Sunday, January 5, 2014


This recipe is from Mr. Picky Pants' mom.  This is how she makes her spaghetti and I think it's a great way to "doctor" some jarred pasta sauce into a more robust meal.  You can use any brand of pasta sauce you like.  Just make sure it's meat-free since you're adding meat.  You can add any veggies you like or omit whatever you don't.  I like that I can alter this depending on what I have on hand and it usually tastes about the same.

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion,  diced
1 - 2 cloves garlic,  minced
1 small green pepper,  diced
1 T. Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1 can stewed tomatoes, diced (you can also use just diced tomatoes)
1 jar pasta sauce (marinara)
2 good handfuls of dried Spaghetti noodles

Here's how to pull it all together:

Brown ground beef until no longer pink.

While the beef is browning, dice up your onion and pepper.  I used red pepper since that's what I had.  The color of the pepper tends to only affect the sweetness.  Green pepper is a bit stronger and a little more bitter than red which is sweeter.  Use whatever peppers you have on hand.

**Tip**  You can freeze peppers for use in recipes like this.  Just cut in half and remove the seeds/stem, put in a resealable bag, and toss in the freezer for the next recipe. 

Once the meat is browned, it's up to you if you want to drain it.  If you have really lean beef, you probably don't need to.  See how much fat has accumulated and make the call for yourself and your family.  We don't normally drain this unless I'm using less than 85% fat.

Add your onion and peppers and the minced garlic.  Stir to combine and get those veggies cooking.

Add your tomatoes.  The original recipe calls for stewed tomatoes which contain onions, celery, and bell peppers.  Since these are already present in this recipe, it's not vital that you use stewed tomatoes.  Additionally, they only come as whole tomatoes which requires you to dice them up.  I'm all about cutting steps, so I've taken to using diced tomatoes.  I sometimes use the seasoned diced tomatoes with oregano, garlic, whatever I have.

Drain the juice into the meat mixture when you add the tomatoes.

Add all your seasonings at this point.  Mix it all together to combine.

Now add your pasta sauce.

Stir it all together and let it simmer for a bit to let the flavors combine. 

Cook your dried spaghetti noodles in boiling water according to the package instructions.  We use about two good handfuls of noodles for this recipe. 

Add the cooked, drained spaghetti noodles to the sauce and let simmer on the stove for about 10-15 minutes or longer.  Cover with a lid to prevent splattering.  

This is even better the next day, so don't stress about making too much.  It's even better if you make it in the morning and put it in the fridge and then pull it out and heat it up on the stove for dinner.  Yum!

The Verdict:

Mr.  Picky Pants loves this.  Since he grew up with it, it's one of his comfort foods.  He's even capable of making this himself (though it's a bit of a production).  This is definitely something we have often.  Overall it's a pretty healthy recipe...until you eat an entire loaf of garlic bread yourself.  But we don't talk about that.  Enjoy!