Slow Cooker (Spaghetti and) Meat Sauce

My Girlies love any and all pasta dishes and this meat sauce is a favorite.

I adapted this recipe from my Grandma’s spaghetti and meatballs recipe.  Why?  Because my Grandma was the b-e-s-t cook.  Because sometimes I don’t have the time to (read with an Italian accent) maka da meatballs.  Because it’s super duper easy and tasty, too.

I throw everything into the slow cooker and leave it alone. It’s perfect for those times when I’m running around like a crazy momma all day and I know I don’t have the time energy desire to cook a complicated dinner.

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 lb. ground beef, browned and grease drained
  2. 2 28oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  3. 2 15oz. cans of tomato sauce
  4. 1 6oz. can of tomato paste
  5. 12oz of water
  6. 1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  7. 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  8. 1 tsp. dried thyme
  9. 2 tsp. salt
  10. 1 tsp. pepper
  11. 4 cloves garlic, minced

This is so easy and delicious, you’re going to skip around the block.  I promise.  Be sure to shout woohoo while you’re skipping.  It’s more fun that way.

Throw all the ingredients into the slower cooker.

Stir to mix it up.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  That’s it.

Done.

Can you stand it?

Pinch yourself.

I know.  It’s unbelievable.

When you’re ready to eat dinner, cook some of your favorite pasta and top it with the meat sauce and a little parmesan cheese. D-E-L-I-S-H!!

Add a little garden salad, some garlic bread and some wine for you and milk for the kids and you have a yummy dinner that seems like you slaved in the kitchen all day.

And you didn’t.  Shhhh…. I won’t tell.

Buon Appetito!

Get Well Pot Roast Soup

DSC03212The weather today can only be called Y-U-C-K-Y. Lots of snow and sleet and wind. Even our dog Lucy won’t go outside and she loves playing outside. After I open the door and she gets a blast of snow and wind in her face, she changes her mind and walks away. I’m right there with ya. I’m perfectly happy to look out the window at the blustery weather, while in my warm, cozy kitchen.

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Last week I made pot roast with all the fixin’s. You gotta love a pot roast made in the slow cooker. I do. But that’s a story for another day. Of course, we have half a pot roast left. I always struggle with what the heck do I do with this leftover pot roast? And it sits in the fridge until I figure something out.

Well Little Miss C has a cold. Not a big deal, just some sniffles. Then Mr. Rosey emails me to say that he doesn’t feel well. His muscles ache and he feels terrible. Two sickys in one house means grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for dinner. I used Paula Dean’s pot roast soup recipe as a base and tweaked it to suit my fancy.  Don’t you love it when tweak and fancy are in the same sentence?  Yeah, me too.  And yes I know I should make chicken noodle soup to help everyone feel better, but I have pot roast.

If I do say so myself, this recipe’s a keeper. Now let’s see if everyone magically feels better tomorrow.  Let’s hope.  Let’s.DSC03224

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
34 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons sherry
2 cups canned low sodium beef broth (or homemade)
2 cups canned low sodium chicken broth (or homemade)
14.5 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
1 cup of frozen corn
1 cup of frozen peas
1 ½ cups leftover pot roast, shredded into large chunks plus any leftover gravy
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions

Rehydrate the mushrooms by boiling a cup of water. Pour the water over the mushrooms and let them steep for 30-45 minutes. Then slice the mushrooms and strain the mushroom water through a fine sieve to collect the dregs. Save the water, not the dregs. Who wants dregs in your soup? Not me.

Heat oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute about 5 minutes. Then add the celery, carrots, mushrooms, and sauté until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and stir until you smell the garlic, for 1 minute. Add sherry and stir up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour in both broths, tomatoes, mushroom water, gravy and meat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes. Add Worcestershire and salt and pepper to taste. I added 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and no salt, because my gravy had plenty of salt from when I cooked the pot roast. Sprinkled with chopped parsley, as a garnish and serve.

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Life Lessons Day 13:: Learn to Cook

Today is one of those blustery, fall days in the midwest.  Just looking out the window, I have goosebumps.  After I get the Girlies off to school, I start through my to do list for the day, which always includes…”What are we having for dinner?”  Many days I already have it planned, like today.  But with the chilly weather, I want some comfort food to eat tonight, so I scratch my original menu and decide to make chicken pot pie.  Yum!

Chicken pot pie is the kind of dish that is full of basic goodness and stuff I always have in the pantry and refrigerator.

  • Roasted chicken or 3 cooked breasts (about 2 cups), shredded
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade – heated
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes (dissolve in chicken stock)
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots (4 carrots)
  • 2 cups of medium-diced celery (4 stalks celery)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup skim milk (can use cream for richer flavor)
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Begin by sauteing the carrots, onions and celery in butter for about 10 minutes.  Once the onion is translucent, dump in the flour and keep stirring over medium heat for 2 minutes so the flour gets cooked.  There’s nothing yuckier than a raw flour flavor. Well…maybe there is, but still cook the flour.  Then pour in the chicken stock, stir until a little thicker and add everything else – seasoning, chicken, milk, parsley, peas.  And it’s done.  Pour into a 9×13 pan or individual dishes.  If you use store-bought chicken broth (like I did today), then back off on the salt and taste it before adding more.

To make my life easier, I prepare the pot pie filling in the morning and refrigerate it until I’m ready to heat it in the oven for dinner.  350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Top it with puff pastry or a biscuit…delish!

Learn to cook good food.  That is today’s life lesson.  As Big Sis M says often “Mom you’re the best cooker.  Right Daddy?”  And of course, Mr. Rosey nods his head yes.  Makes me smile….

Girlies, I will teach you to cook, but if I’m not here then take cooking classes, watch cooking shows, read cookbooks, practice and learn to cook.  You need to eat, so you might as well eat healthy, good home cookin’.  It costs a lot less to make dinner than to go to a restaurant for dinner and your wallet says “thank you”.  As a general rule, anything on the label that Nana couldn’t find in her pantry or refrigerator is not good.  Buy the best ingredients you can afford and grow some veggies, fruits and herbs in a summer garden.  Where possible, buy organic, fresh, non-processed foods.  It’ll cost more than other food choices, but you’ll probably save money in the long run with lower medical bills.  You are what you eat.  Who said that?  Don’t know, but I suppose it’s true, so put good stuff in your belly.

Fiesta Corn

Fiesta Corn is delicious.  I always serve it when I make tacos or fajitas or anything with a Mexican flavor.  It’s an easy side dish and could easily go with any main course though.  I originally got the recipe from here, but modified it to suit our family’s taste buds.  The source recipe is too spicy for my kids. -Continue Reading>

Yummy, Easy, Fast, Healthy Salmon – What else is there?

Well grilled Atlantic salmon definitely ranks as one of my kid’s favorite entree for dinner.  Probably top three.  It’s yummy.  And it’s the easiest thing to make.  And it’s fast.  And it falls under the “super healthy for you” food category.  How can you beat that?  Bring on the grilled salmon. -Continue Reading>