Special of the day: Simmer one sauce, serve up three satisfying suppers

26 Sep Special of the day: Simmer one sauce, serve up three satisfying suppers

Spaghetti with Italian Meat Sauce

Serving up a hot and hearty home-cooked meal for the family five nights a week isn’t as easy as it sounds, as you may well know if you are the chief cook and bottle washer in your house. The reality of coming up with quick and easy entrees every night of the week can be daunting, especially if you’re trying to mix it up and offer a variety of dishes for dinner.  I can’t tell you how many times the topic of “What in the world am I going to cook for dinner tonight?” has come up in conversation with busy mom friends of mine.

I have to admit the age-old question was percolating in my mind, too, last weekend when I was looking ahead to a busy week and wondering about that very thing.

Simmer one sauce on Sunday and serve up three suppers throughout the coming week. Wouldn’t that be a dream?  I began to think, stirring around some mild Italian sausage in my tried-and-true robust red Le Creuset Dutch oven workhorse and letting the creative wheels spin.

Rich, flavorful Italian meat sauce is a go-to favorite of mine that’s hard to argue with.  It’s the low maintenance crowd-pleaser you’ve been fantasizing about: minimal ingredients, token prep required…amazing aromas filling the house, what’s not to love?

Make a pot of Italian Meat Sauce and feed a village. Well, not quite, but satisfy your hungry family with three different delicious dinners this week. And here’s how…

Italian Meat Sauce: It’s the little black dress of the recipe box, I say. Pull it out of the fridge, heat it up, and it’s ready to go with so many different things. Serve it atop spaghetti, garnished with parmesan shreds and fresh oregano sprigs and presto! you’re presenting an enjoyable meal made in minutes. Ladle it over bakery fresh potato rolls for Super Easy Sloppy Joes or use it in the filling for Sweet and Spicy Calzones. Any way you slice it, Italian Meat Sauce makes meal-planning footloose and fancy-free.

Cross “What’s for dinner?” off your never-ending to-do list for now. We’ve got you covered with this week’s Special of the day: Simmer One Sauce, Serve Up Three Satisfying Suppers and recipes for Italian Meat Sauce, Super Simple Sloppy Joes and Sweet and Spicy Calzones. Enjoy!

Recipes and food photography by Sydne George

Spaghetti with Italian Meat Sauce

Italian Meat Sauce

(serves 12)

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic

½ sweet onion, minced

1 ½ # mild Italian sausage

1  29-ounce cans tomato sauce  + ½ of another 29-ounce can tomato sauce

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

¼ cup red wine vinegar (or use red wine instead, then add less sugar)

1 tsp. salt

2-3 tablespoons sugar, to taste

Heat a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Add oil. When oil is hot, add garlic and onion and sauté until softened. Add Italian sausage and brown thoroughly. Add tomato sauce, seasoning, vinegar and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring to combine. Taste and add additional sugar to desired taste. Simmer sauce gently for 30 minutes or more. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated.)

Serve Italian Meat Sauce over spaghetti one night.

Refrigerate remaining sauce.

Super Simple Sloppy Joes

Reheat half of the remaining sauce and serve over warmed potato rolls as Super Simple Sloppy Joes the next night.

Use the rest of the sauce to make Sweet and Spicy Calzones the following night. Enjoy!


Sweet and Spicy Calzones

Sweet and Spicy Calzones

Recipe by Sydne George

(serves four)

Make the dough:

½ cup hot water (about 100 degrees)

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. yeast

2 ¾ cups flour

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup pepperoni slices

1 tbsp. butter

1 clove garlic

½ cup fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine water and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Sprinkle yeast over the sugar water and let bloom until doubled in volume. In a medium bowl, combine flour, yeast mixture and olive oil, stirring to combine until dough comes together in a ball. If it is too dry, add a small amount of warm water. If it is too sticky, add a small amount of flour. Knead dough on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Brush the inside of the medium bowl with olive oil. Place dough in oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

While dough is rising, sauté the mushrooms.

Heat butter in medium sauce pan over medium high heat.

When butter is melted, add garlic and cook until softened.

Add mushrooms and sauté briefly.

Remove from heat and set aside.

When dough has doubled in volume, punch it down and let it rest briefly.

Roll dough out into large thin rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.

Using pizza cutter, cut dough into eight equal rectangles.

Spread a thin layer of Italian meat sauce over each section of dough, leaving a thin border of unsauced dough on all edges.  Arrange pepperoni, sautéed mushrooms and grated mozzarella cheese atop the sauce on each calzone.

Fold assembled calzones in half and crimp edges to seal. Brush tops calzones with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Transfer assembled calzones to lightly greased baking sheet and bake calzones in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot.


Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at sydnegeorge@hotmail.com . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.



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