I write often about using my slow cooker for ease of preparing meals while I'm off to work all day (not to mention that it never hurts to have just one pot for cleaning!)
Spaghetti sauce, though, is something I never would have considered for a Crock Pot dish. Mostly, I figured it would stick without the constant stirring required for stove-top sauce.
So when I sat at one of my son's many sporting events recently chatting with my friend, Theresa - an RN at Akron Children's Hospital in Boardman - about how we find time to prepare meals for our families amid school events, sports, homework and jobs, I was surprised to hear her say she often puts sauce in the slow cooker.
Tribune Chronicle / Brenda Linert
Want homemade sauce after a long day at work??Make it in the slow-cooker for a tasty pasta dinner.
Sure, homemade sauce is always better than jar sauce, but cooking a good pot of sauce can take hours, and with all the baseball games and band concerts, who has time for that?
In exchange, I shared how I sometimes cook a ham in the Crock Pot by simply plopping it in, piercing it a few times with a sharp knife, dousing it with a full can of Sprite, covering it and cooking for several hours on low.
She and I were equally surprised at the ease of these two meals, so Theresa and I agreed to trade recipes and give it a shot.
Sauce in the Crock
2 29 oz. cans tomato puree
1 12 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 small can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp basil
2 tbsp romano cheese
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 small to medium diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
Spray inside of large slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Stir well. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy!
I must admit, I was skeptical, and I tweaked the dish a bit by adding the cooking spray (she said it wasn't necessary, but I figured it couldn't hurt). I also added the onions and garlic. Of course meatballs or sweet sausage also can be added early on so they also may cook for several hours in the same pot.
My sons, too, were skeptical at first, turning up their noses at the idea. That is, until I mentioned who had given me the recipe. Anthony, 16, looked to his little brother, Ross, for an OK. Ross and Theresa's son, Jake, both 11, are friends, and Ross has eaten at their house a few times.
Ross gave the thumbs up. "She's a good cook," he said simply.
Approval was granted.
And at dinner that night, more approvals were granted, from all four of us, in fact.
It's a keeper.
(I haven't heard yet if her crew tried the ham idea, but when I do, I'll let you know.)