Spaghetti #1

This is the quick version of spaghetti, takes about an hour on the stove (although a little more time makes it better) but in order to do that, you have to use a couple of shortcuts…

  • 2 bags Trader Joe’s Italian-flavor Frozen Beef Meatballs (no, really, they’re good for this, trust me)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Garlic (2-3 cloves fresh and chopped, a heaping half teaspoon of crushed or chopped in the jar)
  • 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • Small can tomato paste
  • 1 cup cheap chardonnay (or buy a 4 pack of godawful tiny bottles of Glen Ellen or Gallo, one of them is perfect and you don’t have to open/use a better wine.)
  • I bag sliced mushrooms
  • 1 6-8 oz can sliced black olives
  • Spices- this is totally up to you, and I make it up as I go along, so these measurements are not exact. 1/2 tsp oregano, black pepper, salt. 1 tsp basil, parsley. 1/4 tsp fennel seed (and don’t skip this one, fennel is awesome.) 2 bay leaves, broken in half and dropped in.
  • Some kind of pasta that you like. I hate spaghetti noodles, so I use penne or farfalle or linguine. Whatever.

In a big flat-bottomed pan, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil.
Brown onions and garlic.
Add meatballs and heat a bit.
Add tomatoes, sauce, paste and wine, stir up together.
Add spices and stir together.
Drain and add black olives, stir.
Let it cook half an hour or so, taste and adjust spices if needed.
Put water on to boil for as much of the pasta as you want to cook; I usually cook the whole pound and use it for another dish after the meatballs and sauce are gone.
When you put the water on to boil, add the mushrooms to the tomato sauce and meatballs, stir every ten minutes or so to cook the mushrooms evenly.
When the water boils, cook the pasta, drain and serve with delicious meatballs over it.

Fresh grated parmesan cheese is awesome over this.



  • 1 to 1 1/4 lb sweet Italian sausage. This is the most important ingredient, so higher quality sausage really pays off. If the sausages are in casings, cut off the casings and cut the sausages into 1 inch slices/balls. Loose sausage meat is fine too.
  • I package fresh baby spinach
  • I lb sliced brown (crimini or baby bella) mushrooms
  • I onion, diced
  • Pepper to taste
  • I scant cup corn meal
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use nonfat, it’s what’s in the fridge)
  • 1/4 cup (approx) fresh shredded parmesan cheese.

Boil 3 cups of water in a large saucepan with the 1/2 cup milk mixed in. Salt the water a bit. Just when it starts to boil, mix in the corn meal, whisking it in slowly. Turn the heat to medium low, and let cook for 20-30 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes or so. Don’t let it burn, just thicken and cook it.

While you’re watching the corn meal, get out a large frying pan and brown the onion in a bit of olive oil. Then (medium heat) add sausage and brown, and season with black pepper to taste. Then add the mushrooms until they give up their juices. Keep an eye on the polenta; just as it’s getting done, add the spinach to the sausage and stir and cook til it just barely wilts.

While doing the spinach, take the polenta off the heat, stir in the parmesan and let it sit until the spinach is wilted.

Spoon polenta in each person’s bowl, then sausage mix over it.

Serves four.



Cows in Blankets

  • High quality hot dogs (my fav is Hebrew National)
  • Cheese of choice (for me, cheddar)
  • Croissants or bread sticks in a tube

Make a slit in each hot dog the long way.
Cut slices of cheese about 1/4 inch thick and 1/2 inch wide, a bit shorter than the hot dog.
Open the bread sticks or croissants, unstick them from each other, and wrap one around each hot dog in a spiral.

Put on cookie sheet and bake at recommended temperature from the bread wrapper for about the time it says; keep an eye on them, make sure they’re done and browned but not burned.

NOTE: A package of Hebrew National has seven hot dogs, the croissants or bread sticks usually have eight or ten…you can get creative with the extra bread…