I was in Seattle this summer for most of July with the girls. When we got back, I went right to work helping my friend plan and cater her son's wedding reception. Four days before the reception, I got a call from my sister telling me my oldest brother passed away. He was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer at the end of July (just days before I came home from my vacation) and we thought he would have more time. Apparently we were wrong.
When I got back to New York from this latest trip to Seattle, we were running low on funds and my husband put me on a pretty strict grocery budget. I'm not used to budgeting! One meal that's very economical and something we all love to eat is spaghetti. If you've never made your own spaghetti sauce, you really should try because it's EASY and usually tastes a whole lot better than what you get in a pre-made jar. Here's what you need.
1 large can tomato puree
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 lb hamburger
2-3 italian sausage links, removed from the casing
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt, pepper, and sugar
extra virgin olive oil
herbs (oregano, marjoram, basil)
When I make my sauce, I let it simmer all day long. This is one of the times I pull out my crock pot because I love for all of the flavors to merry together. You can't get that in an hour or two.
I use tomato puree versus tomato sauce because it's slightly thicker. I don't like watery spaghetti sauce! This helps to cut down on the liquid.
In a skillet, heat a little drizzle of olive oil. Brown the hamburger and sausage and break it into fine pieces by chopping it up with the blade of a spatula. When the meat is almost cooked through, add the garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. When the aroma from the garlic and onion intensifies, dump it all into your crock pot.
Add the tomato puree, diced tomato, some salt, pepper, and about 1/2 tsp sugar. If you don't have fresh herbs, it's okay! I use a lot of herbs to season my sauce so dump in a generous amount of basil and oregano, then a little marjoram. Marjoram is a sister to oregano and has a gentle sweet flavor that is a great compliment to the sauce.
My oldest sister, Ronda, likes to add a splash of burgundy to her spaghetti sauce. I don't normally have burgundy on hand, but if you do, add a little!
Turn your crock pot on and let this cook all day long. Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with some fresh grated parmesan cheese. We love spaghetti with fresh homemade french bread and a vegetable packed garden salad.
(NOTE: I usually have a lot of sauce leftover so I put it in a ziploc and freeze. This way, I have extra sauce for the future for a quick meal, or to make lasagna with.)
Next time you're looking for a cost efficient meal that your whole family will love, don't open a jar. Make this sauce and you'll save on the pocketbook and put smiles on your family's faces!