Monday, February 5, 2007

Spaghetti dinner

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Good Morning!  I've got this really awesome sounding spaghetti sauce recipe that I want to try and thought I would share that with ya'll today.  Along with a roasted veggie recipe that would go really well with spaghetti, and my cheap and easy spaghetti sauce in a rush recipe, lol.

Tossed salad
Roasted Vegtables
French Bread
Lemon flavored Italian Ice
(can be found in most stores freezer section)

Spaghetti Sauce
Source: Better Homes and Gardens

1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1/2 cup chopped green sweet pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 cups chopped, peeled tomato (6 large) or two 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
2 teaspoons snipped fresh marjoram or 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces dried spaghetti or linguine
Finely shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)  
In a Dutch oven cook onion, sweet pepper, celery, and garlic in hot oil until vegetables are tender.

Stir in the tomato, tomato paste, water, parsley, dried herbs (if using), sugar, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes more or to desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Stir in fresh herbs, if using.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Serve sauce over hot cooked pasta. If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Spaghetti Sauce with Ground Beef or Sausage: Prepare as above, except omit the oil. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven cook 12 ounces ground beef or pork sausage with the onion, sweet pepper, celery, and garlic until meat is brown. Drain. Continue as directed in Step 2.
5. Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs: Prepare sauce as above. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine 1 egg; 3/4 cup soft bread crumbs (1 slice); 1/4 cup finely chopped onion; 2 tablespoons finely chopped green sweet pepper; 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed; and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 12 ounces ground beef or bulk pork sausage; mix well. Shape into 24 meatballs. Arrange meatballs in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until done (160 degrees F). Drain. Serve with sauce and hot pasta.
6. Big-Batch Spaghetti Sauce: Prepare as above, except use a large Dutch oven and 2 cups chopped onion, 1 cup chopped sweet pepper, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 4 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons cooking oil, 8 cups tomato or two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, one 6-ounce can tomato paste, 2/3 cup water, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil, 2 tablespoons fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until desired consistency. Serve as directed.
To Freeze: Place sauce in freezer containers. Seal and freeze up to 3 months. To use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Transfer to saucepan and heat through.

Doesn't that just sound so tasty?  Okay real quick, my cheap and easy recipe.  I started doing this for a quick dinner.

I brown up a pound of ground beef with a chopped onion and some chopped garlic.  Drain the fat and then pour in 1 jar of spaghetti sauce.  Add from one to several cans of tomatoe sauce, how many depends on how many people you need to feed.  Now add Italian seasonings, salt & pepper to taste. 

I would do this to make the sauce spread out and found that I really liked it so much better than just popping open a jar of sauce.  When I feel that we aren't getting enough servings of veggies, I often puree some up and them add them to the sauce.  It makes more sauce, thickens it up if it's thin, and adds the extra vitamins and minerals.  Best of all, no one ever realizes that I did it.  LOL

This taste really good if you do it in the morning and let it sit and cook in the crockpot all day, if you can.  Of course, I always prefer the tasted of things like chili and spaghetti after they have simmered all day long.

Baked Veggies "Italian Style"
1 Green Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 Onion
1 Zucchini
1 Yellow Squash
As much fresh garlic as you prefer
Olive Oil

Slice onion into quarters and peel apart. Slice the zucchini and squash diagonally 1/8 inch pieces.
Clean seeds from peppers, cut into half inch strips. Place in bowl, and coat with olive oil.  Sprinkle with garlic powder or chop up fresh garlic and toss in the bowl. Fresh ground pepper and fresh ground salt to taste.  Put a on baking sheet in 350 oven. Bake one hour. Every 15 minutes flip the veggies over with a spatula.

The roasted veggies will go well with a spaghetti dinner.  Too busy for that? Stop by the store and grab a loaf of French bread and a bag of tossed salad.  Add the things you want to the salad and heat up the bread.  Easy, Squeezy, lol. 


Since we are on the topic of dinner I thought I would share this article with you that I found at Spark People

The Benefits of Eating Together
The Family Who Eats Together Stays Together
  -- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietician

"Come and get it!" It may be dinnertime, but when was the last time your family sat down and enjoyed dinner together? With music lessons, ball practice, play rehearsal, and work schedules, it can be tough. Rounding up the troop for an evening meal can be almost impossible! However, research is beginning to show that eating as a family has great benefits for your children and teenagers. Here are 8 more reasons why you should try to sit down together 5-6 times a week, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Reason #1: Communication and Well-Being

Conversations during the meal provide opportunities for the family to bond, plan, connect, and learn from one another. It’s a chance to share information and news of the day, as well as give extra attention to your children and teens. Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. It can be a unifying experience for all.

Reason #2: Model Manners (and more)

Family mealtime is the perfect opportunity to display appropriate table manners, meal etiquette, and social skills. Keep the mood light, relaxed, and loving. Try not to instruct or criticize—lead by example.

Reason # 3: Expand Their World…One Food at a Time

Encourage your children to try new foods, without forcing, coercing, or bribing. Introduce a new food along with some of the stand-by favorites. Remember that it can take 8-10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted, so be patient. Trying a new food is like starting a new hobby. It expands your child’s knowledge, experience, and skill.

Include foods from other cultures and countries.
Select a new vegetable from a local farmer’s market.
Have your child select a new recipe from a cookbook, web site, newspaper, magazine or check out the recipes on SparkPeople.

Reason #4: Nourish
Meals prepared and eaten at home are usually more nutritious and healthy. They contain more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products along with additional nutrients such as fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and folate. Home cooked meals are usually not fried or highly salted, plus soda and sweetened beverage consumption is usually lower at the dinner table.

Reason #5: Become Self-Sufficient

Children today are missing out on the importance of knowing how to plan and prepare meals. Basic cooking, baking, and food preparation are necessities for being self-sufficient. Involve your family in menu planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation. Preschoolers can tear lettuce, cut bananas, and set the table. Older children can pour milk, peel vegetables, and mix batter. Teenagers can dice, chop, bake, and grill. Working as a team puts the meal on the table faster, as well as makes everyone more responsible and accepting of the outcome. Improved eating habits come with "ownership" of a meal.

Reason #6: Prevent Destructive Behaviors

Research shows that frequent family dinners (five or more a week), are associated with lower rates of smoking, drinking, and illegal drug use in pre-teens and teenagers when compared to families that eat together two or fewer times per week. Even as older children’s schedules get more complicated, it is important to make an effort to eat meals together. Scheduling is a must.

Reason #7: Improve Grades

Children do better in school when they eat more meals with their parents and family. Teenagers who eat dinner four or more times per week with their families have higher academic performance compared with teenagers who eat with their families two or fewer times per week.

Reason # 8: Save Money

Meals purchased away from home cost two to four times more than meals prepared at home. At present time the restaurant industry’s share of the total food dollar is more than 46%. Due to scheduling, commitments, and activities, families eat out several times each week.

It is time to bring the "family" back to the dinner table. Sharing dinner together gives everyone a sense of identity. It can help ease day-to-day conflicts, as well as establish traditions and memories that can last a lifetime.

Article created on:  6/11/2005

Usually dinner is just Ray, Rylie and myself.  So I often just place our plates on the breakfast counter in the kitchen to eat.  However, lately Rylie will come in and start picking them up and taking them to the dining room and setting the table.  LOL, sometimes it takes a babe.

I don't mind, it certainly is nice to have an actual sit down dinner at the table and enjoy our meal.  Now, if I could just get Ray and Rylie to turn off, or at least down, the yackity-yack box (TV) while we are eating dinner.  Yeah, that would make it really enjoyable.

I believe it really does help to teach your children manners.  Of course, children emulate the adults in their lives, so it doesn't have to be done at the dinner table, it can just be everyday life.  However, we see Rylie and are sometimes amazed at her use of manners.  She holds her utensils (fork, etc) like a little adult, no fist shoveling food into her mouth.  She almost always says and please (peas) and thank you (tank-who).  Best of all, she is willing to help me set and clear the dining room table.  YEA!  What a little lady...until she throws a tantrum that is.  LOL

Actually, the tantrums were getting better.  I think we just have to monitor who she is playing with and the type of behavior she is observing.  For example, this past weekend little Mariah was over again.  Mariah does a lot of whining and has these little melt downs.  Well, last night Rylie was trying this behavior on for size and seeing how far she could get with it. 

That is just NOT going to work.  She knows better and this week I guess we are taking a step back and doing some re-learning.  We were beginning to move past the whining and having big ol' fits stage.  Time to re-introduce the time out chair to Miss Rylie, I guess.  Oh sheesh, I really hate doing that.  The crying and tears...not to mention Rylie too, LOL.

Have a good day.

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