A simple dinner with our neighbors (recipe: Marinara Sauce from Cooking Light)

Last night, we invited our neighbors over for Spaghetti and Meatballs. A simple dinner we knew the kids would enjoy. Since it was an impromptu plan, it required me to take a couple of shortcuts. Fortunately, I make marinara sauce in large batches and freeze it so that I always have some on hand. I had also recently restocked on some of my favorite Trader Joe's products, one being their Party Size Meatballs... they are small enough the kids can eat them without someone cutting them smaller, and it makes the grown-ups feel like they are getting a larger serving without really consuming more calories than planned. Win-Win, if you ask me.

Into a large pot went the marinara sauce and the meatballs. In another pot, we put the pasta water on to boil. We picked up a couple loaves of crusty Italian bread and toasted them in the oven before slicing and putting into the bread basket. Then, I just felt we needed a green vegetable on the table, so I pulled out the Trader Joe's fresh frozen green beans. I put them into a hot skillet to quickly steam (everyone simply must have a lid that fits anything) and then sauted them with some chopped garlic with a bit of EVOO.

All in all, a very nice meal and I think everyone went away satisfied and happy.

Marinara Magnifico

Source: Alysha @ Savory Notebook (published in Cooking Light August 2004)

Dry red wine intensifies the well-blended flavors in this lusciously seasoned tomato sauce--magnifico! Serve over your favorite pasta.

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups chopped onion (about 3 medium)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
(2 bay leaves)
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion and sugar. Cook 30 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Yield: 9 cups (serving size: 1 cup)


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