comfort food: spaghetti sauce

I don't know if it's the season changing or what, but all I have been craving lately is comfort. Friends and family are such huge proponents of comfort, but when your family is half way across the states and your friends have their own lives to manage, there are times when you need to comfort yourself. My main sources of comfort are...

  • Curling up on the couch with a blanket and too many pillows (so cliche, I know!)
  • Good red wine (and channeling Olivia Pope while I drink it).
  • Listening to the cars drive by on 53rd (sans horns). Sometimes a horse drawn carriage is thrown in to mix it up.
  • Watching too much TV, but somehow it still never seems enough.
  • The pipes in my apartment turning on (this is definitely a love-hate relationship, but when they turn on any other time than 6 AM it leans to the love side).
  • Spaghetti

Since I can't share any of the above with you, I thought I'd share how you can make my spaghetti sauce, if you find yourself in need of some comfort.

My dad used to make batches of spaghetti sauce, as if we were to be barricaded in our house during the winter. I remember it was always a big production, producing at least 4 large freezer Ziploc bags full of sauce. Keep in mind, each bag had to feed six people, so he really was cooking for a small army.

In high school I learned another spaghetti sauce recipe from my parent's friends, The Burnham's (Janeen specifically, as I don't think Jim was ever allowed to cook in the kitchen). Between Janeen's recipe and my dad's, they were basically the same. Except Janeen put brown sugar in her recipe to help "sweeten the acid taste of the tomatoes". This was before I liked eating tomatoes plain, so I wasn't completely aware of tomatoes being acidic. But, I loved this little added ingredient.

So, you could say this recipe is a hybrid of my Dad and Janeen. One could say it's the Schwams Spaghetti Recipe, or the Burnabe's Spaghetti Recipe. You can decide :)


Ingredients (this will make enough to freeze 3-4 normal Ziploc bags full):

  • 2 jars of your favorite red sauce
  • Package of cherry tomatoes (you can use canned diced tomatoes too, your preference)
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (depends on preference)
  • Generous pinch of Italian seasoning herbs (this can be bought as one spice, or you can pull from others. It includes basil, oregano, sage, savory, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram)
  • 2 Tbls. of brown sugar (not pictured below)
  • 1 lb. of lean ground meat (you can substitute for turkey meat, or no meat)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 lb. of your favorite noodles
spaghetti ingredients
spaghetti ingredients

Directions: I am not a food photographer, or any other photographer actually, so I apologize on the photo quality. Eating was my most important goal here. :)

  1. Dice onions & garlic
  2. In a slightly oiled saute pan, cook over medium heat with the tomatoes. Note: If you are using canned tomatoes, you can add those directly into the sauce.
  3. In a separate large sauce pan, heat up your jars of sauce on high. Once boiling, lower to simmer.
  4. Add brown sugar and stir.

5. Once your onions, garlic and tomatoes are browned (the tomatoes may blister, but that's okay), add to sauce pan. 6. Add a generous pinch of Italian seasoning herbs, and dashes of salt and pepper to sauce pan, cover with lid. 7. In the same saute pan as your onion, garlic and tomato mixture, begin to brown your ground meat (less dishes, people!).


8. Once meat is browned and cooked through, drain grease. 9. Add meat to sauce pan, and cover. 10. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes.


11. Start cooking your noodles to al dente, or as package describes. 12. Once noodles are cooked and drained, combine with sauce and enjoy!


I would recommend not combining all of the sauce with the noodles in the same pan, unless you don't want to freeze any of the sauce.

To unfreeze, simply put the Ziploc bag on a plate in your fridge, and let thaw for 24 hours. For a faster thaw, I usually double my Ziploc bag and put in a bowl of warm water.

This is seriously my favorite sauce! It's great in lasagna, a pasta bake, or you can even get fancy and serve it with some buttered, toasted bread.

Enjoy! xoxo.