Tag Archives: tomato sauce

Thay’s Secret Spaghetti Sauce

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As far as spaghetti goes, I like it fine. But I don’t have that much more to say about it . . . it’s just . . . yeah. Fine.

Until I was introduced to this spaghetti sauce. My friend Thay brought it over during our first few weeks home with Benjamin, when our lovely church friends were bringing meals.

“It’s spaghetti,” she said, handing me the containers of pasta and sauce.

I felt just fine about having spaghetti.

And then I ate some. And suddenly I felt GREAT about eating spaghetti.

And joy of joys: there were lots of leftovers–she’d sent a nice big batch of sauce.

“This are mine,” I informed my husband, fitting the lid back on the container and eyeing the remaining sauce protectively. “I claim these leftovers.”

“Uh . . . okay,” he agreed. I think my sudden passion regarding spaghetti sauce probably came as a surprise. Heck, it came as a surprise to me too. More like a surprise attack.

He relinquished any right to those leftovers immediately.

I would have too, if I’d seen the burning glint in my own eye. It was probably the fiercest, possessivest (yeah, I know that’s not a word) I’ve felt about anything since popcorn.

The next time I saw Thay, she told me how to make it. And her secret ingredient: those little containers of chili sauce you get when you order Thai delivery. But in the absence of those, I luckily discovered that a little sweet chili sauce and a little sriracha produce the same magical effect: a little mysterious je-ne-sais-quoi–a bit of a bite (but subtle), a little tang, a little something delightfully sweet but vinegary.

And the stuff in the sauce! The turkey and peppers an onion make it thick and–well, interesting.

I just made my second batch of the stuff, and I eat it all week long for my lunches, but over rice, with some spinach mixed in, and with two fried eggs on top. Like dees:

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It’s the perfect lunch–a kind of extra-fancy and delicious version of Arroz a la Cubana.

Also, you may have noticed that topping everything with eggs is a kind of obsession with me. I keep hearing about this national egg shortage, and hoping its effects don’t trickle down too far–I need my eggs. I really need ’em. To make my fancy spaghetti sauce lunch–and this salad. With no eggs, they would be naked, sad and ashamed.

But moving on to the recipe!


(Serves 8 +)

¼ cup olive oil
3 lbs ground turkey
4 large white onions
2 red bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
10 cloves garlic
2-28 oz cans (plain) tomato sauce
Generous sprinkling dried basil and thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp sugar (or more to taste)
Secret ingredients:      2 tsp sriracha (or more to taste)
2 tsp Thai sweet chili sauce (or more to taste)

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1. Dice the onions and bell peppers, and mince the garlic.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. When hot, add the diced onions. Cook on medium heat until onions are soft, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t burn. Add the garlic and some salt and pepper; cook for another few minutes.

3. Add the ground turkey to the pot with the onions and cook over medium high heat for 5-8 minutes, crumbling the turkey with a spatula as the meat cooks.

4. Add the bell peppers and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are soft.

5. Add the tomato sauce, dried herbs, more salt and pepper, the sugar, and the secret ingredients. Stir, cover and simmer on lowish heat for at least an hour, stirring every now and then. If you’re able to let it cook away all afternoon, even better.

6. Taste and adjust seasoning; serve over pasta. Or stir in some spinach and spoon it over some rice with eggs. It’s a sauce worthy of being served in many ways, and as often as possible.

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Chicken Parmesan

Bonjour, my friends!

As I was saying yesterday, this recipe hung out on the Tasty Kitchen sidebar for weeks and weeks, and by virtue of seeing it there every time I logged onto the site, it finally became a necessity to make. Like an itch I finally just had to scratch.

Does food photography every do that to you–tickle your imagination mercilessly? Force your hand, so to speak?

Anyway, it’s so good–and I highly recommend that you make your own tomato sauce to go with it. The sauce is such a central flavor to the dish that you really should have the best of the best. With just a light breading (no eggs and flour–just straight up crumbs and herbs), this is pretty darn healthy! Well, maybe except for the piles of melted cheese . . . but I wouldn’t give those up for anything!

If I ever became lactose intolerant, that would be a huge problem. Huge.

Knock on wood.

Anyway, the recipe serves 2, but it could so, so easily be doubled. Or tripled. Or zillionupled, if your baking dish is big enough.


(Serves 2)

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (halved)
1 TBS dried oregano
1 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried thyme
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
2 TBS olive oil
2 cups good-quality (or homemade!) tomato sauce
2 TBS grated Parmesan
4 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Fresh basil, to garnish

See that lovely container of homemade tomato sauce lurking in the background? Oh man. How I love that stuff.

Preheat the oven to 500 F.

Also, I didn’t have dried basil . . . or at least I couldn’t find it. So I minced up some fresh stuff:

And I didn’t regret it for a single second. Or nanosecond. Or tetramegananonanonanosecond.

Mix the herbs, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs together in a shallow dish.

Oui, like dees.

Cut the chicken breast in half (with the knife running parallel to the cutting board) . . .

. . . and sprinkle all sides with a little salt and pepper.

Thinly slice the mozzarella.

And grate the Parmesan.

Now! Drag the chicken breast halves through the breadcrumb mixture, and gently shake off any excess.

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized oven-proof skillet (I used my lil’ 8’’). When hot, add the chicken and cook about 3 minutes per side, until browned.

Turn off the stove and take the skillet off the heat. Spoon the tomato sauce on and around the chicken.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over each chicken breast, and top each one with the thinly sliced mozzarella.

It’s looking good enough to eat now . . . but patience, my dear prudent one.

Cover the skillet with aluminum foil . . .

. . . and bake it for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5, until the cheese is melted and the chicken cooked through.

You can use this time to set the table.

Have I mentioned that I finally bought a table cloth? And that it took me 6 years of marriage and owning a battered hand-me-down table to realize that covering it with cloth would greatly improve its looks?

I need a decorator to come and tell me about all the mistakes I’m making now, before 6 more years go by and I realize that I’ve been living in folly, error, and general oblivion.

And here it comes . . .

Oh look! There are my feet!

Garnish with basil, and serve with pasta!

These little shells tossed with Parmesan, black pepper, some heavy cream, and some frozen peas were the perfect accompaniment.

And let me tell you another secret–the next day I tossed the leftover pasta with the leftover tomato sauce and it was almost a spiritual experience for me.

Will it disturb you if we move in close to check out that tender, tender chicken?

Mmmm, mmm, mmmmm.

And all that was left . . .

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