An easy bolognese makes pasta night special. Karen Schneider / For the Forecaster

Every once in a while, I allow myself the pleasure of indulging in a substantial bowl of pasta. I usually prepare this bolognese when a grandchild or two is visiting here at the cove. Having these growing, always-hungry children in my care not only gives me an excuse to prepare a hearty supper, but there is an energetic and curious someone on hand to be the sous chef and chop the veggies for the mirepoix, julienne the herbs, and grate the cheese.

If you don’t have fresh herbs on your kitchen window sill (you should), using a teaspoon each of dried herbs is fine, but tender, fresh herbs are always better.

At this time of year, salad fixings can be quite lackluster, but I’ve discovered the grandkids will always eat green beans. I like the frozen French-style green beans from Trader Joe’s, so I stock up whenever I go to the big city. “Italianizing” them with herbs, cheese, and bread crumbs makes this veggie side dish quite a bit more appealing for everyone.

And since the grandchildren love to bake, we make sure there’s time for that. With their rigorous basketball schedules, we couldn’t fit in making Raspberry Snow Bars for the holidays, so we made a batch of this sweet family favorite the other day to snack on while we watched a movie in the family room. It was the best Saturday night I’ve had in a while.

You just can’t beat having a full tummy then snuggling with your besties while bingeing on “Despicable Me.”

Life is good here at the cove, even though it’s mid-January.

Pasta Bolognese

1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, coarsely chopped

1 pound ground beef

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped

8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Leaves from 3 sprigs oregano

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese

1 pound rigatoni, cooked al dente

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots and sauté until everything is very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the ground beef, stirring frequently to break up the meat and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Drain off the fat. Add tomatoes, wine and herbs, cooking over low heat until sauce thickens and the wine is cooked off, about 1 hour. Remove bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Stir into pasta and finish with the cheese. Yield: 6 servings

Italianized Green Beans

3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoon garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoons oregano
3/4 teaspoon basil
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 (24-ounce) bag frozen thin green beans
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, herbs, bread crumbs and cheese. Stir to coat and sauté over medium heat until the bread crumbs start to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, steam green beans according to package directions. Add beans to the skillet and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Yield: 6 servings

Raspberry Snow Bars

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt with an electric mixer. Blend in almond extract and egg yolks. Mix in flour. Pat dough into a buttered 9×13-inch glass baking pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread hot crust with preserves and top with coconut.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread over coconut and bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares with a knife dipped in hot water. Yield: 2 dozen bars

Comments are not available on this story.