Well, I’m still livin’ in a winter wonderland. Looked the same outside, with the exceptions of no snow falling and a fresh coat of ice over everything. Our street looks like you could ice skate on it…so the dilemma was: what am I cooking today??? I indulged myself with the chicken ‘n dumplins (only baby girl & I ate those…no surprise there!)…so I needed something that would make all of the restless natives happy. SPAGHETTI!!!! There is not an eater picky enough in this house to object to this delightfully easy dish…it is my go-to dinner…anytime of year. Ya know how somethings just scream winter and some summer? Well spaghetti works any day of the year in this house…I make it, no joke, about once a week! My ‘recipe’, if you can call it that, is a conglomeration of several, very special women’s method…with my own twists & tweaks (of course!). I don’t think I have EVER made it the same way twice, so as I go through my method…keep that in mind :).
I start by chopping some onion…I usually buy sweet onions, but any variety will do :).
Chop ’em fine or chunky…we like it somewhere in between…then toss them in a deep pot with some olive oil over medium heat and let them do their thing. While they are working, I brown up some hamburger meat, seasoned with a little salt & pepper.
As the onions become translucent toss in whatever amount of garlic you see fit…I buy big containers already minced (I know, fresh, fresh, fresh is best…but I have 4 little kids runnin’ around!)…don’t burn the garlic! Now toss in a ‘palmful’ (to use Rachel Ray’s method of measurement) of your favorite blend of Italian seasoning (yep, I buy big containers of this, too).
…yep, that much will do! Toss it in the pot…give it a stir…
I let the dried herbs work a minute with the hot oil…I think maybe it helps release the flavors? Maybe I just like the way that sounds…Now time to add in the meat…I have used Italian sausage before, but picky little E wasn’t havin’ that, so now just hamburger for us! Vegans cover your eyes!
Again, I let them work for a bit before adding the crushed tomatoes in. Now, I have found that when I use Italian crushed tomatoes (usually with basil)…darling husband notices the difference…in a really good way. These are a little more cost-wise, but really make a difference in the sauce. I have used several brands of the Italian variety…same results. These are the ones I brought home this week. I haven’t found a special tomato sauce, so I buy whatever is on sale.
I add the crushed tomatoes first, usually 2 for a batch this size (I used 2 pounds of meat) and one of the tomato sauce…I save the 3rd can of crushed so that if I need to ‘stretch’ the sauce in a day or two, I can add that in…already has some seasoning :).
Keep it coming…you know the texture you’re looking for…smooth but chunky, right??? Give it a taste to check the salt & pepper quotient…add accordingly.
That’s what I’m talkin’ about! I love this stuff! Now, you know me…I like to take it one more step…so I use whatever shredded or shred-able cheese I have (I prefer mozzarella, which I had a chunk of tonight…happy dance!)
Mmmmmmm…are you thinking “wonder why she put it in a pie dish”??? Oh yes…keep walking with me…
Oh no she didn’t…Oh YES I DID! Yep, stuck it under the broiler (I used my handy dandy toaster oven tonight, just seems less of an event than firing up the reactors)…leave it until the cheese is all bubbly & browned…Ethan calls it pizza-spaghetti…I call it delish! (thanks, Rachel for another 😉 ). I am currently slightly obsessed with fresh Italian parsley, so I chopped a little and sprinkled it on top…pretty, too!
Now I have to share a funny little story…back in my working days, I had a long day with work & kids’ activities…I thought I would whip up a quickie noodles & sauce (like, from a jar)…E was having none of that…he said “what’s wrong with this spaghetti???” I replied “I had to make the quick kind, we’ve had a busy evening”…he says “Mom, from now on, I only want SLOW spaghetti”…for several months anytime I said we were having spaghetti, he always wanted clarification “is it the slow kind?”…never again have I made the quickie kind…I heart that kid!
Today’s secret revealed…you want your hamburger meat to be that fine texture, rather than big clumps? Use a potato masher while you cook it to squish it around…another handy dandy tip from Aunt ‘Chelle!