Friday, July 18, 2014

Super Simple Spaghetti Sauce - Quick and Easy

Even the best planned dinners can sometimes go awry.  The other day Dad took the kids to the public pool to spend the day. I love pool days! The house is nice and quiet and I get to catch up on a few things without having all my adorable children under foot. But the thing about pool days, is that you can guarantee that everyone is going to come home Starving! And starving kids (or even kids who think they are starving are not happy - being hungry means we have lots of fights and squabbles and my day of serenity and accomplishment goes out the window) 

So I try and have dinner planned and if I am really on top of things, then ready to go when everyone gets home from the pool.  So this week, on pool day, I decided for my own sanity that we would have spaghetti for dinner. 

I keep spaghetti as my "go-to" pantry dinner. You can have it on the table in just a little bit more time than it takes to boil water.  Everyone at my house eats it, and all I have to do is boil some pasta and open a few jars.  Sometimes we get a little fancy and add some frozen meatballs or slice up a loaf of the 1$ french bread from the local super market. 

So I had my spaghetti dinner planned, sent the family off to play at the pool, put the baby down for nap and started to enjoy a day all to myself.  The time passed quickly (as time that you get to yourself often does) and it was soon time to start dinner - this is where the story gets kinda scary!  There was not a can of red spaghetti sauce in the house - Not one! 

Now, I am against being a short order cook, but I also believe in not fighting battles with your kids that you don't need to. I have a even 50/50 split in my household or red-sauce eaters and white-sauce eaters. And the two do Not eat the others sauce. So I needed to figure out something and quick or I wasn't going to be able to make spaghetti for dinner and I was going to be facing no dinner in sight and starving kids. 

I thought of how well the homemade pizza went and decided to try and make my own. There were lots of recipes out there that involve browning several types of meat and simmering for hours and hours. I didn't have that kind of time. And I certainly didn't have that kind of ingredients on hand. 

So I set out to whip up my own. This was going to be a wild experience brought on by the fear of hungry swimmers.

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Ro-Tel)
2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons sugar (please adjust to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (please adjust to your taste)

I added both the butter and olive oil to a pan and added the garlic to cook. I think adding both butter and olive oil really creates an amazing flavor. If you are concerned, feel free to just use the olive oil (but don't double it - you shouldn't need to)

I only had cans of tomato sauce, no crushed tomatoes and no tomato paste. I did however have a can of tomatoes with green chilies (Ro-Tel). I was a little worried that adding it would make it taste less "Italian" but the subtle heat and the depth of flavor that the tomatoes and chilies added was amazing. I think it will be my "secret" ingredient from now on.  

Once I had the tomato products added in with the cooked garlic, I added the spices. To be honest, I just dumped and guess-timated the amount of the spices. And taste-tested as I went along until I got something that I felt was good.

I added what I had leftover in the freezer for frozen meatballs. It wasn't enough to actually call it "spaghetti and meatballs", but each of the kids got to eat one in their dish.

I only simmered it long enough for the pasta to cook and for me to serve it up. I know that isn't very long in the usual process of simmering homemade spaghetti sauce on the stove top. But I am extremely happy with how this turned out.

I have been trying all sorts of different brands of Spaghetti Sauce looking for one that is really amazing. (Because I happen to be one of the red-sauce eaters) But I haven't found one that I am in love with and can't live without yet.  I think that in making my own sauce, I may have just discovered that the very best kind is the kind that I make on my own.

And the kids loved it too! If this face doesn't just say, "I love spaghetti", I just don't know what it does say. Perhaps "My mom lets me get really really dirty during dinner".