Recovering from the holiday madness, and trying to get your house back in order?
Have a New Years resolution in the kitchen?
Compliments of Kassi of Let's Eat Together, here's something to help with your desire to plan ahead, home-cook meals, eat healthy, and/or try a new recipe!!
The Hubs rarely compliments my cooking often.
He always eats my cooking, usually cleaning his plate, and he’s confirmed to me that he does, in fact, like it. He’s not picky, though there are some things - like quinoa, zucchini and meatloaf - that have been put on The Husband Will Not Eat List. But he really never gushes that this is soooo good.
As a newlywed, it bothered me. I love to cook and am generally regarded as a good cook. I’d agonize over what dish to prepare that would compel him to shout to the heavens that this was the best I’ve ever had!
One night I made this marinara sauce. After dinner, with fingers crossed, I asked what he thought of it, to which he responded, it tasted like Prego.
One of the best compliments he’s given my cooking, to date.
As a rancher, food is merely a fuel source to keep him going, not an experience to savor. We’re different in that regard. Long story short, I knew this recipe was a winner. After you try it, I think you’ll agree.
This is a BIG batch, another reason why I love it. You can fill 3 quart freezer bags (with 3 cups each). Plus, it’s versatile, as you’ll see in the cooking method. Spaghetti is just the beginning, this sauce could be used in chicken parm, lasagna roll ups, sausage tortellini, and that’s just the beginning. Start by pulling out all the ingredients:
1 c finely chopped onions
2 T minced garlic (roughly 4 cloves)
2 small cans tomato paste
2 cans whole tomatoes, with juice OR crushed tomatoes. I use whole tomatoes and then buzz through it with an immersion blender in the pot.
3-4 T sugar (depending on your preference, this cuts the tomato’s acidity)
2 c water
4 t instant beef bouillon granules
2 1/2 t dried oregano
1 ½ t dried basil
2 bay leaves
½ t salt & pepper as preferred
Here’s where you have some choices.1. You can throw it all into a crock pot set on the lowest setting and let it go for 4-8 hours, stirring occasionally if you’re around. Check the seasoning and add salt, pepper and use an immersion blender to break up larger tomato chunks.
2. You can cook it on the stovetop for two hours, simmering on low. Start in a heavy pot with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the onions until opaque. Add the garlic, stirring for a couple minutes, followed by the tomato paste just until it loosens up. Then the rest of the ingredients are added and combined. Set the heat to low and stir a couple of times while you watch a Fixer Upper marathon on HGTV.
3. You can simmer it for about 30 minutes on the stove, store it in the fridge to use within the week, and heat it up in the crock pot on a busy day. Use crushed tomatoes if you go this route.
Ok, so you’ve got the sauce ready. Here’s the most important part. Seriously. Don’t skip it.
Grab a coffee mug and dip out ¾ cup of pasta water before you drain off your pasta, if you’re making spaghetti. Stir it into the sauce and let it bubble together why you finish draining the pasta. If you’re using the marinara in another recipe like lasagna, it’s good to go without pasta water, so don’t worry.
Maybe you have spaghetti nights a lot at your house. Consider the following ways to change it up:
-Use different shaped pasta, or veggie pasta
-Stir in 4 oz cream cheese
-Stir in extra bacon from this morning’s breakfast. Better yet: add bacon & cream cheese together, but you didn’t hear it from me.
-Stir in cooked, ground sausage
-Stir in shredded chicken
-Add a can of drained and rinsed white beans
-Wilt in some spinach
-Add mushrooms during the cooking process
Mmmm. And I can do it in the crock pot while at work all day..? Add it to the meal plan!!
Be sure to follow Kassi on Instagram at Let's Eat Together for more ideas, recipes, and tips.