One pot spaghetti with meat sauce

one pot spaghetti and meat sauce

I love cooking, but I hate washing a million dishes. So if I could make a great tasting meal that doesn’t use multiple dishes, I’m all for it. With this recipe I can make spaghetti and meat sauce all in one pot without even having to drain it.

With very little chopping or measuring, you can throw a delicious meal together using only one pot. This spaghetti and meat sauce recipe is great for weeknights.

It’s similar to a ragu bolognese, but I’m not sure if the ingredients and technique are similar enough to call it that. I included celery in this meat sauce because I had it in my fridge for a different meal and I try to add in fiber to my meals as much as I can. You can take it or leave it. If you want to add in chopped carrots or onion, that would go well. It’s just not to my taste.

one pot spaghetti with meat sauce

One of my favorite meals is spaghetti and meatballs. I love Rhee Drumond’s recipe. It’s easy and it makes very delicious spaghetti sauce and meatballs, but it does take me a while to make and leaves me with a lot of dishes. This is somewhat similar, but a lot easier.

This recipe is inspired in part by the Pioneer Woman recipe, a recipe from The Kitchy Kitchen cookbook, and an old recipe for chicken with orzo pasta that my mom saved from a local newspaper column. I took bits and pieces from each recipe and made my own for this recipe on Monday as a special dinner for my
fiancé who was leaving on a business trip the next day. It still feels as special as something more complicated, but it didn’t take long.

As you can see in the photo above, I didn’t completely cook the ground beef through before adding the pasta, celery, and other ingredients. The meat continued to cook with everything else and it was cooked through by the time the spaghetti was finished.

spaghetti with meat sauce

One pot spaghetti with meat sauce

1 pound ground beef
1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
4 ounces of spaghetti
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 cup of water
Mozzarella cheese

In a Dutch oven, combine beef, tomatoes, milk, and seasonings. Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Do not drain.

Stir in spaghetti, diced celery, and water. Simmer, covered, 12-15 minutes or until spaghetti is tender. If desired, top with cheese.

Yield: About 4 servings

Other dinner recipes that are great for weeknights:
Oat oven meatballs
Chicken tortilla soup
Beef & veggie stir fry

Apricot Horns

apricot almond horn cookies

I have a grandma who is not technically my grandma. She is my cousins’ grandma. But she is my Grandma Irene. I’ve called her Grandma Irene since the time I was a little kid. If you were to meet her she just might introduce herself to you as Grandma Irene too because that’s who she is.

You see, she’s not technically related to me because she is my cousins’ grandma on their dad’s side and we’re related because our moms are sisters. It’s confusing to explain. She’s part of my family though.

She’s smart and determined. She took college classes when her children were grown. She walks three miles just about every day. She’s giving and kind. She cares for animals, including injured birds and the dog she loves so much. And just about every Christmas she would make these delicious apricot horn cookies.

This year, I don’t think she made the cookies. Toward the end of last year, she had a routine exam and it was discovered that she had cancer. It was caught soon and she underwent surgery just recently. Thankfully, she is in recovery now.

apricot cookies before and after

I followed her recipe for her famous apricot horn cookies last week. They’re a little labor intensive. She had told me before that they take her two days. I thought that was mostly because the dough needs to be refrigerated overnight. That’s part of the reason. It also take a while to roll out the dough and form each pastry. Taking the time to make them made me appreciate her even more. I’m glad she has such a loving heart and shared the cookies with my family.

They’re also so good and hard to resist, so a cookie monster in my apartment ate them up. Okay, I helped get rid of some too. Now I’ll have to make another batch so I can share them with my mom and the rest of my family.

jam cookies

rolling up horn cookies

I’m embarrassed to say how many cookies the recipe made, but I’ll share the details if you promise not to judge me and the cookie monster for eating so many. So, the recipe that Grandma Irene gave me said the dough makes 11 dozen cookies. Maybe I made my cookies too thick or rolled out the dough too wide, but I only got 5 1/2 dozen out of it. Which is still a lot of cookies!

With such a big discrepancy, however, I had a lot of leftover apricot jam filling. That could also be because I didn’t put vey much filling in each cookie. I didn’t want it to spill over or break the dough when in the oven, so I only put about 1 1/2 teaspoons in the center of each 3 inch wide piece of dough. I still have leftover jam in my fridge, even after adding some to oatmeal, topping off pancakes with a bit, and putting it on toast.

I didn’t use all the sugar or almonds called for as the coating either.

apricot horns

Apricot Horns

1 pound butter or margarine
1 pound cottage cheese
4 cups sifted flour, approximately

Blend ingredients together with hands to form a dough. Add more flour if cheese is watery. Shape into 1-inch balls and refrigerate overnight. Dough may be kept in refrigeration for one month.

1 pound dried apricots
2 cups sugar

Cook apricots until tender; drain and puree. Add sugar while still hot. Cool.

1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
Powdered sugar

Mix nuts and sugar. Roll each dough ball into a 3 inch round. Make only 10 horns at a time so dough will remain cold. Place a teaspoon of apricot filling in center. Roll up in the shape of a horn. Dip into egg white and then roll in the nut mixture. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with sugar.
Yield: about 11 dozen horns.

apricot cookies egg wash

Note: Although these cookies are almost bound to be labor intensive, I’ve found a few ways to make it easier for myself next time I make them.

  1. When it comes time to refrigerate the dough, you could divide it evenly into 3 balls and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate overnight. (You could do this instead of wrapping each dough ball individually.) Then, when it’s time to work with dough, roll it out to 1/8  of inch thickness and cut out circles for each cookie.
  2. The recipe says to dip each cookie in the eggs and then in the walnuts. I started to do this at first. But I found it to be much easier and less messy to simply brush the egg wash on each egg with a pastry brush and follow that up by sprinkling the walnut and sugar mixture on with my fingers.
  3. Also, the recipe says to sprinkle the finished cookies with powdered sugar and I think my grandma usually does. I skipped this because I usually make a big mess when I try to sift powdered sugar and the cookies are sweet enough for my taste.

Chocolate peanut butter hearts

chocolate peanut butter hearts

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and to celebrate I’m sharing an easy recipe for homemade candy that you can share with your love, your friends, or just keep to yourself.

Paul and I both love chocolate peanut butter candies, so I made some festive chocolate peanut butter hearts. I kept it simple by only using four ingredients, but I think the end result is still impressive.

To make this chocolate candy, you will need a mold. I got this Wilton heart-shaped mold at Jo-Ann’s last week for less than $3.
melted chocolate chocolate peanut butter hearts in progress

homemade chocolate peanut butter candies

Chocolate peanut butter hearts

2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 teaspoon canola oil

1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter

2 tablespoons honey, divided
1 teaspoon salt

Melt the chocolate chips with the oil. There are several methods you could use. I put the chocolate chips in a small saucepan on top off a wide pan  filled with 1″ of water. Bring the water to a boil and then turn it to low. Stir until all the chips are melted and the consistency is smooth. The pan set up will be like a double broiler, so if you have one of those just use it instead.

Once the chips are melted, spread a thin layer of chocolate into each of the mold cavities. You can use a toothpick to paint the sides of the mold. Place the mold in the freezer to firm up.

Melt peanut butter in a separate saucepan with some honey and table salt. If you have sea salt, even better. Place a small amount of melted peanut butter in the center of each mold. (I ended up with leftover peanut butter, but it’s better to have too much than not enough.)

Spoon in enough melted chocolate to cover the rest of the mold. Place in the freezer or refrigerator to firm up.