I'll be honest. If there had been a jar of marinara sauce on the pantry shelf, or down in the basement (my emergency food stash) I would have used it. I always have marinara sauce on hand. Except this time I didn't. But the ground beef in the refrigerator needed to be used. And I had plenty of time to cook since the weather was keeping everyone indoors.
It started as freezing rain, then came the sleet and that was topped off by a fine layer of snow. Daddy-O had to feed the cows. He even went back in the afternoon and gave them an extra bale. But other than his tractor, I didn't see one vehicle on our road. (You readers in Minnesota and Colorado, don't laugh. This really is enough to shut us down.)
I took liberties with this recipe to use what I had on hand. No trip to the store in this weather. Recipes like this one (I think of it as a "starter" recipe) can be adjusted to suit your taste. More seasoning. Less seasoning. Add something different—maybe diced green peppers or celery or a bay leaf or two. More garlic. Less sugar. Red wine instead of water. The possibilities are endless.
But this is exactly how I did it on a cold miserable day. And I was happy with the results. It's on the mild side, but I decided that was a good thing last night. I'll make this one again. Love that it uses ingredients that I usually have in my pantry.
HOMEMADE MEAT SAUCE
1-1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp from a jar)
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6-oz) cans tomato paste
1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a Dutch oven or large pot, brown ground beef, onion and garlic until all pink in the meat is gone. Drain if necessary. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water. Add sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and mix well. Reduce heat to LOW, cover and simmer 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.