One thing leads to another and all of the sudden…
A little over a week ago, I began preparing meals for our Spring Break trip. I describe some of those steps here and here. We had done our research and knew eating out would be too hard after skiing all day and I guessed we would be getting back to the cabin hungry and tired. I imagined the kids would be starving and out of patience and that I would be sore, bruised and have a broken leg and wouldn’t feel like cooking anything. I was exactly right about everything — except the broken leg ((praise!!)).
An important part of speed cooking is planning ahead. I knew I would need 4 meals and they must be quick, simple and tasty. I picked the kid’s most favorite meals: tacos, spaghetti, Hobo Dinners and breakfast for dinner. Making the taco meat and spaghetti sauce ahead allowed me feed the hungry herd quickly so I could lay my sore & bruised self down ASAP ((haha)). I will share my taco meat recipe in an upcoming post, I love it so much– no “Old El Paso” for this girl!
Over the years, I have figured out a few tricks that easily transform jarred pasta sauce into something out of Mama Mia’s kitchen:
1) Do not pre-season meat.
2) Use a combination of ground Italian sausage and lean ground beef.
3) After removing browned meat from skillet & allowing it to drain, use the same skillet to cook onions, garlic & carrots.
4) Finely grated carrots add a wonderful richness and sweetness — without adding sugar and oil. ((and pack the sauce with extra vitamins!!))
6) Fresh herbs are like magic if you have them, if not a specialty blend of Italian seasonings from your nearest Italian grocer will work well.
7) If there ever was a time to cook with a very good red wine…now is the time.
By following these few steps, one thing leads to another and another and all of a sudden you have a DeLiCiOuS pasta sauce in your kitchen!
- 2 lbs ground beef, browned and drained
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage, browned and drained
- 1 med sweet onion, diced
- 5 med carrots, unpeeled and finely shredded
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 jar pasta sauce
- 16 oz tomato sauce
- 4 T Italian seasoning blend (or fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, thyme and oregano)
- 8 oz red wine, good quality
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Once meats are browned, in the same large, deep skillet add onions and carrots. Cook for approximately 5 min, until softened. Add garlic and cook for 3-5 more minutes, stirring to keep garlic from burning. Add jarred pasta sauce, tomato sauce, seasoning blend (or chopped fresh herbs) and red wine. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, allowing flavors to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 30 more minutes or longer if you have time. Serve.
- Serve over pasta, use to layer lasagna, or cool and freeze for use at a later date.