I am a foodie. Can’t help it, I really enjoy food. Years ago when I had children, I experienced a phenomenon facing most American families: Mom + kids = fewer hours in the day. My choice was clear, either cave to the tasteless traditions of ‘kid food’, the quick boxed mac & cheese and frozen chicken nuggets fare many busy families with children survive on these days, or find a way to evolve my own favorite recipes into ‘quick fix’ versions. I voted in favor of flavor. There were many hits and many more misses, but this one was definitely a hit. The next time you find yourself short on time but hungry for a real meal, give this pasta sauce a try:
1 lb. ground beef (not too lean)
1 tbsp. crushed garlic
1/3 cup diced onion
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
1 can tomato sauce 28oz
1 can petite diced tomatoes 14.5oz
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 lb. favorite pasta
Keep jar of crushed garlic in your refrigerator, tub of pre-diced onion in your freezer. These convenience items are competitively priced with whole garlic cloves and onions, and the time you save mincing and dicing is priceless!
Melt butter over medium low heat in large skillet. Add olive oil, mix to combine. Add crushed garlic, diced onion. Do not brown butter or garlic, heat just until onion begins to become translucent. Add crumbled ground beef. Raise temperature to medium high. Stir to mix through and continue to turn and stir until ground beef is well crumbled and browned through. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano. Stir to mix and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer sauce to combine flavors, 15 minutes should do (simmer longer at lower heat if you have more time). While sauce simmers, drop your pasta into well-salted boiling water. Cook and drain according to package directions. Sauce is now ready to ladle over favorite pasta. 25-30 minutes start to finish, 4-6 servings.
On the evenings you have a few more minutes to spare you can also:
· Combine sauce with cheese of choice and cooked ziti pasta, bake in casserole dish at 375 for 20-25 minutes to heat through for a quick baked ziti
· Add 1 1/2 cup quick cook rice, stuff into cleaned and cored green peppers, bake in casserole dish at 375 until warmed through for tasty stuffed peppers
· Substitute 1/4 tsp oregano for 1/2 -3/4 tsp chili powder and add 3/4 cup cooked macaroni, stir to heat through for a quick chili mac
· Use your imagination. This is a wonderfully flavorful basic sauce. Get creative – whatever tastes good to you!