Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Spaghetti is always a "go to" when feeding a crowd.  It is cheap and an easy "do ahead".  If you don't want to get up Sunday morning and make sauce, this recipe can be made the night before and put in the fridge.  Just simply reheat on low Sunday morning.  We have also made it before and put it in the freezer.  That works great as well!!!
Mom's Spaghetti Sauce
1 tube Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage           
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion
about 2 cups small carrots
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 heaping teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
freshly ground pepper to taste
good pinch of red pepper flakes or to taste
1       small can, 6 ounces, tomato paste 
2  16 ounce can tomato sauce
2 cans 16 ounces, chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
about 3 tablespoons grape jelly
Optional:  2 cups mushrooms, sautéed in butter
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
My sweet mother always made her own spaghetti sauce.  This is a flavor of my youth.  I always keep these ingredients on hand.  It just a bit more effort than opening a jar of sauce but the taste is infinitely better! 

Sauté sausage in oil.  Meanwhile, finely chop onion, carrot and garlic together in food processor.  Add to meat and cook for a few minutes. 
 Add seasonings & stir.
 Stir in tomato paste. 
  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar and jelly.  Simmer on lowest setting for a couple of hours at least, stirring occasionally (or cook on low setting in a crockpot). Offer Parmesan cheese when serving.

Next in  line...Italian Salad.  This salad has pasta in it.  It is not a necessary ingredient to the salad but, a yummy one.
Italian Chopped Salad

2 cups ditalini pasta or tiny shells, cooked & drained
1 pound bacon, fried and crumbled
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
2 hearts romaine, chopped
¼ small head red cabbage, chopped
¼ head iceberg, chopped
1 or 2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 or 3 green onions, chopped

Cook noodles and bacon.  Chop veggies into small pieces. (about the size of the noodles)
 This salad can be prepared but, not tossed until serving.  As seen in the picture I piled the ingredients separately in a bowl.  I covered it with plastic wrap and kept it in the fridge until serving. 
When you are ready to serve, toss together and add favorite Italian Dressing.

Oh, by the way...the little bowl of "nut" looking things in the white bowl are roasted garbanzo beans.  This recipe calls for canned garbanzo beans.  I decided to roast them instead of put them in raw.  It adds a nice little crunch to the salad, sort of like croutons. You might not like them...we do!  They are by far healthier than any crouton.  My kids eat them by the handful's!  
 Drain garbanzo beans, put on cookie sheet, sprinkle with 1 or 2 table spoons of olive oil, roll beans around on pan to spread and even coat the oil.  Add any seasonings you like.  I like garlic salt, pepper, and sea salt.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 min.  When they are done cooking, I take them out and sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on them.   They are also a good little treat with cinnamon and sugar on them.
Last but, not least...focaccia bread.   
(Makes two large focaccia)
1 recipe French bread dough divided in half (before final rising) I posted my recipe for my French bread in an earlier "What's for Sunday Dinner" post.
4 T. garlic olive oil (or more)
salt and pepper
other toppings optional

Coat bottom of two 10” X 15” baking pans with 1 T. each garlic oil.  Press and stretch a dough half to fill 1 pan evenly. (If dough is too elastic, let rest a few minutes and stretch again, repeat as needed).  Cover pans lightly with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Drizzle 3 T. garlic oil over dough.  With your fingers, gently press dough down all over forming dimples in the surface.  Evenly cover dough with topping (a few suggestions below).  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. 
Put on your favorite seasonings and toppings.  I like Italian seasoning, salt, pepper,Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes and then bake.  and basil or rosemary and bake. 

  Endless combinations of flavors will be great on this.  Don’t be afraid to experiment!  Bake at 400 until browned on edges and bottom, about 30 minutes.  (If topping is brown before bread is done, lightly cover with foil for last 10 to 15 min.)  Serve hot, warm or cold! I like this recipe because it is just as good the next day at room temp. It also reheats nicely too.  I can make it the day ahead...NICE!   :]

 If I make it and serve it the following day, I sprinkle a little more fresh cheese and basil and reheat in the oven...NO ONE WILL KNOW...the best part is your house will smell like fresh made bread! 

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