Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mom's Spaghetti Sauce

Many people claim to have created "The Best Spaghetti Sauce Ever".  My mom would never say that about her recipe, but her children (including me) are more than willing to stake that claim for her!  Mom jokes about her spaghetti sauce, telling us that it was the product of desperation over the years, as my brothers' appetites grew larger than the standard-sized batch of spaghetti sauce.  Every time I make this sauce, I smile as I remember how high my brothers piled their plates with Mom's spaghetti and sauce.  Oh, and I'm posting this recipe now (finally!) because it's one of our favorite camping meals.  I cook up a batch before we leave and put it in the freezer.  Set out the sauce to thaw in the morning, and at dinnertime, boil a pot of noodles and reheat the sauce (on the stovetop or in the microwave, if you have one)...dinner is served!

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 jar (24-26oz) spaghetti sauce (we like Prego "Flavored With Meat")
1 packet (approximately 1.3oz) spaghetti sauce mix
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste, (or the amount of tomato paste called for on the packet)
2 1/4 cups water (or the amount of water called for on the packet instructions)
1-3 Tbsp sugar, to taste

Cook together the ground beef, onion, and tomato until the ground beef is no longer pink.  Drain all juices and grease from pan.  Add remaining ingredients and cook on medium, stirring occasionally until well blended (about 5 minutes).  Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes, covered or uncovered (see below), stirring occasionally.  Serve over spaghetti noodles, with garlic bread or breadsticks.  Makes enough sauce for 1 1/2 to 2 lbs of noodles, depending on how much sauce you like with your noodles.
Options and Tips
  • I usually have about 1/3 to 1/2 of the sauce left, so I either freeze the remaining sauce for another meal or make baked spaghetti.  Simple Baked Spaghetti:  Mix together any remaining noodles and sauce.  Grease a baking pan (whatever size you need).  Layer half the noodles/sauce mix, and top with shredded cheese of your choice.  Repeat layers.  Sprinkle heavily with Parmesan.  Freeze until you're ready for another spaghetti meal, and then thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter all day.  Bake, covered, 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees.  Uncover at the end of baking time to top with more cheese if desired, and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.
  • To cover or not to cover the simmering sauce?  If you leave it uncovered, you'll have red sauce splatters all over your kitchen.  But if you cover the pan, the sauce gets watery from all the condensation on the lid dripping into the sauce.  My solution has been to cover the pan, and then every time I see a decent amount of condensation on the lid, I take the lid off and dump the condensation into the sink.  Give the sauce a quick stir and re-cover.  Repeat as necessary.  I've seen "splatter guards" which are basically a wire mesh cover for your pan...but I don't have one, so I don't know if those things actually work or not.
  • Add diced green pepper and fresh mushrooms to the sauce if desired.
    This recipe comes from my mom, Mary Kregel

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