17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spaghetti Night

We have all had spaghetti night, maybe some of us weekly.

I feel that I have found the best spaghetti night for my time and my buck.

No more enriched wheat flour spaghetti and ragu (well, unless that is part of your food storage)...instead try whole wheat thin spaghetti. It is better for you, and if covered in sauce, your kids probably won't know the difference.

And speaking of sauce...if you don't have time to stand over a hot stove with that handed-down-from-generation-to-generation sauce recipe, try some good on-the-shelf versions of sauce. I am a big fan of all things Newman's Own...and you can even get organic versions, and buy a 3-pack at Costo.

Now for the add-ons. My family loves these turkey meatballs from Shady Brook Farms. They have great texture, heat up quickly in the sauce, and have just the right spice to them.

I usually like to serve my meal with some greens, either some sauteed spinach, fresh green beans, or just pop in some frozen veggies if it is getting close to grocery day.

Now for the yummy but probably not-so-good-for-you part of the meal...the garlic bread. I used to make a lot of Texas Toast, but I have recently discovered Papa Ciro's HANDMADE Garlic Knots. THEY ARE SO GOOD and cheap (especially when on sale). Read this:
Bread Category's New Twist: Papa Ciro's Handmade Knots
Papa Ciro's Handmade Knots, new to the bread category, bring convenience, flavor, and variety to any meal, according to Joseph Vetrano, company president. "We offer the only garlic knot for retail sale," he says. Other flavors include cinnamon knots and jalapeno garlic knots. The family-owned Roslyn Heights, N.Y., company makes its bread knots by hand using a family recipe.

Now, given that they are in Roslyn, maybe they are only local to us here in NYC, but PLEASE look for them in your freezer aisle because they are amazingly delicious!

So, that's my spaghetti night...what's special about yours?


  • My secret is my own 'fresh' sauce. Of course the only thing fresh in it is onion and garlic, (and meat if I'm in the mood). The difference is amazing! Plus, one pan or pot makes a ton so you can freeze half of it for later. Oh, and I always add a few tablespoons, (maybe 2), of sugar to the sauce--it makes quite a difference! Most sauce recipes are quite similar so just find one that is easy and quick for you and you won't be disappointed!!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 9/13/2007 06:05:00 PM  

  • My spaghetti night is all about Trader Joes! We eat the spiral brown rice pasta with a "homemade" marinara sauce that I make with their starter kit and then I add their packaged mushrooms and turkey meatballs.
    posted by Blogger cj at 9/13/2007 07:02:00 PM  

  • Spaghetti night for us is at least twice a week. One secret: Prego. It's soy-free (which is the overriding decision for all foods bought at our house). Most sauces (including Newman's Own) are made with soy oil. The other secret: rotini noodles. I used to always make spaghetti noodles, because that's what I liked, but rotini noodles are the best. My kids love them and eat them better than any other noodles we've ever tried. Something about the size and shape being just right for them to be able to pick up (they're 2.5 and 1). That and they can still slurp them in a little bit, which is always fun.
    posted by Anonymous Vada at 9/13/2007 07:19:00 PM  

  • vada-- why soy-free?

    we love the barilla plus pasta-- it's made with lentils, garbanzo beans, flax seeds, whole wheat-- i love it and you can't tell there's anything different about it! i also have a great recipe for a spaghetti sauce with a mexican flair to it that i LOVE. it's called fiesta spaghetti and is YUMMMMMMY!
    posted by Blogger merathon at 9/13/2007 09:16:00 PM  

  • Well, something yummy and tasty we do is take the regular canned sauce (I like a 5 cheese Bertolli) and add a sauteed bit of fresh garlic. Then a bunch of veggies. I like chopped zuchinni, black and green olives, fresh mushrooms, and maybe some tiny cherry tomatoes.

    For an alternative to garlic bread, we do two things. Sometimes we take regular flour tortillas, brush on some olive oil and seasonings(basil and salt and maybe some red pepper, italian seasonings), and stick under the broiler until its slightly crunchy. Break them up like chips and serve along side pasta.

    We also like to steal recipes from our favorite restaurants. We got the recipe to make that olive oil dip they give you at Carrabas, and that is SOOO good with fresh crusty bread! YUM.
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 9/13/2007 10:31:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger Ash at 9/14/2007 01:07:00 AM  

  • vada, yeah, aren't YOU GUYS the ones with no soy?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 9/14/2007 04:22:00 AM  

  • I also make my own "fresh" sauce --and it ROCKS. No, really, it does! At least to me, anyway. :)

    I use the dried spaghetti sauce packet, but I don't use their directions. I usually make it vegetarian, but sometimes I'll throw in frozen meatballs or ground turkey. I use tomato sauce (not paste), one can of Italian diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, and then I dice zucchinni (how the heck to you spell zucchini?) and sometimes, yellow squash and add that. NO OIL. Makes a huge difference.
    Serve over 100% whole wheat noodles and sprinkle with some parmesan.

    Husband grew up eating it with corn on the side; I grew up eating it with peas. Now I just serve it with salad. If we have bread, it's 100% whole wheat. I'm boring when it comes to the bread.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 9/14/2007 07:47:00 AM  

  • Since finding this recipe, I usually make my sauce from scratch. I don't usually make the meatballs, but they are good. Often we'll bread chicken with 1/2 panko breadcrumbs and 1/2 grated parmasan and maybe some herbs and salt and pepper and bake it up and do chicken parmasan. The sauce only takes about 10 minutes to make and we all love it. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_26528,00.html?rsrc=search
    Also we love this garlic bread recipe. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_19939,00.html?rsrc=search
    posted by Blogger Erin at 9/14/2007 09:24:00 AM  

  • sorry for whatever reason the links didn't work, let's try it again
    posted by Blogger Erin at 9/14/2007 09:26:00 AM  

  • ok so it doesn't want to work, let's try this
    Spaghetti and Meatballs
    1 pound spaghetti
    Salt, for pasta water

    1 1/4 pounds ground sirloin
    2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, eyeball it
    1 egg, beaten
    1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs, a couple of handfuls
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    Salt and pepper

    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    4 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    1 cup beef stock, available on soup aisle in market in small paper boxes
    1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    A handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
    10 leaves fresh basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced
    Grated cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, for passing at table
    Crusty bread or garlic bread, for passing at the table

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

    Place a large pot of water on to boil for spaghetti. When it boils, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente.

    Mix beef and Worcestershire, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Roll meat into 1 1/2 inch medium-sized meatballs and place on nonstick cookie sheet or a cookie sheet greased with extra-virgin olive oil. Bake balls 10 to 12 minutes, until no longer pink.

    Heat a deep skillet or medium pot over moderate heat. Add oil, crushed pepper, garlic and finely chopped onion. Saute 5 to 7 minutes, until onion bits are soft. Add beef stock, crushed tomatoes, and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.

    Toss hot, drained pasta with a few ladles of the sauce and grated cheese. Turn meatballs in remaining sauce. Place pasta on dinner plates and top with meatballs and sauce and extra grated cheese. Serve with bread or garlic bread (and some good chianti!)

    Garlic Bread
    2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1 (15 by 3 1/2-inch) loaf Italian bread

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    Mince and mash garlic to a paste with salt using rounded end of a heavy knife. Stir together butter, oil, and garlic paste in a bowl until smooth, then stir in parsley.
    Without cutting completely through bottom, cut bread diagonally into 1-inch thick slices with a serrated knife, then spread garlic butter between slices,
    Wrap loaf in foil and bake in middle of oven 15 minutes. Open foil and bake 5 minutes more.
    Cook's note: Bread can be spread with garlic butter 8 hours ahead and chilled, wrapped in foil. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.
    For a brighter flavor, you can substitute 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil for 1 tablespoon of parsley.

    sorry everybody
    posted by Blogger Erin at 9/14/2007 09:33:00 AM  

  • Ooh, I just made Tortellini with Arugula and Sun Dried Tomatoes last night (recipe from Everyday Food). It was so tasty and sooooo easy, but looks fancy. I don't really eat meat so I just used cheese tortellinis instead.
    posted by Blogger tamrobot at 9/14/2007 01:11:00 PM  

  • Kage,
    Not to rain on your parade, but the pasta is a whole wheat_blend_. They aren't whole grain. I figure they ae better though--and I've been buying that brand for years.
    Tonight is spaghetti night at our house too.
    posted by Anonymous mami at 9/14/2007 04:29:00 PM  

  • Merathon,

    As Kage said, we do no soy at our house. It's because my younger son is allergic. So we don't eat most brands of pasta sauce, or any of the store-bought breads mentioned, or even make the yummy recipe listed (soy in the bread crumbs and the beef stock). Luckily everyone doesn't have to live that way, but it's always the first thing I look for when planning dinners around here.
    posted by Anonymous Vada at 9/14/2007 09:57:00 PM  

  • Oh those garlic knots sound DELICIOUS! I haven' seen anything like that in CA. But I get in my shopping "zone" and don't really notice things that aren't in my usual buying pattern. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.

    We like the Trader Joes roasted garlic sauce Spagehetti Sauce. I usually chop up whatever veggies I have leftover in the fridge (peppers, brocolli, spinach, carrots, zuchinni) and throw those into simmer. And when I say chop, I mean chop with those fancy choppers that will cut the pieces so small that no one can complain and pick them out.

    I like to make a fresh caprese salad (fresh mozarella, tomato, basil and balsamic vinegar) to go with it and some crusty garlic bread cooked under the broiler. Mmmmm. Comfort food.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 9/15/2007 10:32:00 PM  

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