One thing leads to another and all of the sudden…

[metaslider id=834]

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!!))

5) All jarred pasta sauces are NOT created equal. Use one with limited and simple (i.e. easy to pronounce) ingredients.image

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!

Speedy Old World Pasta Sauce
Serves 8
Hearty and rich - flavor packed! Tastes like it's cooked for days but takes less than an hour.
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr
488 calories
14 g
114 g
32 g
30 g
12 g
318 g
589 g
8 g
1 g
17 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 488
Calories from Fat 290
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 32g
Saturated Fat 12g
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 14g
Cholesterol 114mg
Sodium 589mg
Total Carbohydrates 14g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 8g
Protein 30g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 2 lbs ground beef, browned and drained
  2. 1 lb ground Italian sausage, browned and drained
  3. 1 med sweet onion, diced
  4. 5 med carrots, unpeeled and finely shredded
  5. 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  6. 1 jar pasta sauce
  7. 16 oz tomato sauce
  8. 4 T Italian seasoning blend (or fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, thyme and oregano)
  9. 8 oz red wine, good quality
  10. sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. 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.
  1. Serve over pasta, use to layer lasagna, or cool and freeze for use at a later date.
Food for a Year:
Oh, and did you notice anything missing from my pasta sauce?? Two traditional ingredients in a homemade pasta sauce have been omitted…I did give you a pretty good hint (hah). Omitting a few things and adding something in it’s place makes this a healthy ninja recipe! Tasty AND healthy – a double bonus!!