Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce

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Homemade spaghetti sauce is a meal I’ve had and made so much that I could practically cook it in my sleep, especially since it is one of Jon’s favorite meals. Although I don’t typically follow my mom’s recipe exactly, it is the general basis for most of my tomato sauce variations.

I started off by sautéing chopped onions until they were soft and slightly caramelized, then added in the garlic. Once the garlic was fragrant, I deglazed the pan with balsamic vinegar, then added diced tomatoes tomato paste, and some water.

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I didn’t have any basil (a dire situation for my kitchen!), so I decided to add oregano and thyme. I also like to add a little bit of turmeric to highlight the tomato flavor and add a little extra depth to the sauce. Once the sauce was simmering, I added the vegan Italian sausage to cook in the sauce. If you use regular sausage, I think you would want to cook it before adding it to the sauce.

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After the noodles were cooked, the spaghetti was ready to serve! I fancied up the table a little more than normal with candlesticks passed down from my grandmother that I received for Christmas, along with some beautiful candles my parents gave me. I love this meal because it is both elegant (assuming you don’t spatter yourself with sauce while eating) and comfort food. Yum!

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Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce
1 large onions, chopped
Olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
Basil (or any Italian style herb you might have)
1 can tomato paste (6 ounce)
1 large can diced tomatoes (you can also use crushed tomatoes, or tomato purée, or even chopped fresh tomatoes)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup red wine (balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar can be substituted)
1-2 Tbsp sugar (I normally leave this out as I like a more tart sauce)
12-16 ounces water
Italian sausage (vegan sausage works great too)

Put olive oil in a non-aluminum pot and heat. Add onion and basil, along with pepper, then allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring as necessary. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and water, then mix well. Add wine and 1 Tbsp sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook. If using sausage, add now to allow the flavor to permeate the sauce. Simmer sauce until it reaches desired thickness. Taste and add sugar, salt, or vinegar as needed.

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Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole with Potatoes, Onions, Mushrooms and Vegan Sausage

Jon is officially spoiled (ahem…”well taken care of”:-)). In addition to making dinner for him almost every night, he got a homemade breakfast this morning, a departure from his normal yogurt and granola.

Onions and Potatoes Sauteing

Onions and Potatoes Sauteing with Rosemary and Pepper

I decided to make a breakfast casserole bake, so started off sauteing onions and garlic (even breakfast starts with onion and garlic for me). I added in some diced potatoes, mushrooms, rosemary, Celtic sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. I had some leftover Mexican Chipotle vegan sausage in the freezer, so chopped it up and added it for a little spicy kick. After cooking everything together for a few minutes, it all went into one of my favorite casserole dishes to bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Topped with a little bit of vegan cheese and served with freshly brewed coffee, it was a perfect way to start a Sunday morning!

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole...a Great Start to a Sunday Morning!

Pizza – Great After a Long Hike

After spending several hours out in the sun and wind today, I decided to make pizza for dinner tonight to refuel. Jon and I went on an 8-mile hike. It was a beautiful day to be outside!

Sharptail Ridge

Hiking at Sharptail Ridge

A favorite kitchen toy...the Kitchenaid Mixer

A favorite kitchen toy...the Kitchenaid Mixer

After getting cleaned up at home and hanging out for a little while, I started dinner with one of my favorite kitchen toys, my Kitchenaid mixer. I mixed my pizza dough with water, yeast, salt, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and olive oil. After churning away in the mixer (with almost no help from me!), the dough was ready to rise for a while.

Pizza Dough Rising

Pizza Dough Ready to Rise

When the dough was ready, I chopped up some (vegan) sausage, onions, and red peppers. After slathering the dough with spicy barbeque sauce, topping it with the veggies, some vegan cheese, and some spices, it was ready to bake.

Veggies all chopped

Veggies Chopped and Ready!

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough Rolled Out

Pizza being topped

Pizza Getting Pizza-d!

After baking for about 20 minutes, it was dough-y and cheesy goodness! Of course, we had to have some greens to go with the pizza, which I topped with a homemade vinaigrette made with white peach balsamic vinegar and blood orange olive oil from EVOO Marketplace – that will make a normal salad taste gourmet!

Dinner was so good it gave Jon the hiccups!

Salad with Vinaigerette

The healthy bit of dinner...salad with homemade vinaigrette

Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza with BBQ Sauce, Onions, Peppers, and Vegan Cheese

Vegan Dirty Rice

I saw a yummy photo of dirty rice, and decided to make a vegan version for dinner tonight.

Vegan Dirty Rice

Vegan Dirty Rice

I started off by cooking some brown rice…exciting! 😉

Brown Rice

Cooking brown rice

Then, I got all my veggies ready. Almost all of my cooking includes onions and garlic, and this dish was no exception! I also included green onions, a green pepper, 2 jalapenos, some celery, and fresh thyme.

Green onions, Green pepper, jalapenos

Veggies for the dirty rice

Diced jalapenos

Diced Jalapenos...spicy goodness

While the rice was cooking, I sauteed the onions, celery, and the white parts of the green onions, then added the celery, green pepper, jalapenos, and fresh thyme. I also added in some spices: red pepper flakes, dried oregano, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper.

After everything had cooked together for a while, I added in some diced tomatoes left over from last night’s black bean enchiladas, vegan spicy sausage, and black beans. Normally, I would have added in a lot more spiciness, but kept it toned down tonight at Jon’s request.

Veggies, black beans, vegan sausage

Veggies, black beans and vegan sausage

Finally, I mixed in the rice and sprinkled it with green onions to serve.

Vegan Dirty Rice Ready to Serve

Vegan Dirty Rice in the Pan

Jon said “Good, but not too spicy. I couldn’t tell it was fake [vegan] sausage.” (Yes, this is a good thing in our recently vegan house!)