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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce

Someone asked me if there were any foods that I don't cook from scratch.  They meant this in a joking manner, but I had several foods that quickly came to mind. Spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce are two of them.  I have to tip my hat to all of the Italians out there who gather up dozens of tomatoes, steam the skins off of them and spend hours in the kitchen stirring and seasoning their wonderful sauces. Somehow, even though I have tried to make my own tomato sauce, I just don't have the time and patience to do it.  What an exhausting project!

On the other hand, if you're serving spaghetti, you're going to need some sauce, so off to the store you go.  In our grocery there are no less than 15 different varieties of pasta sauce.  Each contains tomatoes and spices, some have meat or cheese, and one even claimed vodka as its' secret ingredient.  The main ingredient that all of the sauces share is sugar, and a lot of it, up to 10 grams per serving.

Although tomatoes naturally contain some sugar, additional sugar is not necessary.  Adding sweet onions and green peppers to your sauce will deliver a fresh flavor with just a touch of sweetness.

As far as cost, the above mentioned sauces ranged in price from around $1 for the bargain can, up to $7 per jar. ( $7 for a jar of pasta sauce!! That's just crazy!)  To save yourself  a bunch of money and serve a pasta sauce that's much healthier, look for sales on large cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce or tomato paste.  These are all you need to create the base to a wonderful spaghetti sauce.  Next, pull out the crock pot or slow cooker and a handful of Italian spices, an onion and some green pepper and you're on your way to a delicious dinner.  Prep for this meal is only about 20 minutes and the crock pot will take care of the rest.  Enjoy!!

1 lb  Italian Sausage
1/2 lb  Ground Sirloin
1 medium  Yellow Onion, chopped
1 large Green Pepper, chopped
12 Baby Portobello Mushrooms, chopped
1 28 oz can Diced Tomatoes with Basil and Oregano, drained
1 15 oz can Tomato Sauce
2 TB  Minced Garlic
1 tsp  Dried Oregano
2 tsp  Onion Powder
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
Regular or Whole Wheat Spaghetti, cooked

In a large skillet brown the sausage and ground beef until fully cooked.

Pour the cooked sausage and beef into a slow cooker followed by the chopped onions, peppers and mushrooms, then add all of the remaining ingredients.  Cook on LOW for 6 - 8 hours and serve over cooked pasta with a sprinkle of shaved Parmesan cheese.

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