TDot’s Treats #1: Nan’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 3, 2010 in TDot's Treats | Subscribe

Bookshelf #2: The Hierarchy of my Life

At some point over the last few years cooking turned into a semi-hobby for me.1

One of my bookshelves actually has a section reserved for various cookbooks and recipes handed down from the family over the years (or bought on clearance, in the case of Beef for All Seasons :D ).

The fact I can effectively navigate my way around a kitchen is apparently hard for some folks to believe — especially the ones who know me :beatup: The real shocker is that I’m actually halfway decent at it too ;)

So after finding some über-appetizing recipes over the past couple months at  cursory circumlocution, Legal Alien’s Law School Blog and Teasingly Diverse, I figured I’d join the law student cooking craze and offer some recipes of my own :D  Hopefully y’all will like some of them as they get posted over the next few weeks/months :)


TDot’s Treats #1: Nan’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Difficulty:  2 (of 5)

The inaugural recipe for TDot’s Treats is actually one of my grandmother’s specialties and a favorite of mine growing up :)

Even though Pops’s family moved to the U.S. from Poland, he picked up some Italian habits growing up in the Bronx area of New York.  Spaghetti is one of his meals of choice, and over the not-quite-50 years he and Nan have been married she tweaked her spaghetti sauce recipe so it’s just right.

I’ve tasted a lot of spaghetti sauces in my life, and this recipe here is still my preference.2 :D



  • 2 cans of tomato sauce, ~15oz each
  • 1 can of tomato paste, ~12oz
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of seasoned salt
  • 1 lb. cooked ground beef


Cautionary Note:
I learned the hard way that it’s easy to put in way too much onion or way too much seasoning salt when preparing this recipe, leaving you with a not-quite-right sauce that’s either super-sour or super-salty :beatup:

Remember you can always add in more later if you need it, so start light on the onion and the salt then gradually add in more to your liking.


Start by pouring the 2 cans of tomato sauce into a fairly large saucepan, and begin cooking over low to low-medium heat. Add in the can of tomato paste and mix in thoroughly.

Now add in your onion pieces and mix into the sauce.  Then add in your garlic.  Mix everything together and let the sauce continue to cook for about 5-10 minutes before adding in your seasonings.

Then add in the thyme, oregano and seasoning salt.  The sawdust smell at this point is normal ;) Stir in all of the seasonings and let the sauce cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Now add your cooked ground beef and mix in thoroughly to the sauce. Let the whole mix cook for — you guessed it — another 5-10 minutes.

After ~20-25 minutes of total cooking time, your sauce ingredients should be well-blended and ready for tasting.  Take a spoonful and try it, then add more onion (if there’s too much seasoning) or more seasoning (if there’s too much onion) to suit your tastes.

Boil some spaghetti noodles or other pasta on the side, throw it all together on a plate, and Voila! you have spaghetti for dinner :D


Total Preparation Time: ~10 minutes
Total Cooking Time: ~30 minutes

Serving Size: ~16 servings (depending on how saucy you like your spaghetti :))

Recommended Side Items: garlic toast, salad


So there you go! All in all it’s a pretty simple recipe, and inexpensive too ;)

If any of you try it, let me know what you think — I just finished cooking a batch tonight, and I finally got the onion:seasoning ratio right :D

Off to study CivPro before bed. G’night folks!!

  1. The hobby actually started as a purely Darwinian response:  I was once told by a girl that if I were judged on looks, muscles, intelligence, and personality on a scale from 1-10, I’d get 5s across the board — so to differentiate myself I learned to cook an absolutely amazing Sunday breakfast, then expanded from there :D []
  2. Nan would even make batches of this stuff, freeze it and send it to me here in North Carolina until I had a kitchen to make it on my own. I’m spoiled :beatup: []

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Feb 4, 2010 at 10:11 AM

GASP you are cheating by using canned tomato sauce!

hehe just kidding. now i want to make some spaghetti tonight…. and it’s only 9am :/

Feb 4, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Dude. I’ve been looking for a good sauce recipe (we don’t have a family one, unless a jar counts)…and I feel like in my never ending quest to be a domestic goddess I *have* to be able to whip up a mean spaghetti sauce.

I’m totes going to try this out, and will report back :)

Feb 4, 2010 at 10:49 PM

It’s cheating, I confess :beatup: Nan makes hers from scratch, but that’s partly because she and Pops grow all sorts of veggies in their garden (and I honestly don’t even know if canned tomato sauce existed when she started cooking :)). I have no green thumb to speak of, and couldn’t tell you how to pick out a “just right” tomato if my life depended on it.

But fortunately my life *doesn’t* depend on it, courtesy of the folks making tomato sauce/paste :D

@Amanda: I’ll look forward to hearing how it turns out! :D


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