the remaining stock.  Cook until the rice is al dente (still has a good "bite," without being crunchy in the center.)  The risotto should still be a little bit loose--so don't cook all of the liquid out of it!  



Once the rice is tender, add the cream cheese (or mascarpone if you're feeling fancy) and the butter and stir them into the mix.  Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.  Once the cheese and butter have melted in, add a heap of pesto and some fresh grated parmesan cheese and stir until combined.  


Serve a heap of risotto on the plate.  Top with roasted mushrooms and some more fresh grated parmesan.

So delicious that Duff Man the carnivore went back for a SECOND helping of this meatless meal!


I hope you enjoy this recipe (and that my co-workers enjoy it during our meeting as well!)  Happy eating!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Long Time, No Post

I can't believe it's been over a week since I've posted.  I've had a thousand post ideas come through my head, but zero time to write them down.  I really need to work on getting ahead on my posting so I have a queue for weeks like that.  


It's pretty late, and I'm really posting this mostly because I promised I'd post something today, so here's a run-down of the last week:
  • Had a crazy week at work for a thousand reasons.
  • Hosted (pretty successfully, I think) a big event that had about 400 attendees.
  • Finished drying out the basement and had the carpet re-installed.  Basically fired our restoration company because they were pretty unresponsive. (Still need to call them to negotiate our final bill though.)  Carpets are getting cleaned tomorrow and then we can finally start putting the basement back together.  Unfortunately, we'll have some repainting to do before we can call it complete.
  • Learned a LOT about anatomy in yoga teacher training.  My brain was hurting by the end, we learned so much.  I kept thinking about my friends who have been injured in the past and how the ways they finally resolved their issues seem to make total sense.
  • Learned that I tend to pronate my left foot and supinate my right foot.  Yeah, I know.  Bizarre.  (Other weird thing I haven't figured out yet: if I pronate my left foot, pain in the inside of my left knee would make sense; but I tend to have pain towards the outside of my knee.   I just don't get it.)  I also tend to hunch forward and need to lift "up and over" from my back ribs (by the bra line) and pull my shoulders back to get into proper alignment.  Truly fascinating stuff.   
  • Kicked ass in fantasy football.  Currently leading the league--which is comprised of Duff Man and his buddies.  We'll see how long it lasts, but I'm happy to be at the top for the moment!
  • Went a little nuts at the Farmer's Market on Sunday.  I'm SO happy it's time for hoodie weather and pumpkins, and I can't wait to have time to make pumpkin pie!  
This week's bounty: tamales (!), home made salsa, tortilla chips, basil, cilantro, parsley, leeks, pumpkin, lettuce, cauliflower, macintosh apples, red bell pepper, sweet banana peppers, and onions.  I can't wait to play with it all!
(Aside: I tried to tag this post "Farmer's Market" and I'm not allowed to use an apostrophe in a tag.  Who makes up these stupid rules?!)




I have to admit that I've been a miserable failure in accomplishing my goals for the month.  I only got about 5 hours of sleep each night last week (although I caught up over the weekend.)  And I still pack a nice breakfast and lunch and never seem to make myself eat it.  I need to take smaller bites off of this goal--because it's a hard one.  With yoga teacher training for so long, the 2-workouts-per-week thing has still been pretty easy.

Ok, with that, I think I'm done for the night.  Time for bed pretty soon.  I promise to not be such a stranger this week!



Friday, September 9, 2011

Random Friday Facts

Hope everyone out there is having a drier end to the week than I am... I'm headed home to wet-vac the basement before heading to Yoga Teacher Training in a bit!

  1. I was the co-captain/captain of my high school forensics team for three years.  (Forensics = competetive speech, not dead bodies.)
  2. One of my sixth graders asked me to marry him this week.  lol.  Another gave me a hug on his way out of class today.  I'm definitely feeling the love from this new class!
  3. Despite the insanity of the week, I've been able to stay positive.  Hooray!
  4. I'm not doing well meeting my September goals (eat breakfast and lunch, get to bed before 11pm) at ALL right now.
  5. I don't really have a favorite color, but I'm rather partial to red, purple, and  yellow.  But not all at the same time.
  6. I almost always pick up purple props (bolster, blanket, block) when I need them for the yoga studio.  Also, I'm partial to one particular type of foam block (although there are only a few of them at the studio.)  Most other people probably don't even notice the difference.
  7. I'm a week into school, and I already feel really behind in some things.
  8. I desperately need a nap.
  9. Most of my yoga clothes are Target's Champion C9 line.  I'm intrigued by Lululemon, but I don't want to pay the price for the clothes. 
  10. I secretly love Miley Cyrus' "See You Again."  I openly despise "The Climb."

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flooded Basement, Furry Panic, and Gratitude.

Once again, my planned post has been foiled by a shit-ton of rain life.  Ain't that the way it always happens?


Today's post was supposed to be about my dinner with Katie at America Eats Tavern.  I will write about it (eventually), but for now you'll have to drool over her photos  read her post about it here


As you may have heard, the Northeastern United States is getting drenched by a bad combination of Tropical Storm Lee and the outskirts (and weather patterns) from Hurricane Katia. 


Estimated rainfall totals in the area, through Friday.
Last night, Duff Man got home and texted me to tell me that the basement had flooded.  This wasn't too much of a surprise; our French drain at the back of the house backs up sometimes and lets some water in underneath the door to the backyard.


This was so much worse than it had ever been.  Water permeated through our entire 1000-ish square foot basement; our basement that is 80% covered in carpet.  Duff Man worked on it for a few hours, and I helped him for a while... but pretty soon after I got home, I realized that we were in over our heads.  There was no way that we would be able to get all of the carpet sufficiently dried to prevent mold and mildew growth.


At about 8:00pm, I threw in the towel for both of us and looked up a flood remediation company on Angie's List.  I'm not going to review the company here (yet), but I have to say that I'm impressed.  They were at my house around 10:15pm, gave us some paperwork to sign, reviewed the situation, and got to work. 


The plan? Pick up all the carpet, discard all of the carpet padding (since there's no way to dry it enough to prevent mold & mildew growth), dry/dehumidify for up to a week, replace drywall/baseboards if necessary, spray with anti-microbial solution, re-install carpet with new pads, patch up walls, and steam clean. 


It ain't gonna be cheap--the fans and dehumidifiers alone cost almost $500 per day.


Here's what the basement looks like now.


Downstairs living area.
Duff Man's office
Downstairs kitchen and rec area
Dining room, now storage facility
Dining room, now storage facility
While I'm certainly not pleased that I essentially had to move a fully-furnished two-bedroom apartment unexpectedly at 11pm, I took it in stride.  (Unlike Duff man, who huffed and puffed and stomped about in anger and frustration for 8 hours.)  Because there was nothing I could do to change the situation, I saw no reason to get worked up over it. 


I've been contemplating gratitude lately, and I think this situation helped me put things in perspective.  No one was injured.  No valuable belongings were damaged.  This is not like the time I had to clean out my grandmother's flooded basement on the day my grandfather passed away.  I don't have a sick child to care for in addition to having to clean out the basement.  (This crossed my mind because I have been admiring the blog of one of the other yoga teacher trainees who is living her life and completing her training WHILE while caring for her two sons--one of whom has cerebral palsy.) 


If I must be honest, this flood may have been a little bit of a blessing in disguise.  In moving all of our belongings, I realize that we simply have a lot of "stuff"--and that we don't need a lot of it.  I am going to take this opportunity to throw away, sell, donate, and/or organize belongings that have been sitting in boxes and tucked into closets for the two years we've lived in our house.  I also told Duff Man that this would be a great opportunity to paint his office if he's so inclined; the carpet's picked up and everything has been moved out of the room already.  Why not?


So, even as I used the shop vac to vacuum and empty and vacuum and empty and vacuum and empty and vacuum and empty more water from the basement every 5 minutes for 2 hours after the restoration company left at midnight...


...and even as I realized, after coming back from a 10-minute break to notice that all the water I'd emptied had come right back...


...and even as I concluded that the water was not coming in from the french drain in the back of the house, but was seeping in from the ground at the front of the house...


...and even as I gave up for the night and went to bed around 2am...


I thought about how grateful I am for the life that I get to live every day.  Even when it turns out unexpectedly.


The basement?  Eh, it's just stuff.  It will be okay.  If a basement full of water is the biggest of my concerns, then I don't have much to worry about.


And I might not have even written this post (okay, that's a lie), except then...


...THEN...


Duff Man woke me up at 5:40am with panic in his voice.


He got up around 5:15am to bail the french drain, he let the dogs out back.  When he went to let them back in, they didn't come at his call--the call that they know always signals breakfast.


The restoration company hadn't closed our gate when they left.  The dogs were gone...had probably been gone for 20-30 minutes... and were nowhere in sight.


THAT is the first moment I felt panicked and out of control.  We went outside and called their names.  I drove around the neighborhood calling for them.  I stopped a jogger and described the dogs to him with tears rolling down my face.  I stopped the car to write posts to the city Facebook and Twitter pages asking for help. 


All kinds of bad scenarios went through my head.  What if they were picked up by animal control?  What if someone took them?  What if they got hit by a car?? 


I don't know what I'd do if I lost my puppies.


And, fortunately, I didn't have to learn.  Duff Man found the furry bastards sweethearts a couple of blocks in the OTHER direction away from our house.  They ran up to him and wagged their tails and wanted belly rubs.  He put their leashes on them and took them home.


And so, I learned my final lesson from this experience for today.  My relationships--even with my pets--matter way more than the stuff that clutters up the basement. 


And life is soggy, but still good.


(P.S. One more thing: I wanted to add that I am IMMENSELY grateful for all of my friends who have contacted me to send happy thoughts and offer help and simply ask how we're doing.  There's not much we can do until the rain dries up, but I'm so glad to have all of you in my life.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Red Pepper & Tomato Braised Short Ribs with Farfalle Pasta

A couple of weeks ago, Duff Man and I were passing through Woodbridge on a Sunday afternoon... so I convinced him that we should stop there to do our weekly grocery shopping.  Muahahaha!


While we were there, I picked up some short ribs.  It had only been about a week since I had been to Dino for Duff Man's birthday and I was feeling rather inspired. After I got home, though, I realized the package was too small (that's not what she said) to make it worth cooking in the crock pot.  I put them in the freezer until I could figure out what I wanted to do with them.  


This past Sunday while I was at the Farmer's Market, I stopped by the Smith Meadows ("Grass-fed Meats and Home-Cooked Foods" table and noticed that short ribs were only $5.99/lb--$2 CHEAPER than the grocery store.  Win!  I picked up a pack and decided to make them for dinner yesterday.


I did all of the prep work on Monday Night.




 The cast of characters:


Step 1: Cut a hole in a box.  No wait, that's not this recipe.
Get your Dutch oven screaming hot.  Add some olive oil.  Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and sear the bejeezus out of them.  Be sure to get all sides (1-2 minutes per side.)

Step 2: Remove the short ribs from the pan and set them aside.  Add a diced red onion and a couple of cloves of minced garlic.  Saute until it smells amazing.


Step 3: Deglaze the pan with red wine.  Maybe a cup or so?  (Note: It's a god idea shut the flame off before adding alcohol to the pan.  Eyebrows are cool.)  Use a wooden spoon to scrape all of the delicious bits off of the bottom of the pan.

Step 4: Add a roughly chopped tomato and a red pepper to the mix.


Step...?  I give up.  I'm a conductor, I don't count past four.
Add 2 cups of beef broth and a squeeze of dijon mustard to the pot.  Now, if this had been a Saturday or a Sunday, I would have added the beef back to the pot, covered it up, and put it in a 275°F oven for 5-6 hours.  

Because it was a weekday meal, I added the short ribs to my crock pot instead. 


Then I poured the delicious sauce over top of it.  You want the meat almost entirely covered.  Add some red wine and/or beef broth if you need to.  At this stage, I put covered the pot and put it into the refrigerator overnight.  When I got up in the morning, I plugged in the slow cooker and cooked this bad boy on low for about 8 hours.


When I came home, it looked like this.  Smelled amazing, but looked a little less appetizing.


I picked up the pieces of beef and put them aside in a bowl.  Then I used a slotted spoon to put all of the vegetables in the food processor.


The liquid went into my fat strainer.  I suppose I could have spooned it off, but this was ultimately a little bit easier.  I didn't get a picture, but once the fat had separated, I poured the sauce (except for the fat) into the food processor and whizzed it all up.  Then I added a bunch of fresh thyme, salt, and pepper.


I shredded the beef (which simply fell apart at this point) and cooked some farfalle [not pictured]


The pasta went into a bowl.  I topped it with the beef and then some of the delicious sauce.


The end result was fabulous.  The only issue I had was that the sauce itself was a little thin, so I tossed the sauce in a pan and let it reduce for a while before I added it to the container with the leftovers.

This is a perfect, hearty, flavorful, relatively easy meal that was perfect antidote for today's cool, rainy weather.  If I had all the time in the world, I might have attempted to make some home made pappardelle instead of dried farfalle.  Fresh pasta is definitely on my list of culinary experiments in the future!


Slow-Cooker Red Pepper & Tomato Braised Short Ribs

3-4 lbs short ribs
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
1 large tomato (or 2 medium ones), coarsely chopped
1 1/2 T. dijon mustard  (I didn't measure, this is just a guess.)
1 cup red wine (again, I didn't measure, I just poured)
2 cups of beef broth (I did measure this.)
salt & pepper
fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems and minced
pasta (prepared to your liking.  I used farfalle, but penne or pappardelle would also be good.)

Heat a pan to screaming hot.  Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, sear the short ribs on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side.  Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan and saute (1-2 minutes) until soft.  Add the red wine to the pan and deglaze (use a wooden spoon to scrape all of the tasty brown bits off the bottom of the pan.)  Add the peppers, tomatoes, mustard, and beef broth, stirring until the mustard is incorporated.

At this point, you could add the short ribs back into the pan, cover it with a heavy, tight-fitting lid, and let it braise in the oven at 275°F for 5-6 hours.   OR you could put the meat and the sauce into a slow cooker, ensuring that the meat was covered (or nearly covered) by the liquid, adding more wine or broth as necessary.  

The mixture could also be refrigerated at this point.  When ready, cook in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours.

Once the short ribs have finished braising, remove them from the pot, shred with two forks, and set aside.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop the vegetables out of the pot and put them into the bowl of a food processor.  Pour the remaining liquid into a fat separator.  Allow it to sit for a few minutes to separate the fat.  Pour the braising liquid (sans fat) in with the cooked vegetables and puree. Add some thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.  (Note: If you still have time to kill before dinner, it would be a great idea to reduce the sauce in a pot on the stove to let it thicken up a bit.)

To serve:  Add hot pasta to your serving dish.  Top with beef and sauce.  Enjoy with a glass of wine (preferably the same one that you added to the sauce in the first place!)