July 10, 2011

Rotini with Homemade Meat Sauce

Since its a Sunday, lazy me decided to actually spend some time cooking :) !! I first prepared this pasta sauce on one of those evenings last winter when everyone in the family wanted spaghetti and we had no Prego/Ragu at home and neither Tony, nor I, really wanted to step out in the bitter cold to run to the store. It's now a regular family favorite. Tony and all 3 boys LOVE it!!

Total Prep Time: About 45 min or so.


1) 2 large fresh tomatoes (diced very chunky) or 1 can (14.5 oz) Hunt's Diced Tomatoes
2) 1 tbsp minced garlic
3) 1 can (6 oz) Hunt's Tomato Paste
4) 1 tbsp butter
5) 1/2 lb sliced button mushrooms (optional)
6) 1 Wyler's Chicken boullion cube (or even a vegetable boullion cube if that's all you have around)
7) 1 lb ground hamburger
8) 2 tbsp McCormick's Italian seasoning
9) A sprinkle (or 2 or 3) of Cayenne pepper powder
10) 1.25 cups water
11) 1 lb Rotini - boiled/cooked and strained
12) 1/3 cup shredded mozarella cheese
13) salt and pepper to taste


Here Ma-maa, you take a bite!
Fry up the hamburger in a skillet, with 1/2 a tbsp of italian seasoning and just a little sprinkle of salt. Once done, drain the fat and set the meat aside until ready to mix into the sauce. In a large saucepan on medium heat, add butter and garlic. Once the garlic begins to sizzle, give it a few seconds and then add the diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes; add the mushrooms (optional) and cook some more. Then add the tomato paste, and the rest of the italian seasoning and salt/pepper. In a microwave, heat the water with the boullion cube for about 2-3 minutes (this helps dissolve the cube quicker!) to prepare a chicken stock 'of sorts'. Or you can simply use 1.25 cups of chicken stock. Once the tomato paste is well blended with the tomatoes, add the chicken stock; mix well and bring to a boil. Mix in the meat and then, reduce the heat and simmer the sauce while the pasta is cooking. Just before adding the pasta add a quick sprinkle, or two, of cayenne pepper - it doesn't make it hot (I promise!) .. just takes away some of the tomatoey tanginess and gives it some extra zing. Then, add the cooked pasta to the sauce pan, mix well, re-cover and let stand so that the sauce can penetrate the pasta.

You can sprinkle the cheese over each individual serving - or mix it all in the saucepan and then serve. Nikky's face says it all. Dinner was a hit!

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