Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Spaghetti Sauce Recipe and The Skills We Take for Granted

I was tired yesterday. Maybe it was from getting up early to exercise, or going to bed too late, or perhaps even just some mental exhaustion from thinking about my list of chores that need to get done.

In any event, I worked hard all day, and by 5:30 pm I was dragging. I wanted to make pasta for dinner, but I didn't feel like preparing a homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch. Rather than just heat up store-bought sauce out of a jar, (which I personally don't really like) I made my shortcut version of "sort-of-homemade" spaghetti sauce.

This version involves browning ground beef and garlic, adding some veggies, and a jar of whatever brand of spaghetti sauce that I have on hand (usually a roasted garlic or basil and roasted tomato flavored one). Yesterday though, the jar of spaghetti sauce presented quite an obstacle. So much for minimal effort in preparing the sauce.

When I tried to open the lid on the spaghetti jar, it wouldn't budge. I have pretty strong hands, and usually jars don't present any problem. The diameter of this one was large enough that I had some trouble getting a good grip, and it was STUCK.  I tried all the tricks that I knew - using a rubber mat for more traction on the lid, tapping the jar lid on a hard surface, and running it under hot water - all to no avail.  

I suddenly knew just how frustrating and limiting a physical challenge like this can be. Fatigue was definitely interfering with my coping skills; I began to feel very overwhelmed and started wondering what on earth I was going to make for dinner! Fortunately, right about then, after a lengthy time of being held under hot water, I was able to use a damp washcloth to help twist the lid and open the jar.

In those few frustrating moments before the jar opened, I gained a true appreciation of how much I take for granted the skills I have to perform simple everyday activities. 

I did get the sauce made, and it was good.  I'm sharing the recipe here, you might find it helpful the next time you are pressed for time and lacking energy when it is time to get dinner ready. This sauce over pasta and served with a salad is a satisfying dinner - very quick and easy to prepare.  Unless, of course, the lid to the spaghetti sauce jar is stuck!

my easy spaghetti sauce recipe

Shortcut "Sort-of-Homemade" Spaghetti Sauce


1 lb. ground beef
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced (or, if feeling really lazy, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt)
1 can sliced mushrooms, 8 oz.
1 can diced tomatoes, 15 oz.
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp dried basil (or 1 Tbsp. chopped)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 jar  storebought spaghetti sauce, 28 oz.


1. Lightly spray a deep frying pan with cooking spray. Brown ground beef with minced garlic until no pink remains, stirring to crumble the meat.
2. Add mushrooms tomatoes, salt and herbs, and full jar of spaghetti sauce.
3. Simmer for at 30 minutes. If too acidic tasting, add  a little brown sugar while cooking.
4. Serve over cooked pasta.

Note: If you are feeling ambitious, you can also add chopped onion and/or chopped pepper when sauteing the meat, use fresh mushrooms instead of canned, and sometimes I add a splash of red wine.

What is your favorite shortcut for preparing a quick meal?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!


  1. I usually make my own sauce but like you, I have to doctor up the jarred stuff. A couple of things I like to add to my sauce besides those you mentioned are some grated or finely chopped carrot and some finely chopped celery. This is what the Italians in Butte used to put in their sauce. It sweetens it up. It only works in a long-simmered sauce, though.
    As for the jar-opening, that can be a challenge. Some jars lend themselves to a bit of prying along the edges with the curved prier on a can opener. Large pickle lids, etc., are the ones I need this for. I also have an antique jar opener that clamps onto the lid and gives you something to hold on to when turning.

    1. An antique jar opener sounds like a good thing to own! Your sauce sounds delicious Lynn!

  2. I use the store bought jars as a base too. I don't add meat, but I do add extra garlic, onions, carrots, mushrooms and zucchini. Celery if I have any handy. Oregano and parsley, but no basil. I've discovered I like the smell of basil, but not the taste.

    1. I agree with you on all of it except the basil ... which I do love. It does have a distinct taste - one that I enjoy, but I can see how perhaps not everyone might. I have a plant of it in my kitchen right now, but your comment is a good reminder to go easy on this herb when I have company!

  3. We've learned so much from Todd about dealing with physical challenges - I take so much for granted. Thanks for this recipe - I'm always looking for quick dinners, and this sounds and looks delicious!

    1. From what you have shared of Todd, it seems there is a lot to learn from him about physical challenges, but also how far determination and hard work can go towards overcoming some of them.

  4. If I resort to the store bought jars I add whatever is the cupboard/fridge. Garlic definitely. Sometimes some ginger. Onions. Grated carrot...
    Thouse 'simple' tasks can be a killer. Years back I wanted a pumpkin curry. I was home alone and my hands were shaking badly. Using a knife would have been dangerous. So I took the pumpkin outside - and threw it onto the deck. It shattered quite satisfactorily. I always like that curry - and it was particularly good that night.

    1. Ginger is something I have never added - sounds interesting to try! I hope your pumpkin didn't make too much of a mess when it broke - but what a good solution!

  5. Ha! Welcome to my world. I haven't been able to open jars for the last two years. I always have hubby open them for me. Luckily, he gets home early or as a last resort I have him open what I need the night before. Jars, door knobs that you have to grip and turn, and sometimes turning the water on are things that I struggle with most days. It gets pretty aggrivating at times, but you learn to adjust pretty quickly if you want to get anything done!

    1. It must be so frustrating for you Rena, but I am glad you have found ways to adjust, and that your husband helps you!


If you enjoyed this post, I would love it if you share it on your social media sites and with your friends!