quick spicy spaghetti sauce

quick and spicy pasta sauce

Pasta is one of my favorite foods. It’s comfort and delicious and can be prepared so very many ways. If I don’t have pasta often enough, a craving with start and grow bigger as each day goes on. I’ve learned it’s not smart to ignore such a craving.

The other day, after a week of being sick, which means I didn’t cook at all, but rather survived on tea and crackers, the craving grew to a beast after reading this food blog (possibly I should say “watching” since it’s in video form). I knew my cold was on its way out when I found myself drooling over the homemade pasta and arrabiata sauce.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the resources to make homemade pasta (no idea which box in the basement holds my pasta maker), nor did I have any fresh tomatoes in the house. I had no energy and was also short on time, but very hungry. And this hunger was for pasta. For pasta with arrabiata sauce, to be precise. So I tossed this recipe together. It’s similar to the recipe linked above, but a cheater version. It satisfied my pasta craving, and it was very good!

Note: For my slow cooker pasta sauce recipe, click here.


Quick Spicy Spaghetti Sauce

olive oil

6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 large onion, quartered and sliced



2 generous shakes cayenne pepper

1 28-ounce can coarse ground tomatoes

dried spaghetti

shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Put on a large pot of salted water to boil for the spaghetti. Cook spaghetti as directed on its package.

In a deep sauce pan, cover the bottom with a decent layer of olive oil.

Add the garlic and onion and cook over medium heat. Stir often.

After a couple minutes, reduce heat and cover. Stir occasionally.

When the onions have become tender, about 5 minutes or so, add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and the canned tomatoes. Stir.

Put the cover back on and cook over low heat until the spaghetti is done.

Serve sauce over the cooked spaghetti (toss gently) and top with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

quick and spicy sauce

scalloped potatoes with ham

scalloped potatoes with ham (8)

From my previous post you know that I use the ham bone from my Easter ham to make bean soup.  Now this recipe will show you what I do with all the leftover ham.

This dish is pure comfort food for me. It’s one of my most favorite meals from childhood. Problem is that for years, each time I made it, I would do it differently (that’s because I’d call my mom the day after Easter each and every year and she would give me suggestions on how to make this dish, but I never wrote it down and would alter her recipe in the attempt to make it better or easier or quicker or whatever, and therefore it didn’t always turn out well nor exactly how I remembered it). So after years of making scalloped potatoes in various ways, I’ve finally found the way to make it that reminds me of my mom’s delicious after-Easter scalloped potatoes with ham, and I’ve written it down and now I only call my mom the day after Easter to ask how her Easter was, instead of bothering her for the recipe.


Scalloped Potatoes With Ham

Heat oven to 350F.

Butter a deep casserole dish.

Clean and slice 6-8 potatoes. I use medium size white potatoes.

Cut leftover ham into small cubes.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and whisk in 2 tablespoons flour.

When a nice paste is formed (takes about 1-2 minutes) lower heat and whisk in 2 cups whole milk.

Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Add a small shake of nutmeg.

Allow to heat through over low heat, stirring often.

scalloped potatoes with ham (1)

In the buttered casserole dish, layer half the potato slices, then cover with all the ham.

scalloped potatoes with ham (2)

Distribute about 1 cup shredded cheese over the potatoes and ham. (I use a combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar.)

scalloped potatoes with ham (3)

Layer the remaining potatoes on top.


Pour heated white sauce over all.


Add 1 more cup of the cheese.


If the white sauce doesn’t cover all the potatoes, add extra milk to the casserole dish until the potatoes are completely covered. You may find you’ll need to add a cup or two of extra milk. (*Note: I could have added the extra milk before adding the cheese.)


Crush Ritz crackers on top. (No picture for this step … oops.)

Place casserole dish on a large baking sheet (to catch any liquid that bubbles over the edge of the casserole dish) and bake uncovered for about an hour. Depending on how deep your casserole dish is, you may need to bake for a bit longer than 1 hour. When a fork can go through the potatoes without much resistance it’s ready for the next step.

Raise oven temperature to 375F and bake for an additional 15 – 30 minutes, until it is bubbly and the top is golden brown.

scalloped potatoes with ham (8)

This is the hardest part: Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Leftovers are terrific (if you manage to have any leftovers).

*Note: There isn’t a picture of a serving of this, because I am very impatient and couldn’t bother with taking photos before diving in. Sorry!


*Edited on 4/23/13 to increase baking time and to note the use of the baking sheet under the casserole dish.

crockpot red sauce

An earlier post was for chicken and pasta — my version of chicken cacciatore. That recipe was created to make a complete meal out of the sauce recipe a friend had told me about. She found it on allrecipes dot com.

Here’s a little funny story. Turns out I’m soooo much like my mom, because I never actually made the sauce recipe in the way it was intended. Not once. Nope. Instead, I read it, considered some changes that would incorporate the recipe into meals that I serve to my family on a regular basis, and went ahead and did those. Came up with a couple versions of the chicken and pasts recipe using this sauce as a base. All successful, I should add. But not once did I make the sauce as is. Well, until now.

Oh my nostrils! Yesterday, when this sauce was cooking in the crockpot for hours and hours, my house smelled AMAZING!!!!! Really, I think I’ll make this weekly, even if it didn’t taste good (but it does), just so my house will smell this awesome on a regular basis!


Crockpot Red Sauce

1 large can (28-ounces) crushed tomatoes

1 large can (28-ounces) San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

4-8 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

dash cinnamon (no more than 1/2 teaspoon)

Place all ingredients in a crockpot set to low or warm (on my crock pot, the low setting should be renamed “only slightly lower than hot”, therefore I use the warm setting for this). Cook for as long as you can … 10 to 15 hours is what the original recipe suggested. The longer it cooks, the more intense the flavors. They’re not kidding. Yesterday I let mine cook for 15 hours and it was delicious!

Use for any pasta dish.

this is *some* of the garlic I put into this sauce yesterday