an army wife's guide to life

food and homemaking goodness

My Quickest Pasta Sauce Recipe

This is not my grandmother’s sauce.
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And i put that in bold, because, in my family, that’s a huge no no. This is my sauce, the sauce I make when I’m pressed for time or just don’t feel like starting to cook in the morning but I want pasta. This is different. It’s not as tasty because it hasn’t simmered for hours, but it’s still good. And it’s more than good enough to share. This is one of those recipes where you can dress it up however you like, just remember to taste often and season well.

What you’re gonna need:

  • 1 lb (or less) of ground meat. I usually use ground beef, but Italian sausage out of the case is delicious, too.
  • 1 (28 oz) can, crushed tomatoes w/ basil. That was the only kind they have in my grocery store and I haven’t wished there was anything else.
  • 1 (12 oz) can, tomato sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder
  • Salt&Pepper

Super simple, and the meat is totally optional. I’ve made it without before and it was delicious just like that, too. Basically all you’re gonna do is brown the meat with the garlic (or cook the garlic in a little olive oil if you’re omitting the meat), add your canned goods, then fill the crushed tomato can with water (slowly, so it doesn’t get weird and foamy) and add that to the pan as well. Season with Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasoning, Onion and Garlic Powder to taste and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. That’s it. Leave it longer if you have time, but 15 minutes should do the trick for getting it ready. Then just serve it over your favorite pasta. Simple and delicious.

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Making Canned Alfredo Sauce your own

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It’s been a while, I know, but I’ve been busy and not making anything all that interesting lately. I’ve been in a blah mood food wise (honestly, I’ve been more excited about getting Mexican food, lol). Also, this isn’t any kind of sponsored post, I just really like Bertolli brand. (I’m putting that in for future reference when this blog is awesome and has a ton of followers…not that I’m counting on it).

This is one of my favorite things to do, though, when I don’t feel like putting a lot of effort into dinner. You can use whatever brand, but this is my favorite, and I still can’t make sauce like I can buy yet…that’s a work in progress. Here’s a list of simple dinner ideas using canned sauce:

  1. Chicken and Pasta. But everyone adds chicken, don’t they? Still, if I didn’t add it, I’d feel weird.
  2. Broccoli and Pasta. I love this. It’s so good.
  3. Pour it over fresh, steamed cauliflower. It could be as a side dish or add some meat in with that, too and make it a one pot sort of meal. If you haven’t worked with fresh cauliflower, you don’t know what you’re missing.
  4. With Tortellini or Ravioli. Especially the meat filled kind to make you feel like you’re getting everything in one place.
  5. Make it spicy! This is my favorite, one, too. Add spicy Italian sausage or a ton of crushed red pepper to the sauce when you’re heating it up.
  6. Add tomatoes.
  7. Add sun-dried or oven roasted tomatoes.
  8. Add Mushrooms.
  9. Add Extra Garlic…or roasted garlic…or garlic powder…mmmm, garlic…garlic is good
  10. Add Sausage. Cased or uncased. Any Italian variety is good and I really wanna see how diced Andouille is in the sauce. Cajun Pasta is usually pretty good.
  11. Make Lasagna. Or stuffed shells. Or manicotti.
  12. Add veggies. Zucchini, eggplant, spaghetti squash, whatever else sounds good.

I’ve found that pretty much anything you do with Alfredo sauce turns out pretty good. Just follow my tasting guidelines and you should be fine. That advice is, of course, add a little, taste it and keep adding until it’s perfect. If you aren’t sampling as you go, you’re doing it wrong. Tonight, for example (and the whole inspiration for this post), I’m doing homemade oven roasted tomatoes and meat tortellini. I’ll probably add a little spice with some crushed red peppers. And, as always, a little extra salt and pepper.

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Cheater’s Ravioli

I’ve been finding some awesome ravioli recipes, but I haven’t even started to master making fresh pasta…so I needed a different way to try my ravioli recipes.

And then it came to me: I could stuff it into manicotti. And that is what this recipe is. It’s portobello mushroom manicotti. Instead of using any recipe I found online, I just made it up on the spot.

Here’s most of what you’ll need:

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I added a few things along the way (there was no real plan, I was completely improvising.), and, you’re obviously going to need some kind of pasta sauce (I used the pot of sauce I have in the fridge), but I’ll let you know what you’ll need.

Preheat your oven to 350°.

So, you’re gonna want to start a pot of water to cook the manicotti (this recipe will make more than enough for the entire box, if that’s what you’ll need. For two people, half the box will do. Go ahead and wash the mushrooms and let them drain in the sink while you chop the onion and garlic (I used 4 cloves) very finely. In a somewhat large pan, go ahead and start cooking the onions and garlic in a little bit of oil over medium heat, until they’re soft and the onions are translucent.

While the onions are cooking, chop the mushrooms finely, adding them to the pan once the onions and garlic are soft. Add salt and pepper while the mushrooms are cooking, letting them go until they’re soft. Add the mushroom mix to a blender, including all the liquids in the pan, add a little heavy cream (or milk will work, too), and blend until at least somewhat smooth. It doesn’t have to be that smooth, there can be some texture to it. Fold the pureed mushroom and ricotta together until completely mixed.

When the water boils, cook the manicotti according to package directions, then drain. You’ll want to let them cool a little before handling them, and you’ll probably be working on other things while that happens anyway. Go ahead and put a layer of sauce on the bottom of your pan. Once they’re cool, unless you have a pastry bag, you can split them down the middle, so they can lay flat, and fill them with the mushroom-ricotta filling before rolling them back up. If you have a pastry bag, or know some other, brilliant way of filling manicotti, leave them whole and fill them. Also, if you know some other brilliant way of filling them, you should let me know.

If you do it my way, they’ll look like this when you’re done filling them:

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Cover them with another layer of sauce. If you want to, add a layer of mozzarella over the sauce, but I didn’t because I ran out of cheese (which is a total crime in our household). Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered if you don’t have cheese, but I’d cover it if you add cheese for the first 15 minutes at least.

And, enjoy!

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I know I sure did.

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